SPRINT Samsung Epic 4G First Impressions / HTC EVO Returned Yesterday


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A Little History

Let me start off by saying that the HTC EVO has raised my expectations of what to expect from a smart phone.  About two years ago, I switched to one of the first Android phones that came out.  It had a very clunky keyboard slideout, it was very heavy, the interface was awkward and overall it was just not a good user experience.  Even things like GMail did not work well.  You could not do basic things like go from one email to the next without returning to the inbox first.

Fast Forward 18 months.  I have a Palm Pre which I’m pretty happy with.  It has a nice keyboard, nice email client for Microsoft Exchange, and though not many apps, it’s a pretty nice phone.  It is pretty slow though.  For example, sometimes a call comes in and the UI is so slow you can’t get it to actually answer the phone before it goes to voice mail.

Last Month, I took the plunge and bought the HTC EVO.  I knew it did not have a keyboard, but I was hoping I could get use to that (not the first time I’ve been wrong).  I did install a 3rd party application called SlideIT that did help some but still was not good enough.  I made a huge number of mistakes in emails I sent out, practically to the point that I was about to put a message in my email signature saying “Sent using my Mobile SlideIT keyboard, pardon the mistakes”.  I did not do that because somehow, as a technology guy, that just seemed wrong.


Why I Returned the HTC EVO

Yesterday, I returned my HTC EVO to the sprint store.  The Samsung Epic 4G did not release until today so back to my Palm Pre I went.  First, let me say the EVO was hugely better than my pre at almost everything (except the keyboard).  Yesterday, I felt like I had gone back 100 years in technology.  Browsing on the Palm Pre was horrible, the email was so slow and hard to read it hardly felt like a smart phone.  My reasons for returning the HTC EVO are as follows.

Poor Battery Life.  Without using any third party application to help, it would literally run out of battery around lunch time after a full charge in the morning.  On those days, I had not used the EVO that much.  The amazing lack of power management software on the EVO makes me more sympathetic to the IPhone’s lack of multi-tasking (which I assume is to preserve battery power).  I did download an app called Juicer app from a company called latedroid that did help.  I also downloaded a Task Manager from Adao Team which also helped.  Still, not good enough.

Keyboard Not Good Enough.  Even with the SlideIT keyboard, I could not get use to the lack of a physical keyboard.  Too many mistakes. I am a fairly fast touch typer so maybe I’m spoiled.  I can type pretty fast on a mobile keyboard without mistakes and I just could not match that on the on screen keyboard.  Also, the SlideIT keyboard lacked some nice features that were part of the built in droid onscreen keyboard like the ability to hold a key and get a question mark, number, etc.  That was nice. I also felt like the SlideIT keyboard slowed the EVO down but I’m not 100% sure of that.

4G Not What I Had Hoped.  I knew that we don’t have 4G in the San Francisco bay area so I did not expect to be able to use it at home. I do travel to Redmond, Washington often to visit Microsoft and I knew it would work there.  I purchased the $30/month wifi tethering option so I thought this would be great for that.  Also, since I own an IPad with no 3G service, I figured it would be great for connecting my IPad to the internet.  Well, two things.  1) When it connected, it sucked battery like nothing I’ve ever seen and 2) it did not seem that much faster than 3G when I measured performance with speedtest.

To be fair, I’m not talking about the things I liked about the EVO.  Those include great built in camera and flash, great HD Video capture, really fast 3G connections (much faster than my Palm Pre for some reason) and overall good android experience.  I did ultimately return the phone without getting a replacement.


Purchasing the Samsung Epic 4G At the Spring Store

Likely, if you are still reading, you know about the shortage of HTC EVO’s and the lines at sprint stores, still every morning to get EVO’s.  For me, I waited one morning 30 minutes before the store opened to get my EVO.  I was 5th in line for 4 phones but luckily for me, guy #3 was not eligible so I got a phone!

So, today is the launch of the Epic 4G.  I did not want to take any chances.  I showed up at 6:45AM for an 8:00AM early store opening (the store normally opens at 10:00am).  Well, person number 2 did not arrive until 7:40AM and considering they had 51 phones to sell, I think I over achieved on this one.


Finally, My First Impressions

So far I love it.  Let me list the things that jump out at me.  Since I have not used the phone much, I will not provide much detail (because I don’t have any).

Really Bright Gorgeous Screen. I had no complaints about the EVO screen but that said, this one is awesome.  It’s really bright and really clear.

Better Andorid UI.  I thought that all Android phones would be created equal.  Well, not quite so.  The program launcher is very different.  my first impression is that the Epic 4G’s launcher is cleaner and faster.

Better on Screen Keyboard.  Even though I don’t plan to use it much, the onscreen keyboard is easier to use and includes Slide without an addon (and it works well)

Great Physical Keyboard.  I love the keyboard so far. Nice size, nice slider, good feel.  what else can I say.

The Phone Feels Lighter.  Though I don’t think numbers show that. Just an impression.

Bigger SD Card From the factory.  16GB verses 8GB.  Since I bought the navigator CoPilot, that takes 2GB by itself so that’s import to me.

Extra Battery With Charger for $37.  With my 25% discount for buying accessories with the phone, I got an extra battery and nice mobile charger for $37 (just in case)

That’s it for now.  Hope this helps.

