Can't beat FREE!! [update :10-13-12, can no longer recommend] November 16, 2011
Reviewer: Kfu Mike "Kfu" (Minneapolis, MN USA) -
[[VIDEOID:mo1Q7PCHYT28P4L]][Update Oct' '12]
After the latest OS upgrade, the wi-fi has (for the most part) stopped working. Although the signal status of a connection could say "Excellent" with a 36 Mbps bandwidth (or higher), apps requiring a data connection (browser, Facebook, accuweather, etc.) will simply time out with warnings such as "no internet connection" or "lost connection". Google: 'Samsung Stratosphere Wi-fi issues' and you will see that I am not alone with this problem. While minor wi-fi issues have existed for this product from day 1 (and many other phones) from what I can glean from Samsung user groups and forums; the problem has increased dramatically since the OS upgrade in September. Verizon sent me a replacement Strat that they 'guaranteed' would work; it did not. We have no troubles with other wi-fi devices in our home (2 other phones and a tablet). Verizon has acknowledged this issue and is now sending me a Galaxy S III (refurb. at some cost) as a replacement. I'm very bummed as I absolutely loved this phone. But without a good consistent wi-fi connection, it's seriously debilitated. If you are considering it, I would try test the wi-fi capabilities first in a store before taking it home. Good luck.
So, it's not actually free as I needed to sign up for 2 more years of Verizon. But who cares, I needed to sign up with someone anyway...
I'll just hit on a few pros/cons.
-MUSIC - I downloaded the Power Amp app and the resultant audio quality on this thing is amazing. I can safely pull the card out of my Sansa Fuze and drop it in the Stratosphere. I won't miss the Fuze (which had unbelievably good sound) a bit. This is the main reason I went with this phone. I no longer need to carry both a phone and MP3 player to the gym - don't cry Sansa; you served me well
-Video playback is excellent as well.
-The screen is beautiful.
-The phone/dialer GUI is beautiful as well - so good in fact that Apple is suing Samsung because the Samsung overlay (over the Android OS) looks a little 'too' good (a copy of Apple's)
-4G - LTE, this is noticeably faster for downloads than my wife's 3G Motorola Droid X 2.
Although the phone itself, running apps, etc. isn't faster (or if it is, I can't tell the difference)
- Android OS; highly customizable. Layout the screens exactly the way you want.
- Apps galore; seriously, what App (actual useful app that is) can you get for an iPhone that you can't get for an Android now?
-Room for 36GB total (4 internal, 32 on micro SD) - getting a smartphone without a Micro SD card slot is like getting an SUV without a luggage rack.
-ergonomics. This phone is difficult to handle when trying slide out the hard-key keyboard. Also, the keys themselves are difficult to press. I don't have large fingers, but I can't press individual keys without using my thumb nails. It's not a big deal - it will just take getting used to it.
However, once the keyboard is open, it has very good balance in your hands
- NO external notification LED when a message or voicemail has been left. This seems like a no-brainer add on.
- can't tell what it's doing when plugged in. It would be nice if it would at least show the battery status when in that semi-standby mode when charging
If you're not concerned about the cons; consider this a 5 star phone
****UPDATE 12-1-11 ****
I downloaded the NoLED app and it now shows a small colored square on the screen (when off) to notify me of a new voice mail or email! (thank you Jan for the tip!) I therefore would give this phone 4 1/2 stars and the keyboard ergonomics are still a little questionable, although now after having it for a couple weeks, I can hunt-and-peck type pretty fast.
I bought the Empire hard case and it greatly improves the handling of the phone when opening the hard keyboard. This phone is about perfect for me now.
I added a video taken with the camera - WARNING the wind hitting the microphone was really loud.
I really love this phone. I haven't had ANY problems with it in the month and a half I've had it.
I use it a lot.
Just wanted to add a couple words about the Bluetooth. I've been pairing the phone with a small Alcatel Bluetooth receiver when I go to the gym (the receiver has an 1/8th inch stereo receptacle). That way, the phone can stay safely in a gym bag or on the book shelf of a cardio machine without the threat of an accidental pull on a headphone cord resulting in the phone flying through the air. The Alcatel pairs very nicely with the phone ; I've never had to "re-pair" the connection after it connects the first time. The range is about 25-30 feet. I think both are Bluetooth 3.0 or higher, so the audio bit rate transferred is very high resulting in very good sound quality.
