HTC Thunderbolt

Now that the HTC Thunderbolt is officially available and in stores (though we suggest calling ahead - a few stores in some cities are already sold out), we naturally had to pick up the latest  big-screened Android phone and start putting it through its paces. The Thunderbolt's specs, if you don't recall, include the now-nearly-standard 4.3" WVGA screen and 1GHz Snapdragon processor, an 8mp camera with 720p HD video on the back with a VGA camera on the front, and finally a capacious 32g microSD card.

Oh yeah, one more spec: Verizon's wicked-fast 4G LTE network.

So far in our testing in Miami that network is pulling down a very solid 3 megabits per second and uploading so fast that the app can't really even provide accurate numbers. The device itself also shows remarkably little lag or stutter - even while Android is dutifully pulling down a very large number of apps and profile information we haven't experienced any notable delay.

Hardware-wise, we're a little tempted to say HTC phoned this one in. It's solid and hefty, no doubt, but a little uninspired and definitely a descendant of the EVO 4G. However, there are a lot of nice little touches throughout - including a soft-touch paint that's a pleasure to hold and a large kickstand that cleverly sits atop the Thunderbolt's large rear-speaker. Not so clever: the microUSB charging port sits on the side of the phone that's on your desk when the kickstand is out, so you literally can't charge the Thunderbolt while it's resting on the kickstand.

We'll have much much more on the Thunderbolt very soon. In the meantime check out some photos after the break. Update: Video after the break!

[YouTube Link]


Reader comments

HTC Thunderbolt Hands-On and Speed Test; Updated with video


Well for me, its the fact that it doesn't get indoors. If you have it inside, I guarantee you have a tower RIGHT around you.

Sounds like HTC didn't put enough effort into this phone and rushed it out. I would have expected better processor than the Snapdragon and a better screen resolution. Guess I am waiting for the next Verizon phone...Bionic maybe?

it's the second gen snapdragon. much faster than the first especially when it comes to the gpu even though it is clock at the same frequency. many android drones on this site cant appreciate anything. its sad

I'm going to pass after seeing this review. As a phone, this snapdragon still doesn't perform as nice as the processor in the Galaxy phones. This is evident when he scrolls on the browser. Total crap that it wouldn't be smooth, but that's simply because the GPU isn't as good. I must admit, I'm cheating. My Epic is using an EXT4 ROM and that's why it is soooo smooth, but I was expecting so much more. After hints of what Battery life is like (and that hideous thing they call an extended battery and door), I'll keep my Epic with a full days use out of the 1500mAh battery.

I don't care what they say, the OEM battery isn't going to power that monster all day. They always scrimp out on something. 1400mah for that phone, no way!

That's also my concern with this phone. I'm expecting the battery life to be TERRIBLE. I guess we will find out in a few days after things settle down.

That's what I was thinking? I can get double that easily on my EVO over 4G with only 2/3 bars here in Raleigh. What gives Verizon?

I live in Raleigh too and I have gotten over 8.5 mpbs in the middle of the day on my Evo 4G! When I test, I get over 5 mpbs nearly ever time.

Agree completely. I just got rid of my Epic to get the Atrix and even it often gets better downloads. With the Epic in Charlotte, NC I would often get up to 8 down on WIMAX. If Miami is an LTE market for Verizon now I'd be pretty upset to only get 3 down.

No, that's just all the app can show. The mobile speedtest app doesn't show speeds properly. (refer to upload speed in video). Noah Kravitz had a similar issue, but he found that he got much faster speeds by wifi-tethering a laptop to the phone and using the normal version of speed test. I assume we'll find more accurate speedtests once the app is updated.

what you are pulling from is ATT's 3.5G HSPA+ network, which is not crap, and but doesn't the coverage compared to their normal 3G network... so let's not confuse the masses by comparing apples to oranges... and I still highly doubt that you are being truthful about that "solid 3Mbps"

Confusing the masses is stating that AT&T's HSPA+ network is NOT crap. AT&T has been unsuccessfully overdriving the hell out of their HSPA 3G for a long time now, which is why is December 2011 Consumer Reports rated AT&T's network overall the worst in the USA. Verizon at this point is just competing with Sprint, as both AT&T and T-Mobile (whom AT&T just bought) are so far behind they have stopped to advertising 3G tech that is overdriven to an unstable level as if it was 4G.

wait is that a sim card? is LTE using sim card? will i be able to use 3G overseas like their other global phones? (i doubt it?)

I bought my Thunderbolt this morning in northern Kentucky, near Cincinnati. I’m consistently getting speeds of around 15 mbps down and “31″ mbps up, as high as “51″ mbps once (but there is the bug).

There is no Skype and no Swype, either.

no u can't use on ATT Tmobile etc. the don is 4g. radio bands are different also. battery I've already read from some sights they got less then 4hours of moderate use.

Given that I'm in a non-4g market, I just don't see how this is a step up from my HTC Incredible. A good sign of things to come, I guess, but I'll wait for the next big thing.

