Customer Review

180 of 215 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Purchase At Your Own Risk!, October 19, 2011
This review is from: Samsung Galaxy S II Epic Touch 4G Android Phone, Black (Sprint) (Wireless Phone Accessory)
EDIT: As of 1/5/2012 I am now highly recommending this device, providing certain conditions are met, as described in my update below. If you would like to review the issues history, read on; if not, jump down to the 1/15 update

On paper - this phone is amazing. And in many ways it is. The screen is brilliant (and surprisingly manageable given its large size). The CPU is fast. The AMOLED technology delivers an incredibly vivid image, AND (theoretically) saves battery power, because 'black' pixels are un-lit, and thus require no power.

BUT HERE's THE RUB

Follow my analogy - Let's say you bought a BMW 6-series for $85K or so; beautiful design and engineering, specifications to die for. So you get into your new car, and find that with every few miles of driving, the engine suddenly, and randomly, shuts itself down.

Now, while scratching your head on this problem, you're looking at your gas gauge and expensive on-board computer and it's telling you that you have about 400 miles left. You drive 150 miles and guess what: you're out of gas.

I'll close my analogy now: you call BMW, and despite all of the other 6's that are on the side of the road with the same problem, BMW won't recognize the issue. Instead, the recommend for problem (a) to disconnect and reconnect your battery whenever this happens, and for problem (b), perhaps carry a little spare gas with you.

Translated:

Despite its rich feature set, and some engineering marvel, this phone suffers from serious issues; the most serious is known as the "LOS issue" or Loss of Service, wherein the radio randomly shuts itself off, and cannot be turned on without a battery pull - and that's once you're aware it's off after missing how many calls? Not to be confused with the other LOS issue, Loss of Signal, wherein your Samsung has one bar (or has started roaming) and your buddy (on Sprint w/a different phone) has 4 bars. Not clear whether the two LOS issues are related.

The second issue is MASSIVE unexplainable battery drain. Theoretically this phone should get - and many people do achieve, 20-30 hours of battery life per charge. Heck, it's one of the reasons I waited 8 months for this phone (they announced it in Feb. 2011). I, and many others, get 5-10 hours per charge, max. Nobody's quite sure why, but the latest thinking is that some out of control processes prevent the phone from 'sleeping' when it's not being used, resulting in diminished battery life. The first issue may in fact be a contributor to the second.

Too much detail to provide here, but if you're seriously considering this phone, check out the XDA Developers forum, or any other popular Android forum, search on 'AOS issue' and/or 'LOS issue' and you'll see what I mean.

And here's what discourages me most - Samsung/Sprint will not even recognize the issues, as (many have theorized) they are astutely aware, but either don't know what's causing the problem, or don't care (even the Sprint Forum is clogged with complaints and no word from Sprint). To be clear - not ALL phones seem to be experiencing this, but MANY are. Roll the dice if you like.

I'm writing this review because I had to find out about these issues - and all of these forums - AFTER I bought the phone, and perhaps I can save some of you that issue.

<<UPDATE 10/24>>
Seems that a lot of frustrated owners are venting in the Sprint forums, but people who don't own the phone yet typically don't go there. If you're reading this and you don't own the phone yet, you should check out the owners forums. If you DO own the phone and are having these issues, please post your personal experience in a separate review here on Amazon (the many comments to this post are great, but will not get as much attention as an independent post/review.) Thanks!

<<UPDATE 1/15/2012>>

After far too many delays, Sprint/Samsung has released firmware fixes that are intended to address the major issues mentioned in this review. I have had the opportunity to evaluate these, even before they were made public, thanks in large part to the great developer community at XDA Forums.

Above I stated that I can now endorse this phone under certain circumstances, and those are that the purchaser's phone contain the necessary fixes. At this time I do not know if these have been 'pushed' over-the-air to all existing users, if they are by default being included in new phones, or if one has to wait for the issues to occur and then have to waste time with Sprint Support to get the update.

