Samsung Fascinate Review

The saga is now complete, as Samsung’s fourth Galaxy S phone has been released to the US market; the Fascinate i500 for Verizon Wireless. The Fascinate follows in the footsteps of the Captivate (AT&T), Vibrant (T-Mobile), and Epic 4G (Sprint), as all share an impressive 4” Super AMOLED display, 1GHz Hummingbird processor, and Android 2.1 OS with Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface. But with lofty competition within Verizon’s own smartphone line-up, most notably from the Motorola DROID X, DROID 2, and HTC Droid Incredible, does the Samsung Fascinate have what it takes to stand out from the crowd? Let’s see if it is truly fascinating, or just “another Android smartphone”.

Included in the retail package is the Samsung Fascinate  smartphone with a pre-installed 16GB Class 2 microSDHC memory card, 1500mAh battery, wall charger with detachable microUSB cable, and user guides.


The design of the Samsung Fascinate  closely resembles that of the Samsung Vibrant, and almost has an iPhone-esque style to it, with the all-black plastic construction and chrome accent encompassing the sides. It feels well made overall, almost like it’s one solid slab, though the back is slippery and occasionally it felt like it would slip out of our hand while using it; unlike the soft-touch coating used on the back of the Motorola DROID X (among others) that provides a good grip. Due to its slim size and rounded corners, the Fascinate sits comfortably in the palm of your hand, and at only 0.39” thick, it can be tucked away in the thinnest of pockets without the extra bulge that’s atop of the DROID X.

You can compare the Samsung Fascinate with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

Like the other Galaxy S phones, one of the main features of the Samsung Fascinate is the Super AMOLED display, coming in at 4” with a resolution of 480x800 and supporting up to 16 million colors. Images look absolutely stunning on it, as colors are very saturated and “pop” off the screen and have excellent contrast with pure blacks. Another benefit is that the Super AMOLED display on the Fascinate is brighter and easier to view outside; where as the standard AMOLED display on the HTC Droid Incredible and TFT LCD display on the Motorola DROID X are somewhat harder to see in direct sunlight. But there are two small issues that we did notice with the Fascinate’s display. The first is that the auto-brightness is a bit jumpy, as for no reason when indoors we found the display would get bright for a few seconds and then get dim again. The second is that when using the web browser or other applications, we noticed that very small text was jagged around the edges, through the same text on the DROID X was clearer. But despite these two issues, we feel that the Fascinate's screen does an amazing job, and at  4”, it is a nice compromise in size for those who want a larger screen than the Droid Incredible, but still find the DROID X to be too big.

Located at the bottom of the front are four touch-sensitive buttons for the menu, home, back, and search. Since they are further down from the display, accidental presses don’t happen as frequently as on the Droid Incredible, and it gives the front a nice clean appearance, though we still think the advantage goes to the DROID X, which uses physical buttons. One annoyance we discovered is that the touch buttons on the Fascinate only light up for 2 seconds and then turn off, which can be a bit of a pain when using the phone at night or in a dark room. Furthermore, there appears to be no way for the user to have them on for a longer period. There aren’t too many other buttons on the Fascinate, with the volume rocker on the left side and the power/lock button on the right. Up on the top is the 3.5mm headset jack and poorly located microUSB port, which would be better suited on one of the sides or at the bottom of the phone. The 5MP autofocus camera with LED flash and external speaker is on the back, and removing the battery cover will reveal the microSDHC memory card slot (up to 32GB supported).

