HTC Thunderbolt 4G LTE Review

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August-Thu-2153-2012

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Ice Cream Sandwich has arrived to my Thunderbolt by way of TeamBAMF who leaked an actual build of ICS that is going to be rolling out to all those still with the Bolt shortly. It’s an actual leak and not a mockup build and the way you can tell is by some of the built in Verizon bloat that wasn’t stripped in an effort to get it out faster. Bloat aside the wait is finally over and it was more than worth the wait with all of the upgrades that come to HTC and Verizon’s original LTE phone. It comes with sense 3.6 which is just fine in my opinion and one of the nicest things is that all of your old apps update for ICS and they look so much better. For the first time ever I’m now able to print from my phone and take screenshots without the addition of a 3rd party app. Everything is smooth and the icons are crisp even on the older screen. Folders are no longer that crappy icon that just shows the front of a standard folder, it now shows the first 4 icons contained within and looks much better than before.

The app dock that you can see at the bottom is able to be customized and the apps that you place there will also be used on the lock screen.

Most of the HTC apps have been revamped and are improved to address user complaints such as Mail which now has larger font and previews as well as cleaner and smoother scrolling widgets. Before the default HTC clock widget would not maintain the weather information once the screen was shut off for a bit which made the widget rather ugly however that has been fixed as well.

The battery life was the main complaint for the thunderbolt and while I’ve only been running it for about 48 hours it does seem that they’ve improved it slightly. It’s not getting 24 hours but it is doing better than the 6-8 hours that I originally got on the bolt when it was brand new. I am using a new battery though but I will switch back for further testing shortly and update accordingly.

If you’re still rocking the Thunderbolt you’re going to love ICS especially if you’re rooted because they developers will turn something that is already great into an awesome ROM. With this update I’ll be sure to stick with my Thunderbolt for a while longer than I was originally planning.

March-Thu-0257-2012

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I’ve been rooted for quite some time now and I’ve finally settled down with the constant ROM switching that hits you like a sickness when you first start. I’ve settled on Factory ROM Mecha MR4 with sense 3.0. It’s a very smooth ROM that is very easy on the battery life. Everything works which is a huge plus since some ROMs seem to forget the small stuff. It’s the best one I’ve had and it’s what I’m sticking with until HTC updates the Thunderbolt with ICS sometime in the future.

Screenshot of battery usage using this rom.

I’ve been rooted for well over a month now and am finally getting the hang of all that is possible once you break your phone free from all of its shackles. The biggest issue for most Thunderbolt users was/is battery life and after some tweaking I’ve gotten superb battery life from my Thunderbolt and from the sound of it more experienced users are doing better than me. As of August 23, 2011 I am running the Liquid Gingersense v1.6 ROM with the MR2 radio as well as imoseyon’s Lean Kernel for Gingerbread/Sense based ROM’s. My phone hasn’t been charged since I booted the ROM and I am currently at 63% battery remaining with over 14 hours on battery. Previously I’d have to have had it on the charger about two hours ago. The charging time has also been dramatically reduced thanks to the Lean Kernel. It’s a significant improvement and one of the many reasons you should look into the Thunderbolt as well as any Android phone. Screenshot for old battery usage.
Verizon Wireless’ first 4G LTE capable phone hit the market with a surge of pre-release reviews that raved about the phone. Now that the phone has been out for several months and Verizon is adding more and more 4G phones we’re going to take a look at the one that Verizon put their money and weight behind. The HTC Thunderbolt is loved by many but of course does have a large number of skeptics and angry users most of whom adopted a first edition phone expecting it to work flawlessly. Those who adopted the phone for what it is seem to have an easier time adjusting to the flaws in both the software itself and the Verizon network. The phone itself is a hefty beast that in comparison to other reputable smartphones it will make you say “wow.” That weight however isn’t from the addition of tacky useless crap however. The phone comes loaded with a Qualcomm 1GHz processor, LTE, CDMA and WiFi radios. It also comes with a 32gb micro-SD card, LTE sim card and a large 4.3 inch display. You also have the option of enabling a WiFi hotspot so that you can share your 3G connection with up to 8 other devices. It also comes preloaded with about a dozen apps that range from useful to crapware and you cannot delete any of them without rooting your phone. The Thunderbolt received a 4 star excellent rating from CNET and was the editors choice for PC Magazine. One of the biggest drawbacks for many of the users has been the small battery. HTC put a tiny 1400mAH battery that depletes within as few as 6 hours with moderate use. Some users have reported significantly less battery life which has prompted Verizon to offer refurbished models for free or an extended battery. I believe the lack of a larger battery is mostly to blame on the technology behind 4G and Verizon wanting to keep the phone streamlined. The extended battery adds about an extra inch to the phone and an ugly hump. I have found the battery to be quite acceptable for moderate daily use however if you’re bored on a plane I’d suggest bringing along another device or extra battery. It helps if an outlet is never more than a few steps away.

