My honest review of the Thunderbolt - a week later March 30, 2011
If you're looking for an honest review of the Thunderbolt (mind you, I've only had it a little less than 2 weeks at this point), please read on.
First, a little background: I've been a Verizon customer for years. I previously had an LG Env2 for 3 years before buying the Thunderbolt. Like a lot of you, I'm sure, I waited and waited and skipped over several releases of the iPhone (on AT&T), desperately hoping for something equal or better on Verizon. For better or worse, I stood my ground and kept on waiting for something on Verizon. I was eligible for an upgrade about this time last year, but I never pulled the trigger on it for one reason or another. I guess I just never found a phone that really made me want to spend the extra money for the data plan (although the Droid Incredible came close). As soon as I heard that the LTE phones would start to roll out in early 2011, I knew I was waiting until that point to use my upgrade.
That brings us to the present. Dismayed a little by the continuous delays that plagued the release of the Thunderbolt, I waited patiently until the weekend following the release. I told myself I was going to wait a little longer to see if there were any major problems. I was a bit nervous on this purchase, just based on the rumors I'd been hearing about (and reading about) that delayed the Thunderbolt's release. In the end, though, I decided I just couldn't wait any longer and I made the purchase. My $50 upgrade credit (incidentally, the last time I'll be able to use one of those on Verizon, since they're doing away with the program) brought the price of the phone from $250 down to $200. Initial set-up at the Verizon store was minimal and I was out the door fairly quickly.
A few caveats here, before I dive into the guts of the review:
1) I live on the East Coast, in Arlington, VA. I frequently travel up/down the I-95 corridor to NJ/NYC/CT/etc, where Verizon's 4G LTE signal is very strong.
2) Even though this is my first Android phone, I'm quite familiar with the operating system (OS) since my fiancee has one (Droid Incredible) and my father has one (Droid X). I've spent extensive time with both of those phones, so I have a pretty good reference point.
So, the first thing everyone wants to know is, of course, about 4G. (This is certainly the start of the "Pros" category, by the way.) As I mentioned above, I spend most of my time on the East Coast in the mid-Atlantic region. I've found the 4G signal to be excellent so far. During a recent trip from Philly down to Arlington, VA, I had 4G signal a good majority of the time. There were definitely spots in Northern Maryland and Delaware that didn't have 4G, but once I hit the outskirts of Baltimore, I had 4G signal pretty much the rest of the way south to Washington, DC. Keep in mind, too, that the 4G LTE network (on this phone, anyway) is for DATA only. It won't be until later this year or next year that Verizon starts to release phones that actually make phone calls over the 4G network.
The 4G LTE network that Verizon has up and running is BLAZING fast. I can't possibly overstate that in any way, shape, or form. I have a Comcast cable modem at home that provides Wifi to my apartment. The 4G speeds that I'm getting with LTE right now are FASTER than my home network. And not even really that close, to be honest. Verizon's 4G network is considerably faster than the Comcast cable modem. How much faster you ask? Take these numbers for instance (generated using the SpeedTest.net app from the Android app store):
On my home Wifi: 2941 kbps DOWNLOAD, 1390 kbps UPLOAD
On Verizon's LTE network: 5102 kbps DOWNLOAD, 21214 kbps UPLOAD
In case your math is a little rusty, download speeds are almost twice as fast on the LTE network. Upload speeds are 15+ times faster! That's compared to a CABLE MODEM! That's insanely fast, folks!!! The big question, of course, is will those speeds continue to hold up as more folks jump on the LTE network? I can't answer that question since I'm not a Verizon engineer. I certainly hope so, that's for sure. Verizon's network is their reputation, so I'm willing to bet that the speeds hold up fairly well. And let's face it -- even if there is a *slight* downgrade in speed once more folks are on, it's still insanely fast for a cell phone.