Samsung Fascinate 360 Degrees View:



1. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

sooooo.. i just want to get this right.. this is the exact same phone as the vibrant/facinate but +an LED flash.... but you bitch about the exclusion of google for bing, its got less memory than its brothers (they have 16gig INTERNAL memory with up to 32mb on top), removal of google native apps, no Avatar or any other movie to show off, and they run the exact same otherwise.. yet the loaded vibrant gets an 8.5 and the gimped and stripped fascinate gets a 9.2? Can someone at PA explain this? Were used to the iphone getting cracked out scores even though the whole review is "but it doesnt have this, it doesnt have that, it cant keep a signal, it cant make a call, but its perfect".. but now you have the exact same phone on 2 carriers getting different scores and the one with the stuff people are PISSED about like Bing and lacking other things that the vibrant/captivate come with... gets the higher score. Carrier preference influencing score? What gives.. if anything, the vibrant/captivate should be rated higher than the fascinate for those very reasons.

2. lewislee unregistered

I am with you 100% the vibrant is a great phone that deserves to be rated much higher. The only thing it lacks is a flash

3. anarkie

Posts: 48; Member since: Jan 28, 2009

I'm with you there. I love my X, but my fiancee was really looking forward to the Fascinate...until the reports were confirmed about the Bing, lower RAM, lower internal memory and poor GPS performance. She still doesn't want a X, but if nothing better comes out by November, she's getting one. I'm disappointed, because it had way too much potential. Not enough for me to trade, but it could have been a more solid alternative to the X.

4. Kranbes unregistered

1) Bing wont be a problem by the end of september when 2.2 is released. 2) RAM is exactly the same as all the other Galaxy S phones. Do some research, the lower number shown can be confusing, but it really is 512 mb. A portion of it is allotted to either the OS or the GPU, theyre not sure, but that's why a lower number is shown. 3) Internal memory doesn't matter with 2.2. Apps can be saved to SD cards. The overall memory that comes with the phone is plenty at 18 GB. 4) GPS works fine. It'll supposedly be even more brushed up in the bundled update with 2.2. So far mine has worked perfectly fine though. --summary: people complain about the dumbest things that really aren't issues. The phone itself is awesome. The hardware can't be beat. You can also just root it and do what you want with it, that's what's great about Android :)

5. DroidCLH unregistered

some people dont want to have to root their phone to un gimp it, bing will most likely not be changed by the 2.2 update (they put it in their for a reason), it doesnt matter is the real number is 512, if your phone or OS is taking up that much memory than you basically only have 300ish mb to work with, i dont think that 18 Gbs is plenty, i have a droid with 8 Gb of internal memory and a 16 Gb sd card and im almost full.

6. jd829

Posts: 155; Member since: Feb 24, 2010

How's that koolaid?

8. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

the phone has 2g of internal memory to throw your apps and system stuff on. it comes with a 16g card on top. 1) bing will still be there.. and its only on the fascinate, so its a - 2)internal memory matters now. Never buy a phone based on a future upgrade. Ask owners of the Cliq,Behold2, Devour, ect. The over all memory that comes with the phone may be plenty for YOU, but the point is its still LESS than its lower rated brother, the Vibrant wich comes with 16 INTERNAL + a 2gig external with Avatar on it...with the ability to add another 32 on top... = 38g total. 4)GPS "works" on occasion. keep using it, it will stop being fine. GPS will be fixed in a seperate update sometime this month. 2.2 will be sometime afterwards. Your limited use with the phone doesnt mean that all the others have magically started working correctly. When my GPS quits telling me I'm in Berlin, Germany instead of FL, ill believe you... lol. summary: the complaint isnt that its not still a great phone. I reccomend the GalaxyS to everyone. The complaint is that its a vibrant + flash LED, yet is gimped and stripped comparitively, yet somehow attained a higher score and we want to know why.

17. beez

Posts: 4; Member since: Sep 12, 2010

Read all of the comments. I'm still w you on this all the way. Arguments aside. No reason for 8.5/9.3 score... I don't care what your argument logic is.

