Hands-on: Verizon Fascinate (Samsung Galaxy S) unboxing and first impressions

Unboxing and review photos of the Verizon Fascinate, a Samsung Galaxy S Android phone for Verizon Wireless.

Unboxing and review photos of the Verizon Fascinate, a Samsung Galaxy S Android phone for Verizon Wireless.

Verizon has just gone live with their own variant of the Samsung Galaxy S Android phone, dubbed the Verizon Fascinate, so of course we had to get our very own Fascinate to play with. The $200 (with new 2-year contract) Verizon Fascinate is the last Galaxy S phone to hit a major US wireless carrier, but it brings with it a couple small tweaks that differentiate the Fascinate from the AT&T Captivate and the T-Mobile Vibrant and the Sprint Epic 4G (which is actually a Galaxy S Pro, but who’s counting?). We haven’t had too much time to play with the Fascinate, but we’ve managed to unbox the phone to get a some first impressions about the last of the Galaxy S entrants into the US market. Here goes.

Unboxing and review photos of the Verizon Fascinate, a Samsung Galaxy S Android phone for Verizon Wireless.First off, you’ll notice that the Verizon version of the Galaxy S looks a lot like the T-Mobile version. Both the Verizon Fascinate and the T-Mobile Vibrant sport light redesigns that stay true to the original Galaxy S design aesthetic. The front face is a smooth slab of glass that’s unmarred by physical buttons or unsightly logos. The Android navigation buttons are backlit, capacitive (touch sensitive) buttons that blink when you tap them. And, when you turn the phone on, a big and bright 4-inch Super AMOLED display lights up from underneath that all-glass face of the device. The backside of the device is glossy plastic, adorned with a sort of polka-dot paint job that gives it an almost “3D look” that tricks the eye into thinking the battery cover has some texture to it – it does not.

Inside the phone, you’ll find the 1Ghz Hummingbird processor (with the class-leading Hummingbird GPU), 5-megapixel camera (with LED flash), 3G data, WiFi (B/G/N), GPS, Bluetooth, microSD card slot, 3.5mm headphone jack, and 2GB of onboard storage. It runs the Android 2.1 OS, but is skinned with Samsung’s much-improved TouchWiz 3.0 UI, lending the Fascinate an iPhone-esque feel. That’s either a good or bad thing, depending on how you feel about Apple and the iPhone. Anyway, moving on.

The UI is easy to use and is pretty much standard Android. You get multiple homescreen panes, on which you can plaster Android widgets, app shortcuts, and even Samsung’s own widgets – like Daily Briefing and Buddies and Feeds & Updates. The Samsung widgets are part of the TouchWiz 3.0 UI, and we like them. You can also find some Samsung customizations in the notifications tray that you drag down from the top of the screen. Pulling that down serves up all the Android system notifications that you’re used to, but it also serves up quick-access buttons that let you quickly toggle WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth to help you save power when you’re not using those radios.

Another cool feature of the Fascinate is the Smart Alarm. Samsung realizes that we all hate waking up to harsh alarms “buzzing” our ears off in the morning, and so created the Smart Alarm feature as part of the TouchWiz 3.0 suite of customized Android apps and widgets. You set Smart Alarm to gently wake you up by playing soothing sounds of nature for 10, 15, or even 30 minutes. The alarm starts of softly and gradually increases its volume. The idea is to get you to gently rouse from sleep using alarm tones that don’t wreak havoc on your nerves. If you sleep through the entire Smart Alarm, the regular alarm will kick in and promptly get you going.

As for the phone itself, it feels a lot like an iPhone. It’s slim, has a fantastic display, and doesn’t “over-style” itself with unneeded design elements. We like that the Fascinate has a hot-swappable microSD card slot, so that you don’t have to pop the battery out and reboot the phone to get at the microSD card – a big bonus for those of you that regularly swap SD cards depending on your music listening or video watching needs.

Check out the hands-on photo gallery and the two hardware and software video tours below!

