HTC Thunderbolt 4G Android Smartphone Review

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Design

In terms of design, the HTC Thunderbolt very closely resembles another popular 4G smartphone from HTC—the EVO 4G from Sprint. In fact, many of the hardware specifications of the two phones are the same. Here's how the two phones compare side-by-side:


HTC Thunderbolt
HTC EVO 4G
CPU
Qualcomm MSM8655, 1GHz, Qualcomm MDM9600
1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8650 processor
Platform
Android 2.2 + HTC Sense
Android 2.2 + HTC Sense
Memory
8GB emmc + 768 RAM Memory card
1GB ROM/ 512MB RAM

32 GB microSD included
8GB microSD card included
Dimensions
4.75 x 2.44 x 0.56 inches
4.8 x 2.6 x 0.5 inches
Weight
6.23 ounces with battery
6 ounces with battery
Display
4.3-inch WVGA TFT capacitive touch screen
4.3-inch WVGA  capacitive touch screen
Network
LTE 700, CDMA EVDO Rev A
CDMA 800/1900 MHz EVDO Rev A, WiMAX 2. 5 to 2.7GHz; 802.16e
GPS
GPS/aGPS
GPS/aGPS
Connectivity
Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR (3.0 when available)
Bluetooth 2.1

Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g
Cameras
8MP with autofocus, LED Flash (2x LED)
8MP with autofocus, LED Flash (2x LED)

1.3MP front facing camera
1.3MP fixed focus front facing camera
Battery
Usage: 378 minutes
Up to 360 minutes continuous talk time
Carrier
Verizon Wireless
Sprint

  

  

HTC Thunderbolt (left), HTC EVO 4G (right)
Click to enlarge

 

Given the success HTC and Sprint have enjoyed with the EVO 4G, we see no reason HTC needed to completely revamp things when it came to developing the Thunderbolt. As you can see from the specs above, the two phones are similar in many regards. Perhaps two of the most notable differences are the slight difference in weight (the Thunderbolt is heavier), storage differences (the Thunderbolt comes with a 32GB microSD card instead of the EVO's 8GB card), and the fact that the Thunderbolt uses LTE instead of WiMAX for 4G coverage.

One other notable difference between the EVO 4G and the Thunderbolt can be seen when you flip the phones over and examine the kickstands. The Thunderbolt's kickstand is wider, which in turn makes it more stable. This kickstand is particularly handy if you frequently watch video clips on the phone.

Like many popular Android phones today, the Thunderbolt features a 1GHz processor. It also ships with Android 2.2 and the HTC Sense user interface. We hope to see Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) on this phone soon. Although no official date has been announced, word around the streets is that the HTC Thunderbolt will get an upgrade to Android 2.3 sometime in the second quarter of this year. With Android 2.3, you can expect better speed, better battery life, a refreshed user interface, and a new and improved keyboard.

The front of the Thunderbolt is largely consumed by the large, 4.3-inch WVGA TFT capacitive touch screen. Just below the screen, you'll find the standard four backlit buttons (Home, Menu, Back, and Search). These buttons are backlit and provide haptic feedback when pressed. The Thunderbolt's 1.3MP front facing camera is just above the screen on the right side. During our review, fingerprints collected on the Thunderbolt's screen, but they didn't appear to affect performance. Additionally, fingerprinting didn't appear any worse than with other smartphones.

As we mentioned the Thunderbolt is slightly heavier than the EVO 4G. Moreover, it's one of the heaviest devices we've reviewed recently, as you can see here:

Samsung Galaxy S 4G
4.2 ounces
Samsung Captivate
4.5 ounces
Nexus S
4.55 ounces
HTC Droid Incredible
4.6 ounces
Apple iPhone 4
4.8 ounces
Motorola Droid X
5.47 ounces
Samsung Epic 4G
5.47 ounces
HTC EVO 4G
6 ounces
HTC Thunderbolt
6.23 ounces

 

While the Thunderbolt has a rectangular shape, the edges of the phone are curved and the phone fits comfortably in the palm of one's hand. The left side of the phone houses the microUSB port. On the right edge of the Thunderbolt, you'll find the volume rocker. The power button and a 3.5mm headphone jack reside on the top edge of the phone.

When you flip the Thunderbolt over, you'll immediately notice the 8MP camera and dual LED Flash as well as the kickstand. The kickstand is very sturdy and did a good job at propping the phone while resting on a desk.

On the back of the phone, you'll also notice that the battery cover stops just above the kickstand. When the cover is removed, you'll see the microSD slot as well as a SIM slot. In order to access either of these slots, you'll need to remove the phone's battery.

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