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Old December 11th, 2011, 11:54 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default My belated review of the Stratosphere

I figured I'd post my thoughts and feelings about the Stratosphere in a thread for many others to see. Here I'll post the best and worst things about this phone.

First and foremost, some background about me. I am an experienced Android user, and I demand a physical keyboard on my smartphone. The Stratosphere was, therefore, the logical choice for me. My previous phone, the Motorola Devour, was an under-supported, locked down, Motoblur infested piece of garbage without any kind of developer community whatsoever. The only thing making it even bearable was it was eventually rooted. But at least it had a keyboard.

That said, on to the Stratosphere. The physical keyboard is much better than the Devour (and from what I've seen, anything in the Droid line as well), and is very easy and natural to use. The buttons have great feedback, you definitely know when you've pressed one. My only gripe with the keyboard is it can be difficult to know where to press in the dark when trying to type an alt-character. The little orange character is on the left side of the key you need to press, but when viewed in the dark it looks like it's halfway between two letters. It's a small gripe, not really a big problem.

Some people say sliders are too thick to be practical these days. I counter with this: maybe your phone is too damn thin? Personally, I don't feel the need for any kind of paper-thin phone that will break from a three-foot drop onto carpet. I'd rather have something solid. To that end, the OEM extended battery for the Stratosphere adds a good quarter inch to the backside of the phone, making it seem a whole lot thicker. As many have noted (and I agree) this seems to make the keyboard a whole buttload easier to slide out. The phone itself is easier to grip with it.

Speaking of batteries, the battery life of the Stratosphere is fantastic. If the stock 1800 mAh battery isn't big enough for you, then the extended 3000 mAh battery actually seems to make the phone more usable, in addition to providing even better battery life. The stock battery lasted me about my full day from wake-up to bedtime, with JuiceDefender killing the data radio when I didn't need it. The extended battery barely ever gets below halfway, even after watching Netflix for a full hour (over wifi).

4GLTE reception is pretty damn good, since I live in one of Verizon's original 4G areas. In fact, I get good 4G reception in places where my Devour got shitty 1X reception previously. As to wifi, the Strat seems pretty reliable, but it always loves to use wifi rather than mobile data, popping up nags and alerts about trying to connect. Either way is safe, though. I've never had a single dropped call so far, and data is quick and snappy either way.

The Touchwiz software is a breath of fresh air after the year-and-a-half strangle of Motoblur. Even so, I found myself installing LauncherPro and not looking back. The ability to configure multiple docks helps make up for the curious lack of a dedicated camera button. Seriously, what's up with that? At least I can put the camera on a dock. Other than that, the software is similar to the Devour, since it's still Android after all.

Generally speaking, I love my new phone. At a grand total of $25 ($0 for phone, $25 for extended battery on sale), it was a fantastic investment and a great buy. I've had very few problems with it and nothing I can't really deal with. Here's to getting a fully working ClockworkMod and eventually Cyanogen on my new best friend!

tl;dr:
Stratosphere 9/10.
The good: Battery life, keyboard, software, 4G LTE, signal reliability, unlocked bootloader!
The bad: No camera button, wifi nags

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Old December 12th, 2011, 08:36 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Some people say sliders are too thick to be practical these days. I counter with this: maybe your phone is too damn thin?
Amen brotha'!
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Old December 12th, 2011, 11:41 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Why is everybody praising the battery?

With 4G enabled, I can only get about 5 hours before the phone completely dies. I've had to disable 4G and I still only get about 6.5 hours. All with very low-impact use.

Do I have a dud of a battery or something?
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Old December 12th, 2011, 11:58 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Do I have a dud of a battery or something?
Its possible that you might.

I have the extended battery now, but when I used the original battery, I could get about 18 hours of use out of my phone before it completely crapped out on me. Now with the extended battery, I can go about 36 hours without a charge.

Its also possible that you have some kind of app installed that is using up resources and draining your battery down.

I came from the Thunderbolt to this phone, and out of the box this battery gives this phone about 4-5x more life than I had with the 'bolt.
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Old December 12th, 2011, 01:11 PM   #5 (permalink)
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my battery still has 20% left after a full day off the charger ( 7am to midnight)
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Old December 12th, 2011, 03:57 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Nice review writeup. Where do you guys buy those extended batteries?
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Old December 12th, 2011, 04:07 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Nice review writeup. Where do you guys buy those extended batteries?
Verizon store or website. It will say $50 until you go to checkout, and then the price will drop to $25.
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Old December 12th, 2011, 05:55 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by greenless View Post
Why is everybody praising the battery?

With 4G enabled, I can only get about 5 hours before the phone completely dies. I've had to disable 4G and I still only get about 6.5 hours. All with very low-impact use.

Do I have a dud of a battery or something?
Do you leave Wifi or bluetooth on all day when not using it?

What do you have your screen brightness set at? I have mine set at 0% usually, unless I'm in bright sunlight, and it is still very visible.

