[Custom Content] HTC Thunderbolt Review

Discussion in 'Android News' started by dgstorm, Apr 1, 2011.

  1. dgstorm

    dgstorm Editor in Chief
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    ThunderBolt Review - by Daniel C. Slagle (Keeper of the XoomFAQ.com)
    Edited by dgstorm


    [​IMG]

    I have been using the Droid X since it came out, so it is the standard by which I judge all smartphones. During the review I will make valid comparisons to my experiences with the Droid X. At the end of the review, I will detail the specs of the phone.

    Unboxing
    First, I unboxed it and powered the phone on. Even though the phone powered on right away with a dramatic Thunderbolt boot animation, (insert lightning sound here) it still seemed to take quite a while to boot. In fact, the phone was taking so long, I actually thought it locked up! Eventually, my patience was finally rewarded, and we were in business.

    Initial Impressions
    The first thing I noticed was the amazing display. WOW! I never thought my Droid X looked bad, but the colors on the Thunderbolt actually have more depth. I also immediately noticed I was dealing with a very fast UI (user interface). The UI is very similar to Launcher Pro. The phone really is "lightning fast". I poked around the the phone, logged in to my Google account and let my contacts and Market apps sync. Since Amazon just opened up its market I downloaded their market app and Angry Birds Rio for "testing". The speed at which the phone did this was exactly the same as all my other 3G phones. I can only test 3G because it is all I have for internet service at this time. Unfortunately, 4G capabilities mean nothing if you cannot take full advantage of them.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    From my testing, this device has just about everything you could possibly want in a smartphone. The interface is intuitive. The only thing that kind of confused me was 'Personalize' vs. 'Settings'. 'Settings' is your standard Android setting like USB preferences and account information, while 'Personalize' is more of a theme manager for your style, wallpaper, ringtones, etc. With a phone like my Droid X, theme developers go to great lengths to provide customization that the Thunderbolt already has built-in. Nice!

    I shared the phone with quite a few smartphone users and, amazingly, almost everyone said the same thing that I thought when I picked it up; "This feels nice in my hand". I am unsure if it is the curved body or how it is weighted but regardless, it feels "natural" but also a bit "heavy".

    Audio
    I think the best audio feature about this phone is the kickstand that allows the audio to come out of the phone without having it muted by whatever surface it is resting on. The sound quality is nice and has a fair amount of loudness for a phone.

    Video
    As you would expect with a large TFT display, videos look stunning. This phone supports Windows audio and videos files. This will be a HUGE plus for those of you with large collections of media in that format. Just out of curiosity, I took some 5 year old WMV files and put them on the phone. The Windows movie files looked better than I remember! The one thing missing on this phone is an HDMI port to watch my videos on the BIG screen.

    Cameras
    There was really nothing of particular note in regards to the camera or the camcorder. It seems on par with my iPhone, Droid X, or Xoom. The flash seemed brighter, but I did not have a light meter to test with. The photos I took inside seemed somewhat clearer than my other devices and I attribute that to a good flash.

    Gaming
    While I am not a huge gamer, I know many people are stuck on mass transit with time on their hands and you can not read a book everyday. So, I handed the phone off to a friend of mine that plays games on her LG Ally. One of her favorite games is Dinner Dash and she was impressed! She quickly acclimated to the phone and started playing. She noted, as she started getting up in the higher levels, that there was no lag like she experienced on her phone. When I asked if she would trade her phone for the Thunderbolt... "Damn skippy," was her answer.

    Hacking
    Even though I am a Mac user, the phone easily connected to my machine (I would get a warning about it every time I connected in disk mode, but ignoring the mounting error did not seem to affect it in any way). The Thunderbolt easily moved files to and from the Mac via the USB interface. I fired up the Android SDK to look at the device and get a few screen shots. Again, no notable issues. From what I've seen on the forums, the Thunderbolt has already been rooted, and it has been successfully over-clocked to a stable 1.8Ghz. Unlike my Droid X, I did not really feel the need to over-clock it, as it was fast enough for my needs.

