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3 Android Phones Reviewed: Fascinate, Droid 2, Zio

The Androids You Didn't Know You Were Looking For

Android is on a tear. As the number of devices running Google’s operating system continues to increase, so does the platform’s market share: 25.5% of worldwide smartphone sales were Android devices in the third quarter of this year, according to research firm Gartner. Apple’s iPhone? Just 16.6%.

We've rounded up three recently launched Android devices that don't get as much media attention to see if all Android devices are equally worthy of attention. Better yet, two of these phones cost less than $200 with a new 2-year contract from Verizon Wireless and Sprint.

First we’ll look at the oldest of the group, the Droid 2 by Motorola (Verizon Wireless,) then the affordable and compact Sanyo Zio by Kyocera (Sprint,) and finally the highly anticipated and powerful Samsung Fascinate (Verizon Wireless,) the Samsung Galaxy S version made for Verizon Wireless. We tested each device in five areas, including design and build quality, hardware features, software features, performance (battery life/call quality/speed,) and price.

With the Zio, you get an affordable device running stock Android and the new Sprint ID feature that allows users to download entire, pre-customized Android experiences complete with widgets and apps. On the Droid 2 by Motorola, you get a strong update to the Android phone on Verizon Wireless that took the network by storm, complete with some updated hardware and Motorola’s MotoBlur customization. Finally, on the Samsung Fascinate, you get seriously powerful hardware in a very small package, and a user interface that might look familiar if you’ve been shopping for smartphones. 

All three models run Android, but the version of the OS and the experience you have when you use them differs widely.

  • cknobman
    FYI the touchscreen on the Sanyo sucks so much because it is indeed a capacitive touch screen.

    I figured you know the specs of the phones your reviewing a little better.
    Reply
  • kinggremlin
    I just picked up the sister device of the Fascinate, the Captivate from AT&T, for $20 with 2 year contract extending my current contract which was almost up from Amazon. For new customers, it's basically free from Amazon ($.01). The Fascinate is currently out of stock, but I believe it was $50 for new users. I don't know where the prices from this article were pulled from, but shop around. You can do much much better than $200.
    Reply
  • halophoenix
    cknobmanFYI the touchscreen on the Sanyo sucks so much because it is indeed a capacitive touch screen.I figured you know the specs of the phones your reviewing a little better.
    The screen on the Zio is capacitive - like all of the other phones in the review, and indeed most smartphones. The reason I wondered whether or not it was a capacitive touch screen was because it seemed to have the sluggishness of a resistive touch screen - you know, the kind you use a stylus with.

    Being a capacitive touch screen does not equate sucking - if that were the case, we'd see many more smartphones with resistive screens, when indeed the opposite is true and capacitive screens dominate the market.
    Reply
  • sojrner
    Just looking at your final review numbers for each... no matter how I average it out (assuming each category has the same weight) I see the D2 higher. You pointed out it has 2.2 w/ flash, lower price and no google-integration-shortage.

    How again is the samsung winning? I have a Droid Incredible w/ the amoled, so I have no bias in this article. I've messed w/ the Droid X, D2 and original Droid as well. (friends and family) I've tested the fascinate briefly and know the samsung interface design queues from their old omnia. I still don't see how they are on top in this review... just reading what you have here does not paint it well.

    You mentioned the Dinc having 2.1... FYI, 2.2 OTA update for non-rooted users came through quite a while ago, so all dincs have 2.2 like the D2.

    Verizon has got quite a few phones now on that $150 price point...
    Reply
  • Lamiel
    You cite the D2's 720p video capture and it's mobile hotspot capability as selling points over the other two, but the Fascinate has both of these features. How did you miss that? The Fascinate is definitely the winner when you take these facts into account. Perhaps the verdict would lean more towards the D2 if Samsung were not rolling out Froyo to all their Galaxy S phones, but with that update considered there is no reason to pick anything but the Fascinate. Unless a hardware keyboard is a must for you, of course. Even then, the huge plus of a Super AMOLED screen is hard to pass up.
    Reply
  • halophoenix
    sojrnerJust looking at your final review numbers for each... no matter how I average it out (assuming each category has the same weight) I see the D2 higher. You pointed out it has 2.2 w/ flash, lower price and no google-integration-shortage.How again is the samsung winning?
    Good point - you're right, I think the Droid 2 actually is a more well-rounded and feature rich phone without the challenges that the Fascinate brings to the table, and all in all I think it's a stronger reccomendation than the Fascinate. Call it an editorial adjustment prior to publication, shall we? I do think though that the Fascinate offers the best multimedia experience of the group, especially when you take that beautiful Super AMOLED display into consideration!
    Reply
  • halophoenix
    LamielYou cite the D2's 720p video capture and it's mobile hotspot capability as selling points over the other two, but the Fascinate has both of these features. How did you miss that? The Fascinate is definitely the winner when you take these facts into account. Perhaps the verdict would lean more towards the D2 if Samsung were not rolling out Froyo to all their Galaxy S phones, but with that update considered there is no reason to pick anything but the Fascinate. Unless a hardware keyboard is a must for you, of course. Even then, the huge plus of a Super AMOLED screen is hard to pass up.
    Excellent points here too! I'm actually aware of the Fascinate's HD video capture and hot-spot capability, but the fact that the D2 has them as well (as does every other Android phone on Verizon Wireless) were more of an equivocating factor than one that made it pull ahead, frankly. And the fact that 2.2 is "coming out soon" really can't factor in, since...well, it's not here yet, and the review unit I had (as well as the Fascinates in the field) simply don't have Froyo.

    Still! I completely agree with you and said as much in the review: the Fascinate has the absolute best multimedia experience for video and gaming on Android hands-down. I think the Fascinate weighs heavily in that direction's favor, while I would still argue that the D2 is a more well-rounded balance of features and power for a more affordable price. Great points, though!
    Reply
  • silverblue
    None of the devices we’ve tested here are representative of flagship Android devices; they’re mostly Android phones that may have flown under the radar, but that we believe deserved a closer look, especially considering their price points.

    I'm not sure I agree. Regardless of variant, the Galaxy S phones are a flagship Android model. If selling 7 million phones is flying under the radar, I'd love to see what the Nexus S, for example, will manage. Maybe I've misinterpreted this particular conclusion; would "flagship" apply more to the Captivate, for example?
    Reply
  • silverblue
    halophoenixAnd the fact that 2.2 is "coming out soon" really can't factor in, since...well, it's not here yet, and the review unit I had (as well as the Fascinates in the field) simply don't have Froyo.
    Shouldn't be long; it's been out for a short while in most of Europe. I got it on the 5th. Be prepared to perform a backup and hard reset though; it was an absolute dog for me before then and it's been almost perfect ever since.
    Reply
  • halophoenix
    silverblueI'm not sure I agree. Regardless of variant, the Galaxy S phones are a flagship Android model. If selling 7 million phones is flying under the radar, I'd love to see what the Nexus S, for example, will manage. Maybe I've misinterpreted this particular conclusion; would "flagship" apply more to the Captivate, for example?
    Nope - I think you're on the right track - I think that the trick is that none of the reviewed devices represent a flagship device for their carrier. For example, Verizon really only pushed the Fascinate for the first week or so after its release. Their flagship Android phone is still the more powerful (although crummier screen) Droid X, and they'll still push you towards the less powerful Droid Incredible if you want a more social device. The Fascinate feels in a number of ways like an odd phone out on Verizon Wireless.

    Even so, you're absolutely correct - the Galaxy S models other carriers have are flagship Android phones for them - I wanted to highlight some devices that may have been overlooked from their respective carriers. :)
    Reply