Also, as knightcrusader, suggested it may be an app running in the background. How often do you have email apps check for new emails etc?
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Old December 12th, 2011, 08:23 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Also, to add to everyone else's battery life suggestions...how many bars of signal do you typically have? It seems like my battery lasts a lot longer when I'm consistently in an area with a stronger signal. At home where I have a fairly strong signal...my battery lasts through an entire day easily. At work where I have a much weaker signal, my battery wears down much faster.
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Old December 12th, 2011, 08:51 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I praise the battery because my battery life is good, with or without 4G. I still bought the extended battery though, because I couldn't pass that up at $25. I take it off the charger at 9 in the morning and it's still above 50% twelve hours later. Even the stock battery would still be alive at this point.
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Old December 17th, 2011, 12:57 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by wewantutopia View Post
Do you leave Wifi or bluetooth on all day when not using it?

What do you have your screen brightness set at? I have mine set at 0% usually, unless I'm in bright sunlight, and it is still very visible.

Also, as knightcrusader, suggested it may be an app running in the background. How often do you have email apps check for new emails etc?

I never use wifi and only use bluetooth during my morning/afternoon commute (about 45 minutes with the phone on a car charger the whole time).

My screen brightness is set to the lowest setting.

I have an Exchange email account set to push and three gmail accounts set to push as well.

I had the exact same setup with my Droid X, which had awful battery life on Froyo but got A LOT better with Gingerbread. In the last state I had that phone in (CM7.1) I would easily go from 8am to midnight with plenty of battery left over. The Strat is a HUGE step down for me in battery life. I'm crossing my fingers that the stock battery is simply a dud, and I should have my new extended battery in the mail on Tuesday to confirm.
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Old January 28th, 2012, 01:09 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I came from a moto droid, and I have had the stratosphere for about a week now, and I have to say this is pretty spot on. I have not gotten the extended battery, but i was thinking about getting it. I use the slide out keyboard a good amount and think it is funny that the slide out is easier with the bigger battery, but I will see for myself. Thanks for the post
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Old February 3rd, 2012, 07:21 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I just got my android phone and am using it by just playing with it. I do wish there was a more detailed user manual. It would make things easier but I admit not near as exciting
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Old February 22nd, 2012, 03:54 PM   #14 (permalink)
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My background is with BlackBerrys. I like the Strat for its 4G LTE data speed, Hotspot capabilities, great screen, and full keyboard. On the downside, as a phone it is only okay. I have a little trouble understanding callers, particularly when they use iPhones, and my callers say that I sound like I’m talking from the bottom of a well. The phone’s speed is a bit slow in today’s world, especially for an Android devise. Like all Android phones there is an awful lot of background crap running all the time, and I find the battery life to be only okay because of this stuff. And of course, that beautiful big screen uses a lot of juice as well. But it’s worth it.

I don’t find the phone to be too thick or heavy, but I wish the phone was a little bit squarer, so it would be easier to slide with one hand. My experience with Verizon’s data service is spotty at best. I loose 4G at least once a day, and all data at least once a week. I understand that others have experienced this as well, but I expect Verizon to improve their data transmission capabilities as they finish upgrading to 4G LTE, which has been a very expensive move on their part.

All in all, I like my Strat, and am fully preparred to put up with its few shortcommings for the next couple of years. Besides, when I bought it last October what were my choices? The Strat was it, and thankfully it was availible.
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 10:13 PM   #15 (permalink)
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i'm torn between this and the GNex

I was also reading that this may not get ice cream sandwich? That's a bummer too, if its true
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Old February 24th, 2012, 01:15 PM   #16 (permalink)
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i'm torn between this and the GNex

I was also reading that this may not get ice cream sandwich? That's a bummer too, if its true
Nope, no Ice Cream Sandwich, and a slower processor than Samsung's real Galaxy series.
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Old February 24th, 2012, 03:19 PM   #17 (permalink)
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slower processor than Samsung's real Galaxy series.
Huh? This phone, to my knowledge, has the exact same processor (1Ghz Hummingbird) as all the rest of the Galaxy S phones do.
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Old February 28th, 2012, 11:59 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Huh? This phone, to my knowledge, has the exact same processor (1Ghz Hummingbird) as all the rest of the Galaxy S phones do.
Same as the Galaxy S phones yes, but not the S II phones. The Strat does a lot, and I at times keep mine very busy moving quickly from, say, the browser to an app, to for example the gallery. Moving around quickly like that can befuddle my Strat for a bit, but I only find this to be the most minor inconvenience, and all in all, I'm very happy with the Strat.
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Old February 29th, 2012, 08:46 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Same as the Galaxy S phones yes, but not the S II phones. The Strat does a lot, and I at times keep mine very busy moving quickly from, say, the browser to an app, to for example the gallery. Moving around quickly like that can befuddle my Strat for a bit, but I only find this to be the most minor inconvenience, and all in all, I'm very happy with the Strat.
You didn't say SII, so I assumed you meant the rest of the Galaxy S series. This is where I was confused.

I am mostly happy with mine too, but there are few irritating performance issues I've run into that I am trying to iron out.
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Old March 19th, 2012, 11:40 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Nope, no Ice Cream Sandwich
No ICS announcement as of yet. Please don't spread this kind of misinformation until we have something concrete to go off of.
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Old March 28th, 2012, 08:46 AM   #21 (permalink)
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I have had the phone for about 2 mounths now and get great battery life I don't get 4gv where I live but I had the droid and compaired to that this phone is great
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The Samsung Stratosphere is a 4G LTE device for Verizon. It is a mid-range handset featuring a 1GHz processor, 4-inch Super AMOLED display and 5MP camera, and is the first LTE device in Verizon's lineup to feature a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. ... Read More



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