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Samsung Stratosphere (Verizon) review

The industry's first 4G LTE-enabled slider from Samsung is a capable offering for Verizon users on a budget.

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Our Verdict

QWERTY slider keyboard fans don't have a whole lot of choice when it comes to 4G LTE data, but they could do a lot worse than the Samsung Stratosphere. It's not a handset intended for Android power users, but the sum of its parts is overall a good value.

For

  • Attractive TouchWiz UI
  • Lightning-fast 4G LTE speeds
  • Colorful Super AMOLED display
  • Great soft keyboard with Swype pre-installed

Against

  • Slider requires both hands to open
  • 480p video recording
  • Just a hair too large to hold comfortably
  • Verizon's 20+ pieces of bloatware

For Sprint customers who might be making the jump to Verizon Wireless, you could feel right at home with the Samsung Stratosphere: It's basically a souped-up version of that carrier's Epic 4G. Although the handset doesn't do any one thing exceptionally well, it's a worthy companion for budget users who want to tap into LTE speed on the cheap.

Samsung Stratosphere (Verizon)

We liked

Samsung's TouchWiz has always been less overbearing than the competition, and the Stratosphere makes good use of this UI skin here. For a handset lower down the food chain, it comes packed with quite a lot of functionality, which makes it a good choice for first-time smartphone buyers.

The camera actually rivals higher-end devices like the Galaxy Nexus, so Stratosphere owners won't have to feel like they're being shortchanged – especially compared to competing handsets from the likes of HTC.

We disliked

We've never really cared much for QWERTY sliders and while the keyboard works just fine, the slider mechanism itself feels pretty stiff. You'll need both hands free to make any use of this one.

The screen resolution doesn't quite live up to the Super AMOLED display, but otherwise the Stratosphere is bright and colorful. Like many Samsung handsets, the back of the device comes off easily, but it's so thin and fragile that we fear having to tape it on by the end of a two-year commitment with this handset.

Verdict

Samsung Stratosphere (Verizon)

QWERTY slider keyboard fans don't have a whole lot of choice when it comes to 4G LTE data, but they could do a lot worse than the Samsung Stratosphere. It's not a handset intended for Android power users, but the sum of its parts is overall a good value.