Great phone for the money November 3, 2011
Reviewer: Snyderlover Smith "Willie T. Wildcat" (Topeka, Kansas) -
Good build quality
Really nice keyboard
A bit on the chunky side
Battery life could be better
No 1080P video recording
My wife and I recently ditched our OG Droids. She got a Droid Charge, and I got the Stratosphere.
As far as:
Speed, mine is as fast as hers.
Software, mine has the advantage of Android 2.3.
Screen, you can't tell a difference in image quality, but her screen is a little bigger (although hers is almost too big to manage with one hand).
I'm really liking this phone so far. They keyboard is really nice (much nicer than on my Droid). Build quality is very good (although a little more plasticy than my Droid).
The camera actually is pretty good. You're not going to get DSLR pictures out of it, but it's very servicable.
The battery on the Stratosphere is bigger than on the Charge, but it doesn't seem to last much longer. Still long enough to get through a work day with pretty heavy use (I stream podcasts and books to my bluetooth headset all day). I sure miss the pre-smartphone days of recharging twice a week though. I ordered the extended battery to stretch this out a little more.
I haven't hit any performance snags yet, everything seems to be pretty buttery smooth.
I would highly recommend the Stratosphere to anyone wanting to upgrade to a new keyboard-packing smartphone.
Very Nice Phone January 22, 2012
Reviewer: Nancy J. Boyle "Nancy J. Boyle" (Pompton Lakes, New Jersey USA) -
First of all I am not a master techie so this will not be a very technical review, so be forewarned:)
For the past 4 years I have had 2 Blackberry Curve Smartphones. I love Verizon's service and I HAVE had other carriers over the years and none of them could hold a candle to Verizon.
Just for information, I would never buy an iPhone even though they are now offered through Verizon. First of all, for many people it is a big status symbol and some people want to "impress" by having an iPhone and maybe originally the "apps" were great, but now you can get most any app you want without having to spend more just to get an iPhone. Secondly I also have a 2nd Generation Kindle and a new Kindle Fire. When I got the 2nd Generation Kindle mostly all books (not counting text books) were $9.99 or less. Until Steve Jobs of Apple wanted to put a big dent into Amazon's e-reader market, so he got together with the 5 major publishers and devised an "Agency Model" where the publisher NOT Amazon sets the price at which Amazon can charge for e-books. All of a sudden e-book prices jumped from under $9.99 to $15.00 and more. Amazon tried to fight it and lost the battle. While the e-book was $15.00, the actual real hard covered book is selling for $16.00. In essence Jobs in collusion with the Big5 publishers formed an anti-competition cartel and as usual the customers suffer. I guess Jobs never got the memo that "you can't take it with you." Therefore I will not buy "Apple" anything. From what I have heard from friends who read the book Jobs wrote, he was bragging about this cartel and his part in it.
My daughter's friend works for Best Buy and he gave me info on the better brands to choose. My daughter had just gotten a Droid2 and she felt technically I couldn't handle it. I printed out the info on 5 top phones and laid them out and eliminated one at a time (I know, not very scientific). The Samsung Stratosphere was the winner.
First of all the screen is beautiful. I got to the app for Netflix and started to watch a movie. Th picture and colors were very impressive.
There is a virtual (on touch screen) keyboard and a slide out keyboard. The touch screen is very easy to use and the slide out keyboard has smooth keys is so much easier to type on than the Blackberry Curve keyboard.
It is an Android phone and it responds quickly and smoothly. Surfing the web, is easy. Just like surfing on the computer. When you wanted to look up something on the Blackberry, the pages that came on screen were nothing like what comes up on screen when you use a tablet or computer. With this touch screen the interface is like a computer. The touch screen allows you to use your thumb and forefinger to enlarge the area you want to see (I am sure this can be explained better, but I an somewhat technically challenged).
There are tons of apps, just like the iPhone. You can go onto Amazon and go under the menu to "apps for android" (games movies, productivity tools, books newspapers etc) in addition to what Samsung offers. As I previously indicated I have a Kindle2 and a Kindle Fire (like a tablet) and I can sync e-books from the K2 and the Fire to this phone and wherever I end on one of the three, the other 2 sync to the same place I stopped reading at. You can adjust the size of the font larger if you want.
