First, a little background on the reviewer. My company purchased a Motorola Droid for me over a year ago and that phone has treated me quite well during that time. I consider myself a smart phone power user for my main business during day and for my side business LLC by night. I've had 4 email accounts and use a handful of apps quite often on my old Motorola Droid.
Anyway, my company decided to get rid of the Verizon USB 3G cards and Myfi cards and replace them with Hot Spot enabled Android phones. Enter the Samsung Fascinate.
Samsung Fascinate Specs and Initial Impressions
When firing up the Fascinate for the first time, I was wowed by the brilliant, high resolution screen and thin form factor of the phone. The Fascinate features a 4-inch WVGA Super AMOLED screen, a 1GHz processor, and 5 MP camera.
The ease of bringing existing contacts into this phone by restoring my Google Gmail account was quite simple.
I was also able to find the Hot Spot, turn it on, and connect a computer within the first 5 minutes of operating the Fascinate. The hot spot speed seemed on par with download speeds I've experienced on my Verizon USB card.
Microphone and Speaker sound quality is poor
What a shocker here. The first time I spoke into the microphone in a conversation, I could hear my voice sound slightly muffled in the ear piece. When listening to others talk to me during a phone call, the sound quality was quite poor as well, which would also sounded muffled, and more so if I turned the volume higher. This phone is one of the most expensive smart phones on the market; I expected outstanding in-call sound quality.
Search button and Bing
Terrible disappointment here. On my Motorola Droid, I could press the spyglass button and search for a contact (person), place, thing, and Google would bring accurate results more often than not.
With the Fascinate, I could not search or call a contact based on saying a contacts name, nor could Bing give me results based on my GPS location. The Fascinate will also not allow you to change what search engine you want to use for the default search engine. Be prepared to press the "done" button after you're finished verbally imputing what you want to search for; it makes for a bad experience when driving and using this feature.
Also, I don't mind using Bing on the computer, but I'm not a fan of the mobile version.
Android Operating System is 2.1
Wow. I was disappointed to find out that I would be losing HTML rich emails as well as Adobe Flash that I used to have on my old Motorola Droid because the Fascinate is only on the Android 2.1 operating system instead of Android 2.2 (also known as Froyo). Samsung has not said when they will be updating their phones to the latest version of operating software.
After downloading and installing the Facebook App, I was able to sync my existing contacts with Facebook, but photos did not transfer or update.
After downloading Google Maps and experimenting with settings to try and get my GPS to work, I've come to the conclusion that GPS works only part of the time on the Fascinate. I found myself constantly restarting the phone, which would sometimes solve the problem, but more often than not, the Fascinate would revert to giving me a an approximate location (by using distance between cell towers, which is often off by up to 3,000').
The botched GPS is not limited to Google Maps either. I'm an avid user of the Sportstracklive Pro App (www.sportstracklive.com). This app was unable to find or use GPS quite often as well, though if I fiddled with turning off and on the GPS for 5 minutes, it would eventually work.
Fascinate Annoying Apps
The Fascinate comes with some apps which looked appealing upon seeing pictures of the phone online before I received it, but failed upon execution and customization. The "daily briefing" app allows you to add weather for your current location, stock symbols and news story feeds, but usage of this app feels clunky and slow loading.
Slow and clunky
With a 1.0 GHZ processor, I expected a speedy experience when flipping through pages of apps or browsing web pages, but the Fascinate seemed laggy at times.
Touch Buttons on front of phone
A major annoyance on this phone is the touch buttons located at the bottom below the screen. Actually, they're built in to the screen which gives the Fascinate a nice sleek look, but fail when you drag the top menu down to view notifications and accidently take your finger and touch a menu button or home button...losing the notification drag down menu in the process.
Also, the touch buttons only light up for 2 seconds. If you're in a dark room and are scrolling through some emails, you'll have to guess where to position your finger on the touch buttons because they will not light up again until you hit one of them. There is no settings option to change this.
The overall feeling that I got with the Fascinate is that it was rushed to market without enough testing. I'll admit that I'm an impatient guy when it comes to using a smart phone. I don't want to have to search the internet for answers every time something doesn't work the way it was advertised or intended to be used.
The Fascinate just feels poorly executed. I gave the phone back to my company's administrator, reconnected my Droid, and breathed a sigh of relief.