Review by Michael Oryl on Thursday September 09, 2010.
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While the Android Market can't compete on an application count basis with the iPhone App Store, the fact that there are over 70,000 apps to choose from should make most anybody happy.
Verizon loaded the Fascinate with a number of its standard apps, such as BlockBuster video, CityID, My Verizon, and the V CAST Music, Tones, and Videos applications. It's bloatware, to be sure, but at least you can move them out of the way in the Fascinate's configurable main menu. Placeholders for Need For Speed Shift and Tetris demos are also pre-loaded. I do appreciate the ThinkFree Office application for document viewing, though.
What seems to be irking other reviewers most about the Fascinate, however, is Verizon's decision to use Microsoft's Bing for search and mapping, and using VZ Navigator for navigation. You know what? I like the Bing search functionality. It does what Google does, for the most part, and offers better local and image search functionality. It's a shame that there's no Google search option for users, but most people should be quite pleased with what the Bing apps offer. And if you want Google Maps and Navigation instead of Verizon's solid VZ Navigator, you can just install it from the Android Market and use it - for free.
The web browser that is built into the Samsung Fascinate is first rate. The large, colorful display and accurate touchscreen provide the perfect foundation for what turns out to be a competent and fast web browsing experience. Pages render the way they are supposed to, and they load up quite quickly thanks, in part, to the phone's speedy 1GHz processor.
Zooming can be accomplished multiple ways, including through the use of multi-touch gestures and double tapping on the screen. When the browser zooms in or out, text re-flows to keep everything readable, too. Adobe Flash 9.1 support is built into the browser, though a dedicated application on the Fascinate takes over when you attempt to watch an embedded YouTube video.
The only real complaint people might have is, as previously mentioned, the use of Bing as the default search engine in the browser.
The Samsung Fascinate for Verizon has a top notch camera. It shoots very sharp 5 megapixel still photos, and is capable of producing equally nice 720p HD video recordings. There is an LED flash available for low light shots, and the fact that the user interface is very easy to use and visually appealing is just icing on the cake. I do wish there was a hardware camera shutter button, though.
The missing hardware camera shutter button makes the phone a bit harder to work since users are required to tap on the screen to focus and then tap again on an on-screen button to snap the photo. It slows the process down. I do like the wide array of features on the camera, though, such as face detection, anti-shake, and blink detection. The stock Android 2.1 gallery application does an acceptable job of presenting the photos to user, too, and also makes it easy to share mass quantities of photos via email or photo sites like Picasa.
You'll find some sample photos and 720p HD video in the gallery section at the end of this review.