Samsung’s Epic 4G for Sprint was one of the best smartphones of all time, and now the Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch looks to pick up right where its predecessor left off. This $199 device loses the physical keyboard but gains a much larger display (4.5 inches vs. 4 inches), a speedier dual-core 1.2-GHz processor, and an 8-MP camera that can shoot 1080p video.
The Samsung Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch features much of the same “plasticky” build that its international counterparts and even its predecessors do. The plastic doesn’t feel cheap or rickety, though. It’s a huge part of not only the device’s enticing looks, but also the way it feels and works.
For the EPIC 4G Touch, Samsung has done a little tweaking to that formula, and now the phone has an even bigger display. The Super AMOLED Plus panel is still as color-saturated and contrast rich as before, but is now 4.52-inches instead of 4.3-inches.
The larger screen makes for a slightly larger phone, with the EPIC 4G Touch coming in at 129.9 x 69.6 x 9.59 mm and 129g (versus the 125.3 x 66.1 x 8.49 mm and 116g of the original).
It’s still running at WVGA 800 x 480 resolution, mind, and since we’ve seen Samsung’s incredibly pixel-dense displays on the Galaxy Note at IFA earlier in the month, we can’t help but wish the EPIC 4G Touch had stepped up to qHD 960 x 540 resolution at least
Under the display run four touch-sensitive buttons, for menu, home, back and search, losing the physical home key in the process. Volume is on the left edge and power on the right, though there’s no dedicated camera shortcut.
A 3.5mm headphone jack is on the top edge, and a microUSB port on the bottom. Around the back, Samsung’s 8-megapixel camera with autofocus and an LED flash can be found, capable of 1080p Full HD video recording, and there’s a front-facing 2-megapixel camera for video calls above the display.
Inside is the same 1.2GHz dual-core processor paired with 1GB of RAM and running Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread with Samsung’s TouchWiz 4.0 modifications (more on which in the next section). You also get both EVDO Rev.A support and WiMAX, WiFi a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0. The microUSB port supports MHL HDMI to hook up your HDTV.
The Samsung Epic 4G Touch runs Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread along with Samsung’s latest TouchWiz 4.0 user interface. We’re often less enthusiastic about custom interfaces–they sometimes add unwanted complexity and unremovable apps, and are usually slower to update to new OS versions. However, TouchWiz 4.0 has a few things going for it, some carryovers from previous versions of TouchWiz. There are seven home screens, for example, and the notification pull-down menu has icons for easily turning on Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, 4G, and sound profiles.
Customizing the home screens is made easier, with a carousel-like setup that lets you move through the various panels to add and remove shortcuts and widgets at the same time. Previously, you had to do a long-press on one screen to change it and then repeat the process if you wanted to change
another page. You can also now resize Samsung Live Panel widgets and there’s a more fluid motion when scrolling through widgets lists and home pages.
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.
A large screen means more room for the virtual keyboard. We found typing in landscape mode to be nearly as fast as using a physical keyboard; the slight haptic feedback certainly helped. In portrait mode, we preferred using the Swype keyboard, which was equally accurate, if a bit slower.
The 8-megapixel camera on the Galaxy S II remains one of the best smartphone shooters around, and the EPIC 4G Touch is
little different. Still images are bright and clear, colors accurate, with the handset quick to lock focus. It’s easy to frame pictures too, given the big display that’s bright enough to be seen outdoors. The LED flash is, as always, the weakest point – being underwhelming in comparison to, say, a proper Xenon – but it’s good enough to make closer nighttime shots a possibility. Video, meanwhile, is recorded at up to Full HD resolution, and is smooth and jag-free.
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.
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.
Samsung has done perhaps the best job with Android’s default web browser we’ve ever seen. The UI remains largely the same, but it’s the performance enhancements and new features that get us excited. Holding two fingers and moving the phone back and forth is an alternative to pinch to zoom and it works really well.
