SAMSUNG Stratosphere Review

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In this article, I give you my Samsung Stratosphere review with specs included. I got this phone with a contract from Verizon Wireless. This is their first QWERTY LTE 4G phone. If you take a look at the front face, it looks like your average Samsung phone. And you can see it’s kind of thicker than average because it has a slide-out keyboard.

It has a Super AMOLED 4-inch display with 800 by 480-pixel resolution. It is not Super AMOLED plus just Super AMOLED. You do get those incredibly rich bright colors though. As per usual, there are capacitive buttons below the screen.

On the bottom side, there is a MicroUSB port and a microphone hole where it belongs. On the left side, there are side volume control buttons. On the top side, there is a standard headphone jack. On the right side, there is a power button.

The back of the phone is matte plastic. They call that back color Noble black. There’s a five-megapixel camera and an LED flash on the upper-left side on the back and a speaker is on the bottom backside. The part of the phone with the display is surrounded by chrome.

Surprisingly, it takes quite a bit of force to open up the keyboard. This is a full QWERTY keyboard. It’s very large and the buttons are well-spaced. If you have pretty big-sized hands this is going to be just fine. If you have smaller hands you can still manage to stretch through the middle, it’s not that huge of a phone.

The keyboard on the Samsung Stratosphere is equipped with backlighting, allowing users to set the backlight timeout for up to six seconds. This feature extends to the capacitive front buttons as well, ensuring convenient operation even in low-light conditions. Additionally, once typing begins, the backlight remains illuminated, providing continuous visibility.

The keyboard layout includes a dedicated number row and Android navigation buttons for search, back, home, and menu functions, eliminating the need to constantly reach for on-screen controls. Typing on the keyboard is a satisfactory experience, with tactile feedback and sufficient key travel. The rubbery surface prevents fingers from sliding off, contributing to improved accuracy and comfort. Notably, the presence of dedicated arrow keys enhances navigation and text editing capabilities.

Priced at $149 with a two-year contract, the Samsung Stratosphere offers a cost-effective alternative to other Verizon LTE phones, many of which start at $299. The affordability of the Stratosphere is attributed to its smaller four-inch display and the utilization of a one gigahertz Hummingbird single-core CPU, reminiscent of older Samsung models like the Fascinate.

Despite its aging processor, the Stratosphere delivers commendable performance, capable of smoothly handling tasks such as playing 720p high-profile videos and running 3D games. While benchmark scores may not always accurately reflect real-world performance, the Stratosphere achieves respectable results, including a Linpack score of approximately 16 for both single and multi-thread tests, and a Quadrant score of 1517. Moreover, the device operates on Android OS 2.3.5 Gingerbread, further contributing to its efficiency and responsiveness.

Although the SunSpider JavaScript test yielded a somewhat higher score of 6200, compared to the average of 4000 for faster phones, web browsing remains relatively swift, particularly when utilizing an LTE connection. Notably, the signal strength indicators on the device denote EV signal strength rather than LTE, a distinction shared with other Samsung devices like the Droid Charge.

Nevertheless, browsing performance over a 4G LTE network proves satisfactory, with smooth scrolling, seamless handling of Adobe Flash Player 11 content, and efficient zooming capabilities. The ability to play Flash content enhances the browsing experience, allowing users to access multimedia-rich websites without limitations.

Despite occasional fluctuations in network connectivity, such as drops to 3G, the Samsung Stratosphere maintains consistent performance during multimedia playback and web browsing tasks. The device’s robust feature set, including its backlit keyboard, competent CPU, and compatibility with Flash content, makes it a viable option for users seeking an affordable LTE smartphone with reliable performance and essential features.

Let’s delve into the performance of the Samsung Stratosphere on both 3G networks and Flash playback. During testing, the speaker output proved to be notably loud, although it did exhibit some distortion at higher volumes. The device’s CPU demonstrated respectable performance, managing to keep pace with demands, much like Verizon’s 3G network.

Speaking of network speeds, on LTE, the device consistently achieved download speeds of approximately 8 Mbps, with upload speeds ranging from 2 to 3 Mbps. While these speeds are commendable, they fall short of the Droid Bionic’s performance, which averages around 12 Mbps for downloads and uploads.

Switching gears to EVDO Rev A 3G, the Stratosphere achieved download speeds of up to 1.8 Mbps and upload speeds of around 1 Mbps. While these speeds are not as impressive as those of top-tier devices like the Bionic, they still offer respectable performance, ensuring a smooth browsing and streaming experience.

In terms of connectivity options, the device features standard amenities such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS, along with a front-facing video chat camera and a 5-megapixel rear camera. Although the 5-megapixel resolution may seem modest, Samsung’s expertise in camera technology ensures that the device is capable of capturing vibrant, detailed images and recording crisp 480p video.

Navigating the Stratosphere’s interface reveals Samsung’s TouchWiz UI, complete with the brand’s signature widgets and customizable launcher. Notably, recent versions of TouchWiz have eschewed square backgrounds, resulting in a cleaner, more streamlined appearance. The device’s app drawer organizes downloaded apps across multiple pages, with the final screen dedicated to newly installed applications.

