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HTC Thunderbolt hands-on, iPhone put in context

updated 06:40 pm EST, Thu January 6, 2011

HTC Thunderbolt hands-on

Verizon's most iconic launch of its 4G rollout was the HTC Thunderbolt, and Electronista had the opportunity to try it first-hand. It promises to be Android's main contender against the iPhone -- possibly with both on the same network -- and in some ways is surprisingly close. Read after the story break for our early impressions.

The phone is, on the surface, a Desire HD with an LTE connection. That's not necessarily a bad thing in our view. The 4.3-inch screen is still as nice as ever, if still potentially too large for some pockets, and it touts both an eight-megapixel back camera and a VGA front camera. Its 1GHz second-generation Snapdragon is surprisingly responsive, and in some cases felt faster than the Samsing i520 and LG Revolution that should be theoretically faster.

LTE is of course the selling point, and in our experience it was extremely fast loading both our own site and a few content heavy pages. The device is potentially as fast as the raw 4G network behind it and was only slightly behind what we'd expect from Wi-Fi, if at all. For a device large enough to almost be a tablet and more likely to be used as a mobile data device than a phone, that's important.

HTC's custom Sense UI is virtually unchanged, though when the phone ships it will have Skype Mobile integration with audio and video chat. We can't complain, since it adds a fair amount of polish to the OS. We can only hope that Android 2.3 and later roll out in a timely fashion.

Verizon hasn't given a price or a ship date for the phone beyond its first-half 2011 target, but we're looking forward to it. It promises to be one of the best-built and more feature packed devices for Android on the entire network. It could provide significant competition for the Verizon iPhone should it arrive in the next few weeks. Apart from 4G, we're not sure that it's better: the larger screen is a tradeoff rather than a coup, and what you get in camera resolution and OS flexibility is lost in graphics speed, ease of use and possibly battery life as well.













By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. RL7189

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2010

    0

    yeah

    But the thunderbolt still looks cheaply made like all the other android phones on the market right now. But I still rather get an iPhone rather wait until it comes to verizon.

  1. iphonerulez

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 2008

    +3

    Many consumers care nothing about top

    quality in a device. If it looks attractive, does pretty much what it's advertised to do and fits their budget, they'll buy it. That massive smartphone does look very impressive but how well it performs is a completely different matter. It's still light years better than what consumers had available a few years back thanks to the rapid development of smartphone hardware and software. I'm wondering if the size of this smartphone is a hindrance to many consumers and is there such a thing as a sweet spot in case and screen size for average consumers. These big displays do have a certain sort of appeal. They might be good for consumers whose vision is poor.

  1. IronPen

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: May 2001

    0

    Looks good!

    I have a 3GS now and I truly enjoy using it. But the HTC and other Android phones look good. I disagree with RL7189, this phone doesn't look cheap at all to me. It looks very similar to the iPhone design and I like the silver back. Maybe Apple can take a tip from the design and make the screen larger and shrink the home button and the area around the speaker to do so.

  1. Fast iBook

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2003

    -1

    Too big.

    No thanks.

    - A

  1. ruel24

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2009

    +1

    16 bit screens?

    Is HTC still using 16 bit color screens? Typically, HTC phones have lots of corners cut where it hurts and market on the processor speed, etc., just like the typical PC maker does. Don't believe the hype! Apple puts quality components in their product from beginning to end, including expensive 24 bit IPS screens. Accept no substitute!

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