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Stratosphere to ship a day before iPhone 4S

Samsung Galaxy S device will be first with Qwerty keyboard to run on Verizon LTE network

The Galaxy S Stratosphere smartphone goes on sale Thursday as the first device with a physical Qwerty keyboard to run on Verizon's Wireless 4G LTE network.

The Samsung Galaxy S-class device runs Android 2.3 and will sell for $149.99 after rebate and a two-year agreement with Verizon, both companies announced. A minimum $40 monthly voice plan plus a $30 monthly 2GB data plan are also required.

Verizon sells several touchscreen-only LTE smartphones. Smartphones with physical keyboards are generally aimed at business users -- an area where Research in Motion BlackBerry devices have prevailed.

It is significant that Verizon didn't turn to a BlackBerry LTE first instead of one by Samsung, which has become the largest maker of smartphones and cell phones sold in the U.S.

The Stratosphere has both the five-row physical keyboard and a four-in. Super Amoled touchscreen as well as business features such as Cisco AnyConnect 2.1 SSL VPN security.

With access to an Verizon's LTE network, which offers data downloads up to 12 Mbps, Verizon said the VPN can be accessed with "no waiting."

Speed in the Stratosphere will also be enhanced with a 1GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird processor, although dual core processors are now being launched in many phones including the coming Apple iPhone 4S , available Friday, and the recently-announced Samsung Galaxy S II devices.

A front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera in the Stratosphere supports video chat, while a 5 megapixel rear-facing camera is provided.

Also, Stratosphere has business support for Exchange ActiveSync for workers to connect to Exhange Server for access to pushed email, calendar and contacts. Also supported: Sybase Afaria Mobile Device Management; encryption of the device and storage card; and complex passwords.

Samsung and Google were expected to unveil the Nexus Prime, or a smartphone with a similar name, running Android Ice Cream Sandwich, the next-generation OS, on Tuesday at the CTIA conference. Many widely predicted that would be a Verizon exclusive.

However the companies said they are postponing the event indefinitely out of respect to those mourning the loss of Steve Jobs. "We believe this is not the right time to announce a new products as the world expresses tribute to Steve Job's passing," Google said last week.

Samsung last week took on the new iPhone 4S by issuing a chart comparing its recently-launched Galaxy S II to the new Apple device just hours after its introduction and just hours before Jobs' death was announced .

The only carrier without the Galaxy S II has been Verizon, and the Nexus Prime has been seen as the device expected to fill that gap. A notable difference with the Galaxy S II smartphones (in two versions) and the iPhone 4S is that they all have dual core processors. While the Stratosphere's is fast, its processor has only a single core.

Meanwhile, the public is clearly responding to the iPhone 4S , with pre-order supplies exhausted at Verizon, AT&T and Apple. The first devices that have been successfully ordered already ship on Oct. 14, one day after Verizon starts selling the Stratosphere.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen , or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com .

Read more about mobile and wireless in Computerworld's Mobile and Wireless Topic Center.


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