The Samsung Galaxy S II is one of the most highly anticipated devices to arrive in the US in quite some time, and Sprint is the first to receive it in the form of the Epic 4G Touch (shortened name for the sake of time). With a massive 4.52-inch Super AMOLED Plus screen, a 1800mAh and a Samsung Exynos dual-core 1.2GHz processor, the phone certainly looks to be quite the powerhouse. But has this new Android phone been able to live up to the hype? Read on for the full review!
The box contents are rather bare, and other than the phone, the only remaining items are a wall charger, USB cable, and manuals. No microSD card is included (although up to 32GB is supported).
Featuring a dual-core 1.2GHz Samsung Exynos processor at its heart, the Epic 4G Touch also has 1GB of RAM, 16GB of built-in storage, and a 1800mAh battery.
The standard complement of accelerometer, gyroscope, GPS, Bluetooth 3.0, and WiFi are here as well.
Weighing in at 4.6 ounces, the Epic 4G Touch is very lightweight, and only comes in .51 ounces heavier than its the global Galaxy S II. In hand, the phone, with its beveled edges and rounded corners, feels very nice.
The 480×800 WVGA resolution is a little small considering the size of the device, but it doesn't make text or images difficult to see.
A 4.52-inch SuperAMOLED Plus screen is the most noticeable feature on the front of the Epic 4G Touch. Colors are bright and brilliant, with excellent contrast and surprisingly decent outdoor visibility. There is also a 2MP front-facing camera, the usual sensors, main speaker, four capacitive touch buttons and a notification LED. Gorilla glass protects the face of the device, and while it's not impervious to damage, it certainly keeps most of it at bay. The digitizer and glass are fuzed together in the Epic 4G Touch, so if you do happen to break the screen, it will cost you more than if the parts were separate.
Yes, the device is mostly plastic. But this isn't really a concern in my opinion. And while the plastic may pick up some hairline scratches, it is the nature of mobile hardware.
The back of the Epic 4G Touch has a hashed or hexed texture, keeping the device from feeling as if it might just fly away from you if you didn't keep a death-grip on the phone. There is a small bump at the bottom, but it doesn't detract from the overall form factor. The speakerphone is very loud, and at full volume, is actually more pleasant on the ears than the original Epic.
Last, but not least, is the 8MP camera and flash (which we will cover later in the review).
On the left of the phone is the volume rocker and a small lanyard hole. The edges of the Epic 4G Touch are nicely beveled making the device easy to hold yet comfortable in hand as well. Regarding volume and quality of sound, this new iteration of the Epic line switched to a Yamaha chipset for audio. With the GSM models, there was a noticeable amount of noise leakage due to the GSM radio (and probably poor shielding). Comparing the original Epic to this new model, using noise-isolating headphones, I was unable to detect any interference with any of the radios (Bluetooth, Wifi, WiMax, 3G, or even in airplane mode).
Moving to the right side of the Epic 4G Touch, we find just the power button. Overall, the device is rather minimalistic. This isn't a negative, per se, but rather a relief considering all the chrome and crazy styling that has gone on in the past.
While Samsung's TouchWiz is the default UI rather than stock Gingerbread, the interface was still very fast. There is a little bit of bloat, some of which you can uninstall, but overall, the software configuration was a good mix of useful, fun, and Sprint-specific apps. I really like the inclusion of motion capabilities in the Epic 4G and hope more device manufacturers will take advantage of this concept in the future. In the video above, you can see a little more detail on some of the specifics.
The 8MP camera on the Epic 4G Touch is actually quite decent. It won't replace your DSLR or even a high-end point-and-shoot, but for quick, impressive shots, it is certainly up to the task. Focusing and image capture was fast, although what was frozen on the screen (somewhat blurry) isn't actually what was captured when you look at the final results.
While this device can record at 1080p, it should be noted this does not mean stunning video, but rather the resolution size at which it can record. Indoor video was fairly noisy and colors were inaccurate. Moving outdoors, or into stronger sunlit areas caused blowouts which took longer than expected to resolve. Audio quality was very good, considering. It's still a decent video recording device, but then again, I haven't seen a single phone with absolutely stellar quality.
The Samsung Exynos dual-core processor is nothing short of amazing. Screen transitions are butter smooth, and the device simply screams along with very little issues. The phone does seem to get warm occasionally, but in similar ways to other Sprint devices in the same environments. While I don't personally subscribe to benchmarks, comparing them against other similar (and non-tweaked) devices, certainly demonstrates this phones power.
Smartbench 2011: Productivity 3277, 2154 Games
LinPack Single thread: 55.19 MFLOP, 2.22 Seconds
LinPack Multi-thread: 82.599 MFLOP, 2.04 Seconds
CALL QUALITY/NETWORK SPEED
Using both Google Voice and direct call methods, I had no complaints on call quality or issues with dropped calls. Call volume was almost too loud at points, which equates to better volumes available when in noisier environments.
As for 3G speeds, they were typical of Sprint, averaging 500Kbps up and 650Kbps down (peaking at 1200Kbps). 4G speeds reached as high as 12308Kbps down and 1545Kbps up, when we could get access to the 4G WiMax service (a problem for Sprint across the board). As with most Sprint 4G devices, I generally leave 4G service disabled, primarily because the hand-off from 4G to 3G on Sprint devices is so slow and painful. There were some speed test anomalies (57kbps up at one point?), but this seems to be due to Sprint's network versus the device itself.
There have been a couple of odd hiccups with the GPS — and it seems to occur after going without connectivity for long periods, such as a flight. Rebooting the phone fixes the problem quickly. Others have noted issues with Baseband EG30 as well. We are still investigating the problem, and would have given the phone a slightly higher score if the issue hadn't cropped up.
First full day with the Epic 4G Touch, I clocked in 16 hours of use before the battery warning appeared, and this was with approximately 3 hours of phone calls, surfing, downloading large files, and generally configuring the device. Subsequent days gave similar results, as long as 4G connections were solid or disabled. Overall, a much better battery life than anticipated, and longer than any device I've used in some time.
PURCHASING AND AVAILABILITY
The Samsung Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch can be purchased, with a two-year contract, for $199 from Sprint.
- Lightweight yet comfortable
- Battery life is fantastic
- Magnificent Super AMOLED Plus screen
- Possible GPS issue
- WiMax hand-off issues (typical of all WiMax devices, however)
I must say I struggled to come up with valid Cons (other than the odd GPS issue which we are still investigating) for this outstanding device. Since I'm not a heavy world traveler (or really a world traveler at all), the GSM capabilities are less of a concern than it will be to some. Even the smallish resolution wasn't as distracting as I expected it to be. The Pros in this case more than make up for any inadequacies found along the way. Even if it is a few months old (relative to its initial release), the Epic 4G Touch has not only been able to stand up to its predecessor, but in some ways, stand above the original Galaxy S II. In all, I would highly recommend this phone to anyone in the market for a new device today — even if you have to switch carriers to partake in its awesomeness.
We rate the Sprint Samsung Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch a 4/5.