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The Epic 4G has almost everything you could want in a smart phone -- a blazing fast CPU and GPU, cutting-edge wireless, video-conferencing, and a physical keyboard.

The phone impacts the market on Aug. 31.
Epic 4G is packed with the same attractive features as the Vibrant -- plus 4G and front-facing camera

Samsung in May quietly slipped into first place in the overall U.S. mobile market.  However, in the Android smartphone market, it's been forced to endure sitting in third place behind HTC and Motorola.  That was largely because despite having a couple Android handsets (Moment and Intercept) it didn't have a truly dominant handset like its competitors -- until now.

Then Samsung unleashed the Galaxy S.  In July the super smartphone hit the T-Mobile network, dubbed the "Vibrant", and the AT&T network, dubbed the "Captivate".  Now Sprint has become the third major carrier to announce the pricing and availability of a Galaxy S variant, and the first to announce the keyboard-equipped variant of the phone, the Galaxy S Pro.  Sprint is rebranding it the "Samsung Epic 4G".

Specs-wise the Galaxy S Pro is a beast.  It features a relatively large 480x800 pixel 4.0-inch AMOLED screen, a commanding PowerVR GPU, 512 MB of RAM, between 8 and 16 GB of memory, microSD expansion (up to 32 GB), a rear-facing camera capable of shooting 720p video, and a front-facing VGA camera for video calling (on some carriers).  

The phone features a powerful 1 GHz ARM Cortex A8 based CPU code-named "Hummingbird", co-developed by Samsung and Intrinsity.  In early benchmarks, the 1 GHz Hummingbird smoked the competition, proving to be about 50 percent faster than Apple's A4 found in the iPhone 4 or TI OMAP processor found in the Droid X.  The Hummingbird makes the Galaxy S the world's fastest smartphone.

The phone is among the first offer Bluetooth 3.0 connectivity.  It also is among the first to offer support for the DivX HD/XviD format.

Sprint's version of the Galaxy S sports numerous advantages over its T-Mobile "Vibrant" brethren.  First, it adds support for Sprint's 4G WiMAX network, which has already spread across numerous urban areas in the U.S.  In testing with HTC EVO 4G, Sprint's next-gen network showcased significantly higher data transfer speeds (especially useful while tethering) and the ability to simultaneously make voice calls while transmitting data (not possible using Sprint's traditional 3G CDMA).

The Epic 4G also adds the front-facing camera of the international ("Pro") version, which was stripped from the Vibrant.  Also added is the LED flash of the international version.  The only downside is that it gets thicker than the Vibrant -- going from 9.9 mm thick (the thinnest Android phone on the market) to 14.3 mm thick (due to the QWERTY keyboard) -- just slightly thicker than the EVO 4G.

Finally, it adds a full slide-out QWERTY keyboard.  While this makes the phone a bit thicker, it will be appreciated by many who dislike touchscreen virtual keyboards.

The only spec not yet announced by Sprint is whether the phone will feature 8 GB or 16 GB of internal memory.  The phone ships with Android 2.1, but an Android 2.2 Froyo update will be available before the end of September.  A leaked build is already available for those who want to root their phones (though this is a test build, so admittedly may have issues).

Regardless of that unknown, if you want an Android smartphone, Sprint's Epic 4G 
at this point is the best handset on the market, hands down, in everything except screen size (the HTC EVO 4G and Droid X have it beat in this department).  One final aspect in which it dominates is battery life.  The AMOLED screen turns off black pixels, which allows the battery to be milked to almost two days in standard use scenarios -- much better than the almost one day that the HTC EVO 4G is getting.

The Galaxy S will eventually hit Verizon rebranded as the "Fascinate", but it won't have the front-facing camera. 

Sprint will retail the Epic 4G at a $50 premium from the Vibrant, charging $249.99 USD for the smart phone with new contract, and after $100 mail-in rebate.  Contract pricing is identical to the EVO 4G -- $69.99 USD for unlimited cell-to-cell calling, data, and texts per month, $10 monthly USD premium for the privilege of earning a 4G-capable smart phone ahead of the masses, and $29.99 USD if you opt to tether from your device.

The phone goes on sale August 31 and this Friday (August 13) pre-orders begin.

At this point it seems relatively straightforward -- the Samsung Epic 4G features the fastest processor-- by far -- of any Android phone on the market.  It also has industry leading battery life.  And of the Galaxy S smartphones in the U.S. the Epic 4G is clearly the cream of the crop.


There were some questions about the $10 "4G fee" on the device.   Sprint spokesman John Taylor wrote an explanation of this fee for the HTC EVO 4G, elaborating:

If you buy the Sprint 4G EVO, you have to pay this $10 charge each month. This is specific to the device. It's not related to whether you are using 3G or 4G. It is required if you have the phone.

Because the phone has a faster processor, a huge 4.3 inch screen and an 8 megapixel camcorder/camera, we expect you will be using a lot more data than you would with our other devices. These features will give you capabilities that have previously never been available on a wireless device and we think they provide a premium experience. (Remember, this is the world's first 3G/4G Android phone.)

