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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  • Alexo - Thursday, September 9, 2010 - link

    I agree with gvally, this discrepancy between the results should be explained. Reply
  • jasperjones - Monday, September 6, 2010 - link

    Ultimately if you’re trying to give someone a more iOS-like experience on an Android phone, Samsung gets the job done.

    more iOS-like experience? do not want
    Reply
  • dvinnen - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - link

    Luckly because it is Android and you can do what you like with it there are home screen replacements on the market. I use the open source ADW replacement and got rid of the iOS knock off crap Reply
  • spathotan - Monday, September 6, 2010 - link

    TouchWiz is the sole reason im avoiding these phones. HTC still has the best UI and their devices run good without having to root and use bootloaders.

    The device is a total failure if you have to root it and use hacks/bootloaders to get it to perform "good".
    Reply
  • StealthX32 - Monday, September 6, 2010 - link

    Hey, at least it's easy to root... ;)

    It's 2 steps versus 30 or so that you need to on the EVO 4G.

    That said, I do agree with you; the product should be judged as released.
    Reply
  • Dane74 - Monday, September 6, 2010 - link

    Sprint has excellent warranty. they handle it in store themselves for warrantable problems for free for one year even if you purchase NO protection plan. So rooting it, which voids warranty if detected, carreis some risk of a lost substantial benefit. Reply
  • sprockkets - Monday, September 6, 2010 - link

    That's the problem with Samsung. Motorola's CEO (or someone high up) called them Samesung. They are like the KIA of smartphones, copying Honda.

    That being said, I might check up on the Vibrant. Then again, a more vanilla G2 is just around the corner.
    Reply
  • afkrotch - Monday, September 6, 2010 - link

    Actually, phones like these have been out a while now. Just not in the US. The Galaxy S looks the same most of the other Samsung phones that have been on the Korean market for the past 1-2 years.

    I would have much preferred the Samsung Haptic Pop, than the Galaxy S. Sadly, we'll never see the Haptic Pop in the states. I have the T-Mobile Galaxy S. It feels too much like an iPhone. Only thing I like, the AMOLED screen.
    Reply
  • bearxor - Monday, September 6, 2010 - link

    Sure you haven't been watching too much 30 Rock? In the beginning of Season 3, Will Arnett's character claims that he 'sold the E (in GE) to Samsung. They're Samesung now."

    That's the only place I've heard anything like that.
    Reply
  • bigboxes - Monday, September 6, 2010 - link

    As a Palm Pre user I know the pain of poor battery life. I thought the Super AMOLED display was suppose to improve batter life by almost double over the EVO. What happened? As far as the Pre goes I have mine o/c to 800Mhz and it's very snappy. Add the almost cooperative nature of Palm to the homebrew community means that I can customize my phone to make up for the OS shortcomings. The GPS on the Pre is craptastic as well. Hopefully, Palm will improve on these when they release new models this fall. Reply

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