To go along with the network speeds, lets discuss the Mobile Hotspot on the phone. You can connect up to 5 devices to the hotspot. My understanding is that the mobile hotspot option is free on this phone through mid-May (roughly, don't quote me on this). I tested it out this weekend, and it performed flawlessly using my MacBook. Speeds were, again, outstanding. I didn't run any numbers, but just browsing the Internet seemed considerably faster when connected to my phone (vs. the Cable Modem Wifi). Definitely an awesome feature to be able to turn the phone into a mobile 4G LTE hotspot. Am I going to use that feature after May when I have to pay extra? I'm not sure, but it's certainly a great option to have for some folks. I guess the answer will also depend on Verizon's pricing structure, whenever that fully emerges.
The phone itself feels well put together. Make no mistake about it: it's LARGE. But it's not too large. Personally, I think it's the perfect size for cell phone. Screen size is the same as the Droid X at 4.3 inches, although the phone itself is smaller in profile and feels a lot nicer to hold than the Droid X. It's great for any type of video, Google Nav, etc etc. The list goes on, but the screen is big, bright, and beautiful. Is it the latest and greatest screen technology out there? I doubt it, but it certainly looks really good, I can tell you that much.
That about does it for the PROS. Now for the CONS. Some of them are nitpicky, and some are not. Some may be mixed with future updates, and others probably won't.
First thing I noticed when I got the phone home: Verizon loads this thing with bloatware CRAP. I don't know about you, but that really, REALLY annoys me. Not so much that they put it on there, I understand that Verizon probably has marketing agreements with other companies (Blockbuster, for example). I can live with that. That's if they made the apps removable - they are not. And that's what drives me absolutely crazy with this phone. The only program that can be deleted from the device is CityID. The others are baked into the ROM - meaning that even if you go though the procedures to delete them, guess what -- they're still there! They don't go away!! And there's nothing you can do to get rid of them, short of rooting the phone (which I'm not recommending). To name a few: Blockbuster, Bitbop, Amazon Kindle, Lets Golf 2, Peep, Rhapsody, Rock Band, Slacker, VCast Apps, VCast Media, and VZ Navigator. Keep in mind that some of these apps run AUTOMATICALLY in the background (draining battery! which I'll get to in a minute). If you didn't just read that list and say "Are you kidding me?!?!" then you're nuts. I have a demo of Lets Golf 2 on my phone that I CAN'T DELETE because Verizon says so. That is total crap, in my opinion, and a huge downside to this phone. I'm okay with them pre-loading it on their phones - just don't put it in the ROM. I literally hate that Verizon thinks you should have no choice on deleting some apps. Huge minus for this phone.
That leads me nicely into battery life. Believe (most of) what you read. It's more or less a disaster. I'd like to tell you otherwise, believe me! And it's even more annoying when you realize there are Verizon apps running in the background that you can't get rid of (or stop with a Task Killer program -- they pop right back up!). If you run this phone on the 4G LTE network all day long, I'm here to tell you that it's HIGHLY unlikely you're even getting through the day without having to recharge. I found that I average (so far) about 4-6 hours between charges. And that is NOT with heavy use (streaming video, etc.). That's with light-to-moderate use during the day (1 or 2 quick phone calls, checking Gmail and Facebook, etc). If you read the reviews on here (and elsewhere - check on Verizon's own forums), you'll see people complaining of the same thing. I really hope that Verizon will put out a software update to address this issue, as it's most certainly one of the phone's major problems. Having said that, there are ways around the issue. Using different apps from the app store (Phone Info is the one I use), you can force the phone to operate in 3G mode only. That definitely helps batter life tremendously. You can also download/purchase a "task killer" app to close out apps running (draining battery) in the background. That also helps, but the biggest saver of the battery is forcing the phone into 3G only mode. Which, for me, is quite frustrating. Yeah, I'm saving on the battery life, but one of the MAIN REASONS I bought this phone to begin with is to access the 4G network. So it doesn't do me much good to run it in 3G only mode, although I'm forced to do it right now because of the battery life. It's frustrating, to say the least. Is it something Verizon will fix in the near future? Let's hope so. Just be aware of this issue before you buy this phone (many of the rumors surrounding the delayed release of this phone centered on the problems with its battery life).