    [​IMG]

    The Good
    • Fast. I do not know if it is because of the Snapdragon processor or the HTC UI, but this phone "feels" a lot faster than my over-clocked Droid X. While the Thunderbolt does not score that much higher than my Droid on benchmarks, like Quadrant or Linkpack, it just feels all-around faster.
    • Feel. The Thunderbolt "feels nice" in your hand. I just do not know another way of saying it... like it belongs there. Plus, if you are a fan of the vibrating keyboard, it really seems like you are typing on a reactive surface... unlike the X that just feels like it is buzzing in your hand.
    • Integration. On my Droid X, many people go out of there way to remove the MotoBlur. We remove them because they are typically so poor in functionality and slow the phone down. When using the built-in Sense UI on the HTC, I felt no desire or need to do that. Everything seems well integrated.
    • The dialer. I really wish I had this dialer on my current phone. It has more options, and a much nicer speed dial. I also like the way it separates your contacts when you list them.
    • The kickstand. I found myself using it a lot. It works in either orientation, so it is convenient. Yes, it adds a bit of weight, but in my mind, it is worth it.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The Bad
    • Battery life. At first the battery life seemed pretty good, but when I started pushing it and queuing up tasks, it reminded me of one of those big-block 1970's cars where you could actually watch the fuel gauge go down as you mashed the throttle. I saw it go from 80% battery to 50% battery in about 20 minutes of hard use. I have seen no reports, of anyone, successfully using the phone for a full 8 hour day without having to put it on the charger. If you do not plan on dragging a charger around, you will want to buy the extended battery for this device.
    • The speaker phone microphone. I attended a few conference calls on this phone, and used the speakerphone, as I do not like a bluetooth headset stuck in my head for an hour. On all the calls, when it was my turn to speak, people had problems hearing me and actually talked over me while I was speaking because they were unaware I was talking.

    The Ugly - (Not much)
    • Long boot times. This seemed pretty consistent. I do not typically let my devices go to 0% battery too often but, the start time certainly is noticeable when you have to restart the Thunderbolt.
    • Weight. It is a tad on the heavy side, but I would not give up the kickstand to make it lighter, so it isn't really that bad.
    • 4G in a 3G world. If you are lucky enough to be one of the 175 cities getting 4G this year, then the fact that this phone has 4G will mean a lot more to you. For me, I am not going to See 4G this year. Of course, that isn't really the phones fault.
    • No HDMI Out. The lack of HDMI has me scratching my head, since this phone is of similar design to the HTC EVO which has an HDMI port. It makes me wonder why they didn't or couldn't include it.
    Summary
    The question remains, "Would I buy this phone if I were not under contract with my Droid X?" The answer is, maybe. Lack of HDMI is not a deal breaker for me, but I do feel like I would be giving something up. If I take that out of the equation I would most certainly want this phone. I give it a 4.5 out of 5.

    [​IMG]

    You can also check out our sister-sites for this review:

    Android.net
    ThunderboltForums.com
    DroidForums.net

    Written By: Daniel C. Slagle (Keeper of the XoomFAQ.com)
    Edited by dgstorm


    Marketing Stuff and Specs:

    Thunderbolt-verizon-Support-1396.png ¬
    • A Mobile Hotspot for up to 8 devices
    • Take gaming to the next level with access to Android Market’s best games
    • Entertainment is at your fingertips with easy access to movies, TV shows, music and exclusive content
    • Instant NHL and NCAA stats and games for mobile fandom
    • Scorching fast 1 GHz processor for fast access to apps, gaming, entertainment, and more

    Camera
    8.0 MP rear camera
    Auto Focus
    Dual LED Flash
    1.3 MP front camera

    Video
    HD Video Capture
    Image & Video Formats Supported: JPEG / GIF87/ GIF89a / PNG / WBMP/ MPEG4 / H.263 / H.264 / WMV9

    Music
    Create and Manage Playlist
    Headset: 3.5mm Audio Jack.
    Audio Formats Supported: MIDI / M4A / QCP / AMR / AAC / AAC+ / eAAC+ / WAV / WMA9 / MP3

    Web
    MS Exchange, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, AOL, Verizon.net, etc.
    HTML Browser: Adobe Flash Player 10.1
    Backup Assistant, Android Market, Google Talk, Amazon Kindle, Google Maps, Mobile IM, Visual Voice Mail, Verizon Single Sign On, Blockbuster, Slacker, Sling, My Verizon, VZ Navigator, Let’s Golf 2, Rock Band, TuneWiki, Vz Web Portal (Browser favorite), eReader, SSO, VCast App Store, Data Meter 4G, City ID

    Communication
    Speakerphone
    Supports 18 languages
    Advanced Speech Recognition
    Embedded ringtones, vibrate alert and silent
    Phonebook capacity dependent upon available memory
    GPS/AGPS E911
    TTY Compatible
    Hearing Aid Compatibility = M4/T3
    Device Software Update – upgrade software over the air

