Have US wireless carriers gone mad? Samsung Fascinate crippled by Verizon

Have US wireless carriers gone mad? Samsung Fascinate crippled by Verizon

Summary: The promise of the Samsung Galaxy S on all four major US wireless carriers has been met, but did the carriers kill some of the experience we all hoped for with their customizations? The Galaxy S is a good device, but could be better without carrier involvement.

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The Verizon announcement for the fourth Samsung Galaxy S device, the Fascinate, to be released on US carriers was made official today with the device available starting tomorrow through online sales and in stores on Thursday, September 9th. After reading several reviews this morning (listed below), it looks like the Fascinate will be the lamest of the four Galaxy S devices available and in my experiences only two of the four are really worth purchasing here in the US and the promise of some outstanding devices was hampered by US wireless carrier involvement.

The Samsung Fascinate is similar in form factor to the T-Mobile Vibrant and AT&T Captivate, but takes away the huge internal 16GB flash memory and replaces it with only 2GB. I can understand that the Sprint Epic 4G took away this large internal memory storage, but they provided a large physical QWERTY keyboard, WiMAX antenna, front facing camera, and camera flash that more than made up for that. The Fascinate does add a camera flash, but that can't make up for the loss of internal storage.

Check out these reviews on the Verizon Samsung Fascinate and let me know if you agree with my take here:

The real killers look to be in what Verizon has done with the device, including setting Bing Search as the default search client with no apparent ability to get Google Search back as the default. How in the world can you have an Android device without Google Search as the default? Then I read they also took and replaced Google Maps Navigation with their subscription based Verizon Navigator software. Are you serious? I read that it can be changed to Google Maps, but only after taking several steps that your new smartphone user may never figure out. I could understand if Sprint did this with Sprint Navigation since they bundle that service in for free with no cost to the consumer, but Verizon Navigator is $10/month and not as slick as Google Maps Navigation.

AT&T has crippled the Captivate too with a lock down on what appears in the Android Market, limited side loading of apps, and added their bloatware that cannot be removed. T-Mobile and Sprint have done a pretty good job of leaving the devices alone and I can recommend these two devices if you are looking for a Galaxy S smartphone. However, the T-Mobile Vibrant does have a bad GPS bug that must get fixed and Sprint does limit the customization of the center two buttons and adds some of their services, but at least the services are free.

US carriers have gone mad customizing perfectly fine devices and I wish every manufacturer had the pull of Apple to leave these smartphones the way they were designed to be used. The Galaxy S is a great product, but two of the four major US carriers have done what they can to cripple the experience to increase their revenues.

Topics: Google, Hardware, Mobility, Networking, Samsung, Smartphones, Telcos, Verizon, Wi-Fi

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  • RE: Have US wireless carriers gone mad? Samsung Fascinate crippled by Verizon

    U.S. mobile carriers have an oligopoly that few phone makers can challenge and win. In fact, how many would I say "won"? Frankly, only Apple! I'm not sure if Sprint and T-Mobile "wisely" chose not to cripple their version of the Galaxy S, or if they simply lacked the budget to engineer a lot of new crapware like the other 2!

    As much as I hate the worship of all things Apple, I do feel we owe them a debt of gratitude for bringing mobile phones into the 21st century. Without them, we would *still* be getting the same old, tired quiltwork of crappy User Interfaces.

    That said, I'm not sure how long it will take to be free of the crapware. Frankly, I think the tech journalists need to keep beating this drum.
    bmgoodman
    • RE: Have US wireless carriers gone mad? Samsung Fascinate crippled by Verizon

      @bmgoodman, im pretty sure the Google Nexus One was sold bloatware free.
      truthiness79
      • RE: Have US wireless carriers gone mad? Samsung Fascinate crippled by Verizon

        @truthiness79 Great phone, no denying. Hardly an example of a sales success story though, certainly not next to the iPhone.
        webmasteraaa8
    • RE: Have US wireless carriers gone mad? Samsung Fascinate crippled by Verizon

      @bmgoodman gets to the heart of the problem by noting that the U.S. mobile carriers have an oligopoly. In an ideal world, the individual carriers would strive to increase their market share by offering their customers the best possible phone experience. However, instead, they have apparently decided not to compete with each other for subscribers, which means that the only way they can increase their profit is to extort more money out of their existing users - hence the crapware intended to trick the least sophisticated users into subscribing for new services that they could be obtaining for free.
      markbothwell1
      • RE: Have US wireless carriers gone mad? Samsung Fascinate crippled by Verizon

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      • RE: Have US wireless carriers gone mad? Samsung Fascinate crippled by Verizon

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    • RE: Have US wireless carriers gone mad? Samsung Fascinate crippled by Verizon

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  • RE: Have US wireless carriers gone mad? Samsung Fascinate crippled by Verizon

    Why do these clowns bother knowing that tech reviewers are waiting with bated breath for the next smart phone release? You'd think their outlook would be geared to WOW! the reviewers, not create a target-rich environment for them.
    TaxNerd
    • RE: Have US wireless carriers gone mad? Samsung Fascinate crippled by Verizon

      @TaxNerd How many "regular" folks (non-IT) do you know who do ANY research before choosing a phone? I know a very few who looked at Consumer Reports. Most others do nothing but look at the phones in the store and choose one.

