The Good The Samsung Stratosphere has Verizon’s ultrafast 4G LTE speeds and is the first LTE phone in its arsenal to have a QWERTY keyboard. Plus, it has Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, and VPN support. Its 5-megapixel camera takes good photos.
The Bad The birth of the original Galaxy S line, the Stratosphere sometimes feels a bit rethinking. The quality of the calls was also affected or missed.
The Bottom Line Samsung Stratosphere’s light 4G LTE speed, QWERTY keyboard and business tools give it credibility as a mobile phone for corporate minds, but its features last season may not tempt those looking for the highest-end smartphone.
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Samsung Stratosphere (Verizon Wireless)
Verizon is fast becoming the king of 4G LTE phones, but only before the Samsung Stratosphere takes the stage, Verizon can claim a 4G phone with a QWERTY physical keyboard. Try how Samsung and Verizon can convince us that the Stratosphere is the “First” thanks to a combination of 4G LTE-plus keyboards, a quick look at the features of this exquisite Android 2.3 Gingerbread Machine with its 1GHz GIGIMG processor, the ingenious Super AMOLED screen, The 5 megapixel camera and the VGA front camera show that it’s really nothing like … an updated Samsung Epic 4G!
The epic 4G, the original Galaxy S series phone, was great for its day when the first phones debuted in 2010. It was sleek, designed for multimedia and had this wonderful five-row QWERTY keyboard. But times have changed, and I wonder if there are reflectors on this phone to divert customers from some other versions of Verizon’s very strong repertoire. Updated Gingerbread OS and 4G LTE speed standards are a must, and with four business tools and some fun apps, it’s time to figure out what this phone can do.
The stratosphere costs $ 149.99 after a $ 50 mail rebate and a new two-year service agreement.
If you are familiar with the Samsung Epic 4G, originally released with Sprint in 2010, you already know exactly what to expect for the Stratosphere: a glossy black, rounded-shouldered touch that still looks elegant in its minimalism. The back cover of the stratosphere varies slightly. Here, the soft to the touch gets a nice, slightly lowered texture, reminiscent of suede.
Samsung’s stratosphere is Verizon’s first LTE phone to have a keyboard.
When the Epic 4G first appeared, its 4.96-inch height, 2.54-inch width and 0.55-inch thickness made it one of the great phones available; now it fits right in the middle of the pack at this age of “jumpers” and is neither too big nor too small. It’s still a bit on the north side at 5.8 ounces, but the weight adds a sense of longevity that can be expected in larger phones with more weight.
The 4-inch Super AMOLED WVGA (800×480 pixels) screen still impresses with the bright, saturated color that pops out of the display. Unfortunately, it is slightly behind, and Samsung’s Super AMOLED Plus screen obscures the face of the stratosphere. Although it is a great screen in itself, a higher resolution will make it even clearer.
The stratosphere runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread using Samsung’s TouchWiz interface. As with any UI, you either connect to it or don’t, and despite some nice touches (like easy access to system settings in the notification drop-down menu), I personally think TouchWiz is getting stale. With a radically updated Android 4.0 ice cream sandwich right in the corner and solid graphics and smart input from the HTC Sense, Samsung has to offer something more beautiful or dynamic to make the interface truly profitable.
As you know, Touch Wiz in itself is not bad. You have five custom home screens right out of the box, your choice of beautiful backgrounds, a “jump” screen to see all your home screens in one go, and swipe your finger across the application tray. It’s good, it’s reliable, but nothing out of the ordinary. Swype is a virtual keyboard option in the Stratosphere, but you have to choose it if you want, since the Samsung keyboard is the default one.
Above the screen is a front VGA camera for self portraits and video chat. At the bottom of the screen are four touch buttons for menu, home, back and search. The power button works on the right spine and on the left the volume swing. You have a 3.5mm headset jack on top and a Micro-USB charging port on the bottom. There is a 5MP camera lens on the back, and a microSD card slot under the back cover. The stratosphere generously comes with 4GB of external storage.
Open this keyboard to find a very spacious QWERTY complete with five rows (numbers are easy to get on your own). The keys are highlighted, fully separated and rubber; I like how they slightly bend and bend back when you touch them. Samsung has also added several convenience keys, such as keys for Search, Back, Menu, and Home, plus keys for blank text, a browser, and four navigation arrows. The keyboards feel different in different hands, and my only complaints are that the keyboard is a bit flat (since they are usually sliders; this is a problem with height) and that at times I felt like I had to stretch my fingers to reach for some keys. Then I also have smaller hands than some.
Like all Android phones, the Stratosphere gives you email, text messaging, multimedia messaging, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth (3.0) support and GPS. There are also import contacts and access to a variety of Google services – from Gmail, turn-by-turn maps, to Google, Talk, Search and YouTube. Main subjects include calendar, calculator, clock (plus alarm clock, stopwatch and timer), HTML WebKit browser and reminders. The main Android music player is also on board, as well as several other Google services.
There is a five-line QWERTY keyboard, which means that numbers and letters do not have to be shared with a button.
