The Samsung Fascinate is the Verizon variant of the Galaxy S, a series of smartphones available from all the top wireless carriers under different names. The calling card for this line is the inclusion of Samsung's Super AMOLED display, which offers better color and less power drain than other types of mobile screens. These models are also all based a 1 GHz Hummingbird processor which is optimized for both speed and power efficiency.
As with the version on other carriers, the Fascinate is Samsung's interpretation of what a top-of-the-line Android OS smartphone looks like today. Verizon's implementation stays in line with this interpretation, and at the same time has some traits only found on Verizon devices (for better or worse).
It sells for $200 with a two-year contract, or $580 without one.
BUILD & DESIGN
The Samsung Fascinate seems to have been at first confused for an Apple iPhone, but then turned around so that it offers an exciting opinion that it is very much not an iPhone.
Overall, there's no creak or bend to the Fascinate. But I have this weird feeling that it might be a bit too slick. Many times after sliding it into my pocket, I flat out forgot that it was there. Some other people that I asked about it expressed similar concerns, but were overall impressed with the weight and design.
As with many smartphones these days, everything starts with the screen, and the Fascinate doesn't disappoint. The 4-inch WVGA (800 x 480) display is bright and clear in most situations, taking solid advantage of the Super AMOLED screen technology which is both thinner and gives off some truer blacks than other types of screens.
I did notice though that the default (and adjusted) brightness levels were noticeably lower than that of the Epic 4G (the Sprint variant of the Samsung Galaxy S). I'm not exactly sure if this is a manufacturing issue, or a conscious decision on Verizon's part in order to eek out a bit more life from the Fascinate
An improvement seems to have been made with the screen's refresh rate, though. With other Galaxy variants, I noticed just a little bit in the way of screen lag with gestures, but not so with the Fascinate. And there was even a bit of an improvement after a recent system update in terms of how fast touches and gestures register.
The screen is not a fingerprint magnet. Most taps on the display are acknowledged by an audible "pop", but you can turn this off if you wish.
As the Fascinate is a tablet-style smartphone, all input is done via the screen using either the landscape keyboard, portrait keyboard, or voice.
By default, the keyboard is set up to use the Swype input system. This works very well, and after using it with various Android OS and Symbian devices I'm finding it very easy to use for all but the most complicated of words.
The landscape keyboard is well spaced and easy to deal with for most input needs, but I find that it takes a lot of the screen real estate and I only use it when I needed longer phrases, or when Swype in portrait mode was becoming cumbersome in longer SMS/IM sessions.
Other Buttons and Controls
The main buttons below the screen (Menu, Home, Back, and Search) respond nearly instantly to the touch, and nicely fade into the background when not in use. When touching them, the haptic feedback feels like a buzzing button.
Looking around the Fascinate, there's the micro-USB and 3.5 mm headset jack at the top, and a toggle button on the left side for volume controls.
The power/lock button sits on the right side, but it sits a bit lower on the device than the other Galaxy S models and takes some getting used to in respect to placing my finger at the right spot to activate it.
The rear of the Fascinate is literally a single, hard plastic battery cover with a cutout for the 5-megapixel camera and its LED flash. Under the battery cover is a 1500 mAh battery and the removable microSDHC memory card (16 GB card included with device).
As with the other Galaxy S models, there's no camera button, but I would assume that for most people that this won't present too much of a problem unless the picture is something that you'd like to take quickly.
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