As for the ICS update, yes, Sprint DOES add to the build once Google and whichever manufacturer are finished, then they release it, and if FD24 IS the official OTA update, you guys are about to be really disappointed that you waited so long for Gingerbread version 1.5! I'm ready for GS3, and Jellybean, on another carrier of course, which Google is set to publicly debut in June at their I/O conference! Rest assured, Sprint will make good on their word, E4GT WILL get the upgrade, and it's likely coming in the next 7-10 days judging by test results being leaked.
Sprint does not add anything to the build after it is created by Samsung. Everything Sprint wants in it is done by Samsung. Proof of this can be seen in leaks that come from Samsung...they already have all the Sprint stuff in them. Sprint just tests it after Samsung builds it. ICS looks a lot like Gingerbread because of Samsung's Touchwiz interface. A lot of the features added by ICS have already been available on Samsung phones through Touchwiz. So no, ICS is not a huge upgrade, nor a very noticeable one, on a phone running Touchwiz. This is pretty much the same on any phone that isn't stock Android.
For the most part, this is true.
Ice Cream Sandwich doesn't being a lot to the table on the surface. The default interface on the Epic Touch will still be TouchWiz since it is a Samsung device, but you can switch back to the stock Android launcher if you want, just like you could on Gingerbread, or use any other launcher app from the Market.
Ice Cream Sandwich is a major change to the Android codebase. Google has said as much, and one of the developers even applauded Sony/Ericsson for their quick updates on some of their devices (5 months). Unlike previous Androud updates, ICS is a major change to the underlying code, including complete GPU hardware acceleration for the interface to relieve CPU usage, and allowing better battery life in the process.
Even though most of what you see will be the same, almost all of ICS changes are under the hood where you will never see them.
Everyone wants ICS for the wrong reason. It's UI isn't any different than Gingerbread. The battery life is what I want. Most people act like they're BF deprived of a new phone. If that's what you want go get one. A for the GPS lock, mine won't connect unless I have all GPS features enabled, otherwise works seamlessly. This is my second handset as I broke the first. Seems to me like it might be user error...
Negative. ICS has a much improved UI... its little things... as well as bigger things. The entire settings menu has changed. New data usage monitors, slide to remove in the notification bar, better font, smoother animations, advanced app drawer.. I have no problems with my ET4G battery. With moderate usage and 4G enabled (not used) all day, I can make it all the way home before I get the 15% warning. And at that point I have 3 additional knockoff batteries I got for $10 on ebay that work as good or better than the OEM. But it beats the EVO and Photon in battery life and thats fine with me.
If I disable 4G and cut down the brightness I can make it a full day (6am to 10pm) without changing the battery. I want ICS strictly for the improvements in the software. Added battery life would be a bonus