Samsung and Verizon add-ons are high. Ready? There: All Share (Samsung DLNA software), Amazon Kindle, BackUp Assitant, Blockbuster. There is City ID, desktop cradle mode, touring app, chat, golf demo, NFL Mobile and NFS Shift. Samsung’s media hub is on board, as is the Verizon mobile hub. In addition, Verizon fans will receive a line of V Cast applications: Music, Media, Ringtones and Video. There is also a VZ Navigator. But wait, there are more additions: Quickoffice performance, Slacker Radio, Adobe Reader and Amazon MP3. Wow! It’s a very heavy load, which is great if you like to get ahead of the program when you buy a new phone, and less useful if you want to run a small one and set it up yourself.
Before we think we’re done here, there are a few other features hidden from the view in the application tray. Business-oriented features include VPN settings, encryption, Microsoft ActiveSync email, and ActiveSync calendar synchronization. As it happens, then Samsung Galaxy S II it has these features as well, so the Stratosphere is not unique in this.
The Stratosphere also has Wi-Fi Direct, which allows two certified Wi-Fi dishes to communicate with each other. The phone also qualifies as a Verizon hotspot.
Camera software is easy to use, with icons for choosing between six shooting modes, three flash modes, exposure value, and everything from focus mode and 14 scene modes to white balance and effects. So, in essence, it has all the settings and settings that must be present in an Android camera.
The photos were pretty good: sharp and crisp, with strong color fidelity.
The 5 megapixel camera may not be the highest camera in number (this honor belongs to the 8 megapixel shooter), but with the right combination of hardware and software, the 5 megapixel lenses are known to create really fantastic shots. The stratosphere is a phone that creates great photos with sharp, sharp edges and good color fidelity. The front-facing cameras were also less grainy than I’ve seen on other phones.
Video recorded and played smoothly using a 720p HD camcorder, but with all smartphone camcorders, the video volume is low. The camcorder tried a bit to adjust the lighting in different low light scenes and indoor artificial lighting.
The stratosphere has 512 MB of internal storage and holds up to 32 GB of external storage.
I tested the dual band (CDMA 850, 1900; 750 LTE) using San Francisco’s Verizon network, calling both landline and mobile phones. The call quality was good in some respects and disappointing in others. For my part, the volume was loud enough and the clarity of the calls was impressive, with no background noise and no cracking, although there were times when the line was disconnected and moments of digital interference. The biggest complaint – and it is a significant one – is that voices are often heated too, making it difficult to keep track of them. I didn’t hear it every time during my testing, but heard it enough to make it distracting.
After all, subscribers had different opinions. During one test call, the caller said that I sounded clear and loud, but there was an “airiness” around the sound that made my voice soft and almost echoing. Another caller heard the background hiss and said it sounded like I was cutting out.
Samsung Stratosphere call quality sampleListen now:
The quality I heard as I heard it became more pronounced when I turned on the loudspeaker. Holding the phone at waist level, the voices at the other end were decreasing, so I had to turn up the volume to compensate for it. Like many sound systems, the voices sounded cloudy and unpleasant to me. In the end, the subscribers said that I sound far and empty and that it is harder for me to understand than it was on other hands-free phones.
Verizon’s 4G LTE network was impressive in the stratosphere, and it hung on 4G throughout San Francisco, though it dropped to 3G several times, including indoors. A mobile-optimized CNET site loads in 13 seconds and a full, graphically rich site in 20 seconds (on 3G phones, it can take anywhere from 45 seconds to a minute). The New York Times mobile site completed the download in just 3.5 seconds, the desktop version downloaded in just 11 seconds. In addition to real-life tests, I also tested the stratospheric velocity with Speedtest.net Ookla. Speeds were usually strong, but ranged across San Francisco from 6Mbps download (which is still great for 3G in this city) to 32Mbps. Mostly they were 15 to 25 Mbps. The speed ranged from 4 to 13 Mbps, much more fluctuating than the download speed.
For the most part, the 1GHz Samsung Cortex A8 Hummingbird did the trick, affecting program downloads. And yet there were frustrating moments when the phone didn’t answer when it had to. For example, I kept my phone in portrait mode for viewing photos, and the screen controls stubbornly remained in landscape mode until I sent myself five photos. Sometimes there was a little lag behind the camera shutter.
The stratosphere has an estimated battery life of up to 8 hours of talk time and 8.8 days of 1800 mAh battery standby time. FCC tests detect a digital SAR of 0.45 watts per kilogram.
Samsung Stratosphere is a sleek, sophisticated Android 2.3 Gingerbread smartphone with nice features under its belt. However, as the cousin of a relative of the first Samsung Galaxy phones, it is not as tall as we can see. This is not a crime at all; not every phone should and should not be advanced, $ 200 or $ 300, and dual Stratosphere cameras and a 1 GHz processor basically do a great job. However, if they don’t intend on a smartphone with a keyboard, the target market for business users of Verizon may be hacking and looking for other models with dual-core processors and even better cameras and tools.