I can’t believe it’s been 15 years since I reviewed my smartphone. Most people probably don’t remember the Samsung Epix, known elsewhere as the Samsung SGH-i907, but it did manage to leave a lasting impression on me for being my first professional review.
I still cringe whenever I watch my first YouTube video on it. Things have changed dramatically since then, and while I’m looking forward to seeing how the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra will push the needle forward for flagships, it can stand to learn a thing or two from its long-ago relative.
All eyes are undoubtedly on Samsung’s flagship, which could set the tone for all other phones in 2024 — just like its predecessor, the Galaxy S23 Ultra. The rumors make it a compelling phone that could help Samsung to retain the top spot in our best camera phones list, and Samsung is pushing heavily into AI with the Galaxy S24.
I know that there are things that are unlikely to make a comeback, like resistive touchscreens, removable batteries, and as much I loved them back then, we definitely won’t get physical QWERTY keyboards again. We probably won’t see another Windows-based mobile operating platform either. Yet, I’m reminded about some features on the Samsung Epix that could benefit the Galaxy S24 Ultra.
Size does matter for some people
Samsung’s expected to announce its usual slate of three phones that make up the upcoming Galaxy S4 Series: the Galaxy S24, Galaxy S24 Plus, and Galaxy S24 Ultra. Holding onto the Samsung Epix again makes me realize that size does matter for some people.
Have you ever tried to use the Galaxy S23 Ultra one-handed? It’s nearly impossible for me, which is why there could be an argument for a more compact version of Galaxy S24 Ultra.
We only need to look at what Apple has been doing with its iPhones. Considering how the iPhone 15 Pro Max would be the direct rival to the Galaxy S24 Ultra, it’d be nice to get a smaller version that’s more manageable to hold in the hand to compete against the iPhone 15 Pro.
An optical trackpad could be helpful
Dead center on the Samsung Epix is an optical trackpad that acts to move the mouse cursor in Windows Mobile, something I think could also solve my disdain for unwieldy sized phones. It could be helpful in situations when I’m just relying on my one hand to use the phone.
I’m not saying that the Galaxy S24 Ultra should slap a similar optical trackpad somewhere on the display (that’d be ridiculous), but on the back instead. Mind you, this wouldn’t be the first time this has been done, seeing that I remember how the Motorola Backflip had an optical trackpad fashioned on the back of the phone when I reviewed it.
This optical trackpad could allow me to easily navigate around the software while holding the phone and when I can’t stretch my thumb to reach the upper corners of the display. Not only could the optical trackpad be used for navigation, but I suspect it could also support multitouch gestures to perform specific actions. I suppose it could be its version of the Action button on the iPhone 15 Pro.
Telescoping S Pen means more room for other stuff
Ironically enough, the Samsung Epix features a stylus, which was all too common with the Windows Mobile phones at the time because of their tiny, resistive touchscreens. What’s interesting though is that it’s a telescoping stylus that shrinks down to a much smaller size when it’s stowed away inside of the phone.
On the outside, the S Pen looks nothing more like any other stylus you’ve probably come across, but there’s a lot of tech packed inside of it. However, the Galaxy S24 Ultra stands to learn from the Epix’s telescoping stylus — leaving a little more room for other things. If you look at the current S Pen with the Galaxy S23 Ultra, it takes up more than half the height of the phone in its cutout slot.
Whether it’s extra room to include a larger battery, or simply to help trim the phone’s overall size, I think the S24 Ultra could benefit from a telescoping S Pen.
Bring back the microSD card slot
As a videographer that typically goes through memory cards filled with 4K video, I really would love to see the microSD card slot make a comeback. We haven’t seen the microSD slot in Samsung’s flagship series since the Galaxy S20.
What I like about the Samsung Epix’s implementation is that the microSD slot is easily accessible through a single cover on the side of the phone. When I shoot video or photos with my Panasonic Lumix S5 mirrorless camera and want to share them on my social media quickly, it’s often a painful, laborious process using the Lumix app on my phone to transfer those files over Wi-Fi. I would much rather just pop in the memory card into my phone.
Previous microSD slots in Samsung’s phones often required users to remove the SIM slot, but that’s also inconvenient. Instead, there could be a dedicated slot that could be reinforced with a cover to retain the phone’s water-resistant rating — or perhaps a spring loaded slot.
There's a reason why Samsung is where it is, and I think it's always good to be reminded about what worked and what didn't. While the Epix is now history, it's a testament to see how far we've come since its release 15 years ago.