Navigation is intuitive, with Google Maps Navigation providing reliable guidance for users on the go. Additionally, the device comes preloaded with Quick Office, allowing users to view, edit, and create office documents seamlessly. With a full suite of features, including formatting options and a built-in Swype keyboard, Quick Office serves as a versatile productivity tool for users seeking to work on the go.

In addition to productivity apps, the Stratosphere comes equipped with a range of Verizon-branded applications, such as V CAST Media, V CAST Music, and V CAST Videos, providing users with access to a variety of multimedia content. Other preloaded apps include Slacker Radio, Kindle, and Need for Speed Shift, catering to entertainment enthusiasts with diverse interests.

Furthermore, the device offers practical utilities like NFL Mobile and Mobile Hotspot, enabling users to stay connected and share their internet connection with other devices. Samsung’s inclusion of the Backup Assistant app ensures that users can securely store their personal data in the cloud, while the AllShare app facilitates seamless sharing of multimedia content across compatible devices.

The Samsung Stratosphere also boasts a Day/Night mode feature, offering users the flexibility to adjust display settings based on their preferences and environment. With convenient shortcuts to commonly used applications, the device’s interface prioritizes ease of use and accessibility. Overall, the Samsung Stratosphere strikes a balance between performance, functionality, and affordability, making it a compelling option for users seeking a reliable LTE smartphone with robust features and a user-friendly interface.

When you activate the night mode, you’ll avoid the discomfort of a glaring screen. The Samsung Stratosphere features its own proprietary video player, offering users seamless playback of high-definition content. Let’s test its performance by playing a 720p high-profile movie trailer. The video plays back smoothly, demonstrating the optimization of the Samsung Hummingbird CPU for video playback. Additionally, the device’s speaker delivers clear audio, enhancing the overall viewing experience.

One standout feature of the Samsung Stratosphere is its impressive display quality when watching videos. While it may not boast the Super AMOLED Plus technology found in some other Samsung devices, the display is still vibrant, and colorful, and offers high contrast. Now, let’s explore how the device handles gaming. We’ll launch Need for Speed Shift to evaluate its gaming capabilities. Despite featuring a single-core CPU, the device manages to handle gaming reasonably well. Once again, the display impresses with its vivid colors, even in challenging lighting conditions.

Comparing the Samsung Stratosphere to the Droid Bionic, we notice several differences. The Droid Bionic sports a larger form factor due to the absence of a slide-out keyboard, resulting in a thinner profile. Additionally, the Droid Bionic’s Super AMOLED display offers brighter colors and higher contrast compared to the Stratosphere’s display. Although the Bionic boasts a higher resolution display (qHD), the Stratosphere’s screen still delivers satisfactory performance for everyday use.

In terms of call quality, the Samsung Stratosphere performs adequately, but there is room for improvement. Call clarity is acceptable, but incoming voices may occasionally sound garbled or unclear. Outgoing calls are generally clear, although not on par with some competing devices such as the Droid Bionic. The device’s on-screen dialer provides easy access to essential call functions, including microphone toggling, keypad access, call logs, favorites, and contacts.

Exploring the device’s contact management features reveals Samsung’s signature TouchWiz interface, complete with customizable themes and social networking integration. The memo application offers users a convenient platform for jotting down notes, with customizable colored post-it notes for organization.

Additionally, the device includes Samsung’s Media Hub, providing access to a wide range of movies and TV shows for rental or purchase. Users can preview content directly within the Samsung video player, ensuring a seamless viewing experience.

Given the Stratosphere’s support for LTE connectivity, streaming content over data networks is smooth and hassle-free. The device’s video playback remains sharp and clear, even at higher volumes. Moreover, users have the flexibility to connect Bluetooth or wired headphones for private listening.

Unlike some competing devices, such as the Droid Bionic, the Stratosphere does not suffer from headphone buzzing issues when using the headphone jack. Overall, the Samsung Stratosphere offers a compelling multimedia experience, with its vibrant display, smooth video playback, and reliable call quality.

The Samsung Stratosphere boasts an 1800 milliamp battery, conveniently replaceable by users under the back cover. Accessing the battery is straightforward—simply grip the designated area and gently remove the plastic back cover. Upon removal, you’ll find the battery, the SIM card slot, and a four-gigabyte micro SD card, which comes included with the device. While the device offers a total of four gigabytes of internal storage, only a portion of it, approximately one gigabyte, is accessible to users.

With its 1800 milliamp battery capacity, the Stratosphere offers a substantial amount of power. However, it’s essential to consider the impact of LTE connectivity on battery life, as LTE technology tends to be power-intensive. Despite its sizable battery, users may find that LTE usage drains the battery relatively quickly.

To mitigate this, users have the option to disable LTE when not needed, thereby conserving battery life. By navigating to the wireless settings menu and selecting CDMA mode, users can effectively manage their device’s power consumption, particularly in situations where LTE connectivity is unnecessary.

Available for purchase on Verizon, the Samsung Stratosphere is priced at $149 with a two-year contract. Notably, it marks Verizon’s inaugural venture into the realm of QWERTY slider phones. For individuals who prefer physical keyboards over on-screen alternatives, the Stratosphere presents an appealing option. Furthermore, for those seeking access to Verizon’s LTE 4G network and high-speed data capabilities, the Stratosphere offers a compelling solution.

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Samsung Stratosphere
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