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Epic 4G Touch 1

Samsung Galaxy S II, Epic 4G Touch.  Samsung's first stateside Galaxy S II device is a mouthful, but like the name, it's packed with drool-worthy features that are great for Android die-hards and first-time users alike.  Packing the same 1.2 GHz dual-core Exynos CPU, 8-megapixel camera that the international version has, Samsung takes a winning formula and makes it better with a 4.52-inch Super AMOLED display and larger 1,800 mAh battery.

It's available at Sprint for $199.99 with a two-year agreement, placing it in that competitive sub-$200 tier alongside the iPhone 4, Verizon's dual-core 3G handsets, and AT&T's top-tier Android devices.  But it's coming in just before what is expected to be a very busy holiday season.  Is Sprint's newest Android superphone worth two Benjamins and a two-year contract?


Design & Features

It may have a 4.52-inch Super AMOLED Plus display, but the Epic 4G Touch is deceptively small.  At 9.6mm thin, it weighs 4.55 ounces, and is incredibly easy to throw into the pocket or purse.  Epic 4G Touch is made entirely of plastic, and while contributes to the lightweight nature of the phone, it also gives it a cheap feeling in comparison to the metal-toting devices out there.

Epic 4G Touch 2

In the box, you'll get an AC adapter, USB cable, and instruction manuals.  The left spine of the device houses a lanyard hole and a volume rocker, while the right spine contains the power button.  The 3.5mm headphone jack is on the top, and the microUSB charging port is on the bottom.  The Epic 4G Touch trades in the physical home button for four capacitive ones: menu, home, back, and search.


Usability & Performance

Epic 4G Touch 3

Watching Samsung's move from back-of-the-pack to frontrunner in the speed department has been interesting.  The 1.2 GHz dual-core Exynos processor is lightning fast, and combined with software improvements, allows the Epic 4G Touch to snag scores between 3,300 and 3,500 in Quadrant Standard.  I can honestly say that I've seen no lag since I started working with the unit - in fact, it the performance is often smooth to the point of unbelievable. 

Like the international Galaxy S II, the Epic 4G Touch ships with Android 2.3 and Samsung's TouchWiz 4.0 user interface.  Once cluttered and bulky, TouchWiz has seen drastic improvements this time around.  It's a much more fluid experience, and Samsung has included nice features like the ability to customize the size of the widgets.  It works incredibly well, and is finally a solid competitor to HTC's Sense UI and Motorola's interface.

Still images are impressive in most lighting situations, thanks to an 8-megapixel camera.  The interface closely resembles the one from the Galaxy Tab 10.1, with editing options that include shooting modes, scene modes, exposure values, and more.  While Epic 4G Touch offers 1080p HD video recording, the video quality was a bit choppy, and audio was a bit hard to hear at times.

Call quality is quite good on the Epic 4G Touch.  The earpiece is nice and loud, and while the device gets a bit toasty at times (particularly around the display), it's easy to hold up to the ear for extended periods of time.  Callers had no problems hearing me, and the sound quality was excellent on my end.  I took the Epic 4G Touch to a known Sprint dead zone in the Charlotte area, and while each connection was littered with static and dropouts, the phone managed to hold them all.

Epic 4G Touch 4

The giant downfall of the Epic 4G Touch has been Sprint's data speeds as of late.  It's something I noticed in late spring and through the summer launches (EVO 3D and PHOTON, namely), and it has progressively gotten worse to the point where data is virtually unusable at times.  I've tested data speeds in roughly 15-20 locations around Charlotte, and during "peak" hours (which I categorize as 8 AM to 7 PM), I've seen 3G download speeds between 0.01 Mbps and 0.40 Mbps. 

My office, which is located in the center of the city, doesn't seem to fare much better.  Small tasks like sending a tweet or updating the weather widget have taken two to six minutes at times, which, needless to say, is unacceptable.  The issue doesn't seem tied to the Charlotte metro area either; I've noticed similar issues in the New York City and Orlando metro areas, and there are forum comments all over the Internet claiming similar issues in various metro areas across the United States.

