Customer Reviews: Samsung Epic 4G Android Phone (Sprint)
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on January 6, 2011
This is my first smartphone. I purchased it on launch day (August 31), so I've had four months to play with it. I'll review its strengths and weaknesses in a few categories:

AWESOME! Apple's iPhone 4 screen is sharp, but nothing beats the super-dark blacks and vibrant colors of a Super AMOLED. 4 inches is perfect too -- it's not too big to fit in a jeans pocket

Very well done, with an excellent layout. It occasionally misses a keystroke, though.

I almost never take my Canon PowerShot to parties anymore. The still photo quality in good light is awesome, but photos in low light with flash look a little bit muddy and noisy. Plenty good enough. Video quality is awesome -- you'll definitely have no need for a Flip camcorder if you're carrying the Epic.

I have used Sprint for 10 years, but only with flip phones. Call quality is pretty good, and I almost never drop a call. The earpiece is a little buzzy at high volumes. The 3G is excellent everywhere I go -- I live in Houston, TX, but it also works great in Austin, DFW, and Seattle. 4G is spotty and it'll suck the daylights out of your battery if you keep it turned on when not in a 4G area.

It usually lasts a whole day with moderate usage. Turn off GPS, Wifi, and 4G if you're not using them to save juice.

Android rocks; there are over 100,000 apps to choose from. However, sometimes the Epic lags a little when scrolling through the menus. Which brings me to my biggest beef about the Epic: As of 1/6/2011, Froyo has still not been released on the Epic, or any other Samsung Galaxy S phones in the US. The EVO has had Froyo since August.

The hardware (especially the screen) is great, but the spotty 4G network and Samsung's poor software support leave me somewhat lukewarm. Take a look at Motorola and HTC Android phones instead. However -- the Epic is a lot of fun to use, and it sure beats a flip phone!

Update (1/25/11): Samsung still hasn't released Froyo. I rooted the phone, and I installed the TrulyEpic Rebirth ROM, which is based on a leaked version of Froyo. Everything is much smoother now, and the GPS locks within 4 foot accuracy. However, the rooting process is not for the faint of heart and there's a chance you may brick the phone. The average Joe shouldn't have to do this to get a properly updated phone. Thus, I reduced the rating to two stars. If you want a phone with a keyboard, get the new EVO Shift instead.
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on November 20, 2010
I've been with T-Mobile now for a few years, and I read some pretty cool things about the Samsung Epic, so my wife and I each gave one a shot under Sprint's 30 day "test drive." Long and short -- the Epic didn't live up to what we were hoping for, and we ended up sticking with T-Mobile (and got the T-Mobile G2). (Note -- neither of us work for either company, and have absolutely no connection or dedication to either company.) Here are our pros and cons on the Epic:

-- Brilliant, eye-catching screen. Super AMOLED is incredible. This is one area where the Epic is a little nicer than the T-Mobile G2. (The Epic screen is a little over-saturated, and the G2 renders colors a little more naturally, but all in all, the Epic has a great screen.)

-- Physical keyboard has a lot of useful keys; all four capacitative buttons from front face of phone are duplicated on the keyboard. Dedicated row of number keys is nice.

-- Sprint 4G (when you can get it, and you're not concerned about burning up the battery) is very fast.

-- TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE battery life (even after exchanging for a different phone and battery). I could never get more than 8-10 hours of standby/use under very average use; a few days I didn't even make it through the day. (I use my phone for basic business emailing, infrequent texting, and occasional web-browsing when bored.) I even did extensive internet research on how to improve battery life, and pretty much every idea I found involved disabling or shutting off every feature that makes the Epic useful/fun/cool. And don't even think about using the fancy Sprint 4G too much -- that drains the Epic's battery faster than anything (which is a little annoying, given that you pay $10/line/month for the 4G.) What's the point of having a phone where you can't use anything on it??? The battery life issues are by far the most common complaint I have seen re: the Epic, and my experience was no different. (By point of contrast, in my second day of use with the T-Mo G2, I got 24 hours of typical standby/use. For me, that is an acceptable battery life for one of these high-powered smartphones.)

-- Painfully slow charger. The Epic took over 4 hours to go from 15-20% power to full charge. (Again, only by point of contrast, my G2 recharges in about 2 hrs. I've read that Samsungs in general don't charge very fast.)

-- A little pricey. The Epic is $250 after the $100 contrast, you can get other Android phones on other carriers for $150-200. When you are dealing with two phones, as we were, the $100-$200 difference isn't chump change.