Phone call quality is mediocre, at best. When I think of a word to describe the call quality, what comes to mind is "meh". That's really all I can say. For a device this technologically superior, it's call quality should be fantastic. It's NOT - it's just OK. Both the Droid Incredible and the Droid X are *FAR* superior than this phone in that regard. Why? I don't really know. If you read up on some of the newest Android phones (the Motorola Atrix on AT&T for example), a lot of them are having problems with call quality. Put the HTC Thunderbolt in that category too. I haven't really had anyone complain, per se, but it's just not that great. People sound very "tinny" on my end. I agree with others: the uppermost volume setting is definitely not loud enough, either. If you're in a really quiet room, it's fine, but good luck being able to hear anyone on a crowded city street. Again, I hope we'll see a fix for this sooner than later through a software update.
The camera on the phone is also just "OK". It's really nothing great. Yeah it's 8 megapixels, and yeah, it takes decent shots for a cell phone, but that's about all. It's been covered in great detail by reviews elsewhere, and I haven't really used it too much yet, so I'm not going into great detail here. I haven't been that impressed by it, at least not yet, but it's not awful either. I haven't used the front camera for any video calls or anything like that yet, so I can't comment on it much. It's 1.3 megapixels, that's about all I know. I'm sure it's also mediocre.
I think that about covers it, at least the main aspects of the phone, anyway. I will edit/update this initial review as I spend more time with the phone. Believe me, I *really* wanted this to be a 5-star phone, but it's honestly not. It's probably more like a 3.5 star phone, but due to the sheer speed of Verizon's LTE network, I'll be generous and give it a half-star bump to 4-stars. If Verizon can figure out the battery life problems and the call quality problems, it's definitely a 4.5 star phone (I'm keeping that other half-star reserved until Verizon decides not to kill the phone with bloatware!).
It's definitely a good (but not great) entrance into the 4G/LTE arena for Verizon. If you're going to buy the phone, temper your expectations a little. That's the best advice I can give. If you can stand to wait a few more months, I'd probably do so to see what's coming from Motorola, Samsung, LG, etc.
I hope this review helped you make a reasonable decision on the phone.
Fast internet browsing, lots of nice features, but still some issues. March 20, 2011
Reviewer: Petur O. Jonsson (Fayetteville, NC USA) -
My wife and I just bought a couple of these and we have been playing with them and learning their features for the last few days. Overall, we both like the phones a great deal, but there are still some issues.
1. We both like the touchscreen keyboard features on this phone better than on other smart phones that we have tried. The phone gives you tactile feedback with a subtle vibration whenever you hit a key, and, as you get more used to this feedback it really speeds up your typing. I still find that I need to type in landscape mode, else the keys are too small for my fingers, but it really works pretty well.
(2) Web-browsing is lightning fast and zooming in and out and moving across web pages seems instantaneus. This makes it very easy to read newspapers, etc. For me, this phone is as good as a tablet for reading newspapers.
(3) The camera and the video recordings work pretty well. Due to limitations of the lens, etc., the 8 Megapixel camera is not even close to what you get from even the cheapest of digital cameras, but it is still a big improvement over earlier phones.
Still needs improvement:
(1) My wife and I have so far not been able to exchange multimedia messages using these phones. Messages that have video and/or audio attachments remain undelivered. A verizon tech support person told us that this was due to some temporary bugs in transmitting multimedia attachments with messages from the Thunderbolt and that this was an android issue which should be straightened out very soon (Update: the problem was indeed taken care of soon: it is now fixed and all backlogged multimedia messages were delivered after we rebooted the phones).
(2) Voice dialing is not as efficient as it is on the blackberries. With the Thunderbolt, you can voice dial a contact, but then if there are multiple numbers, you must use the touchscreen to select one of them (unless you are using bluetooth). In contrast, on a blackberry you can voice specify one of several number for a given contact even without a bluetooth.