I read in one of the reviews that there is no "front facing camera" There IS a front facing camera and a rear facing camera. The camera is a 5 mega pixel which is not huge, but my point and shoot camera is only a 6 mega pixel and it takes beautiful pictures. Someone said there was no zoom on the camera, but there is. I took a picture on my daughter's birthday and I know I used the zoom, but I can't exactly remember what I did. I only have had the phone for 10 days so there is much I still have to learn.
I have had no trouble making a phone call. With Verizon's "Back-up Assistant" I downloaded almost 100 contacts that were in Blackberry into my Samsung with the push of a button. Also when you make a call there is a button on screen for Speakerphone and a red button to hang up call etc...
I have down loaded a couple of games, but if you get an app from Amazon, on many you can "Test Drive" the app on your computer to see if it is what you want. Many apps are free, but some games are sample type and you might have to buy the game to get the complete version, but you don't have to. The most expensive game I have seen is $4.99. Many books, apps and games are free. The apps I buy for my Kindle Fire can also be downloaded into my cell phone for free.
I liked the wallpaper that came on the phone out of the box and there is a handful of pictures that you can use preloaded and they also have a couple of cute animated wallpapers. I checked them out and figured that they might use too much battery power (especially since I put the phone to sleep when I put it down).
Another viewer complained about the phone "going to sleep" (aka the screen goes black to preserve the battery. THAT can be adjusted in the settings. I have mine go to sleep fairly quickly in order to get as much out of a battery charge as I can.
I might be crazy, but I think the length of time the battery goes between charges is better than it was for my Blackberry and that didn't have half the power this phone has.
The phone makes calls that are very clear both hearing the other person and how clear the person hears you. You can mostly set your preferences under the "settings." Since this phone is really a mini computer, I would suggest you get an anti-virus like you use on your computer. I use AVG and it is free.
If you remember, my daughter though I wouldn't be able to handle the Droid2. Well she really likes my phone and she is amazed how I haven't asked her to do everything for me :) BUT I still have a lot to learn,
I hope this helps someone who doesn't understand the more technical reviews.
Just experiment to find out what you want to do. Along the base of the phone there is a "Home" button, a "search" button, a "menu" button and like the Blackberry, a button that takes you back one screen at a time
Slide out QWERTY and price are why I purchased. November 20, 2011
Reviewer: 2girlsmommy (columbus, in) -
This is my first smartphone, so my review comes from that point of view.
Overall, I like it.
This phone is big. I'm a smallish female, and this phone is bulky and almost downright awkward in my hands. I can't put it in a pocket or my wristlet wallet. It will only fit in my big purse. I highly recommend a screen protector for these reasons. I can carry it around in my hand, but it's so big it feels like an extra appendage and not just an extension of my arm like my old phone was.
The main reason I wanted this phone was for the slide out keyboard. I was a super fast texter on my old EnV Touch, and thought I would continue to be if I found a slide out keyboard. I was wrong. I don't know if it's the spacing of the keys, or my small hands, but I make many, many mistakes when I try to text fast, and have experienced some frustration because of this. This is the most disappointing thing about the phone, for me.
Also, regarding the keyboard; the sliding function feels a little flimsy when I slide it in and out. It honestly doesn't feel like it would withstand careless "sliding" and I'm starting to doubt it will even survive the length of my new 2 yr contract.
This is actually my second Stratosphere. The first one arrived and took about 4 hours to activate; it couldn't find a signal. Even after activation the signal was HORRIBLE and at times I even roamed, even though I was sitting in my living room. Spent a couple of hours on phone with Tech Support two different times and they finally sent me to a VZW store for hands-on support. They couldn't fix it, either. Called Amazon and they overnight shipped me the new one without issue. When this current phone activated within a minute, I was extremely happy!
I'm surprised by how fast the battery drains. But apparently this is typical of all smartphones. I need to recharge about every 36 hours.
Some positives: it's super fast, looks nice, great camera. There seem to be lots of apps and fun little things like that. But since this is my first smartphone, I'm still trying to figure it out. I do have lots of fun using the scanner when I'm price matching items when I'm out shopping!!
