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Samsung Epix vs. Treo Pro: Head-to-Head

After the phone-tossing Samsung Epix prelude, the number of people who emailed in to ask for Windows Mobile head-to-heads was pretty astounding. We'll have our work cut out for us getting to them all (and honestly, we probably won't be able to hit all of them). First up, as promised by yours-truly and requested by 4 people who emailed in -- the Samsung Epix (Full Review) vs. the Treo Pro (Full Review)

Spec by Spec

Spec by Spec, the Epix and the Treo Pro are virtually identical. Both feature 3G on AT&T, WiFi, Bluetooth 2.0, GPS, a 320x320 flush touchscreen, Windows Mobile 6.1, microSD expansion, 2 megapixel cameras, and front-facing QWERTY keyboards.

We diverge significantly in only a few places.

SpecTreo ProSamsung EpixAdvantage
Processor400MHz624MHzEpix
Memory128MB Program / 100MB Accessible Storage125MB Program / 147MB Accessible StorageEpix
InfraredSupportedNot SupportedTreo Pro
Headset JackStandard 3.5mmNon-standard AdapterTreo Pro
PortStandard microUSBNon-standard SamsungTreo Pro
Battery1500 mAh1800 mAhEpix

Based just on Specs, I have to give the advantage to the Epix. Sure, the Treo Pro has infrared, but the Epix has a faster processor and a bigger battery to support that extra power. When I add my personal preferences in here, however, I have to admit that the advantage shifts to the Treo Pro: I care too much about that standard, 3.5mm Headset jack and use it way too often to easily give it up.

Form Factor and Build Quality

With the Epix and the Treo Pro, you're looking at virtually identical slabs: QWERTY on the bottom, buttons in the middle, flush touchscreen on top. However we definitely have to give the advantage here to the Treo Pro: it's not only thinner, but it also had a much better curve on the rear of the device, giving is a smaller feel.

As far as build-quality goes, if you ignore the possibly cheap-looking keyboard on the Treo Pro, you basically have a wash here. The Epix does have a slightly larger and brighter screen, but it's also very slightly less responsive at the edges. Add in that the Epix's stylus is a weak, telescoping affair and that pretty much evens it out.

Honestly, both devices feel very well-built and solid.

Customizations to Windows Mobile

Both smartphones make minimal core changes to Windows Mobile. Samsung has some nice Today Screen plugins that are very useful, but the Treo Pro has HTC's excellent memory management system of X-to-close and the dropdown on the today screen.

The Epix does add their mouse-software to the device, which I suppose ought to be a point in their favor. Of course, I can't stand this mouse doo-hickey (more on that in productivity), but I'll give it its due. The Epix also supports AT&T's Video Share service, for those who care.

In all, the advantage for WM Tweaks probably deserves to go to the Epix. However for many giving up the HTC memory management modifications will be tough.

Included Software

Epix wins. No brainer. They have OZ IM for messaging, Samsung's excellent Alarm app, a stopwatch, a smart converter, an RSS Reader, and several custom AT&T app downloads like TeleNav, MobiTV and Mobile Banking.

The Treo Pro does have the ability to download TeleNav for GPS and some Standard WM stuff like Windows Live, but basically you're looking at a default WM build here.

Productivity

What I'm calling 'productivity' is a mix of a few features of the phones -- a combination of speed, ability to quickly launch and switch apps, quickly navigate, battery life, and generally get the most out of the device.

This is a pretty fuzzy area because, well, many Windows Mobile power users are able to figure out a few tweaks and shortcuts along the way to get any device powered-up for efficient usage. That said, I do think that the Treo Pro edges out the Epix in this case.

Why's that? I submit Evidence A: the 5-way D-Pad. The Treo Pro has a traditional d-pad, whereas the Epix has Samsung's mousepad. Although the ability to have an actual mouse pointer on Windows Mobile is clever, on a touchscreen it's far from necessary. It also means that operations like scrolling are much for difficult -- you have to aim the mouse pointer carefully at the scrollbar or scroll button in order to scroll a page. Now, you can also put the Epix into a standard 5-way mode, but here again you run into the scrolling difficulty. Instead of simply holding down the down button, you have to constantly swipe downward. The net effect for me is that simple operations on the Epix become a pain.