    Bluetooth
    Bluetooth® Profiles Supported: HSP, HFP, A2DP (Stereo), PBAP, FTP, AVRCP

    Dimensions
    4.75? x 2.44? x 0.56? inches
    Weight: 6.23oz (with standard battery)

    Operating System
    Android 2.2 with HTC Sense 2.0

    Display
    4.3? capacitive touch screen
    480×800 WVGA display
    Orientation in portrait and landscape

    Keyboard
    Touch screen QWERTY Keyboard

    Battery
    1400 mAh
    Talk: 378 mins
    Standby: 330 hours

    Memory / Processor
    8GB eMMC
    68 MB RAM
    Actual formatted capacity will be less
    Qualcomm® MSM8655 1Ghz
    Qualcomm® MDM9600
     
  2. thedefectkid

    thedefectkid Member

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    In the settings you can do a fast boot and it launches super fast try that I beleieve you have to click it everytime though. Otherwise besides the not so great battery life I love this phone and glad I updated from my d1. Nice Review :icon_ banana:
     
  3. patfactorx

    patfactorx Member

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    This has bout the same Quadrant score as a D2G. Does it feel faster than the D2G?
     
  4. VitsDroid

    VitsDroid Member

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    My thunderbolt last 12+ hours for me. I did do some battery traing the first 3 days. I Charged it all the way and then let it die, wait for the battery to cool 1-2 hours and then charge it. This happened overnight so I had no issues. I live in 3g only and my battery is on par with my og droid and droid 2. My use is typically, 3 to 4 hours of podcasts while I work. 2 hours of music while at the gym. Less than 1 hour of talk time, and then texting.
     
  5. johnomaz

    johnomaz Silver Member

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    I really really want the TB. I know later this year better phones will be coming out, but the TB is unlocked and that is a perk and I htink the modders will keep up with it longer than the DroidX. That being said, I just put the GB leak on my DX and it feels like a new phone. I was running RUbix 2.0.1 and frankly, it feels a bit faster. I will use a GB ROM when they come out, but hey...beggers can't be choosers. Plus I'm a year off of my upgrade.
     
  6. dieselpowered

    dieselpowered Member

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    Nice review, I honestly really loved the phone except for a few things.

    Battery life...honestly, before I returned it, I had it idle for 3.5 hours and the battery died. This was just a few e mails and texts, not even a phone call.

    Also, going from WiFi to 4G connection took around 1.5 to 2 hours to get the connection back without rebooting.
     
  7. pandabear

    pandabear Member

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    Another downside is not being able to use your car's stereo as a speakerphone.
     
  8. moosez3

    moosez3 Member

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    Why not? I use mine, I have it playing music, and a call comes in, or Navi instructions come in, it works great!

    Dont Forget the second biggest reason for me buying this phone! Talk and surf!

    I use this all the time, LTE speeds while onthe phone is unreal, "Oh you are lost on your way to this random bar? What intersection are you at exactly? Oh okay go here and here." Done its that fast and easy.

    My number one choice was LTE speeds. In Florida its pretty much everywhere thankfully :)

    If not for those two I would have returned it, everything else is just nice to have.
     
  9. yahwarrior

    yahwarrior Member

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    I'm happy that Verizon customers can finally own a Evo4g.
     
  10. yahwarrior

    yahwarrior Member

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  11. sgtguthrie

    sgtguthrie Member

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    In you specs you missed the 7 in 768 mb ram. instead you put 68 mb ram.

    Also, for those who keep calling the TB an Evo, IT'S NOT!!! It's actually not even close when you compare the specs. The TB is more comparable with the Desire HD. That would be a fair comparison.

    Once you root the phone and set up a screen off profile with SetCPU, you'll find your battery life MUCH better from all the feedback I've seen. A lot of the people complaining about battery are using Task killers too. THAT KILLS THE BATTERY, DON'T USE THEM!!! I've spoken with several individuals who were getting like 6 hours out of a battery and sure enough, they were using a task killer. The VZW rep had actually recommended it because of the battery rumors flying everywhere. Once they stopped using ATK, their battery life increased drastically.

    Once again, these are my observations...
     
  12. manilaboy1vic

    manilaboy1vic Member

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    Every single reviewer gets the phone and has it on the entire time.. real world experience with the phone, and using it as a phone.. you can easily get 10+ hrs off a single charge.. i have no problems getting 10-12 hrs on a single charge..
     
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