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General Stratosphere Review

Discussion in 'Android Devices' started by DrCheap, Oct 22, 2011.

  1. DrCheap

    DrCheap Lurker
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    Picked up a Samsung Stratosphere a couple days ago, been playing with this phone quite a bit. I've installed all my regular apps, run it to dead and back to full a number of times (conditioning the battery) and taken it around town to try it out.

    HQ YouTube and Netflix stream smoothly and look great. 720p video from mp4 plays flawlessly and looks absolutely gorgeous. However, it will not play 1080p files -- they lose sound and lag badly (tested with stock player, MoboPlayer, and RockPlayer Lite). 720 or less and you get vibrant colors, sharp resolution. This is pretty well an amazing screen by my standards. I know there are higher spec screens out there and some play 1080, but I can't imagine why I would need video to look any better than this on a 4" screen. (Note: there is *not* an hdmi out on this device, which would be the primary use for 1080 capability.) MoboPlayer's brightness slider is especially welcome as you can tweak the video brightness on the fly and get optimal performance from the screen.

    Camera is decently responsive. It takes about 2 seconds to load from the icon off the menu, and each snap is just under 2 seconds from pressing the button to ready for the next pic. If/when this gets the ICS update that should speed up.

    Wifi locks on quickly and works great. WPA2 no problem, fast, easy.

    Stock browser is quick, pages look great, render well, zoom, scroll, etc., are pretty swift and without trouble. Very little checkerboarding when loading most pages, essentially none once most pages load. However, highly graphics-intensive web pages take a second or two to fully load and have some checkerboarding when scrolling them and some lag as well. This is pretty minimal except if you have auto-fit turned on. With autofit on, it can get pretty bad on a more demanding page. Testing this with The Secret World | Funcom really accentuated the issues. That said, I don't forsee this being an issue for 99% of the browsing that 99% of the users do, and even when it is being rough and laggy, it is still usable.

    Opera works much better. So far this is my preferred browser for this device. Dolphin Browser HD and Skyfire are a little laggy and are not rendering all pages as completely or as well as Opera or stock.

    GPS lock is accurate and reasonably quick. Faster than my old Droid 1 and spot-on for navigation, etc.

    The battery is holding up pretty well, but this is definitely no BlackBerry. I am getting a day of standard use out of this between charges, especially after the first couple rounds of conditioning. Hotspot and GPS chew through battery, but even with 4g, I can do a pretty solid day's use before the 15% warning. Screen brightness controls will help in this regard, to be sure. I have no controlled tests to report, but I can say I unplugged it from the charger at 8am this morning, have been installing and uninstalling apps, playing videos, dowloading files (about 500MB worth today so far) and doing web browsing. I've also rebooted it three times to ensure the tests are off a clean boot without any residual programs running in the background. The system info says 7h 19m on battery and it is currently at 30%. 57% of the usage is screen.

    The physical keyboard took two days to get used to, coming from Droid1. It's nicely spaced, good tactile response to the keys, and other than getting accustomed to the fn key placement being different with 5 rows than 4, it's all smooth sailing. The biggest thing that takes some time getting used to is the placement of the shift key and the menu keys. The home key is where you might expect shift and that can be an irritating error. On day 3 of usage and I am finding the keyboard quite good. Give me another week and it will be great. I should mention here that for me the absolute best reason to have a physical keyboard is that I can scroll through the original text of an email while I am writing a response. The nice spread of the keyboard and the 4" screen make this a wonderful device for my uses.

    Build quality is good, feels reasonably solid, but I would say the Droid1 feels like a more solid and durable device. If I drop this, I fear it may not hold up as well.

    There is no doubt we could really use a custom rom for this device and root, if for no other reason than to get rid of the silly amount of bloatware installed. The useless golfing game and racing game demo pre-installed hog massive amounts of memory (240mb) and the system will not let you uninstall them (it acts like it will but they will still be there no matter what you do). Hopefully we will see CM come in for this in the near future.
     

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  2. ekloot

    ekloot Newbie
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    wow, that's some good info. I'm thinking about getting this phone but have been waiting to see how everyone likes it first. The only thing I haven't seen is if anyone's gotten it to work with video chat yet. From what I've read, no one has gotten the video chat feature to work with google talk or tango. I had read that the video chat thing didn't work with skype either, but someone in another thread seemed to say that it worked for them?...so there's some conflicting information on that. Have you gotten your stratosphere to do video chat with any of the popular apps out there?
     
  3. JoeFresco

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    Most annoying thing about the browser is that only 4 windows can be open. I regularly had 6-8 open on my Droid 1. I'll have to try a different browser.
     
  4. houseofgrafx

    houseofgrafx Well-Known Member
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    Thanks for the info. Very useful. I called Verizon about this phone and asked a few questions. One of the questions was "does this phone have a LED notification light". Of course I had to wait about 20 minutes for the answer which was "Yes, it does". She said she read it on the androidforums after she googled it :D

    However, after reading on here, a few people mention that this phone DOES NOT have the LED indicator. Is this the case or is the Verizon lady actually right? :thinking:

    Any help is greatly appreciated.
     
