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Is Sprint’s Epic 4G With a Keyboard Worth an Extra $50?

Sprint (s s) today officially introduced the Epic 4G, an Android (s goog) smartphone with a slide-out keyboard and support for both Sprint’s 3G and WiMAX wireless service. Pre-order reservations for the new phone, a variant of the Samsung Galaxy S, begin tomorrow with a net price of $249.99 — Sprint is offering a $100 mail-in rebate — with devices arriving on Aug. 31. Like the popular EVO 4G handset, Sprint will charge customers a mandatory $10 monthly fee for a “a richer data experience” and an optional $29.99 monthly charge to use the Epic 4G as a mobile hotspot.

I recently tested the AT&T (s t) Captivate, which is similar to the Epic 4G, and found the device to be peppy, thanks to the Samsung Hummingbird processor. The 4-inch Super AMOLED display is vibrant and usable in direct sunlight. Being a Galaxy S device, the new Epic 4G shares many of the same features as the Captivate. The Epic 4G adds several desirable new functions however: the faster 4G service, of course, but also a full QWERTY hardware keyboard and a front-facing camera, which supplements the rear sensor. And Qik is preloaded on the Epic 4G, allowing users to leverage the two cameras for video chatting and live streaming.

The Epic 4G will likely appeal to those looking for a high-end Android 2.1 phone with a physical keyboard, but the price may challenge consumers to actually make the purchase. The initial cash outlay is $349.99, and the net price is $50 more than the Sprint EVO 4G (see our review here), which has no keyboard. Aside from the QWERTY adding to the price difference, the Epic 4G also includes a 16 GB microSD card while the EVO 4G ships with an 8 GB memory card, so it’s possible that people will think it’s worth an extra $50.

Related GigaOM Pro Research (sub req’d):

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21 Responses to “Is Sprint’s Epic 4G With a Keyboard Worth an Extra $50?”

  1. siliconcowboy

    My initial thought was, that’s too much. And it is expensive. Personally I like the keyboard, it’s much easier to use for longer texts. WRT the memory discussion, I agree that internal memory is great, but an easy-to-remove external memory is even more beneficial.

  2. I just saw this as an interesting comparison:

    Droid X = $199 w/ Touchscreen only
    Droid 2 = $199 w/ Touchscreen & Keyboard

    Here are the features that the Droid 2 gives up to be the same price as the X:

    8MP w/ dual flash becomes 5MP with single flash
    Lower video recording resolution
    Drops the third mic
    Drops the FM radio
    Drops HDMI out
    8GB SD card vs. 16GB SD card in Droid X
    .6″ smaller screen

    I would much rather pay $50 and have a better phone PLUS a keyboard, personally. We’ll see what happens with sales.

  3. Epic has Super AMOLED and better battery runtime, and keyboard, and faster 45nm Hummingbird processor to 65nm Snapdragon. There are many differences.

    $250 or $200, it absolutely doesn’t matter! The true price is approx $2500 for 2-year contract no matter which phone you choose!!!

  4. The epic only has 512mb for internal storage. Out of all the galaxy s phones it has the least about of internal storage. Maybe ppl should know the facts before posting comments on articals, so in my opinion no its bot worth an extra 50 for a dumbass physical keyboard.

    • I SWORE I saw that it was 16GB, but I obviously am wrong as I found at several sites. I probably made the mistake because I’ve been reading reviews of the Captivate and Vibrant, and thought it would have at least those specs.

      At least I admit when I’m wrong.

      As for a physical keyboard being the only reason for a $50 cost increase, 1) that isn’t the only reason for the price increase as I stated above, and 2) some people (like myself) can’t stand using a phone without a virtual keyboard, so as “dumbass” as it may be to you, it’s a deal-breaker for some.

      • you guys should really know that you can get captivate ,which is same phone without keyboard&front facing camera from at&t, for 50 dollars on wirefly, and vibrant from tmobile for 99.

  5. NeoteriX

    I think this was a necessary decision by Sprint to help distinguish the Evo and Epic. It might also be the case that HTC and Sprint have a good relationship and Sprint feels loyalty to HTC, while on the other hand, Samsung cold-approached Sprint to provide the Epic (as a part of its complete all-carrier launch and strategy to re-establish itself in the high-end smartphone business).

    If this were the case, perhaps Samsung would be satisfied with taking any deal with any terms, even terms that hamstrung sales with a high price and would only provide mediocre sales with Sprint. After all, it’s Samsung’s long-term strategy to blanket all carriers with its phones and establish its brand-recognition with quality phones. The Samsung Galaxy S series is just the first step.

  6. This strategy will not work. The $199 purchase and two year contract price point has been established. A better strategy is to offer more at the same price point. Consumers will not pay more for more RAM or SD storage, period. Your average Joe (or Jane) will not understand this. Marketing 101.

    • I saw a new motherboard the other day that supports dual CPUs with 6 cores each, both of which can process 12 simultaneous threads at a time… the board ALONE was hundreds of dollars.

      I think this device will suffer in the mass market because of its price point, but I have a hard time believing that there won’t be plenty of enthusiasts that jump at a “Pro” version of the Galaxy S.

  7. WrlsFanatic

    The EVO has internal memory of 1GB, while the Epic has internal memory of 16GB. So, total memory on the Epic is 32GB out of the box, vs. the EVO’s 9GB.

    I do think the price might keep some consumers away, but when you compare the $50 price jump for 23GB of extra storage vs. the iPhone’s $100 for 16GB of extra storage, I think it’s an easy sell.

    What I don’t understand is, why not just put less internal memory in the phone AND include a smaller card? That should have lowered the price to the accepted $200 net price of most smartphones.

    • That’s a good way of looking at it, but I wonder how many consumers will break down the internal storage figures to do the simple math. I suppose Sprint could have asked Samsung to drop the internal memory amount, but if I’m not mistaken all of the other Galaxy S devices have the same 16 GB internal memory, so Samsung may have balked at such a suggestion.

      • First off, I love the site, you guys are incredible. But I do think it’s worth editing the article to say as much, in my VERY humble opinion. The fact that I think you guys might actually do that is part of the reason why you’re the undisputed leader of tech reporting on the web right now, again, in my opinion.

        OK, secondly, that’s completely up to the sales reps. They’re the ones that really sell the handsets. It was widely known that Verizon reps had no interest in the Pre Plus when it came to Verizon, and thus it sold horribly. If I were a sales rep, I’d lay it out as such:

        EVO – great phone, $199
        Epic – $50 more, but it has a 16GB card, front-facing camera, rear flash, and slide-out keyboard that its $199 siblings don’t have, and it has the slide-out keyboard, state-of-the-art display and 23GB of extra storage over the EVO

        I think it will be harder to sell, but as a self-proclaimed wireless fanatic, I would rather get a phone packed with features for $50 more, rather than a carrier and/or manufacturer skimp on specs to hit a price point. As it stands, this is my favorite device launching this summer, and I would be angry if they took away any (or more likely all but the internal memory) of the features I mentioned above to get the phone down to a $200 net.

        I’m not happy that it will cost $250, but I get it.

    • Personal, I want to have a phone out of the box; that doesn’t require me to purchase accessories right off the bat. Phone with better cores, internal mem, battery pac(life under load),front facing camera,camera quality not megapixels, amoled screens,dual captive response, launching OS,2.1 vs 2.3 gingerbread, is all a factor when i decide if 50 dollars is going to be a deal breaker. Especially if it a situation where were upgrading 2-3 lines and money is tight.. i dont want to shell another 100 on mem and 40 on extended battery which bring my true cost up.