-- Still no Android 2.2 for any Samsung phone!!! (On every other Android phone, OS 2.2 has been out for months. Again, Samsung phones are typically behind on the OS updates.) That means no Flash support, so a lot of webpages will have blanks or unplayable embeds. On a similar point, Samsung doesn't use straight Android -- they have their own overlay operating system on top of the Android layout. (I've read this is what slows down the OS updates.) I didn't like the Samsung overlay OS; much prefer the plain Android. The Samsung overlay OS is bloated and not particularly intuitive, and I believe slows this phone down. Android OS ain't broke, don't try and fix it Samsung! Just give us 2.2 Froyo!

-- The phone is a little bulky. The weight was good on the Epic (noticeably lighter than the T-Mobile G2), but the Epic is larger in size. I really feel like Epic exceeded the sweet spot in terms of its size. The Epic was also little "plasticky" (compared with a lot of brushed metal on the G2), but that does probably help out the Epic with the weight.

-- Sprint 4G is not particularly functional. This is not a complaint about the Epic per se, but is nevertheless relevant to this phone. As I noted above, when you get the Epic, you must pay $10/month/line for Sprint 4G. (That $10/month over a two year contract is $240, and nearly $500 on two lines!!) In the three weeks that I tried the Epic, I used the 4G service *maybe* 5 times (my wife even less). Why? First, battery life, as noted above. You can't leave the 4G radio on th Epic on all the time, b/c it will halve your battery life. Second, the process of getting on Sprint 4G is clunky -- you have to first turn on the 4G radio, then wait for it to connect, and then (if it actually connects), got to the browser and pull up the webpage. By point of contrast, with my T-Mo G2, the phone will automatically connect to the higher speed, 4G T-Mobile network if it is available. Thus, you don't have to take all the additional steps as with the Sprint phones. In just one week of use of the G2, I've actually gotten to make use of T-Mo's 4G network more than in the three weeks I had the Epic. (I know Sprint's 4G is technically supposed to be faster than T-Mo 4G HSPA+, but not by much (we tested the Epic and the G2 side by side), and when you account for the unfunctionality of the Sprint 4G, it's simply not worth it.)

Hope this helps those of you who are out there shopping around.
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on September 3, 2010
Well what else can be said that hasn't been already....
- The Super Amoled screen is just amazing, although now on day 3 with my phone I already have a dead pixel(I wonder if that would merit a hardware replacement any thoughts?) It's tiny i know but still bugs me especially since I've only had it for a few days.

- The keyboard is very roomy, though(like any phone) it takes getting used to. Coming from a T-mobile G1 I could text pretty quickly without ever having to look down at the keyboard. I hope I can get to the same level with this phone.

Some major(for me) gripes that I've had with the phone so far:
- When using the supplied cable to charge from a usb port(except for the supplied wall-usb charger) the phone automatically unmounts the SD card. So for example while playing music from the phone in my car through the AUX jack... I plug it into my USB car charger using the supplied cable and the music stops. I have to unlock the phone, turn off the usb mass storage and resume the music playing. Hopefully this can be fixed with a software update.

- The 16GB micro SD card is generous in size but really slow being only a class 2. Large transfers to and from PC through USB can take a while. I haven't had any issues with the camera and taking pictures though i haven't yet tried video but I'm sure it'll be fine. And yes I know this is a VERY easily remedied issue. But i thought I should let would-be buyers know.

- Battery(like others have mentioned) isn't the greatest. But keeping the 4G off(especially if your not in a 4G area) and occasionally using the task manager to end apps that you are not and will not be needing for a while, will greatly extend battery life. Also the live wallpapers look AMAZING on the screen but also rapidly drain the battery.

- Battery related... If your running low on battery the phone will not allow you to use the camera. This might be a case where a spare would be useful while on vacation, etc...

- Lock Pattern: I was basically forced to use one with this phone since while in my pocket i felt it get really hot and when i took it out i noticed that it was unlocked and doing all sorts of weird stuff like launching apps and bringing up the long-press menu randomly. Having a lock pattern is good to have anyways but I was kind of hoping that I wouldn't need one. I have fairly large hands but even still, now with the 4" screen writing the unlock pattern is a slower process than it was on my G1. If you have smaller hands I would recommend physically holding the device before purchasing online.

Don't get me wrong I've been waiting for a 5 row keyboard for a while now and I don't regret my purchase at all, i absolutely love this phone.

On a side note I haven't had any issues with Sprint so far, coming from an almost decade long T-mobile customer it was a tough decision switching carriers but their plans and plan features are great so far. Also I haven't had any issues with coverage in the Los Angeles area, I usually keep 4G off though to save battery.