24. DonkeyPunched

Posts: 321; Member since: Jan 10, 2010

Yea, I agree. I don't know why the scores I like this. That's the first thing I thought when I saw the score. And people, you can talk about Android 2.2, but we all know those updates take a hella long time to finally come out. They haven't announced when they would roll out an update for the fascinate and I have a feeling, they won't do it first. It will probably happen to the vibrant/captivate first, then epic, then finally fascinate. :\ By then, there should be newer phones that should beat the specs of this phone. Probably not the screen, but still, they will have something better.

7. osanilevich

Posts: 287; Member since: Sep 29, 2009

honestly I am sick and tired of this Galaxy S gimmick. One phone has 4G, the other has flash, the other has Avatar, the other has metal casing blah blah blah. They're all great phones but Samsung has taken it over the top by making this whole Galaxy Mess. Why not just give each company the exact same phone so everyone can watch Avatar in 4G, knowing their camera has flash in case they see something they wanna take a picture of? Why just make a mess of it by putting 4 phones that have almost nothing in common (by design anyway) and put them all under the same product name? It just doesn't make any sense

9. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

osan, they are all the same phone.. same screen, same internals. some have more memory some have a flash. Its not completely up to samsung. They have to change the design of the phone based on what the carriers want, or the carriers wont sell it. Its not Sammy you should be mad at, its the carriers. They all want something to differentiate themselves. No phone is "exactly" the same on multiple carriers.. they all demand it do different things. Even the all mighty Razr had different functions on each carrier. Of the group, the Vibrant is still the best one. The fascinate SHOULD have been, but they gimped it too much. Ill take lack of flash over all the other crap.

10. lolololol unregistered

Because not every company has an opperable 4g band yet for one. For two, only tard-mobile users would want Avatar on their phone. If that was a buying point for the Vibrant GTFO, seriously. Overall if you want every aspect of the Galaxy S the only way to get it is with the Epic. The Epic has everything else that all the other Galaxy S phones have plus a physical keyboard and 4g capabilities. If you want form factor, I'd say the Captivate is the most attractive of all four to be completely honest. The Verizon and T-Mo. versions just look like slightly larger, slightly uglier Iphone 3G(S)s. Or you could just throw out this crappy Galaxy S line all together and get an EVO, Incredible, Pre-Order a G2, or if you're on AT&T just wait a month or so until the new AT&T HTC phone comes out and get that. HTC>All. That being said Sense>All. I don't care how neat your Motorola is, if it's running Blur it's ass.

21. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

Dude, all those phones you mentioned dont hold a candle to the GalaxyS series. Go look at some benchmarks. They are ALL yesterdays news.. The only one that may be close would be the G2 and its new chipset or the Mytouch HD and its dual core 1ghz.. They still dont BEAT it though, they just keep up. The selling point of the "vibrant" isnt Avatar.. its just an "oooh" factor that makes alot of impulse buying. The movie looks absolutely beautiful on that screen, and thats the point. Also, while the Epic has the keyboard and FFC as well as 4g, it lacks all the internal memory. The vibrant comes with 18gig upgradable to 48. Its all preference. The vibrant is almost as fast as the epic when they are both in their high speed areas, but Tmobile has a much larger HSPA+ footprint than Sprint has 4g so the chances of you having a faster Epic than my Vibrant are not that great. Owning the Vibrant is also much cheaper monthly, as well as its part of the BOGO Tmobile has going. The only thing the vibrant is missing is a camera flash. I could care less about the FFC as its at least 1-2 years away from being useful for more than the novelty of having it. The vibrant is also the LEAST customized and locked down of the group, making it much easier to flash custom ROMS on it. In the end its all preference. Each phone is gimped in some silly way. You have to choose which one you want. None of them suck, even gimped they are all ahead of the pack. The only ones that are not gimped are the european/korean versions.

11. Joshing4fun

Posts: 1249; Member since: Aug 13, 2010

I really wanted to like this phone but it seems to me that the only that this phone has going for it is the super amoled screen and the fast processor. Other than that it doesn't impress me that much. Not enough that i think it deserves a 9.3 anyways.