Overall, I would probably buy the phone again. I would just go in to the deal with lower expectations for the keyboard/texting. If VZW would offer a FLIP keyboard instead of a slider (and make the keys similar to the enV's), I would probably be in phone heaven.
Stratosphere VS Bionic VS iPhone December 16, 2011
My wife and I were up to upgrade. We previously had the EnV3 (non-smartphone) At first I couldn't decide between an iPhone or a Droid cause those are what you always hear about. Well, my wife and her mom got the Stratosphere, which was an amazing $19.99 price with an accessory pack at Costco. Verizon had the phone alone, no accessory pack for $99 buy one get one free. I went ahead, after many 2nd, 3rd, & 4th thoughts...And upgraded to the Driod Bionic for $199.99...I literally kept the phone for for 1 day. After seeing how easy it was for my wife to use the Stratosphere and comparing with the Bionic...other than the 8 MP camera and 1080p HD Video, the Stratosphere did just fine on both...I decided I wanted what she had. So yes, I returned the $200 phone for a $20 phone and LOVE IT! Just wish we could figure out if you can zoom the camera when using it and the video.
This is a fantastic phone but was released too late in the year. November 25, 2011
Pros-lightning fast downloads and web browsing in 4G areas, Beautiful display, great sound, amazing picture quality for a 5mp camera. Android Gingerbread 2.3 is WAY better than 2.2. The slide out QWERTY is so useful.
Cons-battery (like every other phone)
This phone is better than the Thunderbolt and the Charge. It's biggest fault is that it came out between the Bionic and the RAZR. Those phones may be top of the line but this phone was a penny as an upgrade. That right there makes this the best phone deal out there for an upgrade. I am shocked at some of the reviews out there. Buy with confidence.
My first smart phone, and I really dig it January 31, 2012
Reviewer: From Detroit (Michigan, USA) -
I've been reluctant to jump on the smart phone bandwagon largely because I dislike touch screens. The slide-out keypad made the Samsung Stratosphere a less-intimidating choice for me. I've had the phone for a while now, and thus far, I've had no real problems with it! Over all, the construction quality is high, and the phone itself looks sharp. The camera, for me, is nothing more than a point-and-shoot device, so as long as I can recognize the picture, I'm happy, and this camera works for me (quite well, actually, but I don't feel that my opinion would be the most helpful.)
Here are some things that I like:
*The AMOLED screen is amazingly sharp! Animations and videos run very smooth, and swiping your finger over the polished glass surface has a very fluid feel to it.
*Signal strength and call quality haven't been an issue for me. I still haven't taken it into the elevator in the basement of the Student Center at Wayne State University (my old phone used to be able to get signal in it, when most people didn't.)
*The slide-out keypad takes some getting used to... My old LG enV 3's keypad was fairly compact. Long gone are the days of one-handed operation! This one is substantially larger! Like any other device, once you acquaint yourself with the layout, you're good to go.
*Wireless and 4G speeds are quite fast! Pages load fairly quickly, and there isn't much waiting for the installation of most apps.
*Users complain about battery life. This has kind of perplexed me for some time: This phone has a 1ghz CPU in it, as well as a large, bright screen. These aren't laptops with huge batteries. While I don't talk much on my phone, I do use the wireless and 4G connections quite a bit, and I have no problems making it through a whole work day. (I really only have to charge it at night.) If you're not talking on your phone or using power-intensive settings and your battery is still dying fast, you might want to check your settings.
* Upgradable memory (by way of Micro SD) is a great feature. All phones and tablets should have this.
*Total integration with my Google Account is very nice! As I said, this is my first smart phone, and having access to my Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Google + and Voice where ever I go is quite handy!
*Some reviews indicate that the 1ghz processor is less desirable. As of now, I don't see why. The phone seems fast enough to handle the tasks I throw at it, and any faster processor would likely drain the battery faster. The combination of reasonable price point and decent battery life make this phone a winner in my book.
I haven't found anything that was so annoying that it's worthy of a comment. Actually, all the annoyances I had stemmed from my lack of understanding of the device. It does have a slight learning curve, for those who have never had a Smart Phone. I managed to work out at least most of those kinks in about 2 days. Ultimately, I highly recommend this phone.