While holding the large Epic 4G Touch to our face felt a little awkward, callers said we sounded good, if a little flat. When we switched over to the 4G Touch’s speakerphone, they remarked that they could barely tell the difference.
The Samsung Epic 4G Touch Specification
|Form Factor||Bar, Touchscreen|
Product Dimensions (inches)
|5.11″ x 2.74″ x .38″|
Battery, Talk Time (hours)
|Continuous Talk Time: up to 8.7 hours**|
|Battery Type and Size||3.7 Volt, Lithium Ion, 1800mAh|
|Frequencies and Data Type||1900/800 mHz CDMA, 2.5 Ghz WiMAX|
SAR value – Head (W/kg)
|SAR Value: Head 0.4 W/kg|
SAR value – Body Worn (W/kg)
|SAR Value: Body 0.54 W/kg|
|Platform||Android 2.3.4, Gingerbread|
|Processor Speed, Type||1.2 GHz, Dual Core (Samsung Exnyos C210)|
|Main Display Resolution||800 x 480 Pixel|
|Main Display Size||2.32″ x 3.87″ (4.52″)|
|Main Display Technology||Super AMOLED Plus|
|Features||Widgets, TouchWiz 3.0, Social Hub, Accelerometer, Supported Languages: Spanish|
|Front-facing Camera Resolution||2.0 Megapixel|
|Digital Optical Zoom||4x|
|Features||Auto Focus, Shot Modes: Action, Beauty, Cartoon, Panorama, Single, Smile, Geo-tagging, Editing Modes, Camcorder, DivX®, HD Recording, HD Playback (only via adaptor optional accessory), Video Share, TV-Out (only via adaptor optional accessory), Online Image Uploading (Picasa)|
|Features||Music Player; Compatible Music Files: AAC, AMR, AWB, M4A, MID, MP3, OGG; Audio, Streaming; Ringtones, Polyphonic: 40-levels; MP3/Music Tones|
|Features||Video Player; Compatible Video Files: H.264, H.263, MP4; Video, Streaming|
|Fun and Entertainment|
|Features||Downloadable Content; Wallpapers, Animated; Samsung Widget Gallery; Samsung Media Hub|
|Business & Office|
|Features||Microsoft® Office Compatible: Polaris; vCard/vCalendar; Smart Search|
|Features||Email, Corporate Email, Picture Messaging, Text Messaging, Instant Messaging, Threaded/ChatStyle Messages, Video Messaging, Swype™, Predictive Text (T9®/XT9®)|
|Features||Bluetooth®; Bluetooth® Profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, GAVDP, HFP 1.5, HSP, MAP, OPP, PBAP; WiFi®; WiFi® Hotspot; WiMAX; HTML Browser, WAP, Flash®, Java™, GPS|
External Memory Type
|Features||Speakerphone, Voice Recognition, Voicemail, Visual Voicemail, Speechtotext, Text-to-speech, Etiquette/Gesture Mode, MusicID, Picture Caller ID, Multitasking, Push to Talk, Call Restrictions, Hearing Aid Compatible (HAC): T3, TTY, Airline Mode|
The Samsung Epic 4G Touch is shaping up to be a nice device, and the large display means that it should be a multimedia powerhouse. The screen is gorgeous, and the camera has generally performed well in initial testing.
Nonetheless, it’s hard not to fall for the EPIC 4G Touch’s charms, though it’s worth noting that they’re shared by T-Mobile’s fast approaching Samsung Galaxy S II along with the benefit of international support from the GSM handset.
- Amazingly fast performance all around
- High quality camera and camcorder with 1080p
- Good call quality and battery life
- 4.5” Super AMOLED Plus is easy on the eyes
- Just 9.6mm thin and 4.5oz light
- WVGA display resolution, resulting in 206 ppi
- No dedicated camera key and small volume rocker
- TouchWiz doesn’t hurt the phone’s performance, but we could do without it