Seduced by Speed, I Bought the HTC Thunderbolt


After I managed to shatter my Droid Eris on the sidewalk yesterday (totally an accident!), I walked into the local Verizon store with a list of requirements for my new phone upgrade. I wanted something not too bulky, with a physical keyboard, and decent battery life. Instead, I bought the HTC Thunderbolt.

The Thunderbolt gives me Froyo, which I’ve been coveting for a while, and I’ve grown attached to HTC’s Sense interface. Beyond that, I sacrificed most of my must-haves for the sheer sexiness of 4G. That, and the idea that the Thunderbolt is a newer platform that will continue to get supported – and hopefully upgraded – for a while.

I’ve only lived with the Thunderbolt for a few short hours thus far, but I already have a list of likes and dislikes. (You’ll see that many of the likes are a product of the antiquated platform I was on until yesterday.) Here’s the good and the bad.

The Good:

  • 4G! Alright, that’s an obvious one. But beyond the speed, I love the fact that the phone jumps automatically between 3G and 4G, and that the price of my data plan hasn’t changed with the higher data rate.
  • Front-facing camera. Guess what, I can video chat! One of the first apps I downloaded was Tango in order to hold video calls with other Android and iOS phones.
  • Pre-loaded Slacker. I’m a Slacker geek, and with the new premium service, having a decent mobile handset is fantastic. Any song I want, any time I want.
  • Processor speed. Boot-up and app load times are significantly faster than they were on the Eris thanks to the 1GHz Snapdragon processor.
  • Removable SD card. You mean I can just take this SD card out and it’s got all my stuff on it? How novel.

The Bad:

  • The battery life. Yes, it sucks. Clearly I’ll have to get some kind of extended battery option and perhaps carry a back-up battery around.
  • Micro USB port. Seriously, wasn’t the point of USB that it would be nearly universal? Now I’m finding I have to switch cables with all my new devices from mini USB to micro USB. Ridiculous.

I am in new gadget heaven. No doubt my rose-colored glasses will slip soon, but for now I’m happy to play with apps that feel like new, on a 4G network that promises magic.

18 thoughts on “Seduced by Speed, I Bought the HTC Thunderbolt”

  1. Did they give you a deal on hardware pricing and/or did you have insurance? I always liked the Eris form, but it was underpowered from the get go. Does Verizon prohibit Skype because they have their own dealio? I seem to recall something like that… Obviously Skype has a much larger user base than Tango (who).

  2. Did you also take look at the HTC Droid Incredible 2? It’s not an LTE phone, but the battery life is supposedly great. My contract is coming up in July and while I don’t necessarily need a new phone that day, I wouldn’t mind upgrading from my Droid. Inc2 looks like a good option or possibly the Droid 3.

  3. I got a pretty decent deal on the hardware through a combination of upgrade pricing, a $100 rebate, and the fact that I signed up for FiOS at the same time. As for Tango, I don’t care much about the user base as there are a limited number of folks I’d want to video chat with. And the app itself is awesome.

    Tom M- I didn’t spend time with the Incredible 2. Once I made all those compromises, I wanted 4G. :)

  4. As another Verizon user who needs a new phone, I keep looking at this phone. I just keep holding off since it feels like the next few months there are going to be a bunch of good 4g phones to pick from. It also doesn’t help the people I work with who have HTC phones have nothing but issues. Of course they all have older HTC phones.

  5. Micro USB is the standard that almost every OEM is using. Most moved away from Mini USB a couple years ago. I know I was shocked when my wife got her Eris that it had mini USB. Our previous generation phones were all micro USB. (RAZR v9m & LG env2) I had to bust out the chargers from my even older RAZR v3m for her to have mini USB.

  6. As far as mini vs. Micro USB or whatever, agree that Micro is the new standard, but you should just have a USB to mini and a USB to micro cable in your gadget bag. Hey, its better than having to bring proprietary chargers for each different device isn’t it?

  7. Isn’t Thunderbolt an LTE version of year-old Evo? Too bad it still runs Froyo (2.2); even upcoming MR2 update (this week, hopefully) won’t be 2.3 version, just bug fixes.

    P.S. HTC makes 2750 mAh extended battery for Thunderbolt (regular is 1400 mAh), but there’s now a 3200 mAh version from Seidio.

  8. Some people get lucky. I got a thunderbolt and the battery life is phenomenal! at least in comparison to my htc incredible. I have heard that alot of problems are phone specific so I suppose i got a lucky one. Gingerbread is coming and the phone is speedy. I suggest it for any verizon user looking for a larger screen.

  9. I’ve got a LG phone that charges with micro USB, and I use the same cable to charge my Amazon Kindle.

    My sister was visiting a couple of weekends ago with her Samsung Infuse. It would charge when connected to my computer, but not when the USB cable was plugged into any of my existing chargers, even though they all provide more amps than the computer output.

    I was disappointed in this universal charger situation. I may reduce the number of cables, but if I still require branded wall warts, I’m not gaining everything I thought I was with universality.

  10. I believe I have the AT&T version, the Inspire (terrible name), which has all the gizmos except the front camera and kickstand. I’ve been reading that AT&T is “throttling” the “4G” service though, by keeping the phones OS locked. I even read that next to a 3g iPhone 4, it is slower due to this…
    One of the reasons I bought the phone was for the advertised “4G”, but apparently there is no such thing as 4G yet…at least not with AT&T. All that being said, it is still a great phone; fast, great memory, user friendly to the point of making me feel like I’m slow, but I do have to charge it a bunch. I think you will dig this phone, as would anyone else who is still rebelling against Apple. Keep up the great work with your blog, it helps lazy people like me from having to do all the research!

  11. @William C Bonner

    Yeah, apparently different devices react differently with respect to the USB pins used for computer data. If they are pulled low vs. high or whatever then they aren’t happy. Remember researching it at one point since the Mifi was very picky. I did a little research and picked up a USB adapter cable that did the opposite, e.g. tied the lines high or whatever and that made the thing work when it otherwise wouldn’t have. Got it off Amazon for $15 or whatever. In my kit bag now, just in case. Suggest doing some research.

  12. Mari – you motivated me to do some research on my next phone. The Galaxy S II looks like the one I’ll wait for, despite the absence of LTE.

  13. fyi, you can get off brand batteries and external chargers on ebay. 2 batteries and a charger for me was like 30 bucks or so, I forgot.

    The batteries I got were for my Tmobile Mytouch 4g aka HTC Glacier which shares the same battery as the Thunderbolt.

    The off brand batteries don’t last as long as the OEMs from what I could tell, but it was about 80-90% off what an OEM one lasted. At that cheap price, it wasn’t a big deal for me.

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