Review

Review: HTC Thunderbolt

The HTC Thunderbolt marks the next representation for Verizon on its conquest for 4G dominance. Verizon built a legacy on a network that is rock solid and you can bet that they will work to spread their 4G as fast and as far as possible.

The Thunderbolt on the cover looks like any other Android device on the market. But aside from looking like a device you have already seen, this is Verizon’s first 4G phone that was initially announced back at CES in January.

Specs:

The Thunderbolt specs out at 4.75 x 2.44 x .56 inches, runs Android 2.2, 4.3in 480x800 WVGA display, 8MP rear camera, 1.3MP front facing camera, 3.5MM audio jack, 1 GHz CPU, and weighs in at a hefty 6.23 ounces (with battery)

Build:

There is something that you can’t ignore as soon as you pick up this device; the device feels big and heavy. While not so heavy that you don’t want to use it, if you are coming from anything other than a 4.3in device, it will take some getting used to.

The unibody metal design feels great in your hand, you won’t pick up this device and think it feels cheap and the included kickstand is useful, although it’s a feature most probably will not use all that often (much like the front facing camera).

4G:

The big draw to this device over others on Verizon is the 4G connectivity. Fortunately, Verizon graced the airwaves in my location with 4G goodness and I was able to get, on average, 9.23Mbps down and 4.35MBs upload. These speeds are far and above what you actually need on a mobile device but when tagged with the Hotspot feature, you have a powerful device that finally offers true mobile broadband to more than one user at a time. 

Phone:

All importantly, when using this device as a phone, it works plain and simple. If you have used an Android phone in the past, there is nothing ground breaking here. The audio quality is above average and the speakerphone is, for the most part, loud and clear. Two little sticking points, the volume could be a touch louder on the headset portion and using the speakerphone on max volume with the kickstand in the way, can produce some unwanted interference.

Battery:

The battery, this is a crucial feature of any smartphone and unfortunately, the Thunderbolt suffers on this front. We actually had two test units, one provided by Verizon, and another provided by a third party vendor, and after a few days use, it was hard to pull a full working day out of the device. Now it is fair to say that I was using the device on heavy basis, but compared to the iPhone 4, the battery fell flat. Three days use with approximately 50 minutes of calls and 30 minutes of heavy LTE usage, the battery would last around 5 hours. It seems that HTC already knew this might be an issue as there is already an extended battery on the market.

One interesting quirk over the Evo is that you cannot turn off the 4G radio. On the Evo, you can manually turn off radio to preserve battery, something you can not do on the Thunderbolt.

Camera:

The cameras on the unit are remarkably well rounded. The 8MP shooter scores high marks for its picture quality and response time. The tap to focus feature works well but a lack of camera modes is a bit disappointing. It is quite hard to take close-ups with the camera because HTC omitted a macro mode.

Video quality matches that of the picture quality, you will not be disappointed by the results and the dual LED flash has no problem lighting up even the darkest of environments.

Software:

The software on this beast is Android 2.2.1, and is exactly what you would expect from Sense running on 2.2. This is a love/hate relationship. If you like Sense, then this will not be a barrier, if you wish for a more stock look, well, you will have to result to one of the many other launchers that you can download from the marketplace.  

Like every other Verizon device with the mobile Hotspot feature, setting it up was a breeze and connecting other devices was not a barrier either. If you have used a mobile hotspot device, the functionality is very similar and you won’t have much of an issue connecting to the device.

Conclusion:

Overall this is another tier 1 device on Verizon. Despite being the first 4G phone, it doesn’t feel like it was first to anything from a quality standpoint. The OS has been cooked thoroughly and the only new addition is the 4G connectivity. While the device is a bit cumbersome in weight and size, this is by far the best Android device in Verizon’s portfolio as long as you're willing to carry around a cord to charge the device.

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19 Comments

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I use my front facing camera ALL the time.... i think the stand is also great. sometimes I want to sit in a chair NOT hold my phone and watch something... solution. use the kickstand and put the phone on a table.

Anybody that has this phone due yourself a favor and open the Blockbuster App and let it update itself. Afterwards go into the updated app and set the update frequency to manual. Restart the phone.

Enjoy an extra long battery life. On an average business week (10 hours of use with no charge in between) with moderate use of Facebook, Twitter, Internet, Corporate Email, and Gmail, my battery is at 40%. I pity anyone that doesn't know about this glitch.

