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on December 30, 2011
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.
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on January 11, 2012
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.
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on 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.
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on October 26, 2011
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.

good luck!
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on September 19, 2012
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.
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on December 15, 2011
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.
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on 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)
Slider keyboard.
Terrific audio.
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.
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on January 3, 2012
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.
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on July 6, 2012
I've had FOUR of these, all broken OUT OF THE BOX.

You can find tons of specific, negative reviews about this product.

(1) Rarely connects to WiFi, even feet away from a router.
(2) Several ramdom reboots a day.
(3) Often 'disconnects' SD card.
(4) Fails to recharge, and often indicated 'recharging' when not connected to anything.
(5) Choppy sound (audio & phone calls)

The one I bought (and latter three exchanges) all had four out of five of these problems OUT OF THE BOX.

Verizon (when I bought it) Tech Support knows about this issue, but nothing's been done about it.

Samsung support is ridiculous, their scripts and software do not fully navigate flow charts of problem-solving. I found temporary solutions on the internet, that Samsung did not have in their resources.

This is not a software, adware, malware, virus, OS, or firmware issue. It's more than one fatal design flaw.

The average success rate with this model is 1 out of 3, going by reviews from several websites where people returned their phone for a replacement.

I've done a LOT of research about this make and model, and I strongly discourage anyone from getting the Samsung Stratosphere.

Please, DO NOT BUY.
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on January 26, 2012
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.
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