Samsung Epic 4G to crash into stores August 31 at $249

Sprint will be getting its first Samsung Galaxy S phone and Samsung will be getting its first 4G phone on the market at the same time with the August 31 launch of the Epic 4G.

Powered by Android, the Epic is the second phone to take advantage of Sprint’s next-generation 4G network. This marks the second 4G phone for both Sprint and Android while everyone else in the mobile playing field is still working on setting up their next-generation plans.

It is also the latest expansion for Samsung’s much-touted “Galaxy S” line, the company’s high-end line of smartphones that it has promised to bring to every major mobile carrier in the US.

The Epic has a 4-inch screen, a Super AMOLED screen, full slide-out Qwerty keyboard, and Android 2.1. Samsung has announced previously that all Galaxy S phones will later receive an update to the new Android 2.2 system.

In addition, software in the new 4G device allows for multi-touch and gesturing controls, along with the market-dominant Swype application for using an on-screen virtual keyboard to enter text.

A 5 MP camera, HD video recording functionality, a forward-facing VGA camera for self portraits, and built-in functionality to use the phone as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot, all round out the feature list of the Epic 4G. Like the Evo, the mobile hotspot feature is built into the phone and does not require the additional software package included in Android 2.2 that offers a similar feature for other Android devices.

The Epic will go online for pre-orders tomorrow, and will hit Sprint stores nationwide on August 31. It will be priced at $249, a slight step higher than most of the $199 smartphones that have become the industry norm, after a $100 subsidy for a new or renewed 2-year Sprint contract.