Experiences with the Epic 4G

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Thread: Experiences with the Epic 4G

  1. #1
    Android Lurker RERThird's Avatar
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    Experiences with the Epic 4G



    The case is attractive and is generally well designed.
    The slide out keyboard mechanism works well. The keyboard itself is well designed and is easy to use.


    The back cover is flimsy in construction and has no positive locking mechanism.
    The side mounding buttons are located so that buttons on one side may be accidentally depressed as one depresses a button on the opposite side due to the manner in which the phone is squeezed as it is held in one's hand.
    The back cover must be removed to change the microSD card. It would be preferable to be able to insert the card through an exterior slot.
    There is no provision for a docking station.
    A good case is an absolute must to provide protection for the phone. Fortte sells a great, real leather, custom made case.

    My personal preference is for a clamshell design which provides integral protection for the screen and a self-contained stand for the phone.

    Operating System

    The Android operating system consists of a Linux kernel, a C/C++ library that includes SQLite and graphics engines, Dalvik virtual machine software and a Java "front end".


    Fairly versatile.
    Mostly public domain kernel software.
    Multiprocessing operating system.


    Java is an awkward and inefficient language.
    There is no known efficient, user friendly, integrated development environment (IDE). AppInventor (beta), Eclipse (version 1) and IntelliJ (version 10) are awkward to use, have limited features and are extremely slow. For example, AppInventor can take several minutes to load a phone emulator.
    A major Android problem is a lack of application program compatibility between different vendors’ implementations of the operating system and between different minor and major system version numbers.
    Sprint has been slow to adapt the newer versions of Android to their phones.
    There appears to be some Android instability that results in system "crashes".

    Application Programs - Included


    The Epic 4G comes with a number of useful application programs. Many more are available for free downloading or for a small fee.


    Reliability, correct functionality and required features vary with the different application programs.
    Root permission is required to remove any of the original, vendor installed applications.
    Operating system version compatibility is a major problem as discussed above.

    There is no included program for USB tethering. Three programs are available in “Market”. Two did not function properly. The third, EasyTether, works properly, at least with Android 2.1.

    Kies, a family of Samsung applications, has reportedly been disabled only by Sprint. The reason for this action is unknown. Kies includes a number of important functions including: tethering, Outlook Contacts synchronization, and software updating.

    Excluding Kies, synchronizing PC Microsoft Outlook Contacts with Epic 4G Contacts is a real pain. In our case, we use own Address Book software. The Address data are stored in a SQL Server database. We used Access as a front end to the SQL Server data. The information were then transferred to Excel and then to Outlook Contacts. (The extra steps were required because of some Office 2010 compatibility problems.)
    DejaOffice was installed on the Epic 4G and CompanionLink was installed on a Windows Server 2008 R2 system. It was then possible to synchronize Outlook Contacts, Epic 4G Contacts and DejaOffice. CompanionLink was shaky and there were problems establishing a USB connection. One synchronization failed for unknown reasons early in the transfer process. We finally were able to successfully transfer about 3000 addresses. Epic 4G Contacts then worked properly except that the names were ordered by first rather than by last name. This oddity is reported to be fixed in Android 2.2. DejaOffice does not have this problem.


    Some Epic 4G functions require a functional Google email address. It is easy to connect to email accounts using Epic 4G Email. Unfortunately, if you use an account that handles significant email traffic you will find that synchronization can result in the download of thousands of emails. A serious catch is that it is possible to delete individual emails, but there is no option to delete all emails. The only practical way to delete the emails is to do a factory reset.

    We found that the best approach is to establish a dummy Gmail account that is used only to satisfy the Epic system requirement that an account exists. This is the first email account. Subsequent accounts can be established for handling routine emails. These accounts can be deleted at any time without requiring a factory reset.

    Other Epic 4G Application Programs

    Sprint Navigation

    This is an excellent navigation program that works as well as or better than the leading Garmin and TomTom standalone GPS systems. Compared with a factory installed Harman “Comand” GPS system, nicknamed “Muffin” after Janet Evanovich’s detective story automobile computer, Sprint Navigation demonstrated excellent routing, correct off course re-routing, spoken turn-by-turn instructions and up-to-date traffic hazard information.

    There are several downsides. Sprint Navigation requires an on-line login, location of the route start and end points, computation of the route and downloading of the required map data. These steps can take from seconds to minutes depending on the complexity and length of a route. Some map data are cached, but there is otherwise no general map information that is resident on the Epic 4G.
    It is possible to store the GPS coordinates for an end point, but you do not have the option of adding/editing GPS coordinates in an existing Contacts address.
    Sprint Navigation won’t compute a route that is less than about 500 feet in distance.

    Application Programs – Added

    Some add-on programs that may be helpful include:

    EasyTether Pro
    Firefox (currently Fennec version)


    LCD Display

    The 4 inch AMOLED screen is absolutely gorgeous. Resolution is 480 x 800 pixels and it supports 16 million colors. It is readable in bright sunlight which isn't true for most displays. The images are washed out in direct sunlight.


    The touch screen works fairly well, but it has the typical problems of sometimes confusing a swipe from a touch.
    It is frequently necessary to repeatedly attempt to drag the unlock arrow in order to unlock the phone. The reason for this anomaly is unknown. An interesting alternate start-up procedure is to simply snap out the keyboard.



    Unlike most cellular phones, the Epic 4G has an unusually good audio system. We have had very good reports about the quality of transmitted telephone audio. You can get pretty high volume from the speaker which is important for navigation functions.


    Audio distortion is noticeable at the highest sound levels.

    USB Port


    USB function works properly.
    Tethered operations are faster compared with other phones. The difference is apparently from a combination of decreased latency and faster transmissions


    Technology is USB 2 rather than USB 3 which has a significantly faster data rate.
    Mini USB connector requires significant care in connecting to avoid bending or otherwise damaging the connector.
    There is no provision for a docking station.

    Radio Transceivers



    3G works properly. There have been no problems with unexpected signal dropouts.


    4G is only available in selected major cities. We have no 4G coverage near to our location.



    Good signal sensitivity.
    Supports b/g/n protocols.
    Automated connectivity works well.


    None known.



    Reasonably good sensitivity and coverage.


    None known, but only tested with GPS 818X



    Generally works properly.


    No publicly available technical data.
    This GPS has been widely criticized for slow satellite acquisition, poor sensitivity and poor location accuracy. Our experience is that satellite acquisition is slow, but that this is not a major problem. The device doesn’t have the best consumer device sensitivity; however, it is more than adequate for most navigation functions. The GPS works properly with the phone sitting in an automobile’s drink holder that is located underneath a dashboard. Satellite tracking worked continuously in a trip across Florida that included going on country roads that had dense tree canopies overhead. In comparison with the GPS 818X receiver, the Epic 4G displayed 8 satellites to the 818X’s 10 and signal strength was not as good. The Epic GPS performance was, however, more than adequate for automotive navigation.
    In regard to location accuracy, the Epic consistently returns to within 3-10 feet of a previously entered GPS location. It is not known if the Epic GPS has WAAS capability which significantly improves accuracy. It is possible that the Epic’s GPS performance could be improved with enabling WAAS, if it exists, or with other programming changes.

    For comparison purposes, the 818X has 66-Channel Performance for fast acquisition and reacquisition, super high sensitivity of 165dBm adopting latest MTK II chipset and WAAS. Hot acquisition time is 1 second.
    It is easy to connect the 818X or a similar GPS to the Epic via Bluetooth and to use the external GPS with the Epic’s navigation programs. We have tested this, but found there was little reason to use the approach because the Epic’s GPS is adequate for most navigation operations.

    Geocoding, the computing of latitude and longitude coordinates from street addresses, in the United States typically uses the US Census Bureau TIGER/Line data set. This provides location data for most streets and highways in the US. A given address or intersection is parsed into its components and the matching address range is searched for in the database. The address is then interpolated between the endpoints of the matching address range to estimate its latitude and longitude. The stated accuracy for urban addresses is 10-15 meters. In actual practice, our experience is that you can expect a location error of 3-5 buildings in urban areas. It is not unusual to have 1-2+ mile location errors in rural settings.
    These errors result from the estimations of building locations rather than an inaccuracy of GPS positioning.
    The only way to avoid the location errors is to record the actual coordinates of each entry in an address book and to use these coordinates rather than the estimated locations for GPS navigation. Sprint Navigation has a method for saving the coordinates of specific locations. Unfortunately, there is no easy means of adding the coordinates to address book entries or to modifying the routing so that the coordinates are used, if available. If not, the program would default to geocoding.



    It is user replaceable.


    The 1500 mah capacity is markedly underpowered for the requirements of the phone.
    AnandTech has an excellent review of the battery capability and other aspects of the Epic 4G at: Samsung Epic 4G Review: The Fastest Android Phone - AnandTech :: Your Source for Hardware Analysis and News.
    Web browsing time was measured at about 3 hours and talk time 4 hours. These times are about 50% of those of the phones that have the best battery life.
    There are multiple ways of reducing battery drain. These include: disabling 4G, Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth and vibrate; use a "black screen" background rather than your favorite jpg, reduce the screen brightness to the least acceptable value, and using an energy saving program like collin_ph.
    Monaco markets a 3500 mah battery for the Epic 4G. Its usage requires a custom back cover that increases the thickness of the phone by 3-4mm. This increased thickness might prevent use of one's phone case.
    Additional solutions are the purchase of multiple standard batteries and using 12 VDC or 110 VAC adaptors or USB connected charging when possible. A solar electric charger might be a wise addition if one must have access to a phone during extended camping out in the wilderness.
    A final issue is that all batteries lose some capacity with repeated discharging and recharging cycles.


    Must Haves

    A good quality case.
    12 VDC automotive power adapter/charger.
    Extra batteries.
    110 VAC "stand alone" battery charger.
    Extra 16 or 32 GB microSD card (An excellent choice is the Patriot LX Series Class 10 16GB Micro SDHC Flash Card )


    Airplane power converter/charger.
    Solar electric charger.



    LED Flash


    Very fuzzy pictures as is confirmed by AnandTech. This may be a correctable software problem rather than a camera hardware problem.
    I would not recommend use of the camera except for casual photography when a regular digital camera is unavailable.


    We purchased two Epic 4G phones in December 2010. One of these had four freezes in one week. Each time, it was necessary to remove and replace the battery to restart the Epic. This phone was replaced after experiencing repeated freezes over a two week interval. There have been no further freezes.
    A number of users have reported the same type of freezes. The cause is unknown. One would suspect that it is a software problem, but everyone who has commented on this on the Internet has not had a recurrence of the problem after their phone was replaced. One interesting exception is that one user reported that replacing only the microSD card solved the problem.
    The end result for us has been two useable Epic 4Gs out of the three that have been tried to date.


    This is probably not unique to Android phones, but unwanted advertising is becoming an increasing problem. The advertisements waste already highly limited display space, use up bandwidth, possibly cost consumer communication minutes and are highly annoying.
    Last edited by RERThird; 01-22-2011 at 02:02 PM.

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  3. #2
    Android Lurker ChuckE's Avatar
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    RERThird, you might want to edit this nicely put together article so that
    Item, sub-items, and writeup are easily decernable. Such as something like this:
    It is user replaceable.
    The 1500 mah capacity ...

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