Sprint announced that it will launch the Epic 4G on August 31. The Android device makes Sprint the last wireless provider to add a Samsung Galaxy S series smartphone to the inventory, but the first to include 4G capability.
The Samsung Galaxy S series smartphones run Android 2.1, and have a Super AMOLED display enabling them to be thinner and lighter than comparable smartphones. The other phones in the series are already available from other wireless providers as the T-Mobile Vibrant, AT&T Captivate, and Verizon Fascinate.
The Epic 4G is different than other Galaxy S smartphones because it has a slide-out physical QWERTY keyboard, and a front-facing camera. The most important distinction between the Epic and the rest of the Galaxy S portfolio, though, is the 4G at the end of its name.
The network infrastructure for 4G still doesn't exist in most areas of the country, but Sprint is on the cutting edge deploying the faster, next-generation wireless technology ahead of competing wireless providers. On a 4G network, the device should be capable of data transmission speeds up to 10 times faster than 3G, although PCWorld testing when the EVO 4G launched found the service to be disappointing. In the meantime, the Epic 4G will also function just fine on existing 3G networks.
It seems that Sprint is putting the Epic 4G at a disadvantage before it's even launched. First of all, it will be $50 more than the EVO 4G--a superior phone by most measures. Second of all--like the EVO 4G--it requires jumping through mail-in rebate hoops to get $100 of the subsidized discount.
Users that want a cutting edge smartphone could get the iPhone 4 from AT&T for $50 less without the mail-in rebate. Users that want a cutting edge Android smartphone for $50 less without the hassle of the mail-in rebate could get the Droid X from Verizon. Users that want a cutting edge Android smartphone that also does 4G for $50 less can get the EVO 4G from Sprint--and that smartphone has the more current Android 2.2 "Froyo" OS.
All of those points aside, the Epic 4G looks like a capable device and it adds yet another smartphone to the Android arsenal likely to continue beating the iPhone 4 in total sales volume for the foreseeable future. It would be interesting, though, to break it down by smartphone rather than by the entire mobile OS platform--and see how any individual Android handset compares to the iPhone 4.