      So carriers seem to be risking very little in doing all they can to keep users under "control".

      And in saying this, it seems I'm going against my earlier call for journalists to keep beating the drum. I guess I hope the "mainstream" (non-tech) journalists will finally pay attention and start reporting on these many drawbacks.
      bmgoodman
      • Yes indeed

        @bmgoodman<br><br>If anybody has "gone mad" it is the consumers who willingly buy the stuff peddled by the networks, including ATT/Apple. If the consumer had any backbone (and some of the tech writers as well) the networks would have no choice in the matter.<br><br>Let me buy the phone of my choice. Let me then choose the carrier/plan of my choice.<br><br>And one of my pet peeves is tech writers going gaga over a so called smart phone price reduction or "carrier subsidy". It is all a big scam. Who cares whether the smart phone is one or two hundred bucks when the total contract price is two-three grand. Still, idiot writers get all excited about a so called 50% price drop. Fools, that is all I can say.
        Economister
  • RE: Have US wireless carriers gone mad? Samsung Fascinate crippled by Verizon

    The insatiable greed of Verizon is sickening. They're worse than AT&T, believe it or not. Seems like each carrier is pridefully trying to prove to all others whom is the greediest of all.
    ITOdeed
  • Android is becoming the Windows for mobile

    Several people prognosticated that Android would become a new Windows and this, alongside Android's rapid market penetration, proves them right.
    OS Reload
    • RE: Have US wireless carriers gone mad? Samsung Fascinate crippled by Verizon

      (Sigh)
      Hallowed are the Ori
    • RE: Have US wireless carriers gone mad? Samsung Fascinate crippled by Verizon

      @OS Reload Exactly.
      Great news for Android. Making it less Google dependant is the first step to broad adoption.
      If you dont like it get another phone or an unbranded unlocked one.
      sovok_
  • RE: Have US wireless carriers gone mad? Samsung Fascinate crippled by Verizon

    No wonder Verizon can't sell the iPhone. They haven't fired the "crapification" department (the one which delays and changes perfectly competitive phones from the open market)...yet.

    I'm a long time Verizon customer, but the last time I stood in the store (or on the web site) I settled for a phone that wasn't really what I wanted. Real competition would fix that...and real competition won't happen until Verizon fires its phone-crapification department and replaces it with a test suite (pass the test suite, you're allowed to hook your phone to the Verizon network).
    stevec3
  • RE: Have US wireless carriers gone mad? Samsung Fascinate crippled by Verizon

    @bmgoodman: my wife spent about 2 months researching her choice of phone last year...then bought the wrong one! She is not a techie, part of the reason she bought the Omnia was my assumption that I could use my WinMo knowledge to get her up to speed. That never happened because Samsung stomped all over the Omnia interface. Verizon was "nice" enough to allow her an early upgrade, & after more research on her part, Droid X arrived last week. Now I'm using my 2 weeks of Samsung Captivate (AT&T) Android experience & the Droid Xis real nice, & maybe Samsung and AT&T's gentle tweaks of the interface on the Captiovate are not too difficult to live with.
    Even my new Dell desktop had less bloatware on it; we need a carrier with integrity that will treat their customers right: why anyone would activate AT&T nav for $10/month when Google maps is right there is beyond me, but I guess its the same mentality that has Spirit airlines charging for carry-on bags.
    When the passengers' seats on next new car are optional you will know how far these "Mad Men" have taken us. I'm still not sure how to get even, though.

    My AT&T bloatware is only annoying, doesn't get in my way very much but, in my view, it's AT&T trying to do what they couldn't do with the iPhone: only Apple cripples your iPhone experience out of the box instead of AT&T.
    @Stevec: I think that AT&T & Verizon will just swap crapification personnel until we find a way to get them to hear our "hands off" needs.
    Common+Sense
    • RE: Have US wireless carriers gone mad? Samsung Fascinate crippled by Verizon

      @cgreenberg You got that right. As a previous iphone owner and a new Captivate owner, I think the locked down nature of the iphone was infinitely more stifling than the Captivate. Apple's attempt to idiot-proof the device leaves it lame. Side loading on the Captivate doesn't require rooting and the ATT crap is easy stashed away. I still can't believe a battery for the thing just cost $3.18 on ebay. So far I am much happier with my stick shift than my old automatic.
      Schoolboy Bob
  • RE: Have US wireless carriers gone mad? Samsung Fascinate crippled by Verizon

    And to think you pay more for less!
    dhays
  • Well, at least it is now LEGAL to "jail break" these devices.

    If AT&T or Verizon offered these for free with an exceptionally low cost plan if you agreed to leave them "as is" then I might bite.
    kd5auq
    • RE: Have US wireless carriers gone mad? Samsung Fascinate crippled by Verizon

      @kd5auq You have a good point - we would argue less about crapware if they were a bit cheaper.

      There was a 99 cent Captivate deal at Amazon, and there are other $99 and $149 deals. Not free, but not bad.
      Schoolboy Bob