12. mr. droid

Posts: 278; Member since: Aug 21, 2010

honestly, I have owned EVERY blackberry, three windows phones, and ALL the android phones from verizon (except the devour, which is a pile of junk all the way around) and the fascinate has NO competition at this point. better processor, screen, and over all construction than the cheaply made lego phone, the droid incredible makes the droid x look like a free cereal box toy and the droid 2 something that came out of a McDonalds happy meal. and ALL of those are MILES ahead of the more than over-rated iPhone.. stick to what you know best apple.. mp3 players. and even iPhone is better than ANY blackberry. as for bing.. thank you samsung! I hate google! (they are a spoiled company thats only about the all mighty dollar, shoving constant advertisements in my face when ever i search for something) I am glad to see it go.i welcome the bing search engine with open arms. message me for the real review i have of all the phones. i will be more than happy to chat about them

13. DroidCLH unregistered

wow lol, your the weirdiest person here, you said like one correct thing and the rest was total garbage.

33. WhatSheSaid unregistered

"Correct" thing... or just one thing that you "agree with"?

14. Cubdukat unregistered

I had my doubts after reading about the entire Bing debacle, but I actually had a chance to play with a Fascinate at my local Verizon store. I'm hooked. Yeah, it's jacked-up what Verizon did by locking out Google Search (and I have to wonder why Google didn't just yank Android right out from under them for that), but that's just one problem I can see with a phone that otherwise rocks. For all its faults, it still kicks the iPhone's ass--even if it does look like one. I'm getting ready to graduate from Verizon prepaid to a big-boy phone, and this is gonna be it--for at least thirty days, anyway. Maybe my opinion of the Fascinate will change in that time, once I've actually had more intimate contact with it. But somehow I doubt it.

16. phonedemocracy

Posts: 98; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

You guys know the voice search still searches Google, instead of Bing, right? And its actually eerily accurate. I use it for Navigation too. Unbiased Droid 2 user here.

18. aja626

Posts: 5; Member since: Sep 13, 2010

What I don't understand is that this site posted an article that includes three pages of know issues and yet it give this phone a rating almost the same as the Motorola Droid X. In your video review you mention the widgets are OK, the reception not as high as the Droid X. You say that the Touchwiz interface does not feel like a Droid phone and that you prefer the Android feel. I don't get it. How you can give the Droid 2 an 8.5, the HTC Incredible an 8.8 and give this phone a 9.3. It does not make sense to me.

19. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

I wonder how the lag is with this phone - samsung has been using fat16, essentially, for the file system and now has created a program that replaced it with something zippier - eventually, all GALAXY S phones will have this access. Why would you not root the phone. Download off the market RYAN's LAGFIX and you can get the phone rooted and even use his lagfix which is pretty good - not sure if those apps are compatible with FASCiousnate IGNORE PHONE ARENA's reviews - they are normally dim-witted and full of misinformation.

20. mdodka unregistered

you people need to get a life for reals..... who cares if this phone got a better review than the Vibrant and the Captivate you guys act like if it was in insult to like your family or something..... i on the other hand am happy with my Fascinate its a really awesome phone i trade it in for my Droid and i am happy with my switch Samsung Fascinate FTW haha

22. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

it doesnt mean its a bad phone. but its the most gimped version of the phone and they complain about it the entire article. If your going to complain about 1 version over another by.. alot.. then that version that your complaining about should not have the higher score. It doesnt make sence.. thats the point.

25. Joshing4fun

Posts: 1249; Member since: Aug 13, 2010

They are comparing this phone to other phones on Verizon though. Not other phones on other carriers.

23. C_S09 unregistered

So many ppl say that the Fascinate has Bing as the only search...Not true you can download "Ultimate Search" from the Android market for a 1.00 and it will give you Google Search widget with voice, Plus 2.2 will give you Google search when we get the OTA update. Plus you dont have to use Bing maps you can download Google maps.

