When our Verizon contract expired in March 2012, I took out a new 2-year contract with a Samsung Stratosphere 4G Android phone. This was my first smartphone, and I'm still learning how to take advantage of its features and capabilities, but I have to say it's been a good experience so far. I live in a large metropolitan area where the 3G/4G coverage is very good, so phone calls seldom have dropouts, and file transfers are relatively fast. But I've had the phone in some fairly remote areas in the West, and the connections were still solid with decent download speeds.
I am by no means a power user, but I make a fair number of phone calls, and I use about a dozen Android apps regularly, including the Gmail app. I've been impressed with the Stratosphere, as well as the Android OS. One feature of the phone was an unexpected benefit. My wife and I are geocachers, and I found that the GPS in the phone is as accurate as my older model DeLorme GPS, and it's a lot more convenient to use, since geocache data and coordinates can be sent to the phone wirelessly from my PC, and the Android geocaching app is very good. The GPS is also great for navigation with MapQuest.
I like the slide-out keyboard, although I usually use the virtual onscreen keypad for typing. I've used the back-facing camera for both stills and video, and it's a superb camera for a smartphone, and very handy to have, especially with some of the image editing apps that are available. The camera also works really well with apps like Google Goggles and the bar code and QR code scanner apps. Web browsing with the default browser is fast enough, although I have also used the Dolphin browser, and I like it too.
So I've only used a few of the Stratosphere's features, but the ones I have used have been impressive. Overall, I've been very pleased with the phone.
on November 25, 2012
If you decide you absolutely must get it, get the warranty. 7 months, on my 4th (going in tomorrow for my 5th). First, there are only 2 nice things when they are working, the screen and the camera. This phone is S L O W. The physical keyboard fails a lot. None of the 4 of these I've had will maintain a wireless internet connection of any kind, so forget that it says 4G. Every phone I've had before this lasted at least 2 years, even my previous Samsung. This phone is junk.
on July 16, 2012
I Have had this phone for about 7 months and loved it right out of the box. Fast connection, slide-out keyboard, large display. Camera, video & recorder are OK quality, but this is a phone and I didn't expect more than OK quality. There are several cons, though, some minor, others not. Most of these I did not discover until I had the phone too long to exchange for a different model.
1. Volume button on side is easily accidentally activated while simply picking up phone, resulting in volume turned so low that I cannot hear phone ringing.
2. Space button on keyboard is long and must be hit in exactly the right spot to work.
3. Screen difficult/impossible to see in sunlight.
4. Touch screen doesn't work if out on a hot day, such as at a swim meet, even in the shade! Saw a creepy guy at a recent swim meet but was unable to call the constable because I was unable to pull up my contacts, and no one else had the constable's number!
5. Square-up and Intuit credit card swipers don't work on this phone, which is disappointing because this is primarily why I bought a smart phone! According to Intuit's website, their swiper should work on this model, so it may just be my phone. And yes, I did try multiple swipers and talked to tech support.
6. At first I was able to charge the phone while it was on, but now I have to turn it off to charge it. As this phone is used for business this is NOT a good thing! Also sometimes the phone doesn't charge when it is plugged in, so I have to monkey around with it until I see a battery image pop up to make sure that it is actually charging.
I would like to exchange this phone for a replacement but they will only send me a re-conditioned one, and after reading other reviews, I am afraid that I will get one that is even worse than what I have now!
Bottom line,there are better phones out there, get one of those instead!
on August 29, 2013
DO NOT BUY THIS PHONE. I have owned this phone (under a Verizon contract) for less than 12 months and it has been a nightmare (I only gave it 1 star because Amazon required me to fill in one, it really is 0 stars).
The first phone I had for roughly 10 months until the antenna died. I returned the phone to Verizon and they promised me a brand new device. I was sent a "refurbished" phone which was scratched to the point of being unusable.
I was then sent another "refurbished" phone. The internal processing system was slow. It frequently dropped calls, failed to send text, would not operate my data plan and would not perform basic functions. It also could not sustain a battery life of more than 2 hours. Samsung was completely unresponsive to complaints.
Verizon then sent me a fourth phone. That phone continued all the same functional issues I had with the 3rd and the key board would frequently not work on certain letters. I would never recommend a stratosphere to anyone and would not recommend any Samsung product based on my current interaction with them.
on January 27, 2012
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.
on June 14, 2012
Had my Stratosphere since November, and generally very happy with it. 1st SmartPhone - though I'm too dumb to use it for all it can do yet! Came from a Blackberry Curve - WHICH I hated from day 1... apparently I'm not one of those "Blackberry People"!
Love the screen, but need to get myself a screen protector & case, etc. b/c it gets hazy for us gals from makeup & such. Scratched fairly easily. Great choice of apps & thx for the tip on the LED app - that has been an annoyance & could be louder for me. I don't have too many apps loaded, but gonna add some from other reviewers, so thanks for the info all!
WHY DO PPL KEEP SAYING THERE IS NO FRONT FACING CAMERA? HIT THE CAMERA ICON ON THE SCREEN & IT TURNS AROUND!!!! AND IT ZOOMS!
My main complaints are that I have terrible reception in some places - like my bedroom which is a problem when job seeking & then dropping calls while setting up interviews! OUCH! Also, tired of it asking for WiFi too often. Sometimes mine says there is no connection available for anything including texts not being able to send. Hellll-oooooo? Don't I pay for a data package so I have constant access????!!!! Notifications fr calendar are poor, I agree. Miss most all of them, so not sure why I bother adding things. Seldom touch screen freezes & have to reboot. Weirdest problem is when I turn it back on it makes a constant, very loud beeping noise & the only way it will stop is if I receive a text. Usually results in me texting myself. Anyone ever had something like that happen on theirs, and if so, what the *bleep* is it?
