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Samsung Stratosphere Review

Samsung Stratosphere

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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.

The Samsung Stratosphere come running Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread out of the box - Samsung Stratosphere Review
The Samsung Stratosphere come running Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread out of the box - Samsung Stratosphere Review
The Samsung Stratosphere come running Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread out of the box - Samsung Stratosphere Review
The Samsung Stratosphere come running Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread out of the box - Samsung Stratosphere Review
The Samsung Stratosphere come running Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread out of the box - Samsung Stratosphere Review
The Samsung Stratosphere come running Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread out of the box - Samsung Stratosphere Review
The Samsung Stratosphere come running Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread out of the box - Samsung Stratosphere Review
The Samsung Stratosphere come running Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread out of the box - Samsung Stratosphere Review


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 - Samsung Stratosphere Review
The Android 2.3 phonebook groups all of your phone, Google, and Facebook contacts into one scrolling list - Samsung Stratosphere Review
The Android 2.3 phonebook groups all of your phone, Google, and Facebook contacts into one scrolling list - Samsung Stratosphere Review
The Android 2.3 phonebook groups all of your phone, Google, and Facebook contacts into one scrolling list - Samsung Stratosphere Review

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.

Messaging - Samsung Stratosphere Review
Email - Samsung Stratosphere Review
Samsung Stratosphere Review
IM apps - Samsung Stratosphere Review

Messaging

Email

 

IM apps


We also appreciate the usefulness of the integrated 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.

Calendar - Samsung Stratosphere Review
Calendar - Samsung Stratosphere Review


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.

Web browsing - Samsung Stratosphere Review
Web browsing - Samsung Stratosphere Review

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.

The SpeedTest.net app - Samsung Stratosphere Review

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.

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PhoneArena rating:
7.5Good
Display4.0 inches, 480 x 800 pixels (233 ppi) Super AMOLED
Camera5 megapixels
Hardware
Single core, 1000 MHz, ARM Cortex-A8 processor
0.5 GB RAM
Size4.96 x 2.54 x 0.55 inches
(126 x 65 x 14 mm)
5.80 oz  (164 g)
Battery1800 mAh, 8 hours talk time

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