As for the display, it’s pretty fantastic — definitely an upgrade from the EVO’s component thanks to a superior viewing angle that never washes out or inverts. Engadget

Taken with my Thunderbolt indoors

The main reason that most adopted the phone was because it runs off of the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network which is incredibly fast. The speeds that the Thunderbolt achieves while on 4G are equal to or faster than a dual core phone and typically faster than your home WiFi network. The Speedtest.net app that many reviewers have used to test the 4G network isn’t quite accurate and shows accelerated speeds but the phone still loads full flash pages in about 5 seconds. On average you should see 5Mbps to 12Mbps downloads and upload speeds of 2Mbps to 5Mbps. Verizon’s 4G network is expanding everyday so it should be in your city fairly soon. Even if you don’t have the 4G network the phone itself is superior to most on 3G. However when the phone switches into 4G the battery takes yet another hit which prompted Verizon to release an OTA (over the air) update that allows you to switch between 3G and 4G. It’s a handy feature that saves you lots of battery life when on the outskirts of a 4G area or while not in one at all.

Some of the customization options available

HTC has a spotty track record of delivering fantastic picture and video quality — but as 8 megapixel models go, we’re happy to report that the Thunderbolt is markedly improved from the EVO 4G. Engadget

Oddly a review of the phone itself comes last when reviewing this device but you can’t really say much about call quality that hasn’t been said before. The call quality on the Thunderbolt is mediocre and people on the other end are not loud. I have to have the volume all the way up. The sound quality however is excellent. I do not have static or any other annoying noise in my ear unless its the person on the other end (bad joke I know). It does what it’s supposed to and that’s what matters. Another perk that the Thunderbolt has is simultaneous voice and data usage, something the iPhone on Verizon does not have. To many a phone lacking this option is a deal breaker even though I never find myself surfing the web while trying to converse with someone. Pros:

  • 4G ready
  • 4.3 inch display
  • Good call quality
  • Super fast browsing and download speeds
  • Wireless hotspot ready
  • Over 32gb of storage and expandable to more
  • Elegant and smooth interface (Android 2.2 with HTC Sense)
  • Simultaneous voice and data
  • 8 megapixel camera with dual LED flash with a 1.3mp chat cam
  • Stereo speakers with surround sound
  • Kickstand for movie viewing
  • Hulu and Netflix have finally arrived
Cons:
  • Poor battery life (unless rooted)
  • Heavier than most phones
  • Odd placement for charging slot
  • Problems switching between 3G and 4G (allegedly fixed with last OTA)
  • Random reboots (allegedly solved with last OTA update)
  • Occasional problems syncing Google services
  • Over 15 Verizon and HTC apps that are non removable. (unless rooted)
Rooted Features:
  • Free tethering
  • Free WiFi hotspot
  • Ability to delete any and all apps
  • Ability to flash new ROMs
  • Ability to strip out all Sense elements
  • Ability to choose the permissions for every app
  • Ability to completely back up the entire phone
  • The app SetCPU allows you to slow the processor down when it is not needed. Saves battery

If you buy the phone directly from Verizon you’ll be paying dearly for it however if you buy it from a third party like Amazon Wirelessyou can get the phone for as low as $49.99. It’s an incredible deal for a phone that has so much technology jammed into it.

HTC’s managed to put together a handset here that we can honestly recommend with a straight face, owing in no small part to the fact that it borrows heavily from the company’s existing parts bin. Engadget

The bottom linewhen considering this phone is how much will you be using it for heavy video and internet usage? If you’re not capable of reaching an outlet all day and you want to watch Netflix or porn while on break at work then this is not the phone for you. If you want a phone that has internet speeds of mach 2 so that you can check your email and the latest news all while texting and talking then this is your device. It’s not for the super consumer of bandwidth. I personally love the phone and haven’t broken a sweat while trying to track down a plug. Going from nothing but Apple products to this I have to say I am loving Android and all of its power. I highly recommend this phone and as always keep an eye out for updates as more Verizon updates roll out in the near future.

Quotes via Engadget

Want to Root your TBolt? Learn How

Author: James

I am the owner and main author of My Bloggity Blog. I started this blog on a whim and it grew faster than I ever imagined. I seriously enjoy debating politics and foreign policy as I'm sure you've noticed but I also enjoy a wide array of other things that I try to include here.

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