  • Jordan

    “The UI is easy to use and is pretty much standard Android.” Huh? You mean the part where Bing is the only search engine allowed and Google Maps isn’t on the phone? Really?

  • rick

    I think I was one of first Verizon customers to get a fascinated because when I called with an issue they had very few helpful options. Hopefully they will workout the touchy screen and freeze issues.

  • Rick

    Here is an email I sent to verizon:

    To: Verizon Wireless Marketing

    Re: Samsung Fascinate

    When I read that the new Samsung VZ phone would come pre-installed with Bing, I almost went postal. Bing, Microsoft, are you kidding me? Ok, how much did Microsoft pay you. Many us are so anti-Microsoft we would consider changing carriers over this. I have been a loyal VZ customer since 2001, since the old Air Touch Communications days. If you check the your records, my monthly bill is close to $300 per month. So accounts like mine are what you pay huge marketing dollars to attract and retain ? high paying and loyal. But if you start to cozy up to Microsoft, I will bolt. Many of us are trying to get Microsoft out of our lives and feel that wireless was where Microsoft would finally be marginalized, but you are letting them back in the coral. The local Verizon rep said ?it?s definitely a Microsoft phone as it comes preinstalled with Bing and syncs with Outlook? even tho it runs on Android.

    I will not buy a Samsung Fascinate. I have watched with great interest the new Samsung phones that have recently been released on competitive carriers and was disappointed that your new Samsung phone is Microsoft based. I WILL leave Verizon, if this nonsense continues. You buy an ecosystem, and with Android, that ecosystem is Google. Get it Verizon? I’m really pissed over this.

    Disclosure: I am not a Google shareholder and have 4 original Motorola Droids hooked to my Verivon account

    • chris

      I am a T-Mobile customer and when I saw on my news widget what Verizon was doing, it pissed me off and I don’t understand why Google stands for this type of stuff. If I was Google, I would make Google apps mandatory with and android phone. So that greedy Microsoft can’t step in like this. Hate company’s like apple and Microsoft.

    • Dave

      Hi Rick, I’m sorry, but are you really that stupid? All Android phones sync with Exchange, if they didn’t the business world would have never been able to have them operate for business/corporate use. So you have 4 Android devices & you never saw Exchange in the email setup? Bing is an Android app, google will always be the base. So please leave verizon and leave us the best carrier with one less ranting idiot.

      • Jordan

        Clearly not a programmer

        • Sunshine

          I guess only programmers have a problem with it. Good, then it shouldn’t bother me.

  • Paul

    The Fascinate DOES NOT HAVE VIDEO OUT. I just confirmed it with them and they are calling the DNLA garbage video out which it is just streaming and is not video out. Finally I thought a phone worth buying and it is just another piece of stripped down garbage from the likes of Verizon. We need to boycott them until they understand it is about us and not their damn stock holders and stupid decisions!!!!

  • Tiny

    I own one and love it.
    I abhor Bing, but I just moved it to the far corner of my apps and haven’t so much as seen it since I purchased the phone.
    I installed all features of Google Maps within 43 seconds of owning the phone – in fact, the VZ rep at the store did it for me.

    I absolutely love this phone. Don’t hate on it because of bing. Of course it sucks, but the truth is that it’s a minor issue.

  • I’m with Tiny on this one.

  • Chris

    @ Paul

    If the Fascinate doesn’t have video out then that would be because Verizon stripped it out. The Galaxy S does support RCA and HDMI video out. RCA out via the 3.5mm jack using a 3.5mm to RCA-3 cable. HDMI out via the micro USB slot using a proprietary micro-USB to HDMI cable sold by Samsung.

    • Chris

      The cable you are looking for is a 3.5mm to RCA-3 cable. Samsung part # ECC1TX1BBEG. The cheaper ones from Amazon work just as well but two of the channel are swapped for some strange reason. To turn on TV out go to the main screen and hit the menu button, ‘Settings’, ‘Sound and Display’. From there you should see a ‘TV out’ option which enables the feature.

