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Samsung Galaxy Stellar
What's hot: Free on contract, strong features for a budget phone.
What's not: A bit thick, display could be brighter.
Reviewed September 27, 2012 by Lisa Gade, Editor
in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)
The Samsung Galaxy Stellar isn't going to wow you with its huge display or whizbang new killer features. It is however going to fit in your pocket and you can't beat the price: free on contract with Verizon Wireless. This Android smartphone has a 4", 800 x 480 display, LTE 4G and a fast 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual core CPU. That's the same CPU used in the Samsung Galaxy S III and Motorola Droid M, but underclocked from their 1.5GHz. Will you notice that 0.3GHz? Likely not so much.
The Galaxy Stellar has a sharp and clear 800 x 480 display with decent though not wildly lively colors. Brightness is passable but it's not bright enough to combat bright sunlight. Still, for the price, it's easy on the eyes and the resolution is adequate for webpage and MS Office document viewing. Speaking of Office, the phone comes with the full version of Quickoffice that allows you to create, view and edit MS Office files. A nice touch for a budget phone.
The budget aspect shines through with the rear 3.2 megapixel camera, which lacks a flash. It can shoot VGA video and fairly noisy and dull looking photos. This isn't a phone for shutterbugs. The front video chat camera does a passable job with Skype video chat.
Design and Ergonomics
Neither stunning nor ugly: the Stellar is a distinctly indistinctive phone. Samsung loves shiny plastics and the back is gloss back with a subtle pattern. It's not bad looking but it gets mucked up with fingerprints very quickly. The 4.73 ounce phone feels solid and we appreciate the removable 2100 mAh battery. There's a microSD card slot under a door on the phone's right side, and the volume controls are on the left. Typical of Samsung, the power button is on the upper right side and the micro USB port is on the bottom. At 0.47", the phone is relatively thick, though overall compact compared to today's super-sized smartphones.
Calling and Data
The Stellar is a CDMA phone with EV-DO Rev. A 3G and 4G LTE. Reception is good and the phone managed the same signal in -db as the Motorola Droid RAZR M in our tests in the Dallas area. Data speeds were good though not among the best Verizon LTE 4G phones, with 12Mbps down and 9Mbps up on average.
Call quality is likewise middle of the road with some slight flangy digitization to voice, especially when the DSP kicks in to reduce background noise. Conversations are intelligible but not crystal clear like on the Droid RAZR MAXX and Galaxy S III.
The Samsung runs Android OS 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich, which is fairly current (Jelly Bean devices are still a rarity), but we don't expect significant version upgrades given the price. It has both Samsung's TouchWiz UI and a "Starter Mode" that's simplified for newbies. We like that Starter Mode doesn't take too much away from the standard Android UI, turning it into a dumb feature phone like Pantech's newbie-focused UI option on the Pantech Flex on AT&T. Many Samsung staples from the Galaxy S III are here including Media Hub (streaming movies and TV shows), Memo, S Suggest and S Voice. The standard suite of Android apps is on board including Maps, YouTube and Gmail. Verizon adds a few of their titles and a wide selection of Amazon apps including Kindle, Amazon MP3, IMDB and Zappos.