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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Samsung Stratosphere reviewed

The Samsung Stratosphere features 4G speeds and a slide-out keypad.

I recently had a chance to get my hands on a nice piece of technology this past week, and I must say I’m rather smitten.

To say the smartphone market is flooded would be an understatement. The number of Android-based phones out there is huge and growing. So, to find a phone that truly stands out in the crowd can be rare.

One of Samsung’s latest smartphone entries, the Stratosphere, truly rises above the mediocrity that’s beginning to saturate the phone market. With some of the best features on the market, the Stratosphere is in a league of its own.

The one area this phone excels is features. The Samsung Stratosphere has a little bit of everything you would expect to find in a top-of-the-line smartphone today.

The OLED screen is capable
of producing brighter hues
than LCD screens.
The first thing I noticed after pulling the Stratosphere out of the box was the very sharp and colorful OLED display. OLED technology may sound like jargon, but in layman’s terms it means a damn good-looking screen. The 480 X 800 pixel OLED display is able to produce much brighter hues than normal LCD screens, which typically grace smartphones today. The greens and reds are much more saturated and lifelike than what you would find in many other smartphones.

Another nice thing about the Stratosphere is how compact it is, despite the fact it’s sporting a very roomy slide-out keyboard under its belly. The keyboard is much larger than LG’s Enlighten I reviewed last week and feels much more natural when you’re typing — especially with large fingers. The physical feedback you receive from typing on the keyboard feels much better than typing on the glass virtual keyboard of many other phones.

One of the selling points of the Stratosphere is that it’s Samsung’s first 4G phone with a slide-out keyboard. And while testing the 4G speed of the phone in Charleston, I was able to pull between 5 and 6 Mbps downloads, which is much faster than 3G speeds, and makes for some lightning quick downloads.

Under the hood of the Stratosphere lies a 1 GHz single-core ARM processor with 512 MB of RAM and 4 GB of built-in storage with a micro-SD expansion slot. The phone also comes with Bluetooth, WiFi and a micro-USB connector. Absent on the Stratosphere is an HDMI output for high-resolution graphics.

The Stratosphere also comes with a 5 megapixel rear-facing camera with camcorder capabilities and a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera for video chats. The camera is actually nothing special. As a matter of fact, I found the auto-focus feature a bit slow to adjust and in turn some of the photos I took with it ended up out of focus. However, the photos that did turn out right looked quite sharp.

The phone comes with Android 2.3 and is fairly easy to use. As usual, I was able to set up my email and download Netflix and other apps quickly. And despite being only a single core 1 GHz processor, all of the apps I downloaded (including Netflix, a racing game, solitaire and SpeedTest) seemed to run quickly.

Overall impression
While only using the phone for a few days, I’m hooked. All other things being somewhat equal, the beautiful colors of the OLED screen and the nice, roomy keyboard were enough to lure me in and make me a believer. If you’re in the market for a new (or your first) Android phone, you should give some serious consideration to the Samsung Stratosphere. With great features like this, it would be difficult to be disappointed.