Samsung Galaxy Stellar Review: For Frugal First-Timers
Ugh. Samsung should be sued for misleading marketing. The Stellar is far from stellar. It shares the same Galaxy brand as the S3, but if you expect a similar quality, well, it's not even in the same solar system. Don't let the 4G LTE and powerful chip fool you -- it's a budget device, in every sense of the word.
What's the Phone?
If you squint hard, it looks like the S3. But to be clear, Samsung never uses great build materials. It makes the cheapest-looking high-end devices, masked by powerful specs and a crafty marketing campaign. And somehow, Samsung always Jiu-Jitsued me into thinking it looks decent. But it doesn't -- at least not compared to the iPhone or One X+. It never did.
Back to the Stellar. Made of flimsy plastic, it just looks cheap. The chubby, rounded frame is boring, but the angled chin gives an ergonomic feel. You won't drool over it, it won't turn any heads. It's function over form.
The 4-inch screen is better. It has the same 800-by-480 resolution as the Marauder -- despite being 0.2-inches larger -- so it's average for a budget phone, but awful for a mid-range device. With 233 pixels packed into each inch, as opposed to the iPhone's 326, you can see some jaggedness and graininess, but for the price, it's clear enough for browsing the Web and watching videos.
The brightness and contrast levels are disappointing, though. Outside, I couldn't read the screen in direct sunlight. It was unusable. Part of the blame is due to TFT technology. Unlike AMOLED and IPS on most devices, TFT produces duller colors, even in good lighting. So just don't expect the blacks to be very dark or the colors to be very vivid. It's all very muted.
The 3.2-megapixel is what you expect from a low-resolution lens. Still, it captures clear photos outdoors, but inside and noise starts to creep in. Beyond a flash and auto-focus, the Stellar's camera is bare-bones. The shutter takes well over a second reload, so photos are a bit blurry if you don't have a steady hand. There's a second 1.3-megapixel lens for video chat.
If you're scared of smartphones, you're in luck. It runs on two versions of ICS, one that's normal Android, and another that's a stripped. You'll get bigger icons and menus and only the essential features for a simple interface. But I found it a little too simple.
Even if you're tech-shy, after a few hours, you'll gather the courage to try standard mode. And once you do, you'll never touch starter mode again. But it'll still take up the precious memory. Unless you're the most basic of beginners, it's kind of a waste. And if you are, you're better off with the simpler Marauder.
In both modes, you get five homescreens with a lot of bloatware -- most of them worthless and sadly uninstallable. You'll get game demos to entice you into paying for full versions and "Amex Serve," which tells you about American Express online payments. You'll feel like you're being sold to.
It also runs on Samsung's TouchWiz interface, so you'll get some useful features like "S Voice," Samsung's voice assistant. But don't expect Apple's Siri, it's more like its idiot second-cousin -- you know, the one that you swear you're not related to. It's a mess and often wouldn't recognize my voice. And when it did, it'd do the wrong thing.
If you work on the road, it has Samsung's enterprise software, like QuickOffice Pro to open and view documents. If you're using this for work, though, look for a better phone or find a better job that'll pay for a better phone.
The 1.2 dual-core chip is a highlight, and since there's not much to run, everything zips along quickly. It runs on Verizon's 4G LTE service, one of the fastest. The 2,100 mAh battery, meanwhile, lasts well over two days on a single charge -- and that's impressive. The screen isn't very big, and TFT doesn't drain the power as fast as AMOLED or IPS. It seems there's an advantage to being cheap. The battery is removable, too.
With starter mode and all the bloatware, out of the 4-gigabytes of storage, you only get 1.7-gigabytes of usable space. I'd recommend you pick up a microSD card. Otherwise, you'll be deleting files.
You'll Want It If...
You want a cheap Android phone. If you value ICS, 4G LTE and battery life, over a decent camera and screen, go ahead and sign that two-year contract. Just don't complain after the first year.
It's Not My Thing -- What Else Ya Got?
To be fair, it's cheap, so sacrifices need to be made, but compared to entry-level devices, like the Pantech Marauder or Flex, and the Stellar comes up well short. The Marauder runs on ICS too, and comes with a better camera.
And if you jump to the next level, you'll get an even better bang for the buck. At mid-range, the Motorola Atrix HD is a great deal. With a 1.5-gigahertz dual-core chip, 8-megapixel lens and 720-by-1,280 screen, and you'll be glad you spent a little more.
So why would you buy the Stellar then? The simple answer is: I don't know.
Agree or disagree? We'd love to hear your thoughts. Share your experience and leave a comment below. ♦
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Super AMOLED (Gyroscope / Accelerometer / Compass / Proximity Sensor / Ambient Light Sensor)
Good Phone for the Price
Not a bad device. The 3-megapixels take good photos and the 1.2-gigaherts Snapdragon chip is fast -- everything runs very smoothly. The "home" buttons are a pleasant surprise because you can use them to control apps in the background. And, of course, the price is the best part! I got mine for free... with a contract.
The lens, as I said, is decent. But that's only in well-lit environments. Don't even try to snap photos at night -- there's no LED flash. I got used to using my old phone's flash as a flashlight at night. Another thing that bugs me is the software -- there's small glitches, like when you try to login to Netflix, the keyboard craps out. Hopefully Samsung pushes out an update to fix it.Was this review helpful to you?
32 out of 37 people found this review helpful.
Really nothing. The one, and I mean one, good thing is its speaker. This was my upgrade for my HTC Droid. I miss that work horse of a phone.
Texting puts in the wrong letters. This is a downgrade from a real HTC smartphone. Articles don't reduce to fit the screen, no matter what the setting. This 4G is way slower than the 3G Droid. HTC settings are also way more advanced. And Wi-Fi sucks, one bar in same room.
Samsung missed the boat on this one. Even as I write this, some words on the screen edge can't be seen. Verizon should never have sold this phone. And now, I'm stuck with a contract on a phone that doesn't make the grade. I've had it only a few weeks, but it seem like forever.Was this review helpful to you?
25 out of 33 people found this review helpful.
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