HTC Thunderbolt Android Smartphone Speed Lives Up to Its Name

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2011-03-26 Print this article Print

title=Verizon's HTC Thunderbolt is Super Speedy}

As I wrote this, I received notifiers for new versions of Google Books and Facebook for Android, which I had downloaded to my Droid X. (I entered my Google Account to port everything downloaded onto to my personal phone to this Thunderbolt review unit). I clicked install and the Books and Facebook applications updated in 3 seconds.

The bad news is that, just as with the HTC Evo 4G, the Thunderbolt burns though the battery quickly. I recommend users carry a spare battery.

I turned on the phone at 8 a.m., and used it as my mobile hotspot from 9:30 to 11 a.m. EDT on the Metro North line from Connecticut to Grand Central Station. From Fairfield to Greenwich, I used the hotspot on 3G, but soon after it switched to 4G. (Verizon does not yet offer 4G in Connecticut.) By the time I arrived, the battery had burned halfway through.

As I type this at 2:30 p.m. local time, after dozens of searches, Facebook and Twitter checkups, and YouTube videos watched, the battery is at 25 percent capacity. If I use it sparingly, it should get me to 5 p.m. with no problem.

But that's the problem, isn't it? I'm taking a train home from 5:30 to 7 p.m., and I have to sweat out whether or not I'll have not only a working phone, but be able to access my laptop from the Thunderbolt's hotspot.

Fortunately, I travel with my Droid X as backup. But we shouldn't have to carry two phones. Ideally, we shouldn't have to carry two batteries. Welcome to the curmudgeon's world of technological constraint.

The good news is my phone didn't burn up in my pocket the way the Evo 4G did when I tested it last spring. So you won't fry eggs on the Thunderbolt.

Should you buy this phone? If speed is of the essence, the Thunderbolt answers the call-in addition to the mobile hotspot, a great 8 MP camera, a nice appearance and a large screen.

Here's a little tip for consumers in the hundreds of markets that Verizon doesn't offer 4G: The phone on 3G was still fast-not 4G fast-but comparable in my opinion to the speed of the dual-core processor-based Motorola Atrix 4G on AT&T's network.

But you still don't want to buy the Thunderbolt if you live in a place where Verizon's 4G network doesn't offer coverage. It would be like buying a convertible whose top didn't drop. 

Would I buy the Thunderbolt? The Thunderbolt is a touch too heavy for me (and I use a Droid X), and the battery is weak for my taste. I also wouldn't want to spend $250 for a phone. $199 is as high as I'd go for hardware.

Batteries will improve enough to the point where 4G phones won't feel like anchors or hot frying pans. I'm in my current contract for 18 more months. I feel confident that, by then, the 4G phones will be lighter, faster and cheaper.

Whether that, coupled by any fallout from the proposed AT&T-T-Mobile merger, drives up data-plan costs remains to be seen.



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