There is an easy way to determine if any phone you are considering has been updated. If you are in a Sprint Store, you can follow the instructions below. If the phone meets the requirements, congratulations - you now own what may be the finest mass-market device produced to date. If not, tell them to pull another one from stock, or take your chances by learning how to root your phone and updating it yourself.

HOW TO DETERMINE ROM/KERNEL/MODEM UPDATE TO LOOK FOR:

1) With the phone at its Home Screen, press the <Menu> softkey. Select <Settings>.
2) Scroll down the next screen and select <About Phone>.
3) On this page, scroll down and confirm the following:

- "Baseband Version" (this is the modem): Should have a series of numbers and letters. At the end of this series, make sure you see 'EL13' 'EL26' or 'EL29'. If you see 'EG30' 'EG12' or 'EG31', then RUN AWAY.

- "Kernel Version" (this is the OS): Should also have a series of numbers, beginning with 2.6.3X.X- etc. In the middle of this series, you'll want to see 'EK02' 'EL13' 'EL26' or 'EL29'.

- "Build Number" (this is the ROM version): Since my device is rooted with a custom ROM, I don't know the exact wording of the 'default'. However, if you see any of the recommended codes from <Kernel Version> above somewhere in this description, then you're in good shape, because the ROM that's loaded determines the kernel version (not necessarily vice-versa).

NOW - Enjoy this device - it's pretty amazing!
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Comments

Tracked by 9 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 35 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 20, 2011 10:30:26 AM PDT
Fortunately I've never experienced the phone shutting down unexpectedly, so I can't really comment on that. As far as the battery drain, my Epic Touch 4G seems to last about as long as my iPhone did. When purchasing this phone, I did not expect the battery to last as long as it does. After all, it has a massive 4.5" screen, which is about 40% larger than the iPhone in total surface area. Other pluses, and battery hogs, is that it runs flash and has 4G. That being said, I use wifi at home and at work, and tend to keep the 4g turned off unless I'm downloading things away from wifi, as the 4G does tend to use a lot more battery. I do like having the 4G capability when I want it, which isn't even an option with the iPhone.

I had always been an iPhone user, and was happy for the most part. I waited for the "new" iPhone to come out expecting at least a somewhat larger screen, as I intended to buy another iPhone. When Apple released the iPhone 4s, I was pretty disappointed and opted to buy the Epic 4G instead, as the "new" iPhone didn't seem to provide much that I didn't already have. The iPhone 4s definitely didn't provide what I wanted, which was 4G capability, a larger screen, and to run flash (which I'm not sure Apple will ever do). I'm not trying to trash the iPhone. It's a great phone too, just trying to make a comparison against what most people consider the industry standard. Overall, I'm happy with the Epic 4G Touch, and am glad I bought it.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 20, 2011 10:42:56 AM PDT
Andrew G says:
The iPhone is an 'industry standard' for games like Angry Birds and 'apps' like Facebook. If you use your phone for business purposes, there are some fundamental 'must-haves':

1) A working phone that doesn't intermittently shut down its radio (and btw, the phone doesn't shut down, just the radio; so you might not know it until someone tells you you missed their call, you try to make a call, or an in-progress call drops)

2) Battery life to get through a moderate-use business day. I loved the HTC EVO and similar android devices, but held onto my Blackberry, because I can't afford to keep my phone plugged in during the day or remember to always carry a spare battery.

- If you are not experiencing the Loss of Signal/Service issue, then you are lucky - but not immune. If you read the boards, you'll see that some people had their phone for weeks before it started.

- Stating that the battery is good because its better than an iPhone is like stating a go-kart is a good commuting vehicle because its faster than a bicycle. This phone is supposed to achieve 18 hours or more of moderate use. Forget the other big-screen phones; do some research and you'll see why. Aside from AMOLED, the phone shuts down services and functions when they're not being used (including 4G). You can customize how often it 'polls' for data.

Like I previously stated - in theory - it should be wonderful. And by some standards it might be. But to give you an example. My phone was turned on at 9am; it's now down to 46% battery with moderate use (10 mins Internet, 3 or 4 calls of 5-10 mins each, a few mins. w/ the calendar), AND I just had to re-boot it because the radio shut down. When? I have no idea....