(3) Battery life seems to be on the short side. I do not believe that you get even two hours of intensive browsing, etc., from the battery.
We bought HTC extended life batteries few weeks ago and I now see these a necessity for the Thunderbolt. Even with the extended life battery,we still have to recharge the phone every other day with light use and every day with moderate to heavy use. Also, my wife's phone started using up the battery at an even faster rate, to the point where the original battery would be depleted in two hours with little or no use. We returned that phone under warranty and the replacement phone is doing better.
Another issue is that my phone has frozen up a few times and when this happened I was not able to get the phone to reboot until I actually removed and reinstalled the battery. This seems to happen about every other week. So far it has not been a big problem albeit this it is annoying when this happens.
Whatever problem is causing my phone to freeze up started getting progressively worse. These last few days it has happened every day and earlier today it simply refused to come back on when I took the battery out to reboot it. I then took the phone to a verizon service center, where they were eventually able to get it to reboot, but then it had lost all its data including my address files, etc. At that point I was expecting the verizon backup assistant software to reinstall my data, but it failed to do so, so I seem to have lost my directory of contacts (I will check later whether it can be retrieved through other means). Verizon tells me that I will be receiving a replacement phone in overnight mail. I will post another update once I receive that one and have set it up properly.
I received a new thunderbolt the very next day as promised and I was able to download all my original information to it. I am not sure exactly what the problems were with the first one, but the new one has been faster from the get go and so far everything has been copacetic.
Coming from an iPhone 4 user on AT&T... March 24, 2011
Reviewer: R. Vogt "Robert"
As a previous iPhone 4 user, I would say I was apple brainwashed (or is it "applewashed"?) and thought the iPhone was the only smartphone worth considering. Well, the iPhone truly is a great phone, but a combination of AT&T's miserable service - including 5-10 dropped calls a day on average and terrible reception otherwise - the iPhone was often rendered a $700 smart paperweight unless WiFi was accessible. So why not get an iPhone 4 with Verizon you say? Well, after hearing about Verizon's new LTE network and the new HTC Thunderbolt I decided to take the plunge into Android for a change of pace.
I will not talk much about Android itself, well, because this isn't a review of Android. However, I will say that I really like HTC's Sense overlay and the level of customization that is possible. HTC's platform and the Android GUI's feature set is impressive compared to the iPhone's cut and dry. I love the widgets and having instant access to a bunch of useful information on the home screen.
So about the phone. The phone is substantially bigger if you are used to the iPhone. The size alone might rule this phone out for some people. It works out well for me since I have bigger hands and felt myself squinting at the iPhone screen. Reading and viewing text is made a very pleasurable experience on the Thunderbolt given the screen size. In terms of data speed, the phone is blisteringly fast when on Verizon's 4G. The speed of the GUI is smooth, albeit not as smooth as the iPhone 4. For example, when scrolling amongst apps, it's just not as fluid. It's not a deal breaker by any stretch and perhaps they might tweak this a bit in future OS revisions.
In terms of style, where the iPhone 4 is svelte, the Thunderbolt seems "all business". The case itself is robust and hefty but the material is actually a bit slippery - a good reason to opt for a rubberized cover of some sort. Nonetheless, it does feel good in the hand and quality made. I'd say the touch responsiveness with the capacitive screen is near equal to the iPhone's.
The camera is a downgrade from the iPhone 4 but is still passable. For me this really wasn't a big deal since I have this incredible invention called a digital camera for high quality photos.
The stock battery life is not as good as the iPhone, but it's also not bad at all for average use in my experience. Unless you are simultaneously streaming your HD soap opera over 4G, syncing 30 apps, playing Angry Birds, and listening to music through your bluetooth headphones, you'll probably find that the battery life is satisfactory. That being said, the iPhone 4 vs. HTC TBolt battery comparison is not truly apples to apples one (no pun intended) because the screen is so much larger on the HTC and it's running 4G. But guess what: you can actually replace the battery yourself without sacrificing your phone to Apple, and furthermore, you can replace the battery with an extended one if you need it. What luxury.
