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Samsung Stratosphere, Verizon's First QWERTY LTE Smartphone, Drops October 13th for $149

Apple's iPhone 4S is coming this week, but that doesn't mean it won't have any new competition. In a welcome opener to this week's CTIA event, Samsung's rumored LTE slider, the Stratosphere, has been officially announced and will launch on October 13th--exactly one day before Apple's newest phone is released to customers.

The Stratosphere runs Android 2.3 and will be the first phone to feature both a roomy QWERTY keyboard and 4G LTE connectivity. Presenting a marginal upgrade to the original Galaxy S, the device features the Samsung's four-inch 800 x 480 Super AMOLED screen. It's powered by a single-core, 1-GHz Hummingbird processor and touts a 5-megapixel rear camera that can't shoot HD video, a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, and mobile hotspot capability.

Aimed at business, the Samsung Stratosphere also offers business connectivity services from Cisco, Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, remote device management support,  and Samsung Enterprise Platform enhancements including VPN.

Though its specs don't stack up to those of higher-end Verizon phones like the dual-core, qHD-screened Droid Bionic, the Stratosphere's large keyboard and relatively low price could make it a winner. The phone is set to retail for $149.99 with a 2-year contract, after a $50 mail-in rebate.