That's not to say that it's an open and shut case for the Epix. Another element has to be typing efficiency and here the Epix is the clear winner. The Epix's keyboard is clearly better, it's larger, easier to type on, and has better tactile feedback. Strangely, the Epix defaults to not allowing the keyboard backlight to work during daytime hours. Nevertheless, it's clearly better.

Another element is pure speed and power and here again the Epix is the winner. It is slightly faster than the Treo Pro in launching and switching apps. That extra speed does appear to come at the cost of battery life. Although the Epix has a larger battery than the Treo Pro, so far I'd be hard pressed to say that it lasts significantly longer than the Treo Pro under regular or heavy usage. In fact, I'd call that a wash.

With launching Apps, I give a slight edge to the Treo Pro. The Treo Pro has 9 mappable keyboard launch buttons -- the 4 main, 4 opt+main, and the side button. This means with one hand you can quickly and easily launch what will likely account for 90% of what you use on a day-to-day basis just via buttons. Add in a dedicated WiFi button and a ringer switch and you have a real winner with the Treo Pro. The Epix has 6 buttons, all of which are actually keys at the bottom of the keyboard. You cannot remap the Windows or OK keys on the Epix - though most wouldn't want to anyway, SPB Mobile Shell users will be annoyed by the fact that they Windows/Start Key can't be mapped. The Epix does have a silent key, but I don't find that as useful as a ringer switch.

So in all, I do give the productivity edge to the Treo Pro. Yes, its keyboard isn't as good as the Epix's keyboard, but the combination of a standard D-Pad and 9 mappable buttons means that the Treo Pro gets out of your way and lets you get your work done more quickly. Yes, the Epix is slightly faster, but speed isn't much as an advantage if it takes you twice as long to get your cursor/selection/scroll on.

Price and Errata

Here the Epix wins, hands-down. It's currently the only device of the two that's available from AT&T with a contract-reduced price. That price is an almost unbelievably-low $99. Un-contracted, the Epix clocks in at $449, which is still $100 cheaper than the Treo Pro's $549 price. Of course, the Treo Pro is unlocked and the Epix is not.

Neither camera is great shakes, but the Epix's camera is better in low light situations.

Verdict

The Epix has a lot of things going for it -- a faster processor, brighter screen, and better keyboard are its clearest advantages over the Treo Pro. The Treo Pro brings a smaller size, and multitude of shortcut buttons, and a standard D-pad to the table. Both devices are, honestly, solid Windows Mobile Messaging devices and would be a good pick for somebody looking for a front-facing QWERTY device.

Once you factor in the 'little things,' though, I slightly prefer the Treo Pro.

I freely admit that I'm a long-time Treo Man so part of my preference is probably that I 'get' Palm and have no small amount of affinity for them. Still, I found the Epix got in my way more often than did the Treo Pro.

