updated 07:30 pm EST, Mon February 7, 2011
Best Buy says it has sole rights to Thunderbolt
Best Buy this evening both confirmed its HTC Thunderbolt pre-orders and its special access to the phone. Verizon's 4G range-topper can be reserved in advance for a $50 deposit. The store chain has a "national retail exclusive" on the Thunderbolt and won't have to compete with other third-party stores, although Verizon will carry the Android hardware itself.
An actual ship date and price still haven't been set by the carrier, but a February 14 ship date and a $250 contract price have both been floated by internal leaks.
The Thunderbolt is the first LTE-capable smartphone in the US and, according to Verizon's estimates, should pull about 5-12Mbps downstream in a populated, real-world network. Its device is otherwise very close to the Desire HD with the same 4.3-inch screen, rear eight-megapixel and front VGA cameras and 1GHz Snapdragon processor. Android 2.2 and HTC's Sense interface level are largely unchanged and mostly see a handful of new apps to take advantage of the very fast cellular Internet access.