Once upon a time, in the not-so-distant past, Verizon was still in phase one of its LTE lineup, which consisted of nothing but 4.3-inch slate phones with questionable battery life and very little to stand out from the rest of the competition. Now that we're seeing the second generation of devices coming into the 4G fold, Big Red appears to be pushing choice -- not just in terms of size and feel, but price as well. The Pantech Breakout was the first to, well, break out of the mold, offering a smaller form factor for a much more reasonable cost. It was nothing to write home about, but the fact that it existed gave us hope that we'd see a slew of phones in the same price range, finally making high-speed connectivity a more affordable option.
Shortly afterward, the Samsung Stratosphere sneaked up and snatched the spotlight away from Pantech, offering the very first QWERTY keyboard on an LTE-capable device for a cost similar to that of the Breakout. But when we first saw the phone, something felt eerily familiar: it looked almost exactly like the Epic 4G, a Galaxy S-era device that was released on Sprint's WiMAX lineup nearly a year and a half ago. Looks are one thing, but what about the internals? Does the brand new Stratosphere perform like an old phone, or does it give a completely fresh perspective on a 2010 classic? Read on for the full scoop.