Sprint unveils Samsung Epic 4G smartphone

Verizon also announces Samsung-built smartphone, the Fascinate

Just a few weeks after launching the HTC Evo 4G, Sprint today introduced the Samsung Epic 4G smartphone, which features a four-inch AMOLED touchscreen and a slide-out qwerty keyboard.

The Samsung Epic 4G smartphone
The Samsung Epic 4G smartphone.

The slide-out physical keyboard is the biggest difference between the new Epic and the Samsung Captivate smartphone that was announced by AT&T last week with only a touchscreen.

Meanwhile, Verizon Wireless today also announced a Samsung smartphone, dubbed the Fascinate. Verizon's offering has similar features to the Captivate and no physical keyboard.

Sprint's Epic smartphone is designed for a wide range of users, including businesspeople who need push e-mail, Exchange ActiveSync for corporate e-mail and integrated calendar services. Sprint said that it also plans to offer Google Mobile Services and "enhanced" device management and security features, but it provided no further details.

The company did not disclose pricing and delivery details.

Epic will initially run Google's Android 2.1 operating system, with an upgrade to Android 2.2, or Froyo, coming "in the near future," a Sprint spokesman said. Some analysts, including Jack Gold of J.Gold Associates LLC, say that Froyo is more secure than Android 2.1 for enterprise use.

Sprint is expected to allow unlimited access to its fast Wimax 4G network at a low cost for the indefinite future as it tries to lure customers and catch up to market leaders Verizon and AT&T. The Epic works with both 4G networks, now available in more than 30 cities, as well as 3G CDMA networks.

The Epic is Samsung's first 4G Android device. It falls into Samsung's Galaxy S phone lineup and is part of the company's plan to boost its standing in the smartphone market. Samsung is already the second biggest maker of all types of cell phones.

The AT&T Samsung Captivate, another Galaxy S device, also has a four-inch touchscreen featuring AMOLED (or active-matrix organic LED) technology.

All three devices from Samsung -- the Epic, the Captivate and the Fascinate -- are equipped with 1-GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird application processors.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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