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Samsung Epix SGH-i907 – Blackjack’s big brother is an Ace

Samsung’s Blackjack II recently topped Consumer Report’s January 2009 smartphone ratings, beating both the iPhone and G1.  So this as unsung hero gets its due reward it’s time to check out its new big brother, the Epix.

Looking around the Samsung Epix SGH-i907

The Epix shares a family resemblance with the Blackjack and has a traditional keyboard below screen layout.  Samsung Epix ScreenThe keyboard can be extensively customized to give instant access to your favorite applications, which is great for people who like instant access rather than wading through screens or menus to find applications.  Soft keys sit under the large 320×320 haptic and touch sensitive screen and a volume rocker is on the left side.  The Epix feels good to hold, slightly heavier than the Blackjack II at 4.4oz, but lighter than the iPhone, G1 and Fuze.

On the media front, the rear houses a decent 2MP camera which also takes videos.  Unfortunately there is no flash or light.  There is a proprietary charging/headphone port, but the Epix offers stereo bluetooth connectivity so having annoying wires dangling around is not really a concern.  If you must stay wired in to satisfy some kind of 20th century nostalgia then there is an adaptor in the box.

The optical trackpad and other specs of the Samsung Epix SGH-i907

The real innovation of the Epix lives in the middle of the front of the phone – there’s an optical trackpad to aid one-handed use…and it’s awesome.

Samsung Epix Optical TrackpadThe trackpad is similar to the design on Samsung’s Omnia, but the superior placement on the Epix makes it an amazingly efficient way to navigate.  Steer with thumb impulses, click with a press and hold down to display context sensitive menus.  Sweet.  Precision is so good that the stylus is unlikely to get much use.  The trackpad can also be converted to a four way directional pad if desired.

The Epix is a powerhouse compared to the BlackjackII, packing a 624MHz processor, 25MB ROM and 128MB RAM.  It also has expansion capability via now-cheap MicroSD cards up to 32GB to satisfy your thirst for home videos/music/photos/applications.  The MicroSD slot is on the right hand side of the phone for easy access.

A big contributor to the total weight of the phone is the battery, and being a 3G device with a fast CPU the Epix needs need all the juice it can get.  In my mixed tests of light surfing, background IM, stereo bluetooth in transit and a limited amount of calls, the Epix easily managed a full day and two might be possible with bluetooth off.  Beyond that a charge will be required.

Using the Samsung Epix SGH-i907

The Epix ships with Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional, which means you get Office Mobile, Windows Media Player and Windows Live.  In addition to Messenger the phone also has IM clients for AIM and Yahoo and you can install third party applications to give access to more services.

Google Maps, AvantGo and Skype were one-click installs as were Opera Mobile and Skyfire to provide options for the aging Internet Explorer.  The Epix is easily powerful enough to run several applications simultaneously.  Samsung Epix CameraI had no difficulty sync’ing 1,500 AvantGo pages whilst walking down the street streaming music over bluetooth with IM and email active in the background.

The Epix can be used to access AT&T’s Cellular Video service.  So if you have the right plan or are prepared to pay then you get access to news, sports and entertainment from the likes of CNN, ESPN and Comedy Central.  The quality is pretty good as long as you are in an area with good 3G coverage.

The Epix has WiFi b/g is onboard, which is useful for Skype but for most other applications AT&T’s 3G network proved almost as fast.  The Epix can be tethered for use as a modem if you have the appropriate data plan.  There’s also GPS onboard.

What’s not so hot about the Samsung Epix SGH-i907

What didn’t I like about the Epix?  Well although the screen is big it pales in comparison to the resolution of the HTC Touch Pro’s, but then so do most other cellphone screens at the moment.  Squeezing VGA (and beyond) resolution into cellphone screens is definitely the way forward.

The 2MP camera takes good shots and videos were also good enough for occasional usage, but 3-5MP is quickly becoming the norm.  I don’t see any need for cellphones to replicate the compact camera megapixel wars (although this is inevitable) but Samsung should roll out the higher quality cameras now present in some of its other top end phones.

Whilst we are on the wish list, although 3G cellphones need big batteries it would still be nice to get back to the Blackjack II’s weight.

Is the Samsung Epix SGH-i907 a smart phone?

In summary the Epix is a great smartphone whose powers of endearment outweigh its ordinary appearance.  It’s an Ace follow-up to the Blackjack II.

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

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Dec 30, 2008 - Posted by | Hardware, Mobile, Reviews | , , , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. […] to the TyTN range with its slide out keyboard.   I will make comparisons along the way to the Samsung Epix, which does a similar job in a very different […]

    Pingback by AT&T Fuze / HTC Touch Pro P4600 hands-on review « theONbutton | Jan 4, 2009 | Reply

  2. FYI – You can tether the Samsung Epix to a windows computer regardless of the data plan using the “how to use your samsung epix as a wireless modem” hack at MySamsungEpix.com ..
    Its super easy to do too.

    http://www.mysamsungepix.com/hacks-and-mods/registry-hacks/using-epix-as-wireless-modem/

    Comment by mike | Jan 10, 2009 | Reply

    • Be aware Mike (and everyone else reading this) that although this might be technically possible, it may be against the terms of your service plan unless you have a tethering contract.

      Neil Berman

      Comment by theONbutton | Jan 23, 2009 | Reply

  3. […] look and feel with few frills, although it will sport the new optical trackpad (which has been a Samsung smartphone feature for some time now).  But surely the stunning 8900 is the rightful heir to the 8300’s […]

    Pingback by udget-Berry: Is there room for another Curve in RIM's line-up? | Berry Reporter | Jul 31, 2009 | Reply


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