T-Mobile G2: His Review | Her Review

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Samsung Fascinate has no Google search

Recent reviews of the Samsung Fascinate paint a grim picture of what using the phone might be like. The Fascinate is the fourth of Samsung's Galaxy S series to launch in the US, following the Vibrant on T-Mobile, Captivate on AT&T, and Epic on Sprint.

To recap, the Fascinate runs Android 2.1 with Samsung's custom skin, TouchWiz, and has impressive hardware specs. It packs a 1GHz hummingbird processor, 5MP camera, 4" Super AMOLED screen, and is super thin. It's been a best-seller on other carriers, and lots of people have been anxiously waiting for Verizon's version.

But in a rather stunning move, Verizon has chosen to remove Google search entirely. The default (and only) search option is Bing. There's a Bing widget and it's the default search for the browser...and it can't be changed. Aside from rooting/hacking, users have no choice but to use Bing. It's worth noting that users of other Android phones can change the default, if they want to. There are both Bing and Yahoo apps available in the Market that each include their own search widget.

In a similar move, Verizon has the phone set to default to using VZNavigator Bing Maps, instead of Google Maps. Even when tapping addresses for contacts, the phone launches into VZNavigator Bing Maps. Thankfully, this can be changed, but requires delving into application default settings, which few average users will know how to do. Update: This is apparently not true. While Google Maps can be downloaded from the Market, it doesn't actually run on the phone. Meaning Bing is the only map option available. Bing Maps lacks multi-touch, and Navigation.

Be sure to read Engadget's review, and Gizmodo's lightning review. Both immediately call attention to Verizon's strange decisions with this device.

This is a baffling decision. I don't have any issues with Bing (there are some things it does really well), but to prevent the user from changing it is unacceptable. Gizmodo even said that the Google Search app in the Market is blocked! I understand business partnerships, but people should have a choice. End users are going to be very confused when their Google powered phone doesn't even do Google searches.

I've read some speculation that this may be due to Verizon wanting to promote their Droid lineup. So they intentionally cripple the Fascinate to encourage people to buy a Droid. That sounds a bit conspiracy theorist to me, but anything's possible. Ultimately, there's nothing illegal about it, and consumers can exercise choice by simply buying a different phone...which I suspect many will do.

[Hitting head on desk repeatedly] Um, wtf? I don't even know what else to say. Android = Google. It's a GOOGLE PHONE! I'm appalled on Google's behalf. And it's not like Verizon just wants you to use Bing or just makes it available, they force you to use it. Against your will. Why? I can't understand it--it's kind of making my brain hurt. Sigh. Please, people, whatever you do, do not buy this...thing.

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