WC Staff
WC Staff
22 Comments
  • I hate to be a Negative Nelly, but I'm think neither of these are the winner for me. I can't deal with the Treo Pro keyboard, and after playing with the Epix scroll thing I think it's a dealbreaker. I've tried a couple of times to use a slider, but I'm a one-handed efficiency addict.
    Sooooo ..... I'm pinning my hopes on the Pharos 117 to replace my 750. It actually has the form I've been hoping for for a long time: big smiley keyboard + trackball. I think the trackball will work nice with WM. Only questions I have are about the specs and support.
    Hard to believe I may be done with Palm! After 6 devices I just don't see myself getting a number 7. Any info on the Pharos is welcome (looking forward to the eventual Treo Pro vs Epix vs Pharos front-facing qwerty smackdown.)
  • Ugh. Just found the specs for the 117. 320x240 screen. I thought it was 320x320. Look for MORE real estate, not less. The search continues...
  • I would love the Treo Pro, but since they don't deliver them with our special Scandinavian letters (
  • I'm a treo pro user so consider my comments biased if you must, but here is my honest opinion after a little over a month with the treo. Everyone has their specific needs in a cellphone so to give some context, I use my smartphone for specialty applications that are database intensive, playing music, scheduling my day and keeping to do lists/notes, gps, and for casual internet use and emailing. And of course I use it as a cellphone.
    To address the Epix' advantages: 1) The biggest advantage I see in the epix, and it's arguably really big, is the keyboard. While not terrible, I really dont like the TP keyboard. It feels small and I sometimes push buttons by accident. Since I'm not a heavy emailer I don't mind much. 2) The epix has a faster processor but I feel this is a non-issue. The TP is snappy and responsive and at the end of the day this is really all that really matters. The only exception to this that I can think of would be in playing xvid movies that have not been recompressed. I do this from time to time and notice stuttering which I imagine would be lessened on the epix. 3)I run my TP screen at half brightness (the default setting) and never wish it to be brighter so the fact that the epix has a marginally brighter screen is also mute. Price is a another big win for the epix. This takes care of all the epix has to offer over the treo.
    Now, for the treo's advantages: 1) As pointed out in the review is the clickable d-pad. This is actually huge. 100x more important than cpu power is ease of use. With any device, you'll waste far more time telling your unit what to do than you actually will waiting for the unit to do it. Thus an efficient UI is imperative. 2) 3.5mm audio jack. Since getting the phone, I use this a lot. I can't imagine ever buying another phone without one. Why carry around a phone and an mp3 player when can combine the two. The TP's battery life playing mp3's is excellent and with microsd cards as cheap as they are there really is no reason to have a separate music player. I would say for anyone who listens to music, this is a huge advantage. 3) All the "little things." These really do add up and make or break a device. Shortcut buttons, responsive touch screen (works great, I rarely take out my stylus), appearance (opinion, yes, but the TP really does look nice in person), HTC memory manager (considering how seemingly crucial this software is, I actually thought it was a part of windows until reading this review), wifi button, physical ringer switch, etc etc.
  • [COLOR="Navy">Just pray you didn't get that bad batch mentioned over at TC. Quality control at Palm may need some help. That "little thing" about minute cracks appearing after normal usage made me glad I never spent $550. At least not until they get a handle on that. If minute cracks start appearing on the Epix, AT&T will likely issue a recall and a halt to sales. The only good thing AT&T does do is quality control.[/COLOR]
  • I think the touchpad mouse is an acquired taste, but I wouldn't give it up for anything. I never reach for the stylus anymore.
  • I too really like the touchpad mouse on my EPIX. It makes it a much better one-handed operation.
    The more standard connectors, the ability to use GPS in a standalone mode, and the unbranded WM6.1 ROM seem to be the biggest advantages for the Treo Pro. However, they are not worth an extra $200 in my opinion.
  • To clarify, by standalone mode, I mean using GPS when you do not have a cell signal. The Treo Pro offers that feature. In an EPIX you can get its aGPS chip to work just fine for all third party apps (requires a few setting changes) but in my experience a cell signal is needed to acquire the satellites.
  • I must say that when I first got the epix I was impressed. I am sorry the mouse thingy in any mode is not convenient to me. I don't get why a scroll wheel is not inculded and I would like the Epix better. But the in the pocket experience with the Epix is mind boggling. The phone gets turned on and unlocked at every shake. I am sending emails everywhere and dialing everyone under the sun. I like the Epix but found myself longing for the Treo Pro.
    If I don't keep my Treo Pro and that is for one reason, cracking. If I don't keep the Pro, I am going G1. Been playing with that and very impressed (except battery life).
