Portable Digest

Samsung Stratosphere – Two Months Later…

Two Months Later chronicles our editors’ experiences with select devices a few months into their use.
The goal: To answer the age old question—”Has the honeymoon worn off?”

In my full review of the Samsung Stratosphere I noted that, at least for me, I had gotten two examples with hardware stability issues. I figured I’d take the time to revisit the Stratosphere and see how well it’s been fairing in my daily routine after a few months.

Let’s address the elephant in the room: Stability. I had to exchange my first review handset for another device after experiencing seemingly random soft reboots even with a clean device. For a while my replacement device appeared to have similar issues, but things have settled down to a stable handset. I will say that this phone remains one of the most “picky” Android handsets I’ve used when it comes to apps. I’ve installed a few apps only to end up uninstalling them due to the phone fully rebooting at random. In this aspect, it’s a disappointment, and I hope Verizon can pin down a software fix if there is one and incorporate it into the first maintenance release update.

Another disappointment: the Wi-Fi management tweaks Verizon has implemented in the age of tiered data. It’s annoying to randomly see popups about turning on wi-fi when one’s on 3G, even if the “notify me” checkbox is unchecked. I hope that this too will be addressed. Finally, while the somewhat odd touch response while charging has disappeared for the most part, it’s still present and makes using the device difficult when it’s plugged in sometimes.

Hopefully this will be one US market Galaxy S handset that gets an upgrade to Android 4.0. Samsung’s been very “flip floppy” in this regard but the US carriers haven’t made any specific upgrade announcements, so it’s a waiting game. A good thing is that the Stratosphere is fairly open for developers, like all Samsung Android phones, so if Android 4.0 doesn’t make it officially to the phone there’s a chance that it could be done via the developer community.

Overall the phone’s battery life has been typical of a Android handset. There’s enough power to get through a day of moderate use on Verizon’s EV-DO Rev. A data network. While I’ve only been in 4G LTE areas sporadically, the battery life drops as one would expect: you’ll probably almost make it to the end of the day with light to moderate use. I haven’t tested the extended battery for the Stratosphere but it might be a worthy investment if you’re blanketed in 4G .

The quality of the camera is pretty nice, 5 megapixel sensor be dammed. Granted I’m coming from a Motorola Droid 1 who’s camera specs are the same so I was mainly worried about any degradation from the quality on the Motorola and I was pleased that this isn’t the case. I do wish the phone retained the dual-detent physical camera button that the Epic 4G had, as holding the phone steady can be slightly tricky using the touchscreen as a shutter button.

Physically the phone’s held up well, even without a case or screen protector. I do plan on getting both as soon as possible though. The keyboard is still very good, although I now echo the sentiments from fellow owners that perhaps the keys are a bit too widely spaced. The upcoming Droid 4’s keyboard looks like it could trump the Stratosphere’s as far as typing quality goes, even with a tighter spacing.

Would I buy it again?

I was a bit disappointed with the Stratosphere when I wrote my full review, even going as far to infer that I wouldn’t be getting another replacement due to the handset’s wonky behavior. Would I buy it again? If  I was able to get a rock solid handset out of the box, and a confirmed Android 4 upgrade I’d say sure. Many users seem to be using their Stratosphere’s just fine and enjoying the experience. I just wish my initial experience with the device was as flawless as theirs. Having the initial experience I’ve had with it kind of saps your confidence in the device. I ended up not customizing my replacement for weeks, afraid that it would misbehave again. That’s something that no new owner should have to experience.

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One comment on “Samsung Stratosphere – Two Months Later…

  1. Pingback: Samsung Stratosphere II emerges from the shadows | Portable Digest

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This entry was posted on January 2, 2012 by in Editorials, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , .
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