So there you have it. Coming from the iPhone 4 I feel like I made a great upgrade, and I am no longer having my blood sucked by AT&T. While both phones are without a doubt superb, my preference is for the HTC. Faster and better things will surely come down the pipe like they always do, but this is a great phone for the here and now.
-UPDATE - APR 28 -
I just wanted to post a quick update on my experience with the Thunderbolt thus far. I still am very pleased with the phone, and I find it cumbersome when I go back to using my girlfriend's Iphone 4. I've grown accustomed to the bigger screen size (which I think it's just about perfect).
It does seem like the phone has some issues switching amongst the 3G/4G radios and I hope HTC will release an update soon. For instance, at times it seems like the handoff isn't smooth and apps like Pandora will skip momentarily. I also find it annoying that certain apps (such as the internet) won't transfer data when on basic 1X service like the iPhone would (albeit super slowly which is expected). Perhaps this is also something that could be addressed.
I would like to make one suggestion and recommend purchasing the aftermarket charger/battery options provided by Seidio if you find yourself draining the battery. They have a nice battery charger that will allow you to charge your spare and your phone at the same time - which is great for those days when you use the phone more and need the extra juice. I don't often need to change the battery during the day but on the weekends it's nice to have the spare.
I wish I liked it more March 22, 2011
Reviewer: Ryan (Fairfax) -
I bought the original Motorola Droid when it first came out. That device was not only a flagship (like the Thunderbolt), but was a "Google Experience" device, which means that Motorola did not botch it up nor did the carrier because Google wanted a pure experience for the user. The Thunderbolt is NOT an experience device, sadly.
The internet speeds are awesome! Within about 6 minutes of signing into my phone in the store, it had downloaded and installed all 58 of my apps (if you aren't aware, Google knows what you use and automatically downloads them when you sign into a new phone or sign into a phone after you have reset it).
The phone is very fast; my Droid was getting so slow, this thing blows it out of the water.
The screen is large but not too big. The phone feels good in your hand; it is a bit heavier than my Droid, but is the same length and barely any wider, yet has a much bigger screen.
The amount of preinstalled and unremovable programs installed by Verizon & HTC is insane. ALL of those programs run in the background, constantly. Even WITH a task killer, they automatically come back on every time (this does NOT help the battery life issue).
That said, I know a lot of people love Sense UI, but I do not. Sure, it is better than MotoBlur and maybe some other skins out there, but I much prefer the pure Android UI. Sense DOES have some nice features, but all of those features are again, running constantly and interfere with other things on the phone, killing the battery and making it less enjoyable to use. A great example is "Facebook for HTC Sense." It isn't an actual substitute for the Facebook app, it just means you have to sign in a second time and that program then populates other fields on the phone. If you end up setting both to sync, then you end up with 2x the FB contacts. Also, FB for HTC populates your FB events on your calendar. I don't know about you, but I 'attend' a lot of events that I either don't go to or aren't real, in person events. It would be great if there was a standard Google Calendar, but there is not.
Speaking of Sense UI some more, all of it's add ons require you to sign into your accounts twice; they don't talk to the accounts you are already signed into on your phone to begin with.
On my Droid I had RockPlayer installed and could watch movies/videos in any number of formats, including MKV. I haven't tried any format other than MKV on my Thunderbolt, but it couldn't play it for some reason. I read online that it has a very limited set of compatible formats, so that might have something to do with it. That said, this is a big down side for me.
I didn't realize this when I bought it, but there doesn't seem to be a notification light of any type. A light comes on when it is charging, under the speaker screen, but there is no notification light on this phone. How am I supposed to know if I have a message or something waiting if I am not sitting next to it to hear it? REVISION: The light is there, it is just not as bright as the charging light & it is farther behind the speaker grill, meaning you have to be looking DIRECTLY at it or you won't see it. From the side? Good luck! Oh, and it appears to stop blinking after a certain amount of time, which is also dumb.
Battery life: all you need to know is, it's bad. It would be better if you could turn off the preinstalled apps, the duplication of Facebook (but you need both on & updating for the various applications and widgets), etc. Also, it would be really nice if you could have an option to turn on and off the 4G radio only; most of the time you are fine with 3G and only need 4G on when downloading large files, web pages, or data intensive apps. If you were able to turn off the 4G, then you could save battery life as well.
The phone is fast, gorgeous, and has a great feel in hand. However, switching from a Google Experience device to a non-experience, skinned, and bloated device might prove to be too much of a negative change for me. I can overlook a few things because, after all, if every device was the same, we wouldn't make any forward progress. That said, there might be too much that I don't like on this phone that I just can't ignore, even though I REALLY want to and really want to keep it! I bought it at Best Buy instead of Amazon (cheaper) or at Verizon because Best Buy has a 15 day return period. Sadly, I might be taking advantage of that flexibility in hopes that the Droid Bionic by Moto doesn't suffer from these same issues.
Amazing Phone March 18, 2011
Reviewer: Nate Hubel
I just got this phone as an upgrade from the original Droid. I have only used it for about a day so far, but I can honestly say it was well worth the upgrade. 4G is wicked fast. I got 15Mbps down and 25Mbps on my phone. That's insane! Everything else about the phone feels fast too. HTC Sense comes with some bloatware and small annoyances, but it's amazingly smooth and does have some improvements over stock OS. The screen, while not Super AMOLED, looks really good. It's the same resolution as many other phones but it looks beautiful and the contrast is better than I expected.
Battery life isn't as bad as I thought it would be. It should last a full day, but I think i'll get the extended battery anyway. The camera isn't great, but it's not bad. The addition of a front facing camera is nice and the camcorder function takes higher quality video than I expected. The only gripe I have is that the screen squeaks occasionally when pressed, but it's not too annoying. I wish it had support for more video codecs like mkv, but few phones have that right now. Overall, it's easily the best phone on Verizon right now. It's not dual core, but it acts like it, so while the benchmarks may not show it to be as fast as the Atrix or Bionic, it feels and acts just as fast in real-life. There's nothing to be dissapointed about with this phone.
Awesome Phone. No Battery issues here =) March 26, 2011
Reviewer: S. O'Connell
Been waiting months for this phone and now it's finally here. Let me start by saying Amazon really pulled through with a great deal. I was gonna get the phone from Verizon for 250, but I saw that Amazon had it for 175!!! I couldn't pass up that deal so I went for it. I ordered it on March 22 and Amazon said it was backordered 8 to 9 days. I didn't mind waiting since I saved 85 bucks. Turns out the phone came in early and and I had my phone shipped on March 24 and received it yesterday March 25.
It's an awesome phone that has everything you need but I'm not gonna get to in to that stuff because I'm sure everyone here knows about it's features and such. I want to talk about battery life.
All I have been hearing is about how horrible the battery is. Some people are only getting 2 to 3 hours and it's dead. Really??? What are you people doing to your phones? I let the phone charge overnight. I turned the phone on around 9 a.m. this morning. Did some web browsing, Youtube, downloaded some apps, played Abduction, made 2 phone calls, and did a whole lot of texting. It's now 6:15 and I have 20% battery left. That's 9 hours I got out of it on my first day. I'm in a 4G area too (NYC) so all those complaints about 4G killing your battery is mind-boggling to me.
This is honestly the best phone I have ever had. HTC and Verizon have made a great device and Amazon is, as usual, is amazing with their service.
Great phone May 17, 2011
Reviewer: ChicagoCPA (Chicago) -
If you are reading this review, you are looking for an cheap LTE phone that works well and I'd say this one qualifies. It is in fact my backup phone should something happen to my HTC Droid DNA within the next 17 months. I still use it as a wake up alarm clock and bring it out when the kids deserve some App time.
When this phone came out, it was fast, but compared to today's 4 core phones, it seems very slow now, but in 2011, it seemed fast.
- Update 2/10/2013 - Verizon finally rolled out the ICS (Ice Cream Sandwich) update and I have just updated my Thunderbolt to Android 4.0.4 HTC Sense 3.6. Since I had already replaced this with a HTC Droid DNA as my primary phone, I had to borrow for an hour my wife's HTC Thunderbolt's SIM card and I had no problem getting the update and it installed without a hitch. It is working well and I would highly recommend the update, there are a lot of nice things that come with going from Android 2.3 to Android 4.0. In particular, I like being able to create folders now. Since my Thunderbolt is now an alarm clock / backup-phone-in-case-I-break-my-DNA / Kid's Game machine for the foreseeable future, I wanted it to be as up to date as possible while the update was available.
- Update 7/17/2012 - I still like my phone very much and have no regrets at all in buying it. It has been easy to buy accessories and it is one of the first phones to get updates and such.
- Update 10/20/2011 - after 5 months I still have no regrets. I still like my phone and I am especially happy to have been able to get grandfathered into the unlimited rate plans while they lasted (rather than waiting for a dual core phone) as I often go over 10GB per month.>
- Update: I have had this phone since 5/11/2011. If you are buying the phone NOW, you are looking for a cheap LTE phone and this HTC Thunderbolt should fit the bill nicely.
- Original Review (modified):
Some of difference between this phone and others that I would bring to your attention would be:
- The HTC Sense browsers word wraps when you pinch zoom into a web page and I love this feature. Few other phones do this.
- The TB has 8GB of onboard memory and 70% of that memory is not available for you to use.
This may seem irrelevant with the 32GB SD card that came with it, however many apps will not let you move them to an SD Card
- The Thunderbolt feels sturdy and very professional. I have dropped it numerous times and it has had no ill effect that I can tell.
- There is no HDMI port, however this phone does not quite have enough oomph to be a huge video driver anyway.
- I REALLY like TB's FastBoot (I turn it "off" every night -- I suspect 1GB of the unavailable memory is used for this feature, tho ideally it would be called suspend so you can still have a true "off" at the same time)
- Hulu and Netflix and Skype all work well (all of which work much better with LTE)
- The after-market has favored the HTC Thunderbolt.
- There are a TON of reviews on this phone. Most are either 1 star or 4 star. If you remove the battery issue from the equation, the vast majority of people love it.
- Yes, they SHOULD have given it a bigger battery, but to keep up with the trend of "thin is in", they didn't. It is a great deal thinner than my Tilt2. So... moving on...
- If you are getting horrible better battery life, my main recommendation would be keep the LTE radio off until you need to use it and turn it off again when you are done. Here in Chicago, there are enough LTE towers that my phone does not drain too much battery life hunting for a signal. I can easily go 10+ hours on the built in battery. I routinely get well over 48 hours with the 2,750 mah battery with the 4G/LTE radio on the entire time.
- That big and bright screen (for 1/1/2011) devours batteries and with unlimited 4G service and a fast 1GHz processor, you will have it on 3 times as much as you ever thought you would. It is that enjoyable to use. Perhaps this is the source for many of the complaints. I know we have our screens on far, far longer than we ever had before.
- Unlike my mother's HTC phone or my sisters iPhone, I have never once had an issue with my cheek hanging up on people or putting them on hold while I talk (and neither has my wife). The phone really can tell when you are holding it against your face and turns the screen off as appropriate and turns it back again as soon as you take it away.
- More battery tips: I try to always back out of programs until I get to the home screen to make sure they are not running in the background when I turn it off. I never bother killing an app. Every time our battery seems to not last very long, it is fully attributable to keeping the screen on for extended periods, usually for extended internet browsing or facebooking. In those instances, I just expect to plug it in soon, as I have with every notebook computer I have ever owned. Everywhere we turn, we have an option to plug it in, so no big deal.
- I can stream 3