      HDMI out was hinted at on the Samsung website some time ago; cables were going for about $70. Seems like they pulled this information recently. Looks like they mistakenly listed it as a feature for the Galaxy S line. Sucks.

      • Anonymous

        They are actually making a MicroUsb to HDMI cable for Galaxy S. That cable there were listing wasn’t support for Galaxy S line. New cable will be out around 2 months.

  • Omg the verizon fascinate is awsome! Who ever is complaining about it needs to shut up and get a life. Smh.

  • Kimmer

    Just purchased the Fascinate ! Love everything about it. Speed, graphics user friendly. HOWEVER, I dont feel Bing should be the main player here. I almost talked myself out of actually buying the phone, for that very reason. How sad is that? A great phone, with a limited search source (in my opinion). Maybe give Bing time, it may catch up with the king “Google” . Am willing to give it a shot. I’m glad I did not make the search engine the deciding factor of phone choice.

  • I just bought a Samsun Fascinate. My database is SalesForce.com which syncs with Outlook. The Fascinate doesn’t sync with SalesForce and it seems that I have to buy another add-on to even sync with Outlook. Does anyone have any suggestions so that I don’t have to keep two databases or two calendars? I have 30 days to return the phone and go back to my old Blackberry which does everything. Any comments/suggestions/recommendations would be most appreciated.



    • Rrmulvany

      Try Touch Down. It uses the Exchange Server to sync with Outlook. It works GREAT on my Evo.

    • Dumpcat

      the 2.2 version syncs with Outlook/Exchange with having to use Touchdown or anyother app.

  • Alicia

    Love the Fascinate but very frustrated with Verizon. Holding on to version 2.2 which would fix a lot of the email issues as well as allow us to download flash….. AND….Verizon disabled the front facing camera – not a happy Verizon customer…but I love the phone. 🙂

  • ChrisR

    This is an awesome phone! Those of you complaining about Bing need to get a life or buy a Droid X or Incredible! It takes all of 2 seconds to search through Google and believe it or not Bing will bring up 90% of the same search results that Google will, so what’s the issue really?
    Overall this is a great phone and for those people who dont like 1 or 2 things about it, go buy another phone, it’s really THAT simple!

  • sonic

    The screen is nice and bright…..but that’s about it. Sending and receiving e-mail from any account is problematic. Lots of issues with this phone….probably released about 6 months before it was ready. Oh yeah, we’re the guinea pigs….we’ll help them sort it out.

    • fascinate_user

      I have had the oposite experience. I have it set up to use two webmail email accounts and an Outlook/Exchange account that has security setup on it and I have had zero issues.

  • Brihinel

    Never understood reviewing a phone without discussing discussing making calls and voicemail messaging, odd

  • Ij_villalba

    can someone plz clear my mind…i have this phone.. ive downloaded camera apps and LED apps..niether a front facing camera nor LED light is detected..so what am i doing wrong or WTH does this phone have 2 small holes on the top left corner if they dnt have no use??? email me plz! ij_villalba@ymail.com

  • Lip97stick

    When the phone doesn’t work WHY don’t you have a GOOD website or ANYTHING to help reset it or just anything to help out? I have only had this phone for 7 months and have already had it at a Verizon Center once because a ” update” messed my phone up and now it’s doing it again… Why would y’all let a company “update” your phones when it messes with EVERY good thing that y’all say is great with your company…… I had a little s**t phone before this one… Should have NEVER changed….

  • Karindelin

    the phone is a complete P.O.S.  I had one, took it back, got another.  Took that back too.  THE DO NOT WORK.  Do not get one.  They are complete crap.  either the apps NEVER work, displaying “error, please try again later”, or the menus just pop up all over the place like some random virus when you aren’t even touching anything on the phone, or it randomly dials people in your contacts — sitting at my desk at work and all the sudden my daughter is saying ?Hello? from the counter………  I did not get a third one!!!!!!!

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