Let’s call it frustration, not jealousy. Europe and Asia have been enjoying the charms of the Samsung Galaxy S II for several months now, leaving the US to suffer a serious case of the green-eyed monster. The first of the US variants has finally arrived however, the Samsung EPIC 4G Touch, a CDMA twist on the phone we’ve been waiting for, but has the charm faded over time?
In June HTC released the EVO 3D, last month Motorola launched the Droid Bionic and now Samsung is here with the Epic 4G Touch, a Galaxy S II device for Sprint. Just as these Italian supercars compete for supremacy on the track, Android superphones are competing for pocket space. Samsung has upped the ante even from the original Galaxy S II by giving the Epic 4G Touch a 4.52” Super AMOLED Plus display to go along with a 1.2 GHz dual core processor, 8 megapixel camera with 1080p video capture and 16GB of on-board memory with an 1800mAh battery, all wrapped in a package that’s just 9.6mm thin.
The Epic 4G Touch is similar to the Galaxy S II we reviewed back in May. The most notable design change is the increased screen size – it now sits at 4.52”, up from 4.3”- and now has four capacitive buttons at the bottom instead of two and a physical button. It is about 1mm thicker, a difference that goes relatively unnoticed in the hand. With the screen size even bigger than the HTC EVO 3D and Motorola PHOTON 4G you’d think the Epic 4G Touch would be bordering on too large. To the contrary, it actually feels pretty comfortable in our medium-sized hands and it nearly gets lost when we slide it into our front pocket.
The original Galaxy S II – which we reviewed all the way back in April – was a pretty straightforward phone: big, bright and colorful screen, fast 1.2GHz dual-core processor and great camera, all wrapped up in a super-slim casing. 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.
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. Nonetheless, it’s responsive and great for video watching.
Software and Performance
It’s business as usual with Android on the EPIC 4G Touch. Samsung’s TouchWiz interface still isn’t our favorite modification to the Google OS, but it’s certainly better in its current incarnation than earlier reskins. As well as a colorful new set of icons – which seem pretty much designed to show off the Super AMOLED Plus panel’s abilities – there’s the various Samsung Hubs.
Samsung is particularly pushing the Media Hub, its own iTunes alternative offering movie and TV show downloads, and supporting progressive downloading to reduce the waiting period before you can actually start watching. However there’s also the Social Hub, which is more of an aggregator, pulling together your email, text and picture messaging, and Facebook and Twitter activity.
Kies Air remains one of our favorite tools from the original Galaxy S II review, allowing you to log into your EPIC 4G Touch from your browser when it’s on the same WiFi network, and access contacts, bookmarks, messages, photos, music and video. It works well, though Samsung still doesn’t offer a web-based remote track and sync service as HTC does.
As for raw benchmarks, the EPIC 4G Touch scored around 3,200 in Quadrant Advanced. That’s a little less than the original GSM Galaxy S II, which managed 3,540 in our original review. WiMAX performance, meanwhile, does nothing to change our stance on it being one of the lesser 4G options. We saw average download speeds of 4Mbps and upload speeds of 1.8Mbps. Contrast that with the 13Mbps downloads and 3Mbps uploads we saw on LTE with the DROID BIONIC, and it’s clear WiMAX falls short.
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Mahesh (MGIT ECE 4th year)