  • I must say that when I first got the epix I was impressed. I am sorry the mouse thingy in any mode is not convenient to me. I don't get why a scroll wheel is not inculded and I would like the Epix better. But the in the pocket experience with the Epix is mind boggling. The phone gets turned on and unlocked at every shake. I am sending emails everywhere and dialing everyone under the sun. I like the Epix but found myself longing for the Treo Pro.
    If I don't keep my Treo Pro and that is for one reason, cracking. If I don't keep the Pro, I am going G1. Been playing with that and very impressed (except battery life).
    cglaguna, are you sure you don't have a bum epix? Mine is very well behaved on keylock and standby. If I know I have a lot of reminders coming up that day, I make sure to set the keylock and even when the reminder appears it doesn't unlock or dial accidentally.
    There's a setting to allow any button press to take it out of standby: do you have that set, and that's why it comes out of standby so easily?
  • I must say that when I first got the epix I was impressed. I am sorry the mouse thingy in any mode is not convenient to me. I don't get why a scroll wheel is not inculded and I would like the Epix better. But the in the pocket experience with the Epix is mind boggling. The phone gets turned on and unlocked at every shake. I am sending emails everywhere and dialing everyone under the sun. I like the Epix but found myself longing for the Treo Pro.
    If I don't keep my Treo Pro and that is for one reason, cracking. If I don't keep the Pro, I am going G1. Been playing with that and very impressed (except battery life).
    Are you sure you don't have "any key brings phone out of standby" set? My epix has not pocket dialed anyone, and I have reminders going off all day and carry it in my jeans constantly.
  • [COLOR="Navy">I agree, check your settings.
    I had the opposite problem until I realized there was a setting. I left the phone on the desk and WANTED any key wake up because I'm lazy, LOL! Got worried when it wouldn't do it, then looked around under settings to discover that I needed to enable that.[/COLOR]
  • Yes you are right, I forgot that I had reset the Epix.. Ok my bad on that.
    But the other thing that I like about the epix is the vibrate at every keystroke. But it points to me that while the phone always registers key press with a vibrate, what I press doesn't always give me an action.
    Anyway, I know phones are individual and I have been Treo lover for a long time but, TP went back already and Epix is going back.
    I am in love with G1. I know its not for everyone, but for me this phone ROCKS!!! This was an accidental purchase too.
  • As long as you've found a phone that makes you happy that's all that matters!
  • [COLOR="Navy">I'm waiting for version 2 on the Android phones. The first one's a little green. I'm not saying it's bad, just green. [/COLOR]
  • First i would like to give props to both companies for a making a good product. Second i think you need to look at your evaluation of the Epix again. I have a Epix and about half of the features you said was not availiable, are! Like remapping the hard key shortcuts. If you spen alittle time checking the device out instead of just first glance you will see that it far out ways the Treo. I had the Treo Pro, great phone but i dont like the slower processor and i find the touch screen to be unresponsive after customizations are done. With the Epix i have a solid phone that i can set the way i like. I am not going into caparison with them, but i do think you need to look over yours because it is unacurate.
    Thanks
  • Epix has a bug that cannot be fixed - will come up with error message "forced slog dump" and the phone will lock and need to be reset by removing the battery. Prior to this message, it seems to be working fine, but you are actually not getting text messages or phone calls. Looking this up you will find this is a huge problem with all the Epix phones, and nobody can find a fix other than restarting your phone every day. I use my phone as a pager so missing a text which might be an emergency for me is a deal breaker. I have always had Treos before and never ran into anything like this before.
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  • I believe that you have done an excelent review with the two phones, but thier are a few minor details that you have missed: * The epix DOES have a "clickable" d-pad
    * You CAN change the backlight to work during the daytime( It does take some menu scrolling though).
    * You can also set the function key and any letter on the full QWERTY keyboard as an app or adjustment.
    * On rare occasion the epix will freeze or get a message on the screen, only requiring a quick battery pop in and out to fix.
    *For all the sun dwellers out there, the phone CAN be hard to see in the direct sunlight. Overall both phones are excellent, I am sorry for the lack of pick-up facts about the Palm. I have a close friend who has been " A Palm Man" since the beggining, and his phone is always a joy to see and use. In my PERSONAL OPINION the Epix is a clear knockout due to the ability to operate much quicker... and i have one as my personal phone.
  • I think this is Jack Black III, who was present. I had the original Blackjack the day it came out. It been a good device, the biggest problem I had was that it was not WM Pro and have been modified or e-mail attachment features w/o third party software. I think that has changed with this device.