If you're not one to heavily use your phone, feel free to ignore this. But those of you who tend to surf the web, chat or text frequently when bored (or talk a lot, which I don't...) you might want to invest in an extended battery. I bought the Samsung brand. It adds a bulk to the phone, but it has no problem s making it through the day, even with fairly heavy use. Before, I had to put it on the charger whenever I was in the car to make sure I had a good amount of juice. After months of ownership, this is the only real issue I had with the phone, and it was rather expected, since it is a smartphone.
The extended battery does add bulk to the phone, and I wasn't able to find a case that fits it. Unfortunately that is not a winning combination if you're to drop the phone... You might want to consider that if you're clumsy!
Also, before the phone plummeted, I was noticing a lot of lag... Rebooting the phone seemed to solve most issues, though I suspect that the single core processor and the limited amount of RAM had something to do with it.
Easy introduction into smartphone technology January 16, 2012
Reviewer: Jennifer "Jennifer" (MA) -
Let me first start by saying that I am seriously technology challenged. I have trouble figuring out how to plug in cell phones never mind how to use them. Seriously. My young adult children pull their hair out at my lack of ability in this particular arena. However, I do have a Kindle Fire and have been able to easily navigate the Android stuff and all the WiFi stuff that comes with it. I say this because the Samsung Stratosphere has the exact same face as my fire which, I am told by my ever so supportive young adult children that all Android phones are like this. GOOD, because I can't figure out her Iphone for the life of me! I don't have to sync my ITunes or whatever, I don't have to set up a credit card and I don't have this itty bitty screen to try to see and a touchy screen to type on. The Samsung Stratosphere is a large size phone, which is great for me, but is a bit bulky while handling. It has a pull out keyboard which is so much easier to use, but it also can rotate on the screen to make the little touch keys bigger if you choose to use them. I am learning how to use that pretty easily. I comes with some already installed apps, but not an overwhelming amount. I had a bit of trouble setting up the WiFi to my router, but after watching the online demo, I easily figured it out. That is the other thing, there is a lot of information right available both on the phone and online to help navigate through the different features of the phone. I love the voice recognition where you just say "Amazon.com" and poof, it appears on your phone! Yes, this is probably basic to all of the smartphone users, but to this newbie it is magic. Also, the Stratosphere has a front facing camera which I had to have for Skyping with my niece in Hawaii and my daughter who is studying abroad in Germany and my son who is away in college. This phone for me is worth every 5 star review it has gotten. My husband purchased one as well and the two of us couldn't be happier with our introduction into smartphone technology.
Disappointed November 29, 2011
Reviewer: oddestfellow (Boston, MA United States) -
This is my 2nd Stratosphere and after a couple weeks I'm having the same issues that I did with the first. The phone does not transition well from an area with 4G service to an area with 3G (for example, I have 4G connectivity outside of my house, but once I go inside the phone drops to 3G or 1X). I'm constantly getting a "Network not available" message when I try to use the browser, send texts or check my email. I called Verizon customer service and talked to one of the senior techs who told me that some of the new 4G phones have problems transitioning from 4G and 3G and that they are working on an update to fix it. One of the fixes she had me try was to turn on roaming. She said to try that for a couple days and if that didn't work, go into the phone's settings and change it from CDMA/LTE to just CDMA (basically making it a 3G phone). That didn't work either.
My last phone was a blackberry Curve which would pick up my home WiFi from anywhere in the house, including the yard. This phone barely picks up the WiFi from one room away and doesn't pick it up at all any further away than that.
So, I'm bringing this back and hoping 3rd time's a charm. If I have the same issues with phone #3, I'm just going to switch back to my blackberry.
can't be beat for the price December 30, 2011
Reviewer: Paul Daniel (Texas, USA) -
This phone is amazing. I have it for 2 weeks now. I'll admit it is my first android, but I've had the iphone and palm pre plus, so I'm not new to smart phones. Palm was my all time favorite OS, but there is just no support for it. I switched to android and it is amazing. It does a lot of the things that Siri on the new iphone does. You can speak commands like "text Dave" or "navigate to Pizza Hut". This is nothing new, but I had no idea that the Stratosphere could do it. It's super quick and really user friendly. It syncs up easily with all of your email, facebook and gmail contacts.
The phone has been called a "mid-tier" device, but the specs are the same as most of the phones that came out the first half of 2011. Just because there are a few crazy fast and powerful devices with 1GB of ram and 1.5 dual core processors, does not mean that this phone is a lesser device. I promise that if you are not a developer, and are not coming from the Galaxy Nexus or Droid Razr, you will not notice any difference in the less than year old specs of this thing. There is no lag. The only problems I've had were when Verizons 4g network had problems, but that is not the phones' fault.
This is an amazing phone for the price. My wife was going to get the Droid Razr, but liked the Stratosphere way more. She has no idea what the difference in processor or RAM is so that is saying something about the Strat. If you are considering this device, there is no reason to pass it up.
like the features and speed but two units died in two weeks! October 26, 2011
Reviewer: nick g (brooklyn, ny) -
solid phone with decent battery, strong signal, I like the slide out keyboard (though don't love it - it has four big home/back/search/menu buttons along the sides that get in the way all the time and are useless) the swype keyboard is nice, the screen is good (but not great, my previous phone has a much better screen)... overall a good phone for the price (which was free with 2yr contract) and as the only verizon phone with LTE plus physical keyboard fills a missing niche there. i loved walking down the street while doing a video skype call over the high speed lte network! everything else is tolerable for the price.
shortcomings and advantages aside however, my phone broke after one week of use. i never dropped it or anything, not once! just one day it said "no signal" and nothing I could do (or the verizon tech at the store) could bring the signal back. so verizon said it had to be replaced and that i should send it back to the seller for a dead on arrival replacement with a brand new unit. that process is still going on, I should get the replacement today)
my buddy got the exact same phone a few days earlier than I did. yesterday while on a business trip he found out the phone had quit working also - the phone speaker and microphone were dead and it only worked in speakerphone mode. UGH! so two dead in two weeks with completely different problems and two different users makes me wonder about the build quality and reliability of these phones. i've got a few days left to return mine and cancel my contract and i am seriously considering this lest I get stuck with a lemon line of phones.
30% of outgoing calls fail, right out of the box January 11, 2012
Reviewer: D. R. (Ahwatukee, AZ, USA) -
I asked for this handset for xmas to replace a motorola droid 2 that had cracked. It was purchased at best buy with their best and most expensive replacement warranty. I made one outgoing call, and heard just silence. Then the person called me back and asked if I had pocket dialed him, because all he had heard was background noise. I assumed *his* phone was the problem because hey, mine was brand new! But this outgoing call trouble continued. Approx 1/3 of my calls were just silence on my end (not even ringing heard) but the other person can hear me saying, "Hello?".
So the purchaser of this gift went to BB with the handset, to tell them about the problem. He came back reporting that 2 test calls (one in, one out) had been made, and both worked. I was furious. I went back to BB (a 40 mi trip for me) and demanded resolution. The employee was snotty & said that if he couldn't duplicate the problem, there was nothing he could do. So he used the phone to call his cell. FAIL. Tried again. FAIL. So he said there may have been a firmware update since my handset was made (at this point I'd only had the phone a few days)! He did a firmware update. He called his cell again, it worked. Called the store's main number, it worked. So I left hopeful that it was resolved.
It wasn't. It only happens about 5-10% of the time now, but that is still WAY too often. I am trying to collect the time & chutzpah to go back to BB & insist they replace my handset despite the fact that it doesn't happen on every call.
BTW the genius at BB's wireless area told me to call Verizon to report any future trouble.
A) If I can't make outgoing calls, how do I do that? and
B) It's not a network issue, it started happening the minute I got the Stratosphere handset.
THEN he tried to tell me that I inadvertently pressing 'mute' on my end. Ummmmm... except that mutes MY side so the other person can't hear me. The trouble I'm having is the exact opposite.
I had really high hopes for this phone set and am very disappointed to be back at square one!!
Even if all my outgoing calls were working, I have a few other suggestions for this handset...
1. Insanely long delay on the camera (from pressing the shutter button to the actual photo being taken).
2. It doesn't seem to synch my hotmail, gmail or google calendar regularly. I asked it to via the settings, but I still have to do it manually. I bid for jobs, so I have to be notified immediately if a request comes thru, or I lose money!
