If you're one for tracking "firsts," add this to your list. The Samsung Stratosphere is Verizon's first 4G LTE handset equipped with a QWERTY keyboard. As popular as all-touch-screen phones are, there's still a strong argument for composing on a keyboard, and for the Stratosphere, that reason is business.
The handset is one of the first to showcase Samsung's B2B capabilities, including Microsoft ActiveSync e-mail and calendar syncing, VPN, and on-device encryption.
In another sense, the phone isn't a first at all--it's a second-running of the Samsung Epic 4G, originally released for Sprint in 2010. Apart from the new software, the major difference is that it comes with Android 2.3 Gingerbread right out of the box.
As a reminder, this Galaxy S phones has a single-core 1GHz processor, that gorgeous Super AMOLED screen, and a front-facing camera for video chats. It handles the same as the Epic 4G, with a wide and decent keyboard with raised keys. The keyboard spread is generous, but could be too wide for smaller hands.
The phone will be available October 16 and costs $149.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate. It's based off of a good phone, so we have no doubt it'll handle well. It also comes at a fair price. However, even with the business tools, the Stratosphere will have a hard time luring the cream of the corporate crop since its slightly dated specs keep it from being top-of-the-line.