If youre not in a 4g market and you have an Incredible this phone probably isn't a worthy upgrade for you. In the thread in the forums about what people were upgrading from there were alot of Blackberrys. From a Storm or Tour the Thunderbolt will be a beast and a great upgrade.

All my speed test have been 18 D and 30 Up...I still can't believe what I'm seeing....I live in NYC so 4G is pretty strong. And I'm indoors.

NYC baby! This 4G lte is faster than my broadband modem. I'm surprised there isn't a post about the Tbolt being rooted/bootloader being cracked. Get on it boys!

People I have an evo and yea I get q 8mpbs download but I wish I had those kind of upload speeds I get 8mpbs download and 1mpbs upload .so u can't compare wimax to lte

Upload is capped by Sprint/Clear, this has nothing to do with WiMax technology, the technology itself can upload just as fast as it downloads, but Sprint must have thought it would cause a bad experience for other users on the network.

Sounds almost like they are getting 3g download speeds and 4g upload speeds, id restart the phone and try moving to a different area or something to see if they just have an awkward signal

"... you literally can't charge the Thunderbolt while it's resting on the kickstand." Big time design flaw IMO.

Why couldn't the phone be charged while standing vertically with the kickstand? I can understand not being able to do it horizontally but nothing should prevent it from getting charged while vertical. The kickstand is thick enough to keep the phone standing vertically.

If the kickstand experience is nything like it is on my Evo, then the phone will not rest on kickstand in a vertical (portrait) position. That would be an annoying design flaw. Glad my charging port is on the bottom.

No, the USB port is on the bottom on the EVO. Charging on the kickstand makes a great alarm clock.

People need to realize the upload speeds they are seeing on the app or NOT accurate. You need to go to the browser and do a speed test on it. 4G is NOT capable of what some of you are seeing at 30-50 up.

if you get the body glove case for the thunderbolt, it has a kickstand on the clip as well and you can charge the phone while the phone is sitting str8 up.

I spent about 30 mins playing with the Tbolt here in Philly today. Everything short of Verizon's LTE, it was underwhelming. It was not a smooth experience. I think my current Droid X felt snappier overall. The screen colors are nice. Otherwise it feels like any other Android phone. New Sense was a meh at best. On LTE I consistently saw 9-12m down, up was not readable. Using LTE in browsing, maps, youtube and the market was outstanding and super fluid.

Summary: LTE is phenomenal but wait for better phone.

I agree, best advise I've read. I don't have LTE in my area and that is what this phone has over other phones atm. By the time LTE gets here, better phones will be on the market. However, data prices will probably go up, too.

Wait for a better phone........ I gotta wait for LTE first ha ha. I'm in Reno, no telling when it will be here.

Long time Sprint costumer from columbus, ohio. Sprints 4g is weak compared to verizon. I have the evo off contract right now and picked up the thunderbolt.... Decisions, decisions

All I can say is I'm happy for anyone getting this phone. its the sister phone to my beloved Evo and both are great phones, people forget the t-bolt has the 2nd gen CPU and a better gpu. and trust me, the extra RAM memory really makes difference when having multiple apps running. Remember the Evo was new at one time with slow wimax speeds, starting out getting only 3mbs down up till froyo was released then the speeds got faster.

RAM does make a ton of difference. Most Bionic fanboys will not be pleased with the 512 MB of RAM, of that I can assure you. I had the Continuum for about six months with 2.1 (no flash) and running super light (rooted, bloatware removed and no ATK). I was still eating up 80% RAM minimum. It had some serious issues with low memory. That was with 386 MB of RAM on a lower tech device. 512 MB is not enough... honestly, I do not even think the Tbolt's 768 MB is enough, but its at least workable.

Im in downtown San Francisco and with speedtest i am getting consistent 11mb down and 29-40 mb up. pretty freakin sweet!

when doing it through the browser im getting 7.6 down and 4.5 up, in the middle of my office building. still very happy compared to tmo where i didnt have service here!

For everyone complaining about the slow net speed in the video and trashing Verizon LTE, did you not notice that the phone is syncing the entire time. He must have set up his Google account right before this video and it was downloading and syncing apps in the background. I bet if he made a new video now it would be a lot faster. Come on guys, you're supposed to know a thing or two about Android if you read this site.

I'm in Cleveland, OH (West Side suburbs) and I'm getting 18mbps down and like 40mbps up. But once you leave Cuyahoga County you're only getting 3G. I fully charged the battery that it came with and I've been using it alot for like 3-4 hours already and have barely put a dent in the battery life. But I also have all Vibrations off, GPS is off only Google Locations is on. Plus I have every screen on the front filled to capacity.
But I know the Vibration takes alot of juice and so does GPS....

So bascially when people were saying this is a revamped Sprint EVO 4G and all the Verizon'ers were saying, "NOOOO ITS NOT!! ITS SOO MUCH BETTER!!"...they were wrong? And this IS in fact just a revamped EVO 4G with Verizon branding? I really dont see much about this phone that would make an EVO owner switch...