Overall, happy & the cons are not enough to discourage me too much! Now I'm off to download LED indicator & other recommended apps from your reviews - thanks again!!
on February 2, 2012
I got this phone at the end of December 2011. I previously had a Blackberry Curve and was a little skeptical about jumping on the Android bandwagon. After my husband got his Samsung Continuum in early 2011 I kinda fell in love with the Android OS but was put off by the touch screen. But when I saw this phone I just had to have it. I will admit that I do miss my Blackberry at times but I really LOVE this phone. I love that it has a slide out keyboard, although I'm getting better at the on-screen typing. The AMOLED screen is just brilliant. I have Netflix and tried it out on the phone as soon as I got it and the picture was just amazing. My one and only complaint about this phone is that there is no "sound profiles" like on Blackberry. However, there's an app for that, though it's still not as good as the Blackberry sound profile customization, it will do. The 2nd thing that sold me on this was that Gmail integrates so well with this phone (considering the OS is made by Google). Blackberry didn't handle Gmail very well to me. Overall I do not regret getting this phone and highly recommend it to anyone who is on the fence.
on June 5, 2012
I got this in order to renew Verizon's Unlimited Data plan before they make their pricing/plan changes this summer. Before this, I had an LG Ally, which was similar in size physically and has a slide-out keyboard, but has a smaller screen and no 4G capabilities.
The keyboard on the Stratosphere is VERY disappointing compared with the Ally's. Though the real estate for the physical keyboard is only a tad larger on the Stratosphere, the keyboard layout on the Ally is much closer to a standard QWERTY keyboard. The FATAL FLAW on the Samsung's keyboard is the placement of the Shift key, which is under the A key and moves the bottom row of letters over by one. Having the key layout in a GRID may appear elegant, but it is far from being functional.
Something tells me the designers have never typed on a standard keyboard - when you want type a symbol that shares a button with a number, either a SHIFT or ALT (or FN) should generate the symbol. On the Stratosphere, you MUST use an FN for the symbol. This is especially annoying when I'm trying to type an @ and SHIFT-2 generates a 2. Have you had to type an @ lately? The Home key is located where a SHIFT key is expected, which makes it too easy to cancel a message by accident.
Verizon's bloatware goes without saying.
On the bright side, it is MUCH faster than the Ally and it has more built-in storage, so I can actually download and use apps.
And it was "free" via Amazon Wireless, though I now wonder if I should have spent the extra money on the Droid 4 if only for a proper QWERTY keyboard.
On the other hand, 4G LTE plus a HotSpot app (not the official one, of course) makes it work well for connecting a laptop via WiFi so some REAL work can get done - the slider keyboard is only there as a LAST RESORT.
Given that having a slider keyboard is why someone would choose this phone over another, I'll have to ding it MAJORLY for the keyboard's awful design. GOOD DESIGN IS NOT HARD!!!!
on December 24, 2013
Wide, clear touch-screen, probably the best QWERTY keyboard I've seen on a cell phone (bigger keys than most) yet still small enough to fit into your slacks pocket without being too terribly visible.
While the rest of the world moves on with Android 4 and better, the Stratosphere is stuck at 2.3.6, meaning a lot of your apps don't work on it. The battery often has trouble maintaining a charge (I've had the "extended life" battery go dead in 15 minutes) and has a tendency to overheat badly, especially if you are using the phone while it is charging. Wifi connectivity, especially since the forced out shift from 2.3.5 to 2.3.6, is terrible. You can be sitting 2 feet from a Wifi hotspot, showing full bars of connectivity, and the OS kicks you off and cycles through a search for available wifi that can resolve in 10 seconds or never, to the point that you are forced to turn wifi off and use your purchased, often limited (depending on your provider) data plan - which can take anywhere from 15 seconds to several minutes to be recognized by the Strat. Some days the Stratosphere decides not to recognize your MicroSD card; this tends to happen for me when I have a single large file on my MicroSD card; even if I am only using 28% of the space on the card, if I have taken a video that is, say, 10 minutes long, until I remove the MicroSD card and use an adapter to plug it into a computer and remove that single video, the Strat will pretend the whole card does not exist. Some days the phone feature, the single most importat feature of a cell phone (really? sad that I have to say that) is so disfunctional that I can enter a phone number and hit send, the dialing app closes, nothing else will start, and anywhere from 2-5 minutes later (I'm not exagerating), the phone will suddenly process the call.
The sad thing is, if you google Stratosphere issues, you will see that Samsung has known about some of these issues since 2011 but opted, rather than to fix the problem, to start putting out new generations of Stratosphere and other devices. In short, they chose to ignore existing customers and instead focus on new customers.This does not make me, for one, terribly interested in buying a new Samsung product when my contract on this phone ends in February.
on July 22, 2012
The Stratosphere is my first smart phone, purchased on a Verizon contract. I like its keyboard and bright screen. With no experience to compare, I'm surprised at how slowly it populates web sites, either via WIFI or 4G. Often it times out before the site downloads. Battery life is too short to be practical, only about 10 hours with minimal usage (2-3 calls, a few texts). Verizon support is inadequate, the manual is superficial, store clerks can't answer simple questions. The GPS typically requires several minutes to lock and then drops off at random moments. Oddly, the phone overheats while on GPS. My next phone will be an iPhone, maybe I'll learn that all phones perform this poorly.