  5. KnightCrusader

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    If there is one, then Samsung isn't using it either cause I haven't seen it on.
     
  6. IHateMyTreo

    IHateMyTreo Android Expert
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    From Samsung. Bad news.

    "Thank you for your inquiry. We appreciate your interest in the Samsung SCH-I405 (Stratosphere) phone.

    The phone does not feature an LED light for new message notification. However, it features a Proximity and Light Sensors; which detects the presence of nearby objects to control screen display, such when you hold the phone to your ear during a phone call. It detects ambient light to determine screen brightness when the Automatic brightness setting is enabled, and when taking pictures with the Front camera.

    Though it does not have the specification that you were asking, for sure there are features that would use and enjoy. To ensure that you choose the phone that will best suit your needs, we encourage you to visit your service provider
     
  7. KnightCrusader

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    You are right, it is. However, I know there is some support for Notifications via the backlight of the Home/Back/Menu/Search keys in some Samsung phones with a little hackery. Let me see what it will take to add it to this phone too. :)
     
  8. DrCheap

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    Lack of a notification light is definitely a down side to this phone, but not a major one for me. Certainly it should have had one, but alas, it does not. I miss it a little but also, in a strange way, am happy it is not blinking at me.

    I have had some more time to test this as a phone and find it quite nice. Speakerphone is sufficient, with half volume being enough at home or in my office. Regular phone calling, sound, etc., are all good, and it syncs and works with my bt headset with no issues and again, nicely clear.

    Installing Go Launcher EX, my hi-res 5-screen background image, and all my icons, pure calendar widget (with scroll on), and a few other widgets has made the home screen the tiniest bit laggy. It is minor enough that I am not worrying about it. I suspect the cause to be Go Launcher EX.

    A screen brightness widget is going to be pretty handy at conserving battery life, it seems. Still, battery is getting me through a day. The screen display continues to impress.

    There is no doubt that this is not a high-end super-powered l33t phone, but it's darn nice and I am 100% satisfied. If a dual-core or quad-core 1.5ghz slider comes out next year, I will be all over it, but for now, this is very solid. For those who need/want a physical keyboard and are looking for a 4g option, I have no hesitation in recommending it. If you want the smokin-fast super-powered device you either need to forego a hardware keyboard or wait until probably Summer 2012. I expect in a year or a little less we will see something in that category. I highly doubt it will come any sooner.
     
  9. JoeFresco

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    My primary complaints are (other than 512 MB RAM and 1.5 year old CPU):

    1) Minimum brightness too bright. Want to be able to drop it down to nearly nothing in complete darkness.
    2) Speakerphone not loud enough at maximum. I probably got completely spoiled by the Droid's awesome speakerphone.
    3) No setting to keep the display on while plugged in / charging. I was surprised to find it not in the settings.
    4) Would like to remove the wifi notification from the dropdown bar
    5) Miss dedicated camera button, but I put the camera in my main app tray. Oh well.
    6) And of course, no notification LED that everyone else is complaining about...

    Just about all of these things could be fixed by apps/custom ROM. Regardless, I'm not too worried about it as I don't plan to make this a long-term phone for me.
     
  10. Sandroidfan

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    And how good and stable is the 4G signal when you are in 4G LTE area? Phonearena says it keeps dropping to 3G in a few minutes even in good 4G area.
     
  11. JoeFresco

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    4G has been pretty solid for me. I occasionally see it drop to 3G, but that's usually when inside of buildings... very rarely outdoors.
     
  12. Sandroidfan

    Sandroidfan Android Expert
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    Thanks. That makes me feel better.
    For some reasons, Phonearena seems to be getting bad receptions on a lot of their phone reviews. I don't know where they are testing and so usually take their reviews with grain of salt as it often contradicts with real world user reviews.
     
  13. ekloot

    ekloot Newbie
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    When I'm at home, my stratosphere always has 3 or 4 bars of 4g and doesn't drop to 3g. On my way to and from work (which is about 30 miles of highway in each direction), it always has 4 or 5 bars (5 is the maximum) and it hasn't dropped 4g through those areas either. When I'm actually inside the building I work in (a manufacturing facility)...it drops the 4g sometimes and goes to 3g. Depending on where I'm at in the building, it will usually pick up 4g again on it's own after a while...or if I walk outside it will pick up 4g again by itself in a minute or two. Take all that with a grain of salt partially because I am inside a manufacturing facility and also because my old LG ENV2 used to have a very weak EV-DO data connection when I was inside the building and it would drop that on and off throughout the day as well and go to 1X mode. Plus according to the LTE detailed coverage map, my job is in 4g area but less than a block away some LTE extended area begins...so my job might not be in a super solid LTE area to begin with. I don't have another 4g phone to compare to but mine seems to be acting as it should. I've only had it a few days but that's what I've observed so far.
     

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