Some of the changes are purely cosmetic, but they certainly add some polish to the UI. There are also some useful additions as well, such as an integrated task manager that displays all your active applications, downloaded apps with the option to uninstall, RAM status, and system storage. Also great: the ability to now capture screenshots by simply pressing the power button and home key simultaneously.
You can also customize the phone using one of Sprint's ID packs if you wish.
The Samsung Epic 4G Touch offers a speakerphone, conference calling, voice dialing, video calling, and text and multimedia messaging. In addition to Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n/a), and GPS, the Epic 4G Touch is 4G-capable and can handle simultaneous voice and data over 4G. The smartphone can also be used as a mobile hot spot for up to eight devices an additional $29.99 per month, and there is no data cap.
As we noted earlier, it is running Gingerbread and all of Google's services are accounted for: e-mail, maps, voice navigation, search, chat, Places, Latitude, and YouTube, plus basic tools like a calendar, a calculator, an alarm clock, a world clock, a stopwatch, and a timer. In addition, Samsung and Sprint have preloaded the phone with a number of extras, including Polaris Office, Kies Air (a Wi-Fi-based PC-to-phone sync manager), Sprint Music Plus, Sprint Mobile Wallet, and Sprint TV and Movies. We're not a fan of having so much bloatware on the phone, but at least, Sprint gives you the option to uninstall some of its apps, such as Sprint Music Plus and Sprint Radio.
There is no shortage of entertainment options on the Epic 4G Touch. In addition to the built-in music and video player, the smartphone offers Samsung's Media Hub where you can download movies and TV shows to rent or own. You can also shoot your owns videos and photos with the handset's 8-megapixel camera, which is capable of 1080p HD video capture. The camera app has plenty of tools, such as effects, white balance controls, ISO settings, and more. Samsung also throws in a photo and video editor, which we appreciate. The video editor is particularly great, since it makes it easy to piece together clips with different effects and music, all from right on your phone.
Picture quality was excellent. Even with indoor shots, photos were sharp with bright, vivid colors and showed more detail compared to some other camera phones. The camera was also fast, as there was very little lag in between shots. Video quality was also good. Overall, clips looked sharp and without any discoloration, but the image can get bit choppy if you're panning from one point to another. Once you're done capturing media, you can store files to the Epic 4G Touch's internal memory (16GB) or to an SD card (expansion slot accepts up to 32GB). You can also share via the usual social network channels or to your HDTV using DLNA or with an HDMI adapter.
We tested the dual-band Samsung Epic 4G Touch in New York using Sprint service and call quality was OK. Though we had no problems understanding our callers, voices sounded a bit muffled on our end. We could also detect a bit of background noise at times, so the audio quality wasn't pristine. Our friends also encountered some white noise on their side, but that was the biggest complaint we got, so overall, they were quite happy with the results.
Samsung Epic 4G Touch call quality sample
Speakerphone quality was what you might expect from a speakerphone. On both sides of the call, voices sounded far away and a bit muffled. There was enough volume to hear callers in a quieter room, but it got a bit challenging once we stepped outside. We paired the smartphone with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset and the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones, and we were able to make calls and listen to music without problem.
Sprint's 3G and 4G networks provided reliable coverage during our testing period. We didn't experience any dropped calls, and data speeds were decent. Using Ookla's Speedtest.net app, we clocked average download speeds of 4.37Mbps and upload speeds of 1.39Mbps. Over 4G CNET's full site loaded in 13 seconds, while the mobile sites for CNN and ESPN loaded in 5 seconds and 4 seconds, respectively. Flash video played without problem from CNET's site, and high-quality YouTube videos loaded within seconds and played back continuously.
Under the hood, the Epic 4G Touch rocks Samsung's 1.2GHz Exynos dual-core processor, and the smartphone is fast. Apps launched immediately, and it was able to handle any task we threw at it, whether it was playing games, streaming video, or viewing Web sites, without missing a step.
The Samsung Epic 4G Touch ships with a 1,800mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 8.7 hours and up to 10.5 days of standby time. The smartphone fell short of the rated talk time in our battery drain tests, but the results were still impressive at 7 hours. According to FCC radiation tests, the Epic 4G Touch has a digital SAR rating of 0.4W/kg and a Hearing Aid Compatibility Rating of M4/T3.
With the U.S. launch taking so long, we were beginning to worry that the Samsung Galaxy S II would feel like an also-ran by the time it was released on our side of the pond. However, we're glad to report that this isn't the case. The Epic 4G Touch brings another top-notch Android device to Sprint's portfolio, with its fast performance, large, vibrant screen, and excellent multimedia experience. Its large size will be a turn off for some, and if you want world-roaming capabilities, we recommend the Motorola Photon 4G. That said, we have no hesitation recommending the Samsung Epic 4G Touch as one of Sprint's top Android phones.