Essentially the message seems to be that the fee is essentially for the 4G coverage, but Sprint doesn't want to call it that, so instead is saying it's for the handset(s) overall greatness -- including the 4G.  While we think this is a bit of a strange approach, Sprint is the first carrier to widely offer "true" 4G (Verizon offers it in 5+ cities currently, but has few compatible handsets; T-Mobile offers the 3.5G tech HSPA+), so we're not complaining.

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By JanSolo on 8/12/2010 11:47:27 AM , Rating: 0
I know the author wants to be over the top but..

1. WiMax has very little market penetration, so you're typically stuck with a phone that is limited to CDMA which means no simultaneous voice and data.
2. WiMax has issues with penetrating walls, glass, etc. Go outside and you get decent signal, go inside and things change.
3. So far, WiMax has proven to be battery killer on the Evo. We have no evidence of how it will perform on the Epic, but evidence so far suggests it will be a battery killer.
4. While speeds look good in benchmarks, my Evo on WiMax wasn't anything special versus my Captivate.
5. This is not the fastest phone around. The Captivate, Fascinate and Vibrant all share the same CPU, so in CPU speeds, it is on par with the other Galaxy S phones on other carriers (or soon to be on other carriers).
6. The reason the Galaxy S phones do so well on GL benchmarks is not due to their CPU, but their discrete GPU - the PowerVR SGX540. The iPad and iPhone 4 use an earlier version of the PowerVR GPU, hence why their GL benchmarks are lower.
7. Finally, most of everything you stated regarding features minus the front facing camera and LED flash are on the other Samsung Galaxy S phones. I think the author just has a chub for the Epic 4G for some reason.

RE: wow
By charrytg on 8/12/2010 12:10:24 PM , Rating: 2
1. That's true, but it won't hurt to have wimax avaliable for when it is wanted. And in most cases no voice+data isn't a deal breaker. Wifi exists also.

2. Go inside and you would turn on wifi anyway, so that's a silly thing to say.

3. Likely true. But it can be turned off, so it doesn't hurt to have the option, although it may make wimax seem less desirable than people make it out to be.

4. While it provides faster data, it isn't life changing. Besides what advertising tells you, I don't think you are supposed to be looking at it that way. Evolution, not revolution.

5. So, you say it is not the fastest phone around, but yet compare it to the other models of the phone. So, it is then isn't it. The galaxy s phones are the fastest phones around.

6. Are you saying it has a bad cpu then? The phone excells at many benchmarks, having a very powerful gpu as well as a very powerful cpu.

7. Take the galaxy s, seen by many as the best phone of the year. Add another camera, optional 4g, led flash and a keyboard. While the keyboard is debatably not something everyone would want, and while 4g may not be good in all cases, what you end up getting is a galaxy s with a bit extra. What is there to hate? Why not appreciate it?

RE: wow
By JanSolo on 8/13/2010 12:37:17 AM , Rating: 2
1. You're not disputing my point about the lack of availability which thereby inhibits you having WiMax available when it is wanted. People *want* it, it's just not rolled out.
2. You assume that every place has WiMax or that even if WiFi is available, that it is free or available to general public. My point still stands.
3. Technically, WiMax *could* be fast, but Sprint limits throughput. Again, the problem with WiMax is lack of availability, throughput and power drain. I don't see how any of those things make WiMax a win-win.
4. 4G, per the ITU, is supposed to offer speeds of up to 100mb. WiMax can do that speed and go over in fact, but Sprint limits it.
5. Correct. The Galaxy S phones are theoretically the fastest hardware available. Yay. "The phone features a powerful 1 GHz ARM Cortex A8 based CPU code-named "Hummingbird", co-developed by Samsung and Intrinsity. In early benchmarks, the 1 GHz Hummingbird smoked the competition, proving to be about 50 percent faster than Apple's A4 found in the iPhone 4 or TI OMAP processor found in the Droid X." The benchmark in question:
6. The author pointed to OpenGL benchmarks as proof of the fast CPU.
7. I am not bashing the phone at all, rather, I am pointing out that the phone is not the fastest phone ever. Case in point, the headline: "Samsung Epic 4G, the Fastest Android Smartphone, Hits Sprint".

Or how about this: "At this point it seems relatively straightforward -- the Samsung Epic 4G features the fastest processor-- by far -- of any Android phone on the market." It's as if the author conveniently forgot the rest of the line of Galaxy S phones and wanted to justify his future purchasing plans.

And then the editorializing at the end without any quantitative data sealed the deal: "It also has industry leading battery life. And of the Galaxy S smartphones in the U.S. the Epic 4G is clearly the cream of the crop." What is the battery life of the Epic 4G? We get lots of hype, but no numbers. Is the of the unreleased, untested Epic higher or lower than the other Galaxy S phones or the iPhone 4? We don't know really, because there are no numbers here, just hyperbole.

RE: wow
By bigboxes on 8/12/2010 8:49:36 PM , Rating: 1
You didn't read the article.

RE: wow
By JanSolo on 8/13/2010 12:43:16 AM , Rating: 2
On the contrary, I read it thoroughly and paid attention. ;-)

RE: wow
By bigboxes on 8/13/2010 7:40:35 AM , Rating: 1
Wasn't replying to you. You read the article. ;)

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