Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Samsung Epic 4G Touch

Various Gadgets | Samsung Epic 4G Touch | If you havent heard about the Samsung Galaxy S II by now, youre definitely tardy to the party. Are Sprint customers getting a "tainted" version of Sammys flagship Android device? The original Galaxy S II earned one of our best review scores, topped our back to school guide and recently earned a mention in our smartphone buyers guide for the second time in a row. Whereas the phones predecessor, the Samsung Epic 4G, was a radical change in look, feel and design from its global counterpart -- Sprint slapped a mediocre QWERTY keyboard on its version of the Galaxy S, for crying out loud -- this one fortunately doesnt depart far from the original design.

The Epic weighs in at 4.55 ounces compared to the originals breathtaking 4.09; it mustve gained an extra mm when waiting in customs, too, as the handset ballooned from a svelte 8.49mm (0.33 inches) to a slender 9.65mm (0.38 inches) during its transition. An adjustment thatll definitely get noticed, though, is the Epics bump in display size to 4.5 inches, a full two-tenths of an inch of additional real estate on the screen to take advantage of Samsungs colorful Super AMOLED Plus technology. The fourth button, missing entirely on the original, is the search key. Frankly, we were expecting to see this layout on the domestic versions -- the first Galaxy S phones launched in the US last year opted for the same setup, not to mention that devices launched in the US seldom depart from this four-button system. The Epic 4G Touch took some other liberties to spice up the Galaxy S II design. Completely unchanged in the Epic is the somewhat questionable build quality of the Galaxy S II. Contrary to the original Galaxy S series, this particular port lacks the clever sliding door to keep dust and moisture out while the phone isnt charging, which was a small disappointment.

Underneath the hood, Samsung and Sprint have kept the Epic true to its fraternal twins roots, retaining the top-of-the-class 1.2GHz dual-core Exynos CPU and 1GB of RAM primarily responsible for the phones buttery-smooth performance and amazing benchmarks (discussed later in the review). It features the same 8 megapixel rear camera and 2 megapixel front-facing cam; the Epic also has 16GB of built-in storage and its included microSD port is capable of extending that capacity out to 48GB. The Epic 4G Touch doesnt disappoint in its display either. TouchWiz 4.0 remains largely unchanged in the Epic with only minor UI and software tweaks. What would an Android device on Sprint be without your usual dosage of Sprint ID, NASCAR, Sprint Zone, Sprint Mobile Wallet or game demos.

The Galaxy S IIs camera has been lauded with a monstrous amount of praise (deservedly so) and the Epic 4G Touch comes equipped with the same lens, sensor, software and everything in between. Were very grateful that the camera UI has remained untouched on the Epic. The right menu bar offers up the camcorder toggle switch, shutter button and a shortcut to return to the photo gallery. Speaking of shutters, the phones lack of a dedicated camera button may be disappointing, but at least Samsung makes up for it with a killer shutter button that mimics a double-detent focus. The fact that the exposure is locked in is an impressive feature few other phones have; oftentimes we run into issues snapping images of the sunset because phones like to automatically adjust the exposure, causing the picture to turn out incredibly dark. By pointing the camera away from the sunset (allowing the exposure to adjust to the low light rather than the direct sun), locking in the exposure and then turning it back to our intended target, our images turned out much brighter. We took some truly beautiful images with the Epic 4G Touch at full resolution, thanks to the plethora of various camera settings available: ISO, metering, focus modes, panoramic shots and other shooting modes were all graciously included. Sadly, we also wish image stabilization played a larger role in recording video, as our hands were shaky without using some type of support. Its far from professional-grade, but its one of the best free editing apps weve seen on a phone, and its definitely a fun time-waster.

Another area where the Epic 4G Touch shines is in its performance, as predicted. We didnt think there would be enough of a difference between this device and its overseas version, considering the phones components are virtually identical. For browser performance, the Epic outshone every other phone weve seen with an average result of 3475. The Epic 4G Touchs battery is stronger than the Galaxy S II, weighing in at 1,800mAh (compared to the GS2s 1,650mAh). Our calls were absolutely solid. The phones reception is on par with the best handsets around, and we never suffered from dropped calls or degraded quality. We were bracing ourselves for a disappointment with the Epic 4G Touch, but the outcome was actually just as pleasing -- if not even more so -- than the original Samsung Galaxy S II. As the powerhouse on Sprints network and an ambassador of the "Galaxy S II" title in the US, the Epic 4G Touch is definitely worthy to bear the permanent branding that sits on the battery cover.

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