Some people describe the Samsung Galaxy Stellar as “mid-range,” but that seems to be based solely on having a dual-core processor and 4G LTE, features which almost all new devices have. In reality, once you get past the 1.2GHz processor, the Stellar is solidly entry-level. It’s rated at 4GB of storage, but out of the box, only 1.7GB of that is available to the user. It also makes do with a 3.2 megapixel main camera (no flash). Some online spec sheets identify it as coming with a 2GB microSD card, but it actually doesn’t.
The processor does boost the Stellar along at a nice clip. After doing four run-throughs of the Quadrant benchmark, the Stellar scored an average of 4073. Considering that anything over 2000 usually feels pretty fast, and over 3000 is blazing, that’s definitely more than respectable. As far as the platform, the smartphone runs on a Samsung-customized version of Android 4.0.4, with the “TouchWiz” custom interface on it. I find that I liked the older versions of TouchWiz a little better — it’s gotten more complex over the years, eliminating some of the simplicity that was so attractive early on about being able to turn wireless or GPS on or off from the notification panel.
Unfortunately, Verizon has outdone itself with the Stellar in terms of how much useless junk software they could shovel into this device. Although it’s billed as having 4GB of storage, straight out of the box you’ll find that 2.15GB is listed as being in use by “miscellaneous files.” That leaves just 1.7GB for the user — and Verizon has done nothing to conserve that space. Larding up the device with bulky demo versions of a couple of games, an app for an online shopping mall which boils down to little more than an unremoveable advertisement, multiple apps you could easily download from Google Play if you wanted, “Amex Serve” which is basically an advertisement for online payments, and of course you’re not allowed to uninstall any of them. Ever.
Aside from standard Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, the Stellar’s other means of communication is Verizon’s 4G LTE network. The U.S.’s largest LTE network by quite a bit, Verizon is definitely the only game in town if you’re really looking to stream movies or TV on the go. Just watch that data consumption, since with 4 to 12 megabit LTE speeds, you can burn through a gigabyte in 12 minutes.
Despite how cheap the Stellar is, it was nice to see that they didn’t skimp on including QuickOffice Pro, so you won’t have to shell out extra cash if you want to create and edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents.
And, naturally, it comes with the regular Android apps for email, web browsing, time management, and keeping up with friends and business contracts.
The Stellar is loaded to overflowing with entertainment-related apps: Google’s own apps for music, movies, and books, Samsung’s “Media Hub” media store, the Amazon Kindle and Amazon’s MP3 store, plus Audible for audiobooks, and the couple game demos mentioned earlier.
In fact, it would be kind of nice if there were fewer of them; with so many pre-loaded (and permanently non-removable) apps, there’s not exactly a ton of space left for the user to choose what they actually want to install. Especially when you consider that none of these apps really add any value: they’re all free and easily installed from the Android app store if you want to use them.
The camera on the Stellar is pretty solidly disappointing. Its 3.2 MP resolution could be plenty, if it had decent optics, but it doesn’t. Photos are blurry. It has the terrible low-light performance that’s typical of cheap smartphone cameras, but it doesn’t have an LED flash to help offset that, so you might as well completely write off taking photos in marginal light. And by “marginal,” I mean “anything less than broad daylight.”
It doesn’t do any better at video, being unable to even do something as basic as record in widescreen. The maximum video size is 640 x 480 — not that a ton more pixels would help you too much with such poor optics, but they could at least have enabled it for DVD resolution 720 x 480, so that it would fit widescreen displays. All in all, the Stellar’s camera is a throwback to smartphone cameras of years past, before quality became at all important.
At 2100 mAh, the Galaxy Stellar’s battery is quite a bit larger than the average 1700-1800 mAh batteries on most LTE phones. That gives it pretty good battery life despite having a fast processor. I would say that a day and a half to two days of average use is definitely possible, depending on conditions. Possibly a bit less in 4G areas.