Jun
05

Samsung “Epix” Failure

Posted by Carson       Trackback

I’ll admit it: I’m a sucker for candybar smartphones.  Sliders are nice and feature-rich, but I prefer a front facing keyboard for the convenience it provides.  That’s why I jumped at the chance to try Samsung’s recent WM6.1 Pro candybar, the Epix:
Samsung Epix Product Page

On paper, it has all the makings of a superbly equipped WinMo phone:

  • 624MHz CPU
  • 256MB ROM / 128MB RAM
  • 320×320 Resolution
  • 3G HSDPA
  • WiFi B/G
  • Full GPS Chip
  • Optical Mouse (VERY COOL!)
  • 2.0 Megapixel Camera, Speakerphone, etc, etc, etc

However, real-world use proves just what an epic fail this phone truly is.  I really wanted to love this phone, but it’s flaws proved so extensive, that even with tons of tweaking and hacking, the phone is truly intolerable for everyday use.

Initially, the phone was released with a very buggy set of software, including the following problems that I noticed during daily use:

  • No email alerts sounded upon inbound email – missed all sorts of emails…
  • No ability to latch to HDSPA 3G – UMTS with about 300kbps was the fastest I ever got.
  • LED notifications do not work according to settings
  • Notes do not sync with Outlook!
  • About once a day the phone starts vibrating and wont stop.  The touch screen stops working at the same time.  Only way to fix is to pull the battery
  • Occasionally, audio stops working – even resets will not bring audio back.  Only way to dix is to pull the battery
  • Notifications settings are not remembered after a reset or power cycle – have to change alert notifications EVERY TIME
  • About 2-3 times a week, a message box appears, stating “Forced SLOG Dump”.  This is known in the Epix community as the “dreaded SLOG dump error”.  Again, the only way to resolve this is to pull the battery.
  • The ascending ringtone is hard-coded.  Even selecting a normal ringtone still ascends – lots of missed calls due to this bug

In April 2009, ATT and Samsung released an over the air update, known as the UCI3 update, which addressed some of the above issues, but introduced a new bug that would often lock up the entire phone for 60-90 seconds when placing calls.  I didn’t notice this happen to me that often but there were widespread reports this occurrence.

Most recently, in May 2009, Samsung released a new update, the now infamous ID1 update.  This was not an over the air update, rather, a downloadable exe file that patches the phone directly via USB.  The steps required to complete the update are quite confusing and many users are still unable to fully flash the phone to the new version.  However, I was able to successfully update the phone but quickly discovered a major flaw: GPS is completely unusable!  In addition to the fact that GPS is broken in the new update, any sort of call to the GPS subsystem results in a hidden process, device.exe, consuming upwards of 80% CPU utilization!  Typical CPU usage of device.exe is no more than around 8%.  As a result, the battery on the Epix dies within 6-8 hours even when fully charged due to device.exe tasking the CPU.

So here I am, two major updates later, left with a phone that I really WANT to like…but the lack of GPS is a huge shortcoming and unfortunately, I will likely be taking ATT up on their offer to replace my Epix with an HTC FUZE…

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