4G (WiMAX) speeds are a bit better, though they're not what I would expect from a "next generation" technology.  Depending on the time of day and location, I've scored download speeds between 0.48 Mbps and 2.07 Mbps.  It certainly makes the device usable on a day-to-day basis, but pales in comparison to the 5-12 Mbps (and sometimes more) guaranteed on Verizon's 4G LTE network.

Sprint has been very receptive to the issues, and has taken the time to speak with me about the particulars.  We're diagnosing now, so there's a possibility that things will improve - I'll keep the review updated accordingly.

Epic 4G Touch 5

Samsung opted to pack an 1,800 mAh battery in the Epic 4G Touch due to the increased screen real estate, and in my tests, longevity was surprisingly good for an Android device.  With moderate use that included some phone calls, a few app downloads, browsing the web, taking some pictures, and sending multiple text messages, I made it from morning to late evening with some power to spare.  Turning on 4G will impact battery life, but not as much as you might expect, as the WiMAX radio does a pretty good job of switching to an inactive state when not in use.


Conclusion

Epic 4G Touch 6

We've been waiting for the US variants for months, and like the international Galaxy S II, Samsung's Epic 4G Touch is the best Android phone available today.  The dual-core processor and overall snappy performance will appeal to those seeking a high-end device, while the much-improved TouchWiz 4.0 UI is the perfect transition for someone coming from iOS or moving into the smartphone realm for the first time.  While the increased screen size may be a point of contention for some buyers, Epic 4G Touch knocks it out of the park in every feature category, much like the HTC EVO 4G did when it launched. 

Unfortunately, Sprint's poor data speeds as of late are a serious issue.  We tend to forget everything that data has a hand in, and more importantly, how a poor data experience can impact the overall experience.  From email to downloading apps to updating the little weather widget, a good data experience is crucial for today's always-on smartphones, and in the cities that I've traveled to as of late, Sprint's network isn't performing to par.  That's not to say that they won't fix it in the future - or perhaps you're in an area where it works well - but it's a huge Achilles heel in an otherwise fantastic device.


Wrap-Up

What's Good: Dual-core processor is incredibly fast; 4.52-inch Super AMOLED Plus display is beautiful and a nice upgrade from the international version; 1,800 mAh battery allows for a full day of use; TouchWiz 4.0 UI is a huge improvement from past versions.

What's Bad: All-plastic design may not appeal to everyone; Sprint's poor data speeds as of late impact the performance of the phone's data services.

The Verdict: With a dual-core CPU, awesome display, clear camera, and good battery life, It's the best Android phone on the market (today), but it's hindered by painfully slow data speeds.

 


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43 Reactions to this post

"Which Galaxy S II is your favorite?"


