Later today you’ll be able to buy the HTC ThunderBolt from Verizon for $299 with a two-year contract; yesterday I received a review unit, and I have spent much of the day (and evening) getting acquainted with it. The 4.3″ WVGA screen is beautiful, and it’s immediately reminiscent of one of my all-time favorite devices, the HTC HD2. You’ll likely hear quite a few comparisons to the HD2 as I work my way through this post and the resulting review, because more than any device since its introduction, the ThunderBolt feels like the HD2′s worthy successor.
The ThunderBolt is hefty! It measures 4.75″ tall x 2.5″ wide x .5″ thick (although the back is tapered so it doesn’t immediately appear so thick), and it weighs 6.1 ounces. I’m guessing that there are many who will say that this is the absolute limit for what a phone’s size should be, and I suppose they are right; even so, I rather like it. More than anything, the curved back reminds me of the original though 3GS versions of the iPhone; these same curves allow the ThunderBolt to fit nicely into the palm of my hand.
|Networks:||LTE 700, CDMA EvDO revA|
|Operating system:||Android™ 2.2 + HTC Sense|
|Display:||4.3” WVGA TFT capacitive touch screen|
|Camera:||8MP with autofocus, LED Flash (2x LED), 1.3MP front facing camera|
|Memory:||8GB emmc + 768 RAM Memory card, preinstalled 32 GB microSD™|
|Bluetooth:||2.1 with EDR (3.0 when available)|
|Special features:||Dual mics with noise cancellation, Surround sound, Compass sensor, G-Sensor, Proximity sensor, Light sensor, 3.5mm audio jack, MicroUSB, FM radio, LTE SIM slot , TI audio DSP|
|Chipset:||Qualcomm® MSM8655, 1GHz, Qualcomm MDM9600|
The Thunderbolt’s body is composed mainly of matte gray aluminum with a rear plastic battery cover. The result of so much metal is a device that feels incredibly solid; this is a phone that doesn’t creak when squeezed, and it doesn’t flex when torqued.
Perhaps the only physical feature that I am not too thrilled about are the touch buttons on the front; the HD2 has physical buttons that I enjoy pressing, while the ThunderBolt has capacitive (touch-sensitive) buttons that need the included haptic-feedback so that you’ll know your press has registered. So far these buttons have been very accurate when pressed.
The ThunderBolt has a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera, and an 8 megapixel rear camera with an LED flash. There is no dedicated camera button anywhere, so all photo snapping action is screen-based.
A shiny metal leg is built into the aluminum back of the device, which when swung out reveals the otherwise hidden external speaker. Even when closed, the speaker is sufficiently loud.
When flipped open, the kick-stand makes a lovely prop which allows you to watch media on the ThunderBolt or use it as a desktop clock.
The ThunderBolt has 8GB on-board memory, but it also comes with a 32GB micro-SD card. This, coupled with the fact that the ThunderBolt offers Resets as an option when the power button is long-pressed, means that you may well never need to remove the battery cover.
The ThunderBolt is a 4G LTE device (“Long Term Evolution”), a service which is currently available in 39 major metro areas including New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco; there are some smaller markets on the list — I’m guessing because a Verizon exec has family or perhaps a second home in those places. Notably absent is San Angelo, Texas. Boooo. I guess that I’ll just have to settle for 3G, although I would be able to try 4G LTE in more than 60 airports across the country, including all major airline hubs; too bad I don’t have any trips scheduled in the next few weeks!
According to Verizon, by mid-2012, their LTE network should cover about two-thirds of the United States, and by the end of 2013 it will cover Verizon’s entire existing nationwide 3G footprint.
If you’re tempted by the Thunderbolt, as I mentioned you’ll be able to pick one up later today for $249.99 with a new two-year customer agreement. I’ll have my review up in a few weeks, but in the meantime, here’s the press release with more information …
BASKING RIDGE, NJ — [March 15, 2011] Verizon Wireless and HTC today announced that the ThunderBolt by HTC, exclusively from Verizon Wireless, is available on March 17 in Verizon Wireless Communications Stores and online at www.verizonwireless.com for $249.99 with a new two-year customer agreement.
Powered by Android™ 2.2, the ThunderBolt by HTC is the first smartphone to take advantage of Verizon Wireless’ 4G LTE network. The ThunderBolt by HTC features the latest version of the HTC Sense™ experience, which offers enhancements including new personalization options, a consolidated e-mail inbox, and unique camera effects and filters. The ThunderBolt by HTC is equipped with support for Google Mobile Services, including Gmail™, YouTube™ and Android Market™ with thousands of free apps. Additionally, the ThunderBolt by HTC will feature 4G LTE optimized apps such as EA’s Rock Band, Gameloft’s Let’s Golf! 2, Tunewiki and Bitbop.
- 4G LTE – customers can expect download speeds of 5 to 12 Mbps and upload speeds of 2 to 5 Mbps in 4G Mobile Broadband coverage area
- 4.3” WVGA display
- 8-megapixel rear facing camera and HD (720p) video recording
- 1.3-megapixel front facing camera with video chatting capabilities
- Newest generation of the 1GHz Snapdragon processor
- Mobile Hotspot capability – share 4G connection with up to eight Wi-Fi-enabled devices
- 8 GB of onboard memory and a pre-installed 32 GB microSD card (Actual formatted capacity will be less)
- Built-in kickstand for easy media viewing
With the ThunderBolt by HTC, customers will need to subscribe to a Verizon Wireless Nationwide Talk plan and a 4G LTE data package. Nationwide Talk plans begin at $39.99 monthly access and an unlimited 4G LTE data plan start is $29.99 monthly access.
Mobile Hotspot allows users to connect up to eight Wi-Fi-enabled devices to the nation’s fastest wireless network via an application available on the ThunderBolt by HTC. Mobile Hotspot will be included through May 15 for no additional charge. Customers can track their data usage by downloading the My Verizon app available in Android Market or by logging on to their My Verizon accounts online at.
For additional information on Verizon Wireless 4G LTE visit www.verizonwireless.com/4glte. For more information about the ThunderBolt by HTC please visit www.verizonwireless.com/thunderbolt. For additional information on Verizon Wireless products and services, visit a Verizon Wireless Communications Store, call 1-800-2 JOIN IN or go to www.verizonwireless.com.