Verizon Samsung Fascinate

The Verizon Fascinate is the fourth member of the Galaxy S class of Android smartphone to be released in the United States. And like its cousins, it has its share of tweaks that make it stand out. Some of those tweaks are good. Others are causing those of us in Nerdom to shake our fists in frustration.

After the break, our initial impressions of the Samsung Fascinate on Verizon, including our hands-on video.

First, the obvious: We're dealing with largely the same phone that makes up the rest of the U.S. Galaxy S family -- the Sprint Epic 4G, the AT&T Captivate and the T-Mobile Vibrant. Same 4-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen, same 1GHz Hummingbird processor.

Verizon Samsung FascinateThe physical design is most like the T-Mobile Vibrant. The corners are rounded, and the phone fits nicely in the palm of your hand. The shell is plastic and can be a bit of a fingerprint magnet.

The Fascinate launched with Android 2.1-update1 installed, and we expect it to get an update to Android 2.2 (Froyo) in the coming months.

The Fascinate has a 5-megapixel camera. And unlike the Vibrant and Captivate, it has an LED flash (for what that's worth).

But it's the customization that Verizon has done to the software that has everybody up in arms. Some basic Google functions -- Search and Maps -- have been replaced with Microsoft's Bing, and there's no apparent way to fix that. (Though we'll have more on that in a bit, and we fully expect hacks to take care of things.)

We're going to give Bing the full treatment and see if the sky is really falling, or if we're all just being a wee bit Chicken Little.

Youtube link for mobile viewing

Youtube link for mobile viewing


Reader comments

Verizon Samsung Fascinate hands-on and initial impressions


Microsoft seems to be shelling out alot money to get carriers to force Bing down our throats. Why are they so obsessed with the mobile search market?

You mean other than the fact that mobile is the future and search is going to drive ridiculous revenue streams in the mobile space much like it did with Google in the non-mobile space? Beyond that I have no frickin' clue.

AC is really starting to become a milk fest with these "Hands - ons".... just review the thing already like every other TECH BLOG ON THE NET ALREADY HAS.... jeez

uh ok. All the editors at do a great job with phone reviews. They all use the phones for a couple weeks or more before posting reviews to make sure they have their facts straight.

If I buy a phone, I want to know as much as I can before I make my decision.

Like I said, it isn't such a big deal to wait a couple days if the review is post worthy.

The vids here at AC are the only hands on videos I even bother looking at. The others I feel are kind of dumbed down to appeal to the masses.

as for now. no. it's locked down to bing. that's why everyone is up in arms over it. it'll be hacked in no time. I'm kinda hoping this thing flops on Verizon so they get the picture that it was a stupid move.

You CAN download Google Maps and have it as your navigation default over Bing Maps and VZNavigator

However, you CANNOT replace Bing as your default search engine. Yet.

I just read that you are able to download and use google maps but it seems your stuck with bing search as there is no way to install google search. That alone give me pause on why not to choose this phone on Verizon.


It keeps telling me my submission has triggered the spam filter and will not be accepted. Is it the link that I'm trying to post that is doing it?

Got it. You can download Google Maps just fine, but it won't run. (Edit: Actually, it works. Just don't try to run it from the Market.)

Compared to my DINC with 2.2, this looks like crap. Slow and sluggish and no Google integration means total fail. This is almost like a feature phone android phone for the uninformed masses. I really hope HTC brings a squel to the DINC with a larger screen and FFC to VZW.

hardware wise, this phone (or rather series of phones [galaxy s]) has the best SOC in the mobile market right now.

their odd file system and potentially laggy os overlay is what might make it seem sluggish, both of which can be fixed.

Anything VZW did to this phone can be easily undone. Dont pass up a spectacular piece of hardware because of dumb customizations. We all bitch when ATT gimps android phones to protect their Iphone. Guess what, VZW is super cozy with MOTO and the droid line up above all others. They are messing with the competition (and the superior phone) to make you want to buy a DROIDX or Droid2 over the fascinate.

The phone is easily rootable and ROMed. The samsung overlays (not the widgets) are actually pretty nice once u get used to them. Cyanogenmod is working on a full 2.2 ROM for the GalaxyS lineup which should be done soon, for those of you that want base 2.2 with good tweaks.

Buy the phone, and have faith in the mod community. Samsung left the front door open for them and gave em a welcome mat. Whatever you dont like about the phone will be removed shortly, I can almost garuntee it.

Would someone please explain to me why BING is on a Google phone? Why would Google allow that? And why doesn't it have Google mapss

because google doesn't control what you do with their OS, that's why we have overlays like sense, touchwiz, blur, and various preloaded (bloatware) apps.

the bing customization is just the oddest thing that's been done with a search company's mobile OS so far.

Fascinate - Google + Bing = Verizon Android Fail. I'll definitely be sticking with my Incredible. And if this is the route Verizon plans to take with future Android phones I'll be giving my money to Sprint when my contract is up. An Android phone with the best Google apps stripped out isn't worth a heaping pile of dung!

I can't tell you how happy I am I got the Droid X instead of waiting for this.

I can't STAND Bing on the desktop, sure as Hell don't want it on my phone..

Way to bork a would be awesome phone Verizon.

Just loving my GT-i9000.

Samsung crap? I think not.

I get the puzzle piece on the default lock screen for notifications. Slide the piece to go directly to the notification. Just discovered this now.

Wow -- that's the best hand-on video I've seen yet for the Fascinate. Good photography and sound, and a really useful walkthrough of some basic features.

Phil, I'm looking forward to hearing you bring some sanity to the Bing debate. I agree that Verizon's decision to strip out the Google services is unfortunate, but I'm yet to be convinced that it's the end of the world.

With the one-click root application(s) available on SGS phones, I'm not too worried about being stuck with Bing...I'll most likely use custom ROMs anyway

So with that in mind, phone looks pretty awesome.

so should we start calling these phones BING phones? not GOOGLE phones. Thats just not right. I hate BING

nice device.. ill stick with my droid 2 thank you..don't understand why verizon has to be special about what they do with their phones.. bing.. a microsoft search engine on a google device?...really? and why the hell would samsung wanna make this thing look like an i-dont?..its so far from what the iphone is and samsung decides to copy the look of the competiion.. fail samsung.

Bought an Evo, but back in the dumbphone days, the best phone I had ever was a Samsung Blade (their ripoff of the Razr). Never had a problem, I still have it in case I need to send my phone in for repairs for some reason.

However, I haven't heard great things from Samsung in the last few years. I do love that screen, but apparently I wouldn't love a lot of other things. Hopefully, the next round of Samsung phones willfix this, and I would like to return to Samsung, as they are the only manufacturer that hasn't caused me to go to a Sprint tech (then again, I could have just been lucky).

I had that phone. My battery would go from full charge to about 50% doing nothing but sitting in my car while I worked overnight. It didn't have a removable memory card, and it took pics upside down unless I faced the phone away from me-which meant I had no access to the view finder. I definitely wasn't a fan of the Blade.

This reply is very OT, and has nothing to do with the Fascinate, but I just felt the need to share that.

I would NEVER, EVER buy a android operating system phone that only uses bing for search!! What an absolute joke this is!! Hopefully this phone crashes and burns for verizon so they can wake up already. Who is the idiot at VZW who thought this would be a good idea? Must be same guy that designed the iphone 4 antenna. JOKE!!!!

i get it, its lame that bing is the default. but the phone has an unsigned bootloader, right? throw a rom on there and the phone is better than ever. no biggie, unless you're someone whos not going to root, but not rooting is as lame as puting bing on the phone in the first place :P .

Why are people hating on Phil? He's trying to at least show you how the phone works before it comes out so people can get an idea if they want it. Wow nothing makes internet dorks happy.

This is such bullshit. If all android phones switch to BING im just gonna go ack to a regular cell phone. BING phones dont even have free navigation either. getting tired of all this. They get rid of GOOGLE and Navigation

Google Nav is still there but I feel you about the search widget for google. Try using "Voice Search" it still uses Google as a search, then you can just edit by typing.

