HTC's Thunderbolt on Verizon Wireless' 4G LTE network is the fastest phone eWEEK has tested yet. The company needs to bring 4G to more states across the country to make it worth the $249.99 price tag with contract.
When I first
flipped on the HTC Thunderbolt and heard its little signature shout-out,
I laughed. The crash of thunder accompanied by the lightning bolt graphic
caught me by surprise.
right? The phone launches, not with a geeky Droid pronouncement, but with one
of the most terrifying sounds nature can muster. Guess what? The joke was on me
because the Thunderbolt is frighteningly fast for a compact, albeit hefty
gadget with a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.
stands on its own as king of the speed mountain. While I normally grimace at
the thought of paying $249.99 for a device plus a two-year data contract, the
speed of the Thunderbolt was awesome enough to make it worth it. I'll circle
back to specifics on the speed later.
First, here are some
noteworthy specifications. The device, powered by the familiar Android 2.2
operating system, features a comely 4.3-inch, touch-screen WVGA display with
480 by 800 resolution.
The Thunderbolt is 4.75 long by 2.44 inches wide by 0.56 inches thick; it's thicker than
the normal cell phone. However, at a hefty 6.23 ounces, the gray, plastic-covered
device with a glass screen will weigh a hole in all but the toughest of
pockets. Blame the heavier battery used to supply the power demands of
Verizon's speedy 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network.
Like its HTC
predecessor, the EVO 4G has a cute little kickstand to let users watch videos
and other content with others.
The call quality
was fine. There was no tininess or echo. However, I'm more of a text guy, so
the user interface is more important to me than the calls or even the dialer.
To that end, the
more I use HTC Android phones, the more impressed I become by the HTC Sense
interface; the keyboard is a delight to type on.
The device has big,
beautiful buttons that are well-placed for the most part. I don't like how the
voice search button is next to the comma button when I type a text message, but
that's a minor quibble. Thunderbolt employs Sense 2.0, with the lovely
FriendStream social-network account aggregator.
The 8MP camera
yielded crisp, clean photos without the delay I experience on my Motorola Droid
X. Video recorded well in HD 720p. The 1.3MP front-facing camera enabled solid
I downloaded the
Qik Video application-within 10 seconds-to begin video chatting. This application
worked wonderfully, with no shakiness or delays.
The Thunderbolt is
all about the network. When Verizon executives touted their 4G LTE network at the Consumer Electronics Show in
January, their oft-repeated refrain was that it was 10 times faster than 3G.
It was faster. I'm
talking 11-plus M bps for downloads and 4-plus M bps for uploads, both at the
high range of the carrier's promise for 5 to 12M bps down and 2 to 5M bps up.
Whether it was
basic Google searches or multiple YouTube videos or games launching back to
back to back, the software danced and sparkled on the screen, thanks to
Verizon's 4G LTE. I downloaded a dozen applications, all just to watch them land
from the Android Market to the Thunderbolt in 5 to 10 seconds.