Final Words

With each new iteration of Android smartphone we get closer to the perfect device. Samsung took some pretty big steps toward that ideal ‘droid but regressed in others.

The move to Super AMOLED is key. With Super AMOLED the Epic 4G improves outdoor usability significantly. It’s a large enough jump to make the Nexus One’s display feel old. While Apple can tout the benefits of higher resolution, contrast is very important on these devices - especially for content consumption. I would have liked to have a brighter display on the Epic 4G, but the contrast ratio is great.

Samsung got the performance of the Epic 4G right. The OS feels snappy and relatively smooth. There are still some hiccups but its 1GHz Hummingbird SoC does a better job than anything else I’ve seen running Android. I suspect that after we get Gingerbread and dual-core Cortex A9 SoCs that these little performance quibbles will be a thing of the past. Unfortunately that doesn’t help those trying to make a decision today.

Build quality could use some work but that’s probably more of a function of the sliding mechanism on the phone than anything else. The physical keyboard is nice for those who want it, but that’s really a personal preference. I applaud Samsung for shipping Swype enabled by default on the Epic 4G. Not only does Swype offer a unique take on text input, but its virtual keyboard is the best I’ve used on Android to date.

On the software side, Samsung’s TouchWiz is one of the most polished custom Android UIs I’ve seen. Everything from the app launcher down to the dialer is well done. Samsung does take the simplicity a little too far in some areas (e.g. not showing battery percentage, only the visualization), but overall it’s nice. You don’t get as much of the PC-feel as you do on other Android phones, which again boils down to personal preference.

I love how Samsung integrated turning off Bluetooth/WiFi/4G/GPS into the notifications pulldown menu, and some of Samsung’s widgets are nice (e.g. task manager). However, the seven home screens are overwhelming and counterproductive in my opinion.

For all the praise I shower on the Epic 4G, it has two real problems: battery life and GPS reception. They are both pretty simple to explain: the Epic 4G won’t last longer than 4 hours of use, and it has a hard time pinpointing your location via GPS. There’s nothing more to it.

What does four hours of use translate to? I’d say less than a day’s worth of use taking into account idle time. If you pick your phone up at 8AM and use it periodically throughout the day, I’d expect it to be dead by 5PM. Quite possibly sooner.

The GPS issue makes the Epic 4G a pain to use as a navigational device. If you use Google Maps a lot for calculating directions, prepare for a frustrating experience with the Epic.

We’re closer and Samsung did very well, but we’re not quite perfect.

GPS Issues


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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.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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?


    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.
  • 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.
  • 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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