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