Sprint Samsung Epic 4G Available Aug. 31 for $249

Sprint will begin selling its Galaxy S model Epic 4G on Aug. 31 for $249 after a $100 mail-in rebate. Sprint will let those interested reserve the device online Aug. 13.

Sprint said it will begin selling its Android 2.1-based Epic 4G on Aug. 31 for $249 after a $100 mail-in rebate with a two-year contract.

Powered by a Samsung 1 GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird processor, the Epic 4G is one of four high-end smartphones from Samsung's Galaxy S lineup, which includes a handset for each major carrier in the United States.

Verizon brands its Galaxy S the Samsung Fascinate, while AT&T and T-Mobile brand their phones the Samsung Captivate and the Samsung Vibrant, respectively. eWEEK reviewed the Captivate and Vibrant.

Like the Captivate and Vibrant, Sprint's Samsung Epic 4G runs Android 2.1 and features a crisp Super AMOLED screen.

But the Epic 4G stands apart because it's the only Galaxy S model with a physical QWERTY keyboard and 4G capabilities; 4G is available in 48 cities across the country. Where and when it works, users have been impressed.

The Epic 4G boasts a 4-inch screen and joins the popular HTC Evo 4G as a smartphone with 4G data speeds. The Evo 4G also sports a big screen--4.3 inches--and proved popular for multimedia consumers.

Sprint hopes the Epic 4G finds similar success among consumers, which it believes are hungry for watching videos, movies and playing games on their smartphones.

People also want to text and talk on their phones.Sprint said the Epic 4G supports "advanced touch-screen gestures," such as multitouch pinch, long tap and zoom and vertical and horizontal swiping.

The Swype gesture handwriting app joins the QWERTY and virtual keyboards as one of the phone's three input interfaces.

For corporate road warriors, the Epic 4G supports push e-mail and integrated calendar services such as Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, Google and Yahoo.

The device boasts a 5 megapixel camera/camcorder with autofocus, power LED flash and HD video1 (720p) video recording, and a front-facing VGA camera for video chat. The device's mobile hotspot will connect up to five WiFi-enabled devices.

Like the other Galaxy S devices, the Epic 4G will launch with Android 2.1, but will upgrade over the air in the coming months to Android 2.2, which sports a faster browser and Flash support.

Samsung Epic 4G will sell the Epic 4G from Sprint.com, 1-800-SPRINT1 and retail partners RadioShack, Best Buy and Walmart.

The device will run with Sprint's Everything Data plan, starting at $69.99 per month. The mobile hotspot will cost users $29.99 extra per month. Verizon Wireless charges $20 for its hotspot capability.

Sprint is testing a new reservation system for the Epic 4G. Customers can reserve the Epic 4G online here starting Aug. 13 and pick it up from a Sprint store on Tuesday, Aug. 31.

Users must complete their purchase no later than 6 p.m. local time on Wednesday, Sept. 1 or lose their opportunity to get the phone.