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Phone Review: Samsung Stratosphere 2

Mid-range phones are a dime a dozen nowadays. With the $49-$149 price point being so crucial to customers, OEM’s are trying harder than ever to produce the best options to stick out to the average customer. One of the biggest requests we see every day, especially from first time smartphone buyers is for a physical keyboard. While the basic phone has been able to implement keyboards well, very few smartphones have been able to live up to the expectation that many people have for their smartphones. So, does the Samsung Stratosphere break the mold and provide an excellent smartphone experience while also offering a keyboard? Read after the break to find out.

 

Build Quality:

Upon picking up the Stratosphere 2, you will be surprised at how well this phone feels. Samsung has a habit and history of producing plastic built phones that don’t always live up to the quality of its competition. With the Stratosphere 2, the build just feels solid. There is enough weight to solidify the phone in your hand, but not so much that you feel burdened by taking it out for use. The slide mechanism that releases the keyboard is excellent. I have never really understood the forced slide method that the Droid 1-4 uses. When you want to slide the screen out, the springs help pick up the slack for you and it works with a solid snap. The original Stratosphere had one of the best portrait QWERTY keyboards available, and the new model does not disappoint. Travel and feedback are great for typing out a long email or filling in some blanks on a document.

Screen:

Though the phone is built well, the screen leaves a heaping pile to be desired. Samsung makes great displays for the average customer, I just wish they would have put one of them in this phone. At 800×480 it isn’t winning any awards and if you are going to be in sunlight, beware of a Super AMOLED screen that may not perform as well as you may need. Don’t get me wrong, indoors and looking at something not text based isn’t horrible, but there is just so much out there, even in this price range, which performs better. The screen is attached to the spring loaded slide mechanic, which performed excellently. Day to day tasks will be accomplished easy with this screen, but reading and movie buffs may want to look elsewhere.

Performance:

Android has come a long way. I know I’ve said this before, but looking at the performance from the first Stratosphere to this new model it is clearly apparent. ICS runs like a dream on this new Stratosphere, and lag was nowhere near as apparent as before. Battery life is great compared to other Android offerings in this category, lasting well into the evening. It’s reasonable to assume that the average user could get through a day with this handset. Web performance was decent. Web pages loaded quickly, but there was some definite stutter when actually scrolling the page, even after being fully rendered.

Overall impressions:

The QWERTY category has been in decline for many years now. With only a few devices a year to choose from, it can be hard to really stand out from all the flagship choices. In its category, the Stratosphere performs well, better than the competition it is receiving from the Droid 4. With an excellent keyboard, great battery life, and enough speed to get through the average workday this will suit most needs. If you can adjust to an onscreen keyboard, or just survive by using the vocal keyboard then you may want to look at the other, more powerful options. Either way, the best way to make up your mind is to come by your local GoWireless location to get the phone in your hands and see the benefits of this excellent QWERTY device.

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