Posted on Oct 20, 2011 11:28:00 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 21, 2011 4:07:29 PM PDT
1m2 says:
I purchased this SGS2 from Sprint on D day and had problems with the phone going to roaming every 5 minutes and zero 3G. They finally replaced it, and no more Roaming problems at all! The 3G wasn't working much either on this one, so I called again and they had me "re-activate" my new SGS2 and now I have descent 3G. I still think it should be faster but I'm happy it's now working.

1 more thing, the battery on the first phone was getting chewed up in 3 hours. Now with this phone I'm getting a day and a half. Just to be clear I'm not using Live Wallpaper and I'm def. not using FaceBook, I found it sucking too much juice out!!!

...also.... my wife just got the iP4s, it's a joke! the Retina display is a joke compared to my SGS2, Siris is cool but no thx. I'll stick w/my clear awesome 4.5" screen!

********I will try to get those reset/re-activate instructions and post, maybe that will help some people?********

as promissed....
##72786#
paswd=385476 ok
menu, reset, should reactivate, power cycle
o.k.?

Posted on Oct 20, 2011 11:28:12 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Oct 20, 2011 11:28:30 AM PDT]

Posted on Oct 20, 2011 11:50:48 AM PDT
Phil says:
Pretty sad Sprint doesn't care to address's issue keep customers up to date on fix but hey what did you expect, That's how Sprint does business they treat their customers like dirt.

Posted on Oct 20, 2011 12:10:51 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 20, 2011 12:12:19 PM PDT
Twelvoltz says:
I own this phone, I waited for it to come out to replace my Samsung Moment. I can say that the phone itself is amazing, brilliant screen, lightning fast response, etc. I can also say that it's signal reception is absolutely horrible. The phone constantly goes into roam in areas where I never had problems before. I can be standing still in the middle of a call and the phone will spontaneously disconnect the call and go to a no signal condition. The 3G connection is painfully slow and even wifi seems to have issues for me. I seriously hope Sprint will address the issue soon. I have not had the battery issues that others experience, my phone will typically last most of the day under normal usage.

Posted on Oct 20, 2011 1:17:00 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 20, 2011 2:43:51 PM PDT
Don Qua says:
Andrew G is right. On paper this phone is wonderful and it would be wonderful to own if it didn't have the nagging problems that he describes. It's a heartbreaker, I couldn't in good faith recommend this phone to anyone. I ought to know, I'm on my 2nd Epic Touch and my wife has one too. After 1 week my first Epic Touch started roaming on Verizon even though there's a Sprint tower on my street. Then it refused to connect to Sprint at all no matter where I went. I've been a Sprint customer for years but Sprint was worse than no help, when I brought it to a Sprint corporate store they demanded $35 just to look at it since I didn't buy it from them. Do you want to buy this phone and be treated this way? I spent hours on the phone with Sprint tech support and I got all sorts of stories from Sprint about bad towers, even though my wife's phone worked fine. Now her phone has started to drop signal (LOS: loss of signal - a circle with a slash through it where signal bars ought to be). This phone has lots of promise but it's a broken promise. I don't know who dropped the ball, Samsung or Sprint but I feel as if I've been left holding the bag with their imperfect flagship Android device. Sprint is selling the iphone now so once you buy the Epic 4G Touch and are under contract, they've got your money and they simply don't care.

Posted on Oct 20, 2011 1:22:16 PM PDT
Fred Jumayao says:
I also bought the same phone and I am having the same issues. In fact if you check most of the major Android Forums, a lot of other users are having the same problem. Do not buy this phone until it is resolved by Sprint/Samsung. Without this issue, the phone is awesome!

Posted on Oct 20, 2011 1:29:54 PM PDT
The Rocket says:
The phone has been working great since I rooted it and installed a new kernel. Samsung really should get "on the ball" and fix the stock kernel. People should not have to alter their phones just to get them reliable. Awesome hardware, piss poor software. Sad

Posted on Oct 20, 2011 1:34:58 PM PDT
Ryan C says:
LOS issues and phone freezing. Do not buy this phone till Sprint fixes the issues.
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