Samsung Stratosphere Review
The Samsung Stratosphere come running Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread out of the box, which is nice, but with Ice Cream Sandwich right around the corner, it makes us wonder if the Stratosphere will eventually be updated to it. Also on board is Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface (the old version found on the Fascinate), which places four colorful icons on the bottom of the screen for accessing the phone, contacts, messaging and applications. The App Drawer is nothing out of the ordinary, as you move though it side-to-side, or you can change it to a single scrolling view. Unfortunately, the Stratosphere only has 5 home screens (instead of the standard 7), and the amount of Widgets are pretty limited, unlike the high-end Samsung Droid Charge.
Phonebook, Messaging, and Organizer:
Of the other customizations Samsung has made to the default Android interface, the most notable are in the Phonebook. Going into the Phone screen first will open up to the dial pad, but there are also tabs at the top for the call log, favorites, and contacts. Tap on one of your saved contacts, and you are taken to their respective screen, where you can view their info, message history, posting activities from Facebook and Twitter, and media (pictures).
The Android 2.3 phonebook groups all of your phone, Google, and Facebook contacts into one scrolling list. Samsung furthers this by adding the contacts from your Twitter, AIM, Windows Live, Yahoo! Messenger and Microsoft Exchange accounts. Furthermore, you can import and export contacts to the 4G SIM card. It also does a good job of linking contacts together that have the same name, but you still have the option of doing it manually. Pretty much all of the contacts’ details are visible and editable on the screen at once.
The Android 2.3 phonebook groups all of your phone, Google, and Facebook contacts into one scrolling list
The Stratosphere supports every messaging standard you could want, including SMS, MMS and Email, and also comes pre-loaded with Verizon’s Mobile IM app for connecting you to your AIM, Windows Live, and Yahoo! buddy lists. GMail is of course a stand-alone app that replicates the web-based experience. Other Email accounts, including POP3, IMAP, Yahoo! Mail, AOL, Windows Live, Verizon.net, and Exchange are handled by the standard Email app. Naturally, we prefer using the physical QWERTY keyboard on the device when typing out long message, but the on-screen keyboard is also convenient if you just need to type someone short and quick.
Calendar, since it pulls events from your Google, Facebook and corporate Outlook/Exchange accounts. Views are separated by day, week, or month (the default tab), or you can view a list of your recent and future appointments, holidays, and birthdays. Reminders are easily set, and you can choose if the phone is to mark the event only on the handset, or sync it to the cloud with Google Calendar as well. Pushing events work quickly, so adding that party to Google Calendar or Facebook saves it to the phone instantaneously as well.
Internet and Connectivity:
Other than the physical keyboard, one of the main features of the Samsung Stratosphere is that it can use Verizon’s 4G LTE data network. First off, for standard web browsing we were able to fully load the PhoneArena.com web site (including all Flash content and ads) in about 35 seconds, compared to only 25 seconds on the Motorola DROID BIONIC and 30 seconds with the Samsung Droid Charge. While using the browser, we noticed that scrolling up and down isn’t as smooth as it should be, as some stuttering does occur and will show a gray checkerboard for a second or two while the page is rendered. There is also some delay when using the pinch-to-zoom within the browser.
Next, we used the SpeedTest.net app and were able to get downloads of 7.6 Mbps and uploads of almost 4 Mbps on the Stratosphere. This is about average to what the HTC ThunderBolt and Samsung Droid Charge would also get, though the Motorola DROID BIONIC got downloads of 9 Mbps and uploads of 6 Mbps. Naturally, you can also connect to a local Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n network as well.
It appears that the Samsung Stratosphere suffers from the same problem that plagued the Samsung Droid Charge…not being able to stay locked on a 4G signal for more than a minute or two. Both devices have the tendency of continually dropping 4G and changing over to 3G, even though we are right in the middle of a large 4G area. When this would happen, we would go into the Airplane mode, turn it on and off, which would then allow the device to pickup 4G again, though after a minute it would drop back to 3G and stay there. We’re not sure why Samsung appears to have a habitual problem with this, as other devices, such as the Motorola DROID BIONIC and HTC ThunderBolt may occasionally drop from 4G to 3G for a few seconds, but then goes right back to 4G.
2. Mozarrt (Posts: 287; Member since: 08 Oct 2011)
Touchwiz just looks ugly in landscape mode.
