GPS Issues

Every smartphone has its sets of issues. The iPhone 4 has its antenna problem, the Palm Pre has performance issues, the BlackBerry Torch needs a bit more oomph in the software department, and every Android phone has its own set of strengths/weaknesses. The Epic 4G is no different. In addition to the absolutely horrible battery life, the Epic has a pretty serious GPS issue.

The GPS antenna is not very sensitive and usually has trouble locking onto GPS satellites. This manifests itself in two ways: the phone will take an inordinate amount of time to determine your actual location, and/or it won’t pinpoint your location very accurately.

Sometimes the Epic 4G will lock on perfectly and quickly, but usually it takes several minutes longer than the Nexus One to figure out where you are. Occasionally I even got a ‘location not available’ error while using Google Maps.

Accuracy is also a problem. I don’t think I ever saw horizontal error drop below 30m on the Epic 4G compared to ~3m on the Neuxs One and ~5m on the iPhone 4.


Google Nexus One, 4m error (left) vs. Samsung Epic 4G 30m error (right)

The Epic 4G would usually tell me that my physical location was somewhere down the street while the Nexus One would pin me down at my house. In fact, I got more accurate location tracking when I was connected to a WiFi network.

It’s unclear whether this is purely a software problem or a fundamental antenna design issue ala the iPhone 4. One thing is for sure, if you plan on using GPS location a lot you should avoid the Epic 4G.

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  • Dane74 - Monday, September 6, 2010 - link

    My Epic is fine but the GPS is not, and the fixes out there for the other Galaxies are irrelevant to Epic, which has new, different, and in many ways, worse, GPS problems. Samsung has issued one single recommendation for the poor GPS on Epic: turn on cellular tower location estimates. Some fix!

    I am no iPhone fan. i can't stand them or the people who use them. But the GPS problems on the Epic are real. For starters look at the pics posted in this review. They are consistent with what anyone who tests the GPS finds -- the GPS reception hardware itself on Epic is weak. Look at that satellite strength.

    Epic's other GPS problem is that frequent resets are required, as Epic does not discard expired GPS assistance data, and does not attempt to get new assistance data, often causing complete inability to get a GPS fix, even when many satellites are in view.
    Reply
  • Desslok - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - link

    <b><q>I am no iPhone fan. i can't stand them or the people who use them...</b></q>

    WOW! Way to be an asshat of epic scale. Just because I have an iPhone you can't stand me? I thought only Apple users were supposed to be such arrogant asses?
    Reply
  • medi01 - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - link

    I also can't stand you. In my opinion by agreeing to use hardware with unbelievably draconian restrictions (not being able to copy stuff from my own device? not being able to copy stuff to my own device from more than one source? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?), you are asking form even more crap in the future. Reply
  • Desslok - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - link

    Yet again the users on this site do not understand how most people use their phones and their way is the only way. Like bearxor has said in a later post most people take the phone out of the box and start using it. They don't root it and then start tweaking it.

    For what i use my phone for the iPhone works for me, am I saying it is the best phone/OS of all time of course not; it has it flaws. I am also not bashing anyone who uses any other type of phone/OS, It is a freakin phone/OS people it isn't that important.

    Medi01-Hate if you want, but the iPhone works for me. Have fun judging others on material things, let me know how that works out for you in the future.
    Reply
  • ktwebb - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - link

    I didn't say the GPS problems weren't valid. I just mentioned fixes were available. Multiple "Fixes" Unsatisfactory to ship their phones with broken GPS but that's Samsung. But once again, that's a hit on Samsung, not on the OS. Reply
  • bearxor - Monday, September 6, 2010 - link

    Why does everyone on sites like this think their way is the only thing people will do. Do you really think a lot of people are going to buy a phone and then root it and then tweak it?

    No!

    Most people are going to buy the phone, take it out of the box and begin using it. Heck, before switching to an iPhone in 2008, I used a Treo 700wx for two years, the longest I had ever used a WinMo device at a time, because I just got so sick and tired of HTC's crap. I was always having to reset the phone. Switch out ROMs on the phone. I never knew if a phone call was going to come through on a PPC-6600 or PPC-6700. Enough already!

    I know that makes me less of a "geek" but I was cooking roms and flashing devices before a lot of people even discovered regular phones with qwerty keyboards on them.

    I found this review to be a great example of what I would expect of the phone if I were to march down to a Sprint store, picked one up and started using it right away. That's all I really want from my phone. For it to do the functions that it's advertised to do.
    Reply
  • nermie - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - link

    I think you also forget what website we are at. Just last a couple weeks ago there was an article on tuning your memory using a custom made bios. Every article on computer hardware usually covers the intended consumer point of view first, and then gets right into dissecting and tweaking the hardware to squeeze every last drop of performance out of it. Seems like kind of a shame to not at least mention how much faster the phone can be if you do a few things such as overclock the cpu or a file system fix. Reply
  • erple2 - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - link

    Normally, I'd completely agree with you. However, taking the phone as a complete package, I think that Anand has done a good job in reviewing the <i>phone</i> as you get it, and not post tweaking.

    While it may be common to buy a motherboard and CPU then tweak it until you squeeze the maximum amount of power out of it, it's less common to do that with a laptop.

    Similarly, not very many people buy a Dell then go into overclocking options with it (since it's not necessarily as easy to do on a Dell than a home-assembled computer).

    But I do agree that there's a myriad of things that can be done to the phone after the fact. I'd wager that it's possible Anandtech is coming up with a "Android tweaking" article at some point in the future that goes into some small detail of the things that are available to the end user, and how those can impact performance of the phone to the end user.
    Reply
  • ktwebb - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - link

    That's fair. I've said in multiple posts Samsung blew it releasing this phone before properly QA testing. I think you missed my point however. Reply
  • dvinnen - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - link

    Don't like the fan boy accusations but he does bring up a point. With the lag fixes it does benchmark a lot faster (Look up One Click Lag Fix on the market, will root your phone and install the lag fix and GPS fix). Have to wonder how it will fly with 2.2 Reply

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