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on June 12, 2012
When first purchased back in the summer of 2011, this phone was phenomenal. The only complaints for the phone was of course that the 4G antenna loved to drain the battery while barely getting more than 2bars of signal, thus providing similar speed to the 3G. After the 5th month the problems began; constant force closes on even phone calls, screen freezing up, battery running super hot, slower response to touch screen.
The phone problems, we later found out, weren't unique. My wife had the same phone (now has Epic 4G Touch, huge improvement, miss the pull out qwerty) and hers was so bad we had to do two resets at the Sprint store where the sales man 1st blamed the apps, then the OS, then technology for making phone function as more than just a phone. We took it to Best Buy where they were originally purchased and found ourselves with a lady that had the identical problems and was told over the phone that it was unique to her! There we were 3 people with the same phone, having the same problems, all being told it was unique to us!
Because early upgrades can be costly, only my wife has the new phone. I'm still going along with the problems, having gotten used to taking the battery out the phone 3-4 times a day to reset it, as recommended by Sprint and Best Buy sales people. Worst part is when it locks up while using the Navigation from Google to get somewhere unknown. Very disappointing experience to say the least (I'm waiting for a viable Windows phone on Sprint to switch to, Android OS is too fragmented to stick around with)
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on January 19, 2012
Sprint Samsung Epic 4G.
I am still surprized how much time I spent on fixing Epic 4G!
It seemed like a decent phone, but had several serious problems:
1. Short battery life = upgraded to thick 2x battery with a thick cover.
2. Spring has very poor coverage = after a year of suffering discovered, that roaming and data roaming are free and now always use roaming option no matter what. That solved signal problem but there is no 4G anymore.
3. The physical keyboard skipps keys especially if a key is repeated twice. I was really disappointed about that for 1.5 years.
Gingerbread update, as appears now doesn't solve this problem.
So what I did:
(originally I rooted my Froyo (old android os) and installed a keyboard fix. Rooting is a process that allows modifying the Android system deep inside. The original fix didn't fix the problem. ) Then I discovered that my phone doesn't install the gingerbread update that was feeded by Sprint. After a couple of months, I decided to force it and succeded.
(This set of instructions was great and educational, but didn't work for me -
the phone would beep (1+3) vibrations signaling about the system crash after restart.)

Here are the steps that worked:
1. Download "App list backup" from market.
Backup the list of apps to sd card. The program then helps installing the apps from the market one by one. Since there is so many of them it remembers which ones were installed. Not more than that.(Titanium backup is great except it requires rooting which I am not sure I want anymore since rooting prevents automatic upgrades).
2. Followed this instruction to Flash/Restore to Froyo EC05 (Procedure #1)
3. Manually upgraded Froyo to Gingerbread.
4. Installed a custom kernel with a keyboard fix.

A quick test shows that the keyboard lag has been fixed. Otherwise it is an official Gingerbread eligible for further automatic updates.

Here are the files I used.
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on November 23, 2011
I love this phone and the slide out keyboard - when it is working. Problem is, I'm on my 5th phone plus one replacement keyboard in less than 1 year. This one is acting up now too. Besides the phone shutting off on its own, the biggest problem I've had is with the sensor bar at the top. After having the phone for a while, the keyboard will not go dark when I put it to my ear. So when I speak, my face moves on the screen and I'll end up hanging up on someone, hitting numbers so it beeps in both of our ears or it mutes. It's very embarrassing to have this happen with a client on the other line! It's to the point that I will hunt down the home phone so I don't have to call someone on my cell phone! I've also had at least 1 keyboard that wouldn't type certain letters - the first replacement may have had that too - I've had so many I can't remember. The first replacement was maybe a month after I bought the phone. I'm not hard on phones overall, so the issue is with the phone itself. Oh, and then there are all of the software issues. The last update was ok although my phone is locking up quite a bit now. My husband got the same phone right after it came out and loved it, which is why I bought it too. He is still on his original phone, although it has started shutting itself off maybe 3-4 times a week and just last night it started making a high pitched constant noise until he shut it off. I have 2 different friends with the Epic. They both have had problems with them too - most with them shutting down. But, my kids both have the Evo. We haven't had a problem with either one - and their teenagers! Hopefully Samsung will get this figured out before the next one comes out..
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on October 25, 2010
The phone is hands down the best phone I have owned thus far. Battery life is somewhat iffy, but compared to the EVO it is good. I can go an entire day of medium use with a full battery. That being said, having an extra micro-usb to charge on the go is recommended. The phone doesn't have froyo yet, but it is amazingly fast as is. The build of the phone feels strong and the screen has already taken some punishment with no visible wear (I dropped it face first on a hardwood floor).

Getting service on the phone wasn't nearly as streamlined as I thought it would be. It is not explicitly stated that it will take 2-5 business days for amazon to contact you with the information for setting up the account, if they do at all. I had to contact Amazon after 5 business days to obtain the proper information to set up my account with Sprint. It was cut and dry after I contacted Amazon, but waiting that long with no heads up from the company had me worried.

Overall, good phone with a good interface. Email Amazon if you have waited over the 5 days to get them to expedite your service setup.
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on July 16, 2012
I've had this phone for over a year and a half. It has all the features I want and is wonderful concept. However, it is VERY buggy and probably the worse piece of software I have paid for. I have constant problems that change or get fixed then new problems arise.

Currently the Bluetooth skips (not as bad as it was) and the GPS regularly loses it's signal making the nav worthless.

I lose GPS most of the time (I only use if for longer trips but sometime it looses it GPS before I leave my street) and the only way to restore GPS is to turn the phone off and on. This is a pain when I am driving and relying on the GPS. The blue tooth (not head phones or speakers) likes to skip often. It was REALLY bad for a while but now it is less often.

The screen is also unresponsive and I actually had to use the warranty I pay monthly for to have the phone replaced because the entire screen went permanently unresponsive.

Bottom line, this is junk and I will be VERY skeptical about buying anything made by Samsung again. I can't wait till my contract is up so I can buy a smart phone that works.
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on September 18, 2011
I am waiting on replacement #3 of this phone. I did my upgrade with Sprint July 6th, and within 30 days was back in the store with a touch screen that did not work. When you went to use the touchscreen dialer it was only showing a horizontal position and would not orientate to the vertical position. Along with that it would not allow the dial pad to show up. The only way you could dial was with the slide out keyboard or if it was connected by Bluetooth to the Sync in my truck. So, I took it in and the girl said,"Hmmm, I've had mine a year and never seen one do that. Did you take the battery out to reset it?" I replied yes and it did not work. I got phone number 2 and went on my way. Then this last week #2's touch screen started this going totally black on me where it wouldn't function it was on but you couldn't use it...except with Sync in my F150(Thank you Ford). As long as the Bluetooth is on it in the truck I could answer or make calls. I could not do anything else. So, I went back again to Sprint. The same girl waits on me after I ask if she remembers me and she says she does. And again I get "Hmmm, I've had mine a year and never seen one do that. Did you take the battery out to reset it?" " Yes, several times," I reply. So she calls the "tech" store across town to see if the can even look at fixing it. They say no, because they don't have parts. At this point she tells me she can order me a new phone. I ask if there are any other phones to choose from and she gives me 3 options which I didn't care for, at which point I tell her just to order #3. I am told it is on back order and will be at least 3-5 bus. days to ship. I have since been in touch with Sprint, two times by phone, and found out that they will not allow me to choose another phone and I am being sent a refurbished phone, even though I paid for a new working phone. I was basically told by Sprint suck it up and take the hosing like a big girl. Other than the touch screen sucking, I really found the ringer volume to be for crap. It is not loud even on the loudest setting. There are also a lot of junk apps loaded that it won't let you remove and it can be slow to load pages, email or post to FB. I usually like Samsung, my 2 previous phones were Samsung, but this one is sub-standard. I personally would not tell anybody to get this phone.
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on November 17, 2010
Unfortunately, bad support and well documented GPS bug hold this phone back.

Froyo or Android 2.2 has been long delayed for this phone with the timetable being constantly pushed back until it seems that Gingerbread will be out by the time Froyo appears for the Epic. Samsung software support is extremely slow or nonexistent especially compared the the like of HTC or Motorola.

To cap it off there is an extremely widespread GPS bug present on ALL Galaxy S type phones (Epic is in that family) where the gps cache is buggy and the phone can't achieve or is extremely slow to lock on to GPS satellites. You'll still be able to get a general idea of where you are (30 meters or so) through the cell signal, but forget about navigation and accurate readings. The only way to get around this is through convoluted system settings which should not be touched and only help with the problem, not solve it. The new Froyo coming out so far does not seem to address this issue.

Search around and you'll find a ton of people complaining about this with Samsung refusing to even admit there is a problem.

Other than that, the phone runs great, which is a shame..... The screen is gorgeous, the response is snappy. Its too bad that such a great product is held back by poor support.
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