Samsung Epic 4G, the latest handset to take advantage of the Sprint 4G network, is expected to hit store shelves by the end of the month, Sprint confirmed this week. The Epic 4G, an iteration of Samsung's Galaxy S line, ships with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, a 4-inch Super AMOLED screen, and the Android 2.1 operating systems. It will retail for $249 with a two-year voice and data contract and a $100 rebate.
That puts the Samsung Epic 4G at about $50 more than the standard $200 most carriers charge for a subsidized smartphone. So how does the Epic 4G stack up? Well, details are scarce, but Yahoo's Ben Patterson got 30 minutes with the Epic, and he praises the handsets "gorgeous display," the "nice" keypad, and the stylish build.
"[W]hile the 0.56-inch-thick Epic 4G tips the scale at a relatively hefty 5.5 ounces, I was blown away by how light it felt for its size," Patterson wrote. "(The new, six-ounce Motorola Droid 2, another QWERTY slider with a smaller display than the Epic, feels like a brick in comparison.) How did they do it? Beats me."
Earlier this year, Sprint released the HTC EVO, the first smartphone to take advantage of the carrier's 4G service. The EVO handset, which shipped with a powerful 8-megapixel camera and the Android 2.1 OS, generally won high marks from reviewers. But several bloggers were troubled by the 4G service, which is not yet available in many major metro areas around the US. (Sprint is working on a wider rollout.)
"[D]uring peak hours, the Internet connection dropped several times in an hour and though it would reconnect within a minute or two, it was nonetheless frustrating," wrote the team at CNET, adding that, "If there's no 4G available, the Evo will automatically revert to Sprint's EV-DO Rev. A network, which might happen more often than not, since Sprint's 4G is currently live in only 32 cities, covering around 41 million people."
Still, the HTC EVO 4G reportedly sold very well for Sprint. So well, in fact, that many outlets around the country sold out of the EVO 4G handsets just weeks after the phone hit the market. That's not a guarantee that the Samsung Epic – a different kind of gadget – will see smashing success, but it's certainly a good omen for 4G-enabled smartphones.