There is little doubt in our minds that the Samsung Epic 4G is one of the best Android phones currently available. It’s lightning fast when running apps—with the promise of even speedier performance when it’s upgraded to Froyo. The 4G (WiMAX) connection was also plenty speedy, providing a non-frustrating mobile Internet experience.
The 4G connection comes with a couple of caveats, however. Actually getting a 4G signal is very much a function of geography and sometimes just plain luck. Availability is still very limited, with the promise of more areas coming online in the near future, sounding vague at best. You might get lucky, like we did, and find unofficial 4G coverage that was still being tested. Sprint also charges an additional $10 surcharge for the Epic 4G’s 4G capabilities, whether you actually use the 4G connection or not.
The gorgeous-looking, 4-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen has one of the brightest and crispest displays we’ve seen to date on a phone, and the audio quality is also very impressive. The Epic 4G comes with some great multimedia features to take advantage of the device’s capabilities, such as the ability to view content streamed over Wi-Fi from another DLNA device, and the ability to purchase, download, and watch TV shows and movies. Other noteworthy features are the 5.0-megapixel, rear-facing camera with built-in LED flash. The front-facing camera is a nice touch too, but the image quality leaves a bit to be desired.
The Epic 4G will also appeal to business users and those who do a lot of typing on their devices. Certainly the onscreen keyboard with Swype makes input easier, but power users will truly appreciate the Epic 4G’s spacious and comfortable pull-out keyboard. We put the phone in the hands of a number of users, and the overwhelming consensus was that the Epic 4G had one of the best phone keyboards they’d seen.
Unfortunately, the physical keyboard also adds to the phone’s thickness and weight. Numerous other comparable phones (that don’t have physical keyboards) are notably thinner and somewhat lighter. If you don’t need the pull-out keyboard and can’t utilize the 4G connectivity capabilities, you might be better off considering one of the other Samsung Galaxy S phones, such as the Samsung Captivate.
A couple of additional chinks in the Epic 4G’s armor are its disappointing battery life, propensity to get hot after prolonged use, and its relatively expensive price tag. You can somewhat ameliorate the battery life issue by being judicious in terms of which settings you enable (for example, turning off 4G, Wi-Fi, and GPS when you don’t need them will help significantly). And despite the heat issue, the phone never got too hot to handle and its performance never seemed to be adversely affected. With a $250 price tag (after a $100 mail-in rebate) with a two-year Sprint service plan, the Epic 4G is one of more expensive phones currently on the market. That said, we found the Epic 4G selling for $149.99 on Amazon with a two-year Sprint contract—but there’s no guarantee that this will deal will still be available by the time you read this.
Despite these caveats, the Epic 4G’s strengths far outweigh its drawbacks. Not only do we recommend the Epic 4G, but we’d even seriously consider it as our next phone.