Android Samsung Epic 4G Reaps Rave Reviews

Sprint's adding a second 4G, Android-powered smartphone to its portfolio, the Samsung Epic, available now for pre-order and on sale Aug. 31, and the first reviews out today are calling it an impressive sibling to the HTC Evo 4G.

The Epic 4G supports Sprint's WiMax, or the fourth-generation of wireless network technology which offers faster data transmission speeds, but will default to the 3G network in places where WiMax is not available.

In addition to being an Android 4G phone, the price of the Epic also makes it stand out, as it will cost $249.99 with a two-year service agreement, which is $50 more than the Evo 4G and the basic iPhone 4 with 16GB, both of which are priced at $199, the industry standard for high-end handsets.

Sprint told Forbes that the price is justified because its service plan is more affordable than what AT&T charges iPhone users. "Sprint will charge Epic owners $69.99 per month for voice and data service and $10 more per month as a 'premium data add-on' for a total of $79.99. AT&T charges iPhone owners $69.99 a month for voice service alone. Additional texting and data support costs $20 and $25 each per month.

"Since Epic users will pay $79.99 per month for service compared to $114.99 per month for iPhone users, people who opt for the Epic will start saving money within two months, says Sprint," according to a Forbes blog post on the Epic 4G pricing.

In regard to how the Epic's price compares to the HTC Evo, Sprint told Forbes that the Epic's QWERTY keyboard and 4-inch AMOLED screen make it more costly to manufacture.

Other features of the Epic 4G, which will ship with Android 2.1 but be updated to Android 2.2 soon, include: a Samsung 1 GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird processor; Wi-Fi hotspot support for five devices; 5-megapixel camera; Bluetooth 2.1; 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi; GPS receiver; microSD card slot 1GB ROM and 512MB RAM.

Pricing issues aside, the Epic is garnering positive reviews by hands-on evaulators, though some say it is better than the Evo 4G and others don't. Still, they all agree it is impressive due to its speedy performance, 4G capability, brilliant AMOLED display, media hub and slide-out keyboard.

Plus, it gives Sprint, the nation's No. 3 carrier, another flagship smartphone to compete with Apple's iPhone and Research In Motion's Torch running BlackBerry 6, both exclusives on AT&T, and with Verizon's family of BlackBerrys and Droids, such as the Droid 2 running Android 2.2.

"If you need a physical keyboard and you're looking for the one of the most muscle-bound Android phones money can buy, we wouldn't hesitate to recommend it," says Engadget's Chris Ziegler in his Epic 4G review.

The tech blog Gizmodo goes as far as saying the Epic surpasses the Evo. "When you compare the Epic to the EVO, the Epic is the clear winner. Whether it's the slide-out keyboard, better screen, longer battery life or Swype built in, there are plenty of reasons to choose this phone instead," says the Gizmodo Epic 4G analysis.

Laptop magazine also gave the Epic 4G a positive evaluation. "The Epic 4G will also soon deliver movie and TV show rentals and downloads, making it a great choice for media mavens on the go. This feature-packed has a few weaknesses, but overall it's Samsung's best Galaxy S series phone yet and yet another compelling reason to switch to Sprint," says Mark Spoonauer of Laptop.

CNet's Nicole Lee, called it a "multimedia powerhouse with features the other Galaxy S phones don't have."

Vincent Nguyen of SlashGear, in his Epic 4G review, says the new handset is the best smartphone on the Sprint network, primarily due to the "brilliant Super AMOLED display, excellent keyboard and speedy WiMAX connectivity."


Android, Samsung, Sprint, EVO 4G, Epic 4G