Samsung Epic 4G Review: The Fastest Android Phoneby Anand Lal Shimpi on September 6, 2010 5:28 PM EST
- Posted in
- Epic 4G
The sheer amount of choice you get in the Android smartphone market is overwhelming. Even if you stick within a single manufacturer like HTC, there are several releases to juggle all of which happen in a very short period of time. Below is a list of just the HTC Android phones that have come out in the past 12 months:
Hero, Click, Bravo, Legend, Incredible, Espresso, Supersonic/EVO 4G, Buzz and Liberty.
And that’s just in the past year! Then we’ve got Android phones from Sony Ericsson, Dell, Motorola and LG. You can’t argue that there is a lack of choice in the Android market, but the vast majority of these phones aren’t perfect. In fact, it feels like every subsequent Android phone we touch comes closer to perfecting one aspect of the platform while leaving another neglected.
The EVO 4G brought us a unique form factor, but poor performance and battery life. Dell gave us our first 5-inch Android tabletphone, but coupled with an ancient version of Android it’s just not prime for its 2010 release. And seemingly all Android phones suffer from varying amounts of stuttering when scrolling around app lists or web pages.
It’s easy for a reviewer to get excited about every new Android release, but it must be hell for someone actually looking to buy one of these things.
The good news is we’re getting closer to the perfect Android smartphone. I don’t believe we’re there yet, but every single manufacturer has contributed something to the platform that someone else will eventually copy and wrap into one device.
The latest in the list of attempts at perfection is Samsung with its Galaxy S. And I must say, Samsung’s take on Android is quite possibly the most unique I’ve seen. Unique compared to other Android vendors that is.
Vectors of Innovation
Samsung innovates along three vectors with the Galaxy S. You get a new screen size (4” vs. 3.5/3.7” or 4.3”). The 4” screen size is a near perfect combination of productivity boosting screen area and portability. You get a new screen type with Samsung’s Super AMOLED that really fixes a lot of issues I had with AMOLED displays in the past. To top it all off, Samsung continues to innovate by equipping the Galaxy S with the fastest GPU in any shipping smartphone: the PowerVR SGX 540.
There are four versions of the Galaxy S, one for each of the major US carriers. There’s the Captivate on AT&T, the Vibrant on T-Mobile, the Epic 4G on Sprint and the forthcoming Fascinate on Verizon.
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SomeAudioGuy - Monday, September 20, 2010 - linkHey Dane74,
Here's the deal. I've had the phone for three weeks BEFORE it was officially released (I also write for a tech blog). You can look at pictures of SOMEONE else using metric apps, and trying to tally measurements in lab-like conditions, or you can use the phone.
You know what, lets look at Anand's pic. Next to the Nexus 1, it's off by 30m, but has found one additional satellite over the N1. It's only locked to 3 satellites, but is reading better signals from the other satellites it hasn't locked. SO this is probably not a hardware issue (if we're to base EVERYTHING on one pic published by a reviewer that doesn't seem to like this phone that much).
I GeoCache A LOT. Using the GPS in the phone to geocache in really challenging environments to get good satellite line of sight (like the canyons in LA), I'm still within 5 meters. This is comparing the on screen data to map and compass.
Samsung might have issues, but it isn't "Fooling" me. They haven't written any malicious software, they aren't trying to hurt you, they aren't trying to trick you, they aren't evil-ly twiddling their fingers laughing "Muah-ha-ha" style at their customers while petting white cats. They've admitted they have some software issues, and are working on a patch.
My locks do take longer than my EVO, but are CONSIDERABLY faster than my Fascinate (Yes. I have all of these phones.) If the EVO is more accurate, I can't tell when I'm outside or doing turn by turn navigation. Truthfully, for all of the advantages that the Epic offers over any other phone, if it's only accurate to 4 meters and the iphone is accurate to 2 meters, the iphone can STILL shove it. I'm driving/walking/riding a bike NOT engaging in surgical missile strikes...
