During our review, the Thunderbolt felt very zippy and responsive, thanks in large part to the phone's newest generation of the 1GHz Snapdragon processor. We also appreciated the fact that the Thunderbolt has 8GB of onboard memory as well as a preloaded 32GB microSD card. We wish the microSD card were a bit more accessible (you have to remove the battery to get to it), but in all reality, this is probably a minor issue to many users.
The 4.3-inch WVGA display found on the Thunderbolt is colorful and vibrant. Viewing angles on the phone are quite good. Viewing the screen outside under direct sunlight proved to be quite difficult, but not impossible.
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You'll find a 1.3 megapixel camera on the front of the Thunderbolt which is designed for video chat. It's important to note that the Thunderbolt does not ship with an app that can use this front-facing camera for video chat. To make matters worse, we were unable to find an app that would support video chat on this phone. Skype for Android doesn't support video chat yet, and the Qik app doesn't offer video calling for the Thunderbolt. Although we definitely like to see front-facing cameras, they aren't of much use without software.
On the back of the phone, there's an 8 megapixel camera and dual LED flash. This rear camera is capable of HD (720p) video recording. Overall, we were pleased with the quality of images we were able to capture with the phone's 8 megapixel camera. The ability to tap the screen to select a focal point and then tap another on-screen button for the shutter was handy. The dual LED flash on the back of the phone also helps when you're attempting to capture an image indoors, though it still has limitations concerning distance the light can reach. In addition, the flash can sometimes be too bright for a particular shot.
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HTC claims you'll get 378 minutes (6.3 hours) of usage and 330 hours (13.75 days) of standby time from the Thunderbolt's battery. During our time with the phone, we used it as we normally would use a phone – surfing the Web, making calls, sending text messages, checking email, capturing a few photos, etc. Our initial impression of the battery was that it tended to drain quickly. On light usage days, we were able to make it a full day (approximately 14 hours) without having to charge the phone. Of course, battery life will vary depending on how much you use the phone and which features you use the most.
To get another perspective on battery life, we also ran a test in which we set up a webpage with a mix of graphics and text. The page automatically refreshed itself every three minutes. We set the Thunderbolt's display to 50% brightness and turned off Wi-Fi. For this test, the Thunderbolt managed to last 3 hours and 36 minutes before it died. After running this test and comparing it to a few other smartphones (including a well-used three year old iPhone 3), our suspicions that the Thunderbolt drained more quickly than other smartphones was confirmed. Here's how the Thunderbolt compares to other smartphones: