If you haven’t thought about switching to Sprint, there are two very good reasons staring you right in the face: the HTC Evo 4G and Samsung Epic 4G. As you can tell by their names, both devices can connect to Sprint’s fast 4G network (more than 50 markets and counting). However, while both of these Android phones sport 1-GHz processors and can record HD video, they’re pretty different beasts. The Evo 4G ($199) is a pure slate design with a 4.3-inch display, while the more expensive Epic 4G ($249) has a smaller but more brilliant 4-inch screen with a slide-out keyboard. And those are just some of the differences.
Yes, both of these Android superphones are Editors’ Choice winners, but only one device can win this battle. Let’s get it on!
The Epic 4G is slightly thicker than the Evo 4G (4.9 x 2.5 x 0.6 inches versus 4.8 x 2.6 x 0.5 inches), but that’s to be expected given that the Samsung has a slide-out keyboard. The Epic 4G is taller but narrower. Meanwhile, the Evo 4G is heavier (6 ounces versus 5.5 ounces), and you can feel this difference in your hand and in your pocket.
Still, the Evo 4G feels more like a flagship phone. It’s one solidly constructed slate, with capacitive buttons that work well and are always visible. We especially like the built-in kickstand on the back of the Evo, great for listening to music or watching movies. The glossy black front on the Epic 4G is slick, but the buttons are nearly invisible when the backlight isn’t activated. Nevertheless, the Epic’s smoother contours make it fit especially comfortable when it’s being held.
The Evo 4G has a more premium feel, and we love the kickstand and HDMI output, but the Epic 4G’s lighter weight and more rounded design give it equal appeal.
If you went by the spec sheet alone, this would look like a pretty close matchup–the Evo 4G’s 4.3-inch screen is only marginally larger than the Epic 4G’s 4-inch screen and both phones have a resolution of 800 x 480-pixels. But when you turn these devices on, the Epic 4G’s Super AMOLED blows past the Evo 4G’s display. Colors were crisp and contrast levels were extremely sharp. The Evo 4G’s screen was also easily outclassed by the Epic 4G when it came to brightness–at maximum levels, images popped from the screen. The extra 0.3 inches on the Evo 4G certainly doesn’t hurt for applications like web browsing, but the difference in visual fidelity can’t be ignored.
Winner: Epic 4G.
The Super AMOLED display on this phone makes jaws drop.
The Epic 4G’s slide-out keyboard is what makes this phone stand out from the rest of the Galaxy S family, and it’s pretty great. The keys are nicely spaced apart and offer good tactile feedback. We just wish typing “@” didn’t require a function key combo. However, the Epic 4G’s touch keyboard disappoints. The combination of an overly large text entry area and odd key placement scrunches together all of the onscreen keys, making it tough to accurately type. Fortunately, the inclusion of Swype software makes it easy to type words with one hand just by tracing your finger from one letter to the next.
The Evo 4G’s keyboard makes the most of its large screen. The screen size makes it easy to type with minimal errors, and we like how you can press and hold various keys to enter special characters like numbers. Just be sure to turn off the haptic feedback; it slows down the typing experience.
Winner: Epic 4G
While the Evo 4G has one of the better touch keyboards around, the Epic 4G’s physical QWERTY is the best we’ve used on a slider and is one of the main reasons to get this device compared to other Galaxy S phones. You never have to wonder whether you just typed the right letter.