3. The GPS signal is very unreliable. I can be right in the middle of town, navigating my way to a job, and it will tell me that the GPS signal was lost, and it won't come back on for 10-15 minutes. Sometimes turning it off & back on helps, other times, not.
So, part of my complaint is about BB & their false warranty claims, but really it's with this handset bc I wouldn't have needed to involve BB if this phone worked!
On the plus side, I will say that the screen is very clear. I took a photo with the phone the day I got it, and made it my phone's wallpaper, and the colors and clarity are just stunning.
Mine has received Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade! September 19, 2012
Reviewer: S. Sweeney "ordinary whiz"
After wondering enough about odd changes to my Stratosphere (purchased in late May 2012), I saw the Verizon salesman Devyn at my local Costco yesterday (18th). Seems things I though I had changed inadvertently were not my doing after all: the Stratosphere has recently been upgraded from Gingerbread to Ice Cream Sandwich! A software glitch was causing audible announcements night and day about data stopping, etc. A software fix was then upgraded to the phones. No more announcements but other changes.
You can tell if your phone is upgraded if it now has (among other things):
a different screen unlock than the puzzle (you can't find the old puzzle lock).
a green glow at the top and bottom of the screen as you scroll.
a single frame wallpaper (no more panorama -- darn!).
a continuing scroll (like a carousel) of the five homepage frames (don't have to go back and forth anymore).
These are obvious and the big clues that your Stratosphere OS has been upgraded.
GPS is still hit or miss December 15, 2011
Reviewer: Ego (California) -
My daughter ordered this phone and I was curious to see it to see if Samsung had addressed the GPS problem that plagued their Galaxy S phones. While they have made some definite improvements, it's still not right. First a bit of background: Samsung's Galaxy S class phones (the Vibrant on T-Mobile) were nice phones. It was, for a time, T-Mobile's flagship phone. Unfortunately, it had a huge problem: The GPS barely worked. This meant that it might or might not lock. And, if it did, it might not stay locked. So, this Stratosphere 4G is several generations newer and I wanted to see if their GPS issue had been solved.
So, I conducted 2 GPS tests from two locations. At the first location, it took several seconds (perhaps 10) before the GPS locked. When it locked, it showed the proper location. So, based on the first experiment, I thought Samsung had addressed the problem. Also, experience suggests that if you are in the same area as the prior lock, the subsequent GPS locks tend to be quite fast. In the second experiment, I changed locations. In this case, it plotted my location as being about a mile from where I actually was. Those cases are frustrating since the GPS would be unreliable. (As a comparison, my Droid Razr properly locked in both locations, immediately.) I'm sure if I moved around a little, the Samsung GPS would properly lock and show the right location. That's how it behaved on the Vibrant. Or, if it doesn't, my experience with the Vibrant suggests that exiting the app using the GPS and restarting it will likely make it work. So, while the GPS is clearly better, it does not perform to the level of the HTC or Motorola Android phones I have owned.
So, what does this mean? (Or, what's my recommendations?)
The screen is one that you will come to love. It is great. The device has a slide out keyboard. Now that I've transitioned to typing on glass, this isn't big for me, but it is a big deal for my daughter. So, I'll count that in the plus column. This phone is 4G, which is noticeably faster than 3G. That's a big plus too. So, if that's what you need in a phone, then this is a good choice.
Now for the cons. The GPS is flaky, which means that you have to *think* about it when you use it. And, in the long-term that could be a safety issue if you ever had to dial 911 and they needed to pull your GPS location from your phone. Probably not a huge deal, but since I've had to do that twice in real life, I know how important it can be. But, if you aren't relying on your phone for navigation every second of every day, then it might not be a big deal for you either. A second nit is that Samsung, at least with their Galaxy class phones, was not very timely with software updates and patches. Not a huge deal for a lot of people, but when serious security holes are found in Android, it's nice to know that you'll eventually get a patch or update. Bottom line.., if rock solid GPS and a company track record of not being last to receive updates are important to you, then another phone (non-Samsung) might be a better choice.