As to whether or not turning GPS on and off creates problems, I can't say. I haven't had any of these issues. My issues usually stem from not having good line of sight (like when I'm downtown).
Jeff7181 - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - linkVery helpful review... I almost bought one of these. I was hoping with the AMOLED the battery life would be better than the Evo 4G since it actually turns off black pixels from what I hear. Unfortunately that doesn't seem to help. Looks like I'll be keeping my Curve a while longer.
michael.gulde - Wednesday, September 8, 2010 - linkDidn't see much about ports on this article does it have a hdmi port?
MrMaestro - Wednesday, September 8, 2010 - linkThe i9000 (international version), which I assume is the same as the Epic, has a micro-USB port. Samsung has developed a micro-USB to HDMI cable but apparently they took the Galaxy S off its compatibility list on their website, so, I think the answer is essentially no. Still, the cable isn't out yet so we'll see.
DigitlDrug - Thursday, September 9, 2010 - linkHi Anand,
Thanks for another great review. I'm curious re. the supposed GPS software fix Samsung is cooking up.
Supposedly the Epic was supposed to ship with this "fix" or had at least been validated.
If you are able to dig up any additional info (maybe prod the engadget boys to see if they're testing methods are as exacting as yours, and what soft. ver they have) can you please update the article or drop in a news blurb?
(I'll admit this is a big one for me, GPS is the one sticking point as I realy heavily on it.)
fookxixi - Friday, September 10, 2010 - linkThe 30m/98.4feet GPS accuracy is a well-known bug. It won't go larger nor smaller. But from my google maps, the accuracy is definitely much better than 30m, probably ~5m. My friends' Epic don't have GPS problem either. You can not rely on the accuracy shown on some test apps.
Dane74 - Monday, October 18, 2010 - linkThe Epic has such widely GPS problems it is an entire section on Epic GPS issues in the Wikipedia article on it. If you are new to smart-phones, the GPS seems ok, If you know how good GPS has been on smart-phones for the past couple of years, you realize how bad Epic's is. And the picture shows the really low signal, that is the root of the problem on all the Epics.
You are new to smart-phones, that is why you think the poor GPS on Epic is ok.
ELT0R0 - Saturday, September 11, 2010 - linkI've had my Epic basically since launch day, and I've noticed (and found others at xda and androidforums) that the phone has issues with both the standard 3g data and general reception.
First thing is that for some reason the phone is constantly "without a signal", meaning that for some reason it is constantly searching for a cell signal (GSM?), even in areas with great reception. This can be 'fixed' by toggling airplane mode right after initial boot, and it might even alleviate some of the battery issues since the phone is no longer searching for a signal.
Second big issue is that the 3g upload data seems to be capped at 150 kbps. I have yet to see/hear/read any Epic capable of uploading faster than that on 3g. Even with full bars in the dead of night where I've been able to hit 1700 kbps download, I still get stuck at 145 kbps upload. I know for sure that my Pre before hand could easily hit 400-500 kbps under similar conditions.
Even in the review it looks as if Anand was also hitting the 3g upload wall, but it wasn't as apparent as it appeared to just be a reception issue since the area normally only gets 500 kbps U/D and the down speed at the time of testing only hit 300 kbps.
Anand, is there any way you can test these further?
Hrel - Sunday, September 12, 2010 - linkIt's too bad you didn't include the DroidX in the comparison pictures. Hopefully you will when you get the Verizon version.
quickbunnie - Monday, September 13, 2010 - link"I will say that I no longer have the problem where 4G performance is worse than Sprint’s 3G in my area. I usually get around 0.5/0.5Mbps on 3G, so there’s a noticeable performance increase when WiMAX is enabled."
Are you sure you are getting 0.5Mbps up on 3g?
There have been no posters with speed tests that get more than about ~150kbps up on any Epic 4G phone, even when side-by-side tests of an Evo will get 700+ kbps.