About Peter Kellner

Peter is a software professional specializing in mobile and web technologies. He has also been a Microsoft MVP since 2007. In addition, he’s a multi-course video author at Pluralsight. To read more about Peter Kellner and his experience click here. For information about how Peter Kellner might be able to help you with your project click here.

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  1. Got the Evo in the UK, it’s called the HTC Desire HD.

    The battery life can be easily extended by disabling or reducing sync rates, disabling facebook etc or changing it’s config, it’s really the background services that consumes the battery, you can always get a 1600 rated battery.

    The Desire HD out sells the Samsung Galaxy and significantly out sells the palm equivilant over here.

    Don’t discount it on the basis of this review.

  2. Savannah @ Samsung Discount says:

    Hello there, just browsing for information for my Samsung site. Can’t believe the amount of information out there. Wasn’t what I was looking for, but interesting page. Have a great day.

  3. Paulette Suddarth says:

    Hey, I have one too, but am having a hard time figuring out everything. Learning by word of mouth about some great apps to help me out. I was trying to find a resource on how to stop the vibrations from new email and did a search on Bing. Lo and behold, your name was first! “Hey, I know him!”

    Hope to see you at the MVP Summit.

  4. I just got my epic 3 days ago and can’t watch videos on my facebook account. I took it to sprint and they couldn’t help me with the problem Can anyone help?

  5. John,
    Search for an application call “Juicer”. It doubled the battery life of my android.

  6. John Harlan says:

    I have been using PAlm producsts for years and have been a big fan and user of the Palm Pre. I took the plunge into theDroid world with the purchase of the Epic. WOW!
    The only issue I have is that the battery doesn’t last a day. I am being “forced” to get an extra batt. just so I can make it through the day. I am learning how to trim app. use but batt. conmsumption is better than the Evo but still not good.

  7. George,
    I pay $30/month to sprint so I can enable my Epic 4G (or HTC EVO for that matter) as a wifi hot spot. It’s trivial. It just works. easier than a cable. I’m still not satisfied with the camera. the htc evo was much better. Also, a surprise was how good the evo was at noise cancellation in loud places. the epic is not as good. I am keeping the epic because of the keyboard. I wish htc had a keyboard. I like the phone itself better. The EVO is also about 10% faster on 3g connections (I tested that at a sprint store which proved my suspicions)

  8. Hi Peter,

    Nice review on the Epic 4G. earlier you were speaking of tethering the EVO with the IPAD. I am interested in how to tether using the Epic 4G. Is is as simple as clicking on tethered when you plug in the usb cable.

    I do also hae prolems with picture text messaging and not satisfied with the answer I got from SPRING nor one of the forums

  9. The more I use the Epic Camera, the more I liked the EVO camera. I wonder if it’s firmware that will get updated, or if it is something more basic that that. Taking Video’s also seems to have the same light balance problem. It’s giving me second thoughts on whether I like the Epic better. I may need to try a bluetooth keyboard (portable one that is)

  10. thanks for that reply Peter.

    going to Check it out right now!

  11. Hi EVO-Noob,

    I just did another post on the camera. There are lots more on the internet. Here it is: http://peterkellner.net/2010/09/01/samsung-epic-4g-verses-htc-evo-4g-camera-review/

  12. how about the main and secondary camera’s and the flask led systems?

    I do not have a stand alone digital camera so this is somewhat important to me…

    and do you like HTC’s sense UI or Samsung’s UI version better so far?

    thanks I’m glad I found your site!

  13. I do not have wifi at my house but I will try tomorrow at work. But the phone I had before this (INTERCEPT) worked fine here as far as video streaming and internet go. And I have full bars so I don’t think its the service. I’m going to take it to sprint in morning.

  14. Hi Mandy,

    I’ve got 3G working her at about half a megabit. I just launched the video and it started playing in about 5 seconds and has been streaming smoothly for at least a minute or so and I expect it to go to the end. I’m thinking you must have a bum phone. Does it work on wifi any better?


  15. I purchased the Samsung Intercept and was very unhappy with it. Took it back today and got Epic. I like it a lot but its really slow. I can’t watch Sprint TV or videos. Took phone 15 mins to play the short overview video for phone. Takes over 2 mins to view a picture on FaceBook.Little frustrated. Hoping Sprint can help me with this. My intercept froze up a lot but it had no problem playing videos or browsing facebook.

  16. Jason, now you only have an hour. I still am happy with my decision 🙂
    Anita, I’m totally with you. I loved my Palm Pre

  17. 1hr and 9 minutes until my appointment to pick mine up at Best Buy. It was a tough decision between the EVO and EPIC….Thanks for making me feel like I made the right one!

  18. I have been a loyal fan of the palm family, but with all the problems I currently have with the palm pixi, I am so looking forward to seeing all that the epic has to offer. As opposed to waking up early and standing in line at the store, I opted to purchase mine online last night. Now, I am just waiting like a hawk for the UPS guy to ring my doorbell. Thanks for your early review. I beleive the epic will not disappoint me.

  19. Thank you for your observations. I just got my Epic today as well (after having a Pre and then an EVO) and love it so far.


  1. […] I really like my new Epic 4G (over HTC EVO) I posted a review on my blog about it: SPRINT Samsung Epic 4G First Impressions / HTC EVO Returned Yesterday | PeterKellner.net […]

  2. […] straight forward.  I just got the Samsung Epic 4G today (see my earlier post here:  ( http://peterkellner.net/2010/08/31/sprint-samsung-epic-4g-first-impression/ ) and setting up Exchange was a little […]


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