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

Updated: at 02:12 PM


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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.

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