Samsung Fascinate Review

Introduction and Design

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:

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