Great, cheap, smartphone March 6, 2012
My wife and I have had a pair of Stratospheres for a little more than 2 weeks now. We've had no problems at all with them. We've had a Android tablet for quite awhile, so the phones OS wasn't anything new or difficult to figure out. The only negatives I think of off the top of my head is the amount of unremovable bloatware Verizon has installed, and the phone as configured by Verizon AGGRESSIVELY seeks out WiFi networks to run data on. I imagine this is to save on Verizon's 3g/4g network load, but it can drain your battery when it cant find one by constantly polling for one. It can also confuse the phone when it finds one it cant completely connect to, but can and will stubbornly refuse to fall back onto 3g/4g. Just disable WiFi unless you know you can use it, and disable the notification of WiFi unless you want to be nagged every time it finds ANY WiFi signal.
The screen is gorgeous.
Call quality is great.
Responsive processor with lots of memory to play in.
Slightly better than average battery life. (turn down brightness, and features you dont need at the moment i.e. GPS/WiFi)
Can be Rooted.
All in all, a great, cheap mid-range smartphone, and probably the best of the inexpensive slider keyboard smartphones.
I just hope it holds up with time... and hopefully we get an official upgrade to IceCreamSandwich.
Update: I hate this phone, as a phone its terrible. Half of all calls are gibberish where the begging and end of words are clipped off. As a Android device its fine, above average, although they are currently rolling out a poormans version of IceCream Sandwitch over the top of the Gingerbread OS. Lame, and from reports its buggy. Buy something else if you need a phone that works as a phone.
4G, but could be better January 27, 2012
Reviewer: R. Goldman (PA) -
I had to get this instead of my Motorola Droid 2 Global, since 2 miles south of my home is a large area with no Verizon 3G service. Now, when I go there I can get 4 G, though I sometimes have to restart the phone to do so. The battery goes dead more quickly, and the phone seems to change some settings on its own. Some things are more difficult to do - just less intuitive. It's an OK phone, but quirkier than the Motorola.
nice phone and great price! January 26, 2012
Reviewer: Leigh Durlacher (San Jose, CA USA) -
easy to use phone, with good voice quality and bright easy to read display. I found the dialer particularly easy to use in both touchscreen mode and hands-free mode, which was important to me. My prior phone was an HTC Incredible 2, but the Samsung Stratosphere was a clear winner in terms of the touch and voice dialing interfaces.
Battery life also was decent on 3g (CDMA) mode, and I got 2 days before charging phone. If you are a heavy use of data (frequent facebook updates, etc) or need 4 g (LTE),you may wish to purchase an extended battery and larger back door/battery cover which are currently not expensive.
Not the latest and greatest, but a good phone. January 3, 2012
Reviewer: MB "MB" (Chicago, IL USA) -
I waited for a better 4G phone with physical keyboard on Verizon for a long time. The Droid 4 was taking forever to come out, I got tired of waiting. I saw this phone available for free and I went for it. It replaced a slow and small Droid 1, and by comparison, the Stratosphere blows it away.
The phone is speedy, it downloads fast, and doesn't seem to have the battery issues that plague other 4G/LTE devices. The keyboard fits nicely in my large hands and is easy to use. The camera is only 5MP, but it works very well in low light and takes great photos.
The one thing that seriously blows me away about this phone is the sound. I plugged in some headphones and was blown away by the sound quality. It's way better than my old Droid 1 and even my iPod Touch.
I'm annoyed by the amount of bloatware on this phone though. There are tons of icons stuck on the launcher that can not be removed without rooting the device. The Samsung Touchwiz interface is also annoying, but it's not entirely too different from stock Android.
All in all, it's a solid phone. It's not the greatest or fastest and it surely won't get Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), but if you can look beyond that, save some money and grab this model.
More Issues than Reader's Digest January 29, 2013
This phone is not worth the free price. I got it in September 2012 and have had three major issues. One, in October, it went into "airplane mode" and would not come out. I finally had to go to factory resets to get it to work again. Next, at Thanksgiving the phone became very hot and would not send or receive phone calls. As of yesterday, January 28, 2013, it now cannot access the internet. So, tomorrow off to Verizon to see what I can do with it. Folks don't bother with this piece of junk.
be gentle! November 26, 2012
A very nice phone with a very fragile screen. changes in temperature can cause the lcd to crack voiding any warranty. google it. lots of them for sale on ebay with bad lcd screens.