Couldn't agree more...and sprint will be showing off a phone just like the t-bolt next week I'm sure. And I also read that sprint will be switching to lte starting probably next year.

Still waiting for a better specs phone like with higher resolution. Stupid Verizon rep I just talk to today told me that the Bionic would be available at the end of the year.

Let me sum this up:
- Impressive CPU benchmark I got 38.0-40.1 linpack basically a little better or same as EVO from what I could tell - way better than Droid X at 15 and my Droid 2 ~13.
- Great LTE network better and more complete nationally than Clear Wimax and Sprint / ATT
- Nice (basic) form factor
- Nice screen
- Talk on phone and use data (new for Verizon first device)
- Probably bad battery (Maybe full day but not sure yet)
- Landscape charging port may conflict with horizontal desktop use
- Overpriced at $250 should be bogo or $150-200 but it is in that range on Amazon
- Extended batter bulges the back hurting form factor

The only LTE 4g phone on Verizon right now (Anything better coming soon? Bionic). Do I burn my upgrade and do this switch from Droid 2 (I will miss keyboard) or wait?

I was with you until you said verizon's 4G is more complete nationally than Sprint's. Huh? it's available in a handful of cities while Sprint's is available in like 60. Will this change soon? probably/maybe but verizon really has LTE almost nowhere currently.

Fair enough. I would imagine the better of Verizon 4g/3g vs. Sprint/Clear 4g is specific to a particular user/city. In my case 4g and 3g are all over Charlotte, NC so I should get good data access here - others may have better network access on Sprint making it better for them in other cities. Thanks.

Verizon will have 4G LTE in 125 cities by the end of 2011, making them the largest, and only, 3.9G carrier in the USA. Hopefully they start upgrading it quickly to LTE Advanced so it can be true 4G. No one else is that close.

If you don't have the 4G in your area, you can STILL use this device and if you want it, then get it. It won't hurt the speed for you.
It is still an excellent device and not areas are 4G, which you are aware of. It is made to use 3G and 4G. I have the Incredible and love it. Am not able to upgrade till next year. But this is a device that I am very interested in or the Incredible 2 that is also rumored.
HTC makes a great device and this one is a device that will be getting a lot of attention.

I'm an Evo user who gets almost 4 a sec download speeds and im confused by the hype this phone is getting. It's identical to Evo as far as I can tell.

Oh and you can talk on the phone and use data on the evo 4G so that's not a version First. I also live in Durham NC.

im going to have to be skeptical of these upload speeds being reported, has anyone actually done a transfer test to an ftp site rather than use teh app?

i was also curious about the lack of turning off the 4g radio. i wonder if the options in *#*#4636#*#* and phone information to select evdo only will set the radio to not use more battery similar to "turning off 4g"

Us verizon users have been spending more than u sprint users for years nothing new... just seems u got jealous of the lte speeds and have to throw stuff in the air to make us feel bad which it didn't...


To turn 4G off it's where you were under the settings for wireless & networks. You actually hovered your finger over the option. Where it says "Mobile Networks" if you click that, and scroll to the bottom, you can select what network type you want.

Really? Really? Guess it doesn't take much to impress some people. I sure hope some are getting better results than this.

>"Verizon's wicked-fast 4G LTE network. So far in our testing in Miami that network is pulling down a very solid 3 megabits per second"

Um, why is that "wicked-fast"? I have been able to get a solid 6 megabits from Sprint's 4G network on my Evo in Richmond for many months...

In Norfolk, they have not even announced Sprint 4G service (still, unfortunately) and there is nothing on Sprint's map.... yet there are a flew light-green, supposedly outdoor-only, weak, 4G signals showing on Clearwire's maps. And even there I got 3 megabits (expecting nothing at all).

Verizon's LTE is much faster than 3 megabits.


when you went to do the speed test how come you typed in the information when you were searching for something on the internet? How come you didn't speak into the phone and showcase the Thunderbolt's ability for the phone to interpret your speech and put into text everything that you said. That concept works when searching on the internet, within navigation, and elsewhere within a lot of the apps. I don't think the iphone allows for the "text to speech" concept within a lot of its applications. I see that as a huge advantage in using the Thunderbolt over the iphone.

wow thats weird i have the same phone and on d/l havent been lower than 9mbs with 2 bars and most sites ive red get around 10-15+ depending on signal guess his area is iffy up load is about right tho i get around 25-30mbs on upload.

What a joke. 3mb/s.
My rooted Samsung Galaxy Vibrant 3G not the 4G gets up to 5mb/s in NJ.

I just went the to the VZW store in NYC and my phone smoked it in both upload and download speed.

Sure it's fast enough but calling it 4G is like calling a bicycle a motorcycle.

Oh well I am enjoying it while I can until ATTerrible screws up Tmobiles blazing fast 3G