Leaked images of the HTC Thunderbolt, spilling out just before the new year, did little to rain on the parades of Verizon Wireless or HTC. At the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Jan. 6, the pair enthusiastically unveiled their newest Android-running smartphone, which will be exclusive to Verizon's 4G LTE network.
The Thunderbolt features a 4.3-inch WVGA display and pairs Android 2.2 with HTC's Sense 2.0 Interface - newly equipped with a feature called Fast Boot. It's also one the first phones to come with Skype mobile video calling not just supported but integrated into the device, making it as simple to use as placing a standard call. There's a front-facing camera for video calling - in addition to an 8-megapixel camera on the back - and Presence icons that let users know whether friends are available for chatting are built into the Contacts list.
The Thunderbolt's larger camera can record video in high definition, and because it's a wireless DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) device, the Thunderbolt can stream video and send other content to other DLNA devices, such as HDTVs and stereos.
Additional features include a 32GB microSD card, a kickstand for more easily enjoying movies, Dolby and SRS surround sound, the ability to act as a hotspot for up to eight devices, and of course that 4G connectivity - which according to Verizon is 10 times faster than its 3G network.
"We are proud to not only be bringing one of the first 4G LTE Android smartphones to the Verizon Wireless network, but to offer people the unprecedented speed and ease of use that the HTC ThunderBolt provides to them," Jason Mackenzie, president of HTC Americas, said in a statement. "What makes 4G so compelling is not just technology, but what the technology allows people to do."
Verizon turned on its 4G LTE network Dec. 5, covering 38 cities and 60 airports - or reportedly one-third of all Americans. It plans to continue expanding its 4G footprint and to have it cover its entire 3G network area over the next three years.
On the network, the Thunderbolt will have plenty of company, as Verizon introduced a total of 10 4G LTE devices during CES. Among them were the LG Revolution, the Droid Bionic 4G and the Samsung 4G LTE Smartphone - all running Android 2.2 - and the Motorola Zoom and 4G LTE-enabled Samsung Galaxy Tab tablets. Two notebooks and two MiFi hotspots filled out the introductions.
Tony Melone, Verizon's executive vice president and chief technology officer, said in a statement that he's expecting 2011 to be a "gang buster year," for the carrier, "especially as we combine our growing 4G LTE network with our amazing lineup of 4G devices and applications that take advantage of high speed and low latency."
Among the cities scheduled to receive Verizon 4G LTE coverage in 2011 are Little Rock, Ark.; Pensacola, Fla.; Honolulu, Hawaii; Baton Rouge, La.; Detroit; State College, Penn.; and Hilton Head, S.C. A full list can be viewed on the Verizon Web site.