I have put the Google "Voice Search" quick app button on the desktop and it searches via Google, not Bing. Only thing is... you have to speak what you are searching for but can edit while under google. I have also downloaded Google maps from the market and made it my default maps, which eventually opens up Google Nav when I need it for turn by turn directions.. It's not a "fix" but a way around Bing as a search engine. Both Google Nav and Voice Search app come preloaded. There's just no widget for Google Search.

So Bing services can be downloaded and used on phones that come with google services.. but google services can't be downloaded and used on phones that come with bing services..? that doesn't seem right.

Microsoft must have paid Samsung and Verizon a ton of money to destroy this phone.

So, this makes Verizon one step closer to being like a AT&T/iPhone with this crap. What happen to choice. Even if 2.2 fixes this, why?

Your, "choice" is to not buy this phone, or if Verizon still doesn't get the picture that bloatware and carrier modified phones are not appreciated, is to switch carriers. The best choice I ever made was to go to another carrier when the phones or plans my old carrier had didn't suit my needs. Fortunately for me, my area has good service from most major carriers so I can choose easily between carriers & phones.

I agree with all these arguments to a point. I can give Bing a shot, although I'm not happy that we are forced to do so.
The beauty of it all is the fact that root is inevitable and we have that generous 30 day window in which to return a less than pleasing device and get back to the good old Dink and X if we see fit, so all is not lost people.
I was leaning heavy toward the X myself but thought that 30 days is more than enough time to make my choice.
Like it? Keep it.
Don't? Return it. Simple as that.
We all know 30 days is more than enough for root to hit the streets too!

hardware wise, this phone (or rather series of phones [galaxy s]) has the best SOC in the mobile market right now

WTF is SOC ?

this sounds like anti-fascinate forum with so many ppl giving thumbs down to this phone before it is even at the stores. I am going to the stores to get mine today. And I can live with Bing integration though I don't like it. I will just hide that annoying widget, make my default homepage on the browser and move on. It is not the end of the world. And there are tons of other features that makes this phone on par with its Droid counterparts. Since I don't like slider keyboards D1 and D2 were out of the question. I kinda liked DX but I decided to wait for this. It's a matter of personal choice, folks. Just because u don't like this does not mean it is worthless.

it is a nice device. when i posted that i wasn't trying to be sarcastic.. this was going to be my device of choice as an upgrade but i ended up getting a brand new droid 2 as a replacement for my moto droid due to the 2.2 froyo update fraggin up so many'm glad that happened cause it saved me money from upgrading my device after getting the wife the droid x.. after seeing the tmo version i was amazed at the screen and video playback. it is an awesome device i just dont care for the i-phone look that samsung decided to go with and the fact that verizon has changed the software that is standard google to make room for bing and make you have to use vz nav instead of just giving us the free google maps that is known to come on all android devices.. plus im loving my D2.standard 2.2 and works great.. flash player ftw!!!

I have a question for all the people talking about this being a "Google" phone... has anyone looked at it and noticed anything missing from the exterior of this device? If you look closely at the picture Mr. Nickinson posted of the back of the phone you will see that it does not say "with Google." That being said, yes the OS is of Google production, but, this is an OPEN SOURCE operating system thus if Big Red feels that one of their eight Android phones should have bing on it, it's their right. To begin with there was confusion about what the "with Google" meant on the phones, this is just one incarnation of Android. If it doesn't tickle your fancy so be it. But simmer down a bit, no one is forcing you to purchase this phone and there is no reason to make people feel like the phone is crippled, because well, it's not. This isn't the Samsung 'Fascist'nate, it's just a phone with bing instead of Google.

While Bing is not the search engine of my choice, I can get over it.

What I can't really get over is the build quality. Or the material used for the casing, I should say. I just saw it in the Verizon store, and the plastic casing makes it look very cheap. It was right next to a Droid X, and I just couldn't get over how cheap it looked and felt in my hand. I was thinking about upgrading from Droid 1 (since I consider Droid X to be too big for my uses), but I guess I will have to wait.