Samsung Epic 4G

NAME: Samsung Epic 4G


PRICE: $249.99 w/ two-year contract


DID YOU KNOW: Galaxy is a category of phones manufactured by Samsung on the Android platform, the same idea as Motorola's Droid category. This is the manufacturer's third Galaxy S phone and Sprint's second 4G phone.


THE BACK STORY: With the release of the first-ever 4G phone, the HTC EVO, Sprint's fan base and stock value skyrocketed. And ever since we got our hands on T-Mobile's Vibrant and AT&T's Captivate Android phones, we've developed a love jones for the Samsung Galaxy S brand. When word leaked that Samsung's next Galaxy model would become the second smartphone powered by America's first 4G network, we reached out to our connects to get it in. Does the Samsung Epic 4G live up to its hype? Here's what we think.

DOPE:

Multimedia powerhouse: Like the iPhone 4, Samsung's Epic features a front-faced camera with VGA resolution for quality video-conferencing. Unlike the iPhone 4, this device is compatible with multiple video formats (XVID, DIVX, and H.264 with AAC audio). It outputs video through 720p HD for crisp imagery. The phone is similarly music-compatible, allowing the user to listen to MP3, WMA, OGG, and AAC files off of the pre-packaged 16GB memory card. This phone features the flagship Sprint TV service and Sprint Navigation, and offers both NASCAR and NFL apps, which have the ability to make this the top of the market for multimedia phones.

4G service: If you live in one of the dozen cities equipped with Sprint's 4G wireless service, you'll be downloading and viewing files at warp speed thanks to Clearwire's WiMAX network. It pushes speeds up to 6.6 megabits—nearly six times faster than a 3G network. No 4G in your city? Sprint offers 3G in the other metropolitan centers and this phone features the option to connect to 802.11b/g/n wi-fi. You can also use this phone as a wi-fi hotspot for up to five devices. We first tested 4G with Sprint's EVO, and we co-sign Sprint's network quality.

The following regions have 4G-networks: California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Nevada, New York (Rochester, Syracuse), Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington. [CLICK HERE to see the specifics].

Strong processor and intuitive OS: Its 1-GHz Hummingbird processor runs fast, comparable to the EVO's 1GHZ Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset. Faster browsing speeds, downloads and menu navigation. Android's 2.1 OS works well, is easy to navigate, and shines through its Social Hub. This feature provides up-to-date social networking feeds and updates (Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace), along with email and calendar synchronization. The upgraded contact list lets you choose a friend and view his or her various information by swiping left or right across the touchscreen. An update for FROYO (Android 2.2 OS) will be available soon.

Great data input options: The Epic's SWYPE functionality will change your perspective towards onscreen messaging. Its touch-sensor accuracy is on point, and the spell-check functionality automatically corrects syntax errors. It's ridiculously simple to use, and can be preferable to the actual keyboard. Of course, the QWERTY keyboard is pretty awesome, too. It features widely spread physical keys across five rows. It's worth mentioning that this keypad also features home, back, menu, and search keys, a helpful addition.

Samsung Epic 4G (2)

NOT SO DOPE:

Large form factor: Compared to the Captivate and Vibrant, the Epic is a behemoth. At 4.9 x 3.5 inches and 5.46 ounces, skinny jeans x this bad boy = need for a belt. It's larger than the EVO 4G, but still slightly lighter. The reality of 4G technology on a phone with a bazillion features is that you're going to have to pick up some form size.

Pricing and additional charges: Most of the top-tier smartphones run for around $200 with a contract, so the $250 might be a little steep. It is an investment, so maybe you skip a dinner out with your lady for this one. Keep in mind that with a 4G phone, $10 is tacked onto your bill each month—even if you don't have 4G service in your area.

Weak battery: Like all feature-laden phones, it's important to keep youe eyes on the power bar. Using 4G and wi-fi guzzles more juice than a pre-penitentiary Weezy, but once you get used to the phone, you'll have a better idea of how keep it on for a longer period of time.

Backlighting issues: As a category, the Galaxy S models have a problem with backlighting synchronization between the four touch navigation keys (home, search, back, and menu) and the screen. You'll notice the lights go off even if the screen is still on. This is pretty nitpicky, but we're just sayin':. Constantly tapping general areas on the touchscreen or pushing the power button to view the keys can become annoying, especially if you're particularly OCD.

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FINAL SAY: The Epic is a great 4G phone, a worthy successor to the EVO. It has great multimedia features and presentation, and the Hummingbird GPU and multi-codec support push the phone to a higher plateau. Even if you don't have 4G service, the phone is fast and feature-rich—just keep the costs in mind if you're not in one of the WiMax-blessed regions. The phone's faults are minor, making the Epic one of the elite Android handsets on the market. It's available starting today.

CLICK HERE TO PICK ONE UP AT SPRINT!

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