13. ILikeBubbles (Posts: 278; Member since: 17 Jan 2011)
not really a fan of touchwiz at all...
3. terabyteRouser (Posts: 396; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)
I used this phone and it's pretty slow. I would give it a 6.
4. burtonsnow8 (Posts: 41; Member since: 05 Apr 2010)
4g on my stratosphere in LA worked great. 44Mbps down, 22Mbps up. No switching back and forth. Just north of LA in the valley I was hitting 22Mbps down and 11Mbps up. No drops of any kind and pages loaded quickly. Wirefly loaded in less than 5 seconds on 4g, RARELY had half a second or less of checkerboarding when zooming/browsing the pages, but it was very responsive. On wifi it was just a tad slower than my roommates 4s.
So far with moderate usage (40+ txts/email, 30 minutes of call, 30 minutes of gaming), my phone has been on a full charge for about 36 hours. At about 20% currently. I was in a 4g area for only about 3-4 hours though, so it would probably be less with full 4g.
5. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 2839; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)
At first I thought this was a harsh review given the score. Then I remembered "oh wait, this is the Epic from nearly 2 years ago just with LTE" Since it's got Gingerbread but that's all it'll have. If you are in a strong LTE area and need a keyboard, you should still wait. Wait for the Droid 4 or deal with not having one because this is completely outdated from the start.
8. burtonsnow8 (Posts: 41; Member since: 05 Apr 2010)
It is an older model, but there are some improvements over the epic4g. I consider myself a techie, had a TP2 before this which I built custom ROMs for. If this phone can't do what you want with whats out there than you are looking for something not on the market. As long as I keep the task manager cleared (which why would anyone not, even on a dual core 1gb phone, for the battery savings alone) this phone handles everything. Phone arena loaded blazing fast, thats with all the flash content. I very well might be trying to rationalize my purchase but for what I do (moderate use, business use, e-mail) it is awesome.
9. sarahkap83 (Posts: 1; Member since: 16 Nov 2011)
Someone doesn\'t know what they\'re talking about. I have this phone and I like it a lot. It has all the major features that new phones have.
Also...I use my keyboard ALL OF THE TIME and...I definitely don\'t feel the keys scraping against the display when I slide it in and out. Just saying....
It\'s a solid phone and it\'s free at radio shack. What is there to complain about?!
10. jen_y (Posts: 1; Member since: 25 Nov 2011)
I love the phone only problem the battery last 18 hours and today it was over heating
12. ILikeBubbles (Posts: 278; Member since: 17 Jan 2011)
i think people keep forgetting this would be considered ENTRY/MID LEVEL... waiting for the Droid 4 would defeat the purpose.. the Droid is on a whole different tier.. there still needs to be mid level smartphones out there to help people break out of the messaging phone or feature phone catagory..
16. asmallchild (Posts: 20; Member since: 01 Jan 2012)
I had network connection issues with this phone.
Moved to the Nexus.
Apparently the Nexus has network connection issues for some people. Not for me.
Otherwise I would have shunned Samsung phones forever.
17. sondamom (Posts: 1; Member since: 25 May 2012)
I don't like the camera on mine...there is a blue line that goes down all my pictures I take and I have only had it 3 weeks or so.
19. keyboardmom (Posts: 1; Member since: 20 Jul 2012)
I don't really like this phone. the camera is pretty good and the touch screen is good. I don't like the size of the keyboard.... i don't like the way I have to answer it... I hang up on people a lot. Don't like typing on the touch screen... I'd rather have a tablet for browsing and reading email.... It does some things OK, others .. not so OK in my opinion. I'm going to go to something else.... i guess for the price... what do you expect.
It's only an entry level smartphone. I guess I like a smart tablet and a dumb phone.
20. irfanskt1 (Posts: 1; Member since: 04 Sep 2012)
i am screwed.........i live in a country where no other natwork then gsm is available and i have this phone gifted to me........and i have no idea how i can use my gsm sim card in this phone....if someone has the idea of doing that pleas let me know...........
21. jillybean0517 (Posts: 1; Member since: 26 Feb 2014)
By far, this is the worst phone I have ever owned. I am on my 3rd replacement and it's as bad as all the rest. Done with Samsung. NOTHING works right on this thing. I am going back to Motorola when my contract time is up! Save your money and pick something else would be my recommendation!