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Terry Oakes
Terry Oakes att version
Marouane Ben Salem
Marouane Ben Salem hell yeaaaah
Sean Kalkreuth
Sean Kalkreuth I got the epic switched from at&t. This phone is not crap. Extremely responsive, the 4.5 inch screen is alive.
Mark Balcher
Mark Balcher played with all of them. The Sprint version with the exynos chip seems to be the most responsive. sent from my Gingerbread flavored Epic 4G
Matthew Hawe
Matthew Hawe and by fir i mean fit... lol
Matthew Hawe
Matthew Hawe do the international sgs2 cases fir the at&t version?
Robert Skeen
Robert Skeen Neither! Waiting on the release of the Prime.
Adrian Salazar
Adrian Salazar I'm skipping this on tmo and getting the HTC amaze 4g. Had the epic on sprint which I got after I gave up my evo 4g and boy was that a huge mistake! Dam thing was never updated even after rooting the phone never got gingerbread... Fuck that I'm sticking with HTC.
Jeremy Gallman
Jeremy Gallman epic 4g touch FTW
Varun Gupta
Varun Gupta The telus Samsung Galaxy X is the best I believe.
Ryan DeClue
Ryan DeClue Tried them all so far, and Sprint's is by far and away the best
Jonathan Z. Dadekian
Jonathan Z. Dadekian Galaxy is crap. Native Android phones seem to be the best ie Nexus One. Why does Samsung have to do things like change the name of "browser " to "web "? Its at the bottom of the application page. Not to mention the application pages are frustrating to swipe through. I'm up to Android 2.3.6. I'd hate to have to wait for Samsung to make it's updates, or any other handset maker for that matter!
Oscar Falcon
Oscar Falcon tmo version with the HSPA+ 42mps and the beautiful desing!!!
Matthew Hawe
Matthew Hawe AT&T fo sho
Axel Caceres
Axel Caceres AT&T!!!
S A Praveen Ayyanar
S A Praveen Ayyanar I like this phone
Naim Fennell
Naim Fennell At&t version of the Samsung Galaxy S 2 is my favorite. I can not wait to get it next month.
Aaron Blain
Aaron Blain Hercules
Kevin Joel
Kevin Joel HTC Titan WP7 FTW!!!
Christopher Manic Johnson
Christopher Manic Johnson This time around, the GSM versions are better than Sprint's. I love the OG, & AT&T's version, just because the size is perfect. Tmo's is gorgeous, but having a Qualcomm chip instead of Samsung's bread and butter killed it for me. 1.2Ghz dual-core Exynos>1.5 dual-core Qualcomm S3 Snapdragon
Fernando Martinez
Fernando Martinez Tmo
Larry Wilson
Larry Wilson BELL Canada version or Europe version
Equaknox Knox
Equaknox Knox @Omar..gotta agree.....i believe there are samsung parts in Iphone..why u think..they got there things...to far up there crack..lol..butwaitn to c iphone on sprint..then will decide..if it is Evo..iphone..or gs2...
Luis Hernandez
Luis Hernandez the original european version not this US crap
Omar Leon
Omar Leon Dude who said samsung is trash must be mistaken. Samsung makes some of the best hardware for any tech device in the world. Might not be the best build quality but certainly best hardware. Exynos dumps on every mobile CPU. Btw, I would take the AT&T version
Ronald Wharton
Ronald Wharton SPRINT because unlimited is truly UNLIMITED and this is from someone who he an ATT iPhone
Ziggy Torres
Ziggy Torres Epic 4G Touch
Marti Ruiz
Marti Ruiz andn what is an iphone? , i never before hear that .
Ben Garcia
Ben Garcia No brainer.bigger screen,4G unlimited data,no surprises at the end of the month.
Marti Ruiz
Marti Ruiz but big screen on tmobile . looks great
Marti Ruiz
Marti Ruiz att. cuz is tinner
Enrique Berrios
Enrique Berrios T-mo
Hansel Starley
Hansel Starley The Focus S :P
Omar Ahmed
Omar Ahmed Unlocked :P
Kelvin Reid
Kelvin Reid The sprint version
Steve Hartsock
Steve Hartsock Sprint still has a network?
Tim Watson
Tim Watson Samsung Galaxy SII Epic 4G Touch
Abram Wenevermet Dennis
Abram Wenevermet Dennis Good luck waiting on updates. Remembers the first epic with gingerbread.. Wait it never got it..lol
Jorge Hugo Galindo
Jorge Hugo Galindo Hands down Sprint. Unlimited data, bigger screen, bigger battery, notification light, and oh yeah you pay less on your bill while getting more.
Abram Wenevermet Dennis
Abram Wenevermet Dennis It's samsung.. Trash
Brian Deriel Guzman
Brian Deriel Guzman
Antonio Pagan
Antonio Pagan Sprint
Steve Hartsock
Steve Hartsock That wasn't the question. I am an iPhone fan too, but if I had to choose it would be the AT&T version.




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