Here's Samsung's Biggest Threat To The iPhone Yet -- At Least For The Next Few Weeks [REVIEW]

I’m going to warn you right now. This review is going to be kind of short. 


Because I’ve pretty much reviewed Samsung’s Epic Touch 4G before. It’s the first Galaxy S II model to hit the U.S. after months of delays. It’s pretty much the same phone we’ve been drooling over since its MWC debut in March. (Save for a few nice improvements.)

But the Epic Touch is an important phone. It, along with the other Galaxy S II models launching soon on AT&T and T-Mobile, represent Samsung’s best effort against whatever Apple comes up with for the iPhone 5.

There’s no way to tell whether or not these new Galaxy phones can compete with the iPhone 5. But the iPhone 4 and other superphones? Keep reading to find out.

So, What’s New?
Despite being essentially the same phone as the international model of the Galaxy S II that has been available overseas, Samsung did make several key improvements.

First, there’s 4G, a welcome change that was noticeably missing before. Sprint’s 4G network in NYC was pretty reliable, delivering download speeds of ~5 Mbps on average. Upload speeds were insane. I clocked it at more than 1 Mbps every single test I did. To put that in perspective, most cable modem connections struggle to upload that fast.

The Epic Touch has a larger screen than the standard Galaxy S II model. It’s now a massive 4.52 inches, just like Samsung’s Infuse 4G on AT&T. Samsung keeps pushing bigger and bigger smartphone screens on us, and the Epic Touch is about as big as we’d go. Make sure you handle this thing in the store before you purchase.

Samsung also removed the single home button from the bottom of the phone and added the standard menu, home, back, and search keys that you see in most U.S. Android phones. (For the record, I liked the single button better.)

Samsung Epic 4G ToucLook at that giant screen.

Photo: Steve Kovach, Business Insider

But not all new things are good. As expected, there’s a lot of Sprint crapware preloaded on the Epic Touch. Sprint TV, Sprint Zone, Sprint NASCAR (WTF?), Sprint This, Sprint That, etc. I hate it. Find a way to remove all that crap ASAP.

Finally, Samsung made sure to include the latest version of Android (2.3.4 Gingerbread) in the Epic Touch, a rare thing for manufacturers nowadays. Samsung has been slow to move to Gingerbread this year, so we’re glad it’s finally shipping phones with the best Google has to offer.

The downside: We doubt the Epic Touch will get Ice Cream Sandwich in a timely fashion after it launches this fall.

Everything Else Is Pretty Much The Same
Aside from all that, this is still the same Galaxy S II phone.

Samsung hasn’t added much to its TouchWiz skin for Android. (Which we’re not crazy about, it needs a refresh.)

And aside from a few tweaks, the processor is pretty much the same in all its dual-core goodness. We’ve heard there will be some slight variations in speed from model to model, but you won’t notice it. Don’t worry, the phone is fast as hell.

While the design is larger than the base model, the Epic Touch is still super thin and light. Unfortunately, like most recent Samsung phones, it’s covered in cheap-feeling plastic. If you want to stand up to the iPhone, then you should have comparable build quality too.

Samsung Epic 4G ToucPlastic.

Photo: Steve Kovach, Business Insider

Should You Buy It?
If you’re asking yourself “Gee, should I buy a smartphone now or wait for the iPhone 5?” then you definitely need to wait. We’ll know everything about the iPhone 5 within weeks. Finally.

But if you don’t care about Apple’s next Jesus Phone, then go for it. We don’t want to say this is the best Android phone you can buy because that’ll probably change as soon as the Nexus Prime hits in a month or so.

Instead, just know you won’t be disappointed.

Huge, huge, huge screen

The screen is exactly what we'd expect from Samsung: bright, vibrant, and gorgeous

Finally! An up-to-date version of Android!

Sprint's 4G network is pretty zippy

We're not crazy about some of the pre-loaded apps

...Like this one. Sprint TV? Who needs that?

Here's the 8 MP camera. It records full 1080p HD video

Thin! But not as thin as the iPhone 4

Here's what the Epic Touch is up against...

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