26. A Current User unregistered

I have owned the Facinate for a week. If you are looking for an Iphone alternative, this is your phone. It is numerous reading most of the posts because it is obvious that most people writing has never owned this phone, or even played with it in the store. For those of you who say that you can't stand the bloatware Verizon puts on this phone, including Bing, then root the phone. It takes about 15 minutes for even the Novice person to do. This will give you the ability to remove all the programs you don't want and truly have Google as your primary search engine. You will also be able to use the Mobile Hotspot for free, opposed to paying the $20 dollars a month with Verizon For those who don't want to root your phone, then you can get all the Google goodness, except for change the search button on the front of the phone. For example, I currently have a Google Search widget, Voice Search, Google Maps, Google Voice, and Google Navigation. When I hit an address on a webpage, it automatically Google maps it and then gives me the option to navigate. This is all Google, and not MS Bing. Also, I use Dolphin HD as my browser, which I used on my past Droid1. When I search for an item, either in the search widget, or via voice, it searches for all items in Google, and not Bing. The screen is beautiful, vibrant, and the perfect size! Much nicer than any other phone screen on Verizon. The battery life is fair, but I am a heavy user who is on the phone all day, constantly receiving my work Exchange emails, Hotmail, and Gmail emails. Also Txting a lot, surfing the web constantly, Getting RSS updates in my Greader app, viewing MS office documents daily, Wifi users, Bluetooth user, speaker phone user, and heavy Navigation user. I can use the phone on one charge until about 3PM, and then I need to plug in. There is an extended battery coming out, but I don't know how much more this will add to the thickness of the phone. the current overall phone size is awesome. The launcher Touchwiz is OK, but I have changed this two ADW Launcher, which allows me to put the Google Search on my home screen as a Widget. I also use Beautiful Widgets on my homescreen that gives me the same Weather Clock look as you see on all HTC Sense Android phones. Multimedia support is wonderful. I linked this to my home network via the DNLA support and was streaming music and videos from my network attached storage in a matter of minutes. Also, the ability to play virtually any audio or video codec is very cool. The Samsung video player is OK, but it does differentiate itelf since it support DVIX videos. If you need MKV support then there are pleanty of good media players that do both Video and Audio. Most music players show album art, so you are all set there. Pandora and Slacker are also great, but these are Android supported apps and are not just subject to this phone. Typing on the phone is just like any other Android phone, and also comes with Swipe which is pretty cool if you get used to it. The bads are, that the GPS at times syncs immediately, and sometimes it takes 3-5 minutes to sync. This is being fixed shortly as many have mentioned. There is a LAG bug that sometimes pops up, which causes a slight screen transition delay. This isn't too noticeable, but it is there. The reception is OK, but I haven't had any dropped calls or anything of such. I notice it more when I want to stream Higher quality videos form Youtube, for my little girl to watch wen we are out to dinner. The volume on the Navigation is kinda low. The calendar application is somewhat ugly, but you can change this by downloading a replacement on the Android Market. The other thing I noticed that the GPS isn't totally accurate when you are standing still. As soon as you move it tracks accurately, but when still it can put you two blocks away from you actual location. One of the biggest disappointments is the camera. The reviewer description is accurate. I do notice a slight haze in my photos. Although it has face detection, I feel that my photos tend to turn out more blurry than not, when shooting indoors. I don't know if it is the software, or a problem with the actual sensor. I don't expect great photos form any cell phone camera, due to the optics and sensors usually being rather poor. I don't really care that it is 5MP, because I never plan to blow up these pics to an 8x11 photo, but I would wish the photos were a little clearer. I heard that the sensor and optics were better than the DroidX, but the verdict is still out. The DroidX usually takes a better pic when you quickly shoot something compared to this phone, from my experience in the Verizon store. The other big disappointment is no Exchange/ Activesync Global Directory/ GAL support. This isn't subject to this phone and it is a problem for all Android phones. This is more important for those who are using this as a business phone, like I do. There is the Touchdown app which helps with this, but I would rather have it all integrated. It has much better exchange support with Android 2.1 & 2.2 OS, but it still has some way to go with full integrated support, such as GAL. This is where BB dominates compared to Android OS or Iphone IOS. Overall, this phone gives you the closest experience to an Iphone, but on a more powerful and robust platform. Also this phone provides free turn by turn mapping that no Iphone can currently touch. The phone is very fast and presents no problems to 90% of users. For those concerned about the memory, get over it. Every Android has 512MB of Ram. All phones use some of the RAM for GPU and most for phone processes. Froyo/ Android OS 2.2 frees up some space due the the Linux Kernel being smaller than compared to 2.1, but this will give you maybe 400 MB for phone process compared to the average current of 384MB. Froyo also allows you to put programs on your SD or internal memory, but this doesn't change the RAM in the phone. Android is pretty good at managing the memory unlike BB and WM phones, which causes the phone to crash when you are near capacity utilization for the RAM. The other thing I didn't mention is that this phone has a 6 axis sensor that is unique compared to other Droid phones. This is especially needed for some of the advanced games coming out on Android. The high resolution mobile games look amazing on the screen and perform very well on the phone. The only reason I would go with the DroidX over this phone would be for the HDMI out on the phone, and little better battery life. I dont' care for the 4.3 screen, and this is why I have originally purchased the Facinate. You can't root the DroidX like the Facinate, so this is something I need to consider. I most likely will keep this phone, unless the HTC Merge comes out in the next 20 days. No likely, but we can always hope.