Also if you want to uninstall CityID (without rooting your phone):

1. Open CityID
2. Click on "Subscription Status" then "Stop Free Trial"
3. Click Confirm
4. Click Remove Software
5. Click Confirm
6. Less Bloat on your phone

UndergroundWire said,
Anybody that has this phone due yourself a favor and open the Blockbuster App and let it update itself. Afterwards go into the updated app and set the update frequency to manual. Restart the phone.

OK Done that but can't see where to set the update frequency to manual. Any help would be appreciated

Hackersoft MS MVP said,

OK Done that but can't see where to set the update frequency to manual. Any help would be appreciated

Go to the Blockbuster App. Hit men, go to settings. Click on Disable Movie Updates.

Afterwards to do a battery pull and enjoy a better battery life.

Reverend Spam said,
kickstand..... *facepalm*

Naive people deserve a Facepalm. Kickstand Portrait mode, great for video calling. Kickstand Landscape mode, great for watching videos. Glad I can help you out.

Extremely unimaginative phone design, just like the original Desire. It's a brownish blob without any definition or refinement. It doesn't feel cheap, but it does look that way. They should make more phones with the Legend's grey aluminum design. The curve at the bottom it has looks kind of cool as well.

.Neo said,
Extremely unimaginative phone design, just like the original Desire. It's a brownish blob without any definition or refinement. It doesn't feel cheap, but it does look that way. They should make more phones with the Legend's grey aluminum design. The curve at the bottom it has looks kind of cool as well.

For most companies, they can either do something new on the outside or on the inside, but not both in the same product without a high likelihood of screwing something up. I'd rather HTC get how to make a 4G LTE device down before they start fiddling with new designs.

Besides, ultimately, this is an early adopter's (aka guinea pig) phone with phones in the future being much more refined because of mistakes learned from the HTC Thunderbolt.

dagamer34 said,

For most companies, they can either do something new on the outside or on the inside, but not both in the same product without a high likelihood of screwing something up. I'd rather HTC get how to make a 4G LTE device down before they start fiddling with new designs.

Besides, ultimately, this is an early adopter's (aka guinea pig) phone with phones in the future being much more refined because of mistakes learned from the HTC Thunderbolt.

+1. Look at the iPhone 4...apple went with a new design, lots more glass and different antenna. The glass breaks all the time and the antenna is terrible. Sometimes innovation is hard, you get some to give some (fancier looking requires more delicate touching). Like this poster said, get the internals right and then work on the outside. But...personally I love the look, its generic but its the 'expensive' generic, its not some 'cheap' generic design, you can tell its a verry nice/expensive phone. Thats what I like . -Back to my HD2 with sense ginger 2.3 .

.Neo said,
Extremely unimaginative phone design, just like the original Desire. It's a brownish blob without any definition or refinement. It doesn't feel cheap, but it does look that way. They should make more phones with the Legend's grey aluminum design. The curve at the bottom it has looks kind of cool as well.


I for one like the design.

Cynicalsomething said,
It is possible to turn off 4G on the Thunderbolt, although it requires a few extra steps than the Evo.

http://forum.xda-developers.co...?p=12349419&postcount=2

Let me make it clear for most people. Dial dail *#*#4636#*#* (in case you need to remember that, 4636 = info). Go into Phone Info and scroll down to Set preferred network type:

When you select CDMA auto (PRL) that will be 3G.

If you want to turn the 4G on, you must first switch it to LTE mode first and not CDMA + LTE/EvDo auto. Otherwise if you select CDMA + LTE/EvDo auto it will stay on 3G until you restart your phone.

While i do like the Thunderbolt and HTC for that matter, The HTC EVO 3D specs make this phone seem old already. Still, nice job HTC and nice review.

ShiFteDReaLitY said,
While i do like the Thunderbolt and HTC for that matter, The HTC EVO 3D specs make this phone seem old already. Still, nice job HTC and nice review.

I can't wait for the 3D Fad to die. I can't imagine holding that phone. The back is practically all camera. I can only imagine it's awkward to hold.

Smartphones get bigger, tablets get smaller, we get a funky mix Just if our pockets were larger and the battery life better.

Hulos said,
Smartphones get bigger, tablets get smaller, we get a funky mix Just if our pockets were larger and the battery life better.

+1