It’s easy to rattle off superlatives about the first Samsung Galaxy S II device launched in the United States, which officially goes by the moniker Samsung Galaxy S II, Epic 4G Touch.
So I thought I’d change things up a bit and delve into the smartphone’s biggest flaw, if you can call it that. The device, which Sprint began selling Sept. 16 (today!) for $199.99 on contract, is a remarkable blend of powerful application processing, super-sized on a big, crisply clear display.
Running Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) freshest Android 2.3.4 “Gingerbread” operating system capably on Sprint’s 4G WiMax network and fueled by Samsung’s new Exynos 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, the Epic 4G Touch has a 4.52 Super AMOLED Plus (800-by-480 WVGA) display.
It’s bold, crisp and clear, inside and outside, in light and dark. The bigger screens mean bigger icons and links to tap, which is great for bigger, less-than-nimble fingers.
That display also happens to betray the phone’s biggest disadvantage. While the 4.5-ounce weight, 5.1-inch length and 0.38 inch thickness are comfortable, the 2.7-inch width is decidedly uncomfortable to people with small hands. This means it will turn off some men and most women.
I can barely get my whole, average-size hand around the S II. My wife loved the look of the phone, which is black with a textured, plastic enclosure surrounding the 8 megapixel rear-facing camera in back. However, when she went to grip it in her hand, her nose wrinkled in distaste. People don’t want a phone they can’t grip properly with ease.
So my advice to you is, go into a Sprint store and play with this phone. Grab it, heft it, squeeze it, then love it or leave it.
Regardless, if you’re a person who likes fast app processing and multimedia consumption, as well as clear, crisp calls, you’ll be hard pressed to find fault with this phone. Applications from Google+ for Android to Facebook for Android and Angry Birds downloaded in seconds.
YouTube launches and begins playing video in seconds. Netflix also performed admirably on the handset. I saw 5M bps download and 12M bps upload times, according to Ookla’s Speedtest app.
Voice input, which we normal regard warily, is actually enjoyable to use on the Epic 4G Touch; it comes preloaded with Vlingo’s speech recognition software, allowing users to speak commands into their phone to email, text, call, search and do other, normal phone task, but using your voice instead of typing.
Epic 4G Touch Makes a Fine 4G Option for Mobile Lovers
Aren’t comfortable with Vlingo? Samsung also included Google Voice Commands, which do what Vlingo does, as well as the typical Google Voice Search integrated in the search bar on the virtual keyboard. These apps work well enough, but don’t buy the phone expressly for them; speech recognition remains a work-in-progress across the industry.
Samsung’s TouchWiz interface has some neat perks, including widget customization and the ability to drag and drop those widgets on any of the 7 homescreens.
Users can take screen captures simply by pressing the home and power buttons at the same time. Then you can share the capture via Gmail, text messages, Google+ and other sources. It’s a fun feature that works well.
Before you share, you can rotate, rename and edit the heck out of the screenshot anyway you want. The value of this is that when you find something on your phone you find interesting, you can share it with your friends and others.
The 8 megapixel camera and video camera are excellent. I snapped multiple pictures with minimal latency, unlike on Motorola’s Android handset cameras, which still struggle trying to keep pace with action shots.
The video camera shoots high-definition, 1080p video. The 2 megapixel front-facing shutter allows for nice self-portraits and video chats with Qik and other video conferencing apps, if that’s your thing.
The Epic 4G Touch’s battery is a hefty 1800 mAh power supply, which got me through 12 hours on 3G but only good for about 4 hours of heavy use on 4G. That could be the second biggest problem with the phone after its big size.
But I won’t penalize Samsung for this because it’s pretty much the same experience I’ve had on all 4G phones, including Sprint’s Samsung Nexus S 4G and Motorola Photon 4G, as well as the HTC Thunderbolt 4G, Samsung Droid Charge and most recently, the Motorola Droid Bionic, on Verizon Wireless.
4G absolutely destroys battery life. Bring a spare battery or at least your charger with you everywhere. For $199.99 on contract, the Epic 4G Touch is also a bargain compared to the $299.99 Droid Bionic, though that device gets the edge when it comes to Verizon’s 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) network.
The United States’ first Galaxy S II, which has 1GB of RAM and 16GB of memory,expandable to 32GB with a microSD memory card, is a blast to use. I would definitely recommend it for big-handed people with a lust for power, speed and performance in a lightweight handset package.