27. A Current User unregistered

One other thing.... Many compare this to other Galaxy S phones. The only thing I have to say to that is that this phone is on Verizon, and most people agree that the coverage is significantly better in the SF Bay Area compared to any other carrier. AT&T and Tmobile are a joke, and Sprint is getting there. This is the main reason I never bought the Iphone. I came close, but saw the light. If the Iphone was on Verizon,iti would be a tough choice, but I most likely would still go with Android because the oneness of the OS. I also can't stand iTunes, due to the single computer sync thing. I love the ability to be able to dump any MP3 or video I like onto the SD card and not worry if it is was bought form iTunesl or if I am always syncing to the same computer. Finally, I read my last post again, and noticed a tone of grammar mistakes and misspelled words. Sorry about that. Tired and typing fast.

28. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

lol. good review. the fascinate has the same inherant GPS problems as all the GalaxyS phones. My vibrant pictures are clear and not blurry, so i dont know why the fascinate would be foggy. have you cleaned the lens? maybe its a manufacturing issue. who knows. The video function for 720p is exellent on the phone. All in all, the galaxyS line is the superior android of the moment and the forseeable future. What people are bitching about is how VZW treated the phone. Its still one of the best phones out, but it doesnt diserve to have a higher score than its brothers the virant and captivate. The epic should have the highest score like it does, since it has the most features by far, but the vibrant/captivate should come in second, with the fascinate comming in a slight last since its the same phone as the others, but gimped. They all deserve at least a 9.0+ though. Anything less is a crappy review.

29. shl615

Posts: 5; Member since: May 15, 2009

Does anyone else have the reverb in the speaker of your own voice during calls? Especially in loud noise areas like wind noise, I can hear the wind from my OWN speaker.......

32. Chris3D unregistered

Yes, I get the same thing and it's really distracting and annoying. Why any phone should transmit what the mic picks up through it's own earpiece is beyond me. There's no possible reason for a phone to be designed to do that, it makes no sense whatsoever. I'm really having a hard time deciding whether or not to return this phone.
  • Display 4.0" 480 x 800 pixels
  • Camera 5 MP
  • Processor Samsung Exynos 3, Single core, 1000 MHz
  • Storage 2 GB + microSDHC
  • Battery 1500 mAh(7.00h talk time)

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