The iPhone 4S has seen more than a million pre-orders, but that's not stopping competitors from coming to market with smartphones of their own. Apple rival Samsung is rolling out a Galaxy S phone that aims to offer something Apple doesn't: more typing options and 4G speeds.
Verizon Wireless announced that the Samsung Stratosphere will hit its network on Oct. 13. The Stratosphere is the first 4G LTE smartphone Verizon Wireless has offered with a five-row QWERTY keyboard and designed with Samsung's 4-inch Super AMOLED display for richer graphics.
"There are going to be some consumers -- as there have been in the past -- who don't want an iPhone for whatever reason," said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Gartner. "There are also consumers who do want a QWERTY keyboard on their smartphone. In that regard this phone will definitely fill that niche."
Targeting Business Users
Samsung is perhaps aiming more at Research In Motion consumers than Apple users with the Stratosphere. The device supports B2B-enabled connectivity services from Cisco, a mobile implementation of Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync (EAS), and support for secure remote-device management from Sybase Afaria.
EAS includes features such as direct push, e-mail, calendar, contact sync and Global Address List, as well as EAS policies such as storage-card encryption, device encryption, and simple- and complex-password support. Stratosphere will support Samsung's Enterprise Platform enhancements such as VPN, encryption and mobile-device management.
The phone runs Android 2.3, which means there is also support for Google Mobile Services. And since the Stratosphere is built to run on the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network, consumers can expect download speeds of five to 12 megabits per second and upload speeds of 2 to 5 Mbps in 4G LTE mobile broadband coverage areas.
Room for Variety
"The iPhone 4S is certainly the device to beat right now with over 1 million pre-orders. That is fairly impressive for any device to sell a million, much less to sell a million in a day," Gartenberg said. "But when you look at the overall picture, not every consumer wants the same thing."
Samsung's Stratosphere sports the Samsung Media Hub. Although not as robust as iTunes, the content service offers films and TV programs for rent or purchase. The phone was built with a 1-GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird processor and has two cameras: a front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera for video chat and five-megapixel rear-facing camera with auto-focus and flash.
"We are going to see Verizon and the other carriers continue to offer a variety of phones with differentiating features, different price points, and different platforms to meet the needs of their constituents," Gartenberg said. "There is room in the market for variety."
The Stratosphere will sell for $149.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate with a new two-year service plan. Customers who buy a Samsung Stratosphere are required to subscribe to a Verizon Nationwide Talk plan beginning at $39.99 for monthly access, and a smartphone data package starting at $30 monthly for 2 GB of data.