Samsung Fascinate Review

Samsung’s Galaxy S Fascinate holds its own alongside the popular Droid X, leaving room for both superphones on the nation’s largest wireless carrier.
Samsung’s Galaxy S Fascinate holds its own alongside the popular Droid X, leaving room for both superphones on the nation’s largest wireless carrier.
Samsung’s Galaxy S Fascinate holds its own alongside the popular Droid X, leaving room for both superphones on the nation’s largest wireless carrier.

Highs

  • Bright, colorful, glossy 4-inch AMOLED screen
  • Excellent battery life
  • 5-megapixel camera/720p HD video recorder
  • 16GB microSD card pre-installed
  • Lightweight; uncluttered exterior

Lows

  • Touch controls backlighting out-of-sync with screen
  • Inconsistent network connectivity
  • No front-facing camera
  • Lock/hold switch in camera mode
  • Only 2GB built-in memory

samsung fascinate reviewWeb

Side-by-side speed comparisons around various spots in New York City revealed the Droid X as overall faster. Web-optimized sites such as The New York Times, ESPN and CNN loaded a second or two faster on Droid X than Fascinate, but non-optimized sites broadened the Droid X’s speed lead. When the Fascinate was faster it was just barely; however, when Fascinate fell behind, it was a substantial fall-off of 10 to 30 seconds, depending on the site.

While the Fascinate was faster to recover 3G signal, the Droid X maintained 3G longer, and maintained a lifeline one-bar signal longer than Fascinate. In fringe coverage areas, the Droid X managed to latch-on to a stronger signal than Fascinate.

The Droid X was much faster finding and downloading apps from the Market – Droid X found Wapedia and Pandora faster on the initial search, then loaded both apps in around five seconds; it took Fascinate another 25 seconds to complete the download for Wapedia, more than a minute for Pandora. We had similar experiences searching for and downloading other apps; on a couple of occasions the Fascinate suffered network connection errors and we had to reinitiate searches.

The Droid X started streaming high-quality YouTube movies in less than 10 seconds; it often took more than a minute for identical videos to load on Fascinate, and then would sometimes play only the first few seconds and then pause permanently.

More troubling than this lack of alacrity is the dimness – almost a dinginess – that overcomes the Galaxy S AMOLED screen while using the browser, a mysterious phenomena we’ve noticed on all four Galaxy models.

Camera

Statistically, the Droid X has a slightly superior snapper – 8 megapixels versus the Fascinate’s 5-megapixel imager. But you’ll more than likely use the widescreen, near-panoramic 6-megapixel setting on the Droid X, which we’ve used for comparison here.

While the Droid X has a physical shutter key, the Fascinate has a touch release, which means you’ll be less likely to shake to phone while snapping and therefore less likely to get a blurred image, especially in low light.

samsung fascinate review sample photo

Indoors and out, the Droid X snaps dimmer, but sharper-edged shots, with more contrast than the Fascinate, which provides brighter and slightly more colorful images. The Droid X’s dual-LED flash also tends to cast more shadows than the Fascinate.

The Fascinate provides a wider field of vision – you’ll get more in the frame, which is great for scenery and group shots where you don’t have a lot of back up space – even with the Droid X in widescreen 6-megapixel mode. The Fascinate also doesn’t lower resolution when you zoom in.

The tables are turned in video record mode, although neither phone shoots footage as sharp as you’d get even from a Flip or similar standalone shoot-and-share camcorder. The Fascinate’s videos are brighter, truer colors for outdoor videos, with less herky-jerky motion. This is because the Fascinate shoots at nearly 30 frames per second, at around a 1 kbps data rate; the Droid X captures video only at around 24 fps and 8 kbps. However, even with this specification disadvantage, the Droid X maintains color better and lower grain indoors.

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The Droid X also has a separate camcorder app, so you don’t have to go through the camera to get to video recording the way you have to on the Fascinate.

Overall, the Droid X’s camera has a slight superiority in still photos, but you’ll get more of what you shoot with the Fascinate, less chance of image blur on low light, and far superior HD video capture.

Battery Life

Over the course of a weekend, we performed the same tasks equally on each phone, most simultaneously. On Monday morning, the Fascinate still held 44 percent of its battery life, while the Droid X held just 10 percent.

Conclusion

Not by much, but we prefer the Droid X, primarily because of its faster, more reliable Web connection and brighter screen for browsing, as well as the surety of the physical control keys. The quirky backlighting on the Fascinate’s touch controls and hidden @ symbol also serve as dismerits, but these are admittedly personal preferences. Your choice is likely to be equally subjective. For instance, if you’re outdoors a lot, and shoot a lot of photos and video, the Fascinate is a better option. While heavier, the Droid X feels more substantial and less fragile, which may be a deciding factor for executives and self-admitted klutzes. For the less-than-anal-retentive who don’t always charge their phones every night, the Fascinate’s more robust battery life will be a life saver. In other words, there is room for two heavyweights in the Verizon superphone ring – until the iPhone shows up to challenge both.

Highs:

  • Bright, colorful, glossy 4-inch AMOLED screen
  • Excellent battery life
  • 5-megapixel camera/720p HD video recorder
  • 16GB microSD card pre-installed
  • Lightweight; uncluttered exterior

Lows:

  • Touch controls backlighting out-of-sync with screen
  • Inconsistent network connectivity
  • No front-facing camera
  • Lock/hold switch in camera mode
  • Only 2GB built-in memory

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