Fascinate And More: Samsung's Android Lineup Takes Shape

A Stake In Android

Samsung's Fascinate smartphone -- the Verizon variant on Samsung's Galaxy S series -- is only the latest piece of an Android strategy that began nearly two years ago and will continue on with Galaxy Tab, the company's forthcoming Android tablet. Along with Motorola and HTC, it's safe to say Samsung has entered the elite class of mobile device vendors with a serious stake in the growth of Android.

With Android devices dominating the smartphone and mobile device landscape -- and many of them clearly among the year's coolest smartphones so far -- here's a visual look at the Android trail Samsung has blazed.

Samsung Behold

Launched in November 2008, the Behold is most notable for the fact that it was Samsung's first Android handset available in the U.S. and also one of the first Android phones available here overall. A candybar-style mobile with a touch screen, it has a 3-inch display and uses TouchWiz, Samsung's user interface.

Samsung Moment

Samsung had a number of Android phones on the market before Galaxy S became its big, shiny buy-in this year, and the best of its earlier crop -- one of the 10 Coolest Smartphones of 2009, to boot -- was the Samsung Moment, launched last November.

Carried by Sprint, the Moment sports an 800 Mhz processor, 3.2-inch AMOLED screen, optional trackpad and a 3.2-megapixel camera, plus the usual Google-centric bells and whistles. It seems a little quaint now, given the leaps and bounds made by Android phones, but a year ago, it was up there with the best of 'em.

Samsung Behold II

The T-Mobile-carried Samsung Behold II was Samsung's update to the original Behold, released in November 2009 during the kick-off to the current Android explosion. With a 3.2-inch touchscreen and a 5-megapixel camera, it was up there with some of the slicker Android models from 2009, but a year later, it's slowly fading to black. Samsung has confirmed that neither the Behold II nor the Moment will receive an upgrade to Android 2.2 from their current 1.6-version OSes; a tacit suggestion that Samsung plans to emphasize its newer crop of Android lovelies instead.

Samsung Vibrant (Galaxy S)

Galaxy S is Samsung's major Android onslaught for 2010: a new smartphone offered, with variations on each model, to all four of the major U.S. carriers.

Common to each Galaxy S model is a 1-Ghz ARM Cortex A8-based CPU called Hummingbird, which was developed by Samsung and Intrinsity, about 512 MB of dedicated RAM, a 4.0-inch Super AMOLED touch screen, a 5-megapixel camera, 2 GB of storage, version 3.0 of Samsung's TouchWiz interface, and enablement for Bluetooth, GPS and Wi-Fi.

All Galaxy S models were launched or will be launched with version 2.1 of Android, with Samsung promising an upgrade to 2.2 for each.

The first available was T-Mobile's Samsung Vibrant, which has all the standard Galaxy S features with the exception of a front-facing camera. Price is $199.99 with at two-year lock-in, and T-Mobile included a 2 GB microSD card with each that included a movie (James Cameron's Avatar) and a game (The Sims 3).

Samsung Captivate (Galaxy S)

Captivate is the AT&T model and more or less the "standard" Galaxy S, with a slightly different form factor and casing. Like the Vibrant, it retails for $199.99 with a two-year lock-in.

Samsung Epic 4G (Galaxy S)

The Epic 4G is a modified version of the Galaxy S for Sprint that includes 4G connectivity and a slide-out keyboard. It's also Sprint's second 4G-ready Android phone, following this year's HTC EVO 4G. It'll cost you a bit more, though; retail (except at Amazon) is $249.99.

Samsung Fascinate (Galaxy S)

Verizon's version of the Galaxy S, the Fascinate, is the last to be confirmed among the four major carrier models, and is similar to the AT&T Captivate in both look and feel. Like the Captivate and the Vibrant, it carries a $199.99 price, after two-year lock-in and $100 mail-in rebate, and comes with Google Android 2.1.

Samsung Galaxy Tab

It's Samsung's new baby, and also its answer to Apple's mighty iPad: the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Rumored for months, Samsung finally took the wraps off the Tab on Sept. 2 at the IFA conference in Berlin, confirming a 7-inch TFT-LCD touchscreen, Wi-Fi capability, a 1 Ghz Hummingbird processor, the Swype touch-screen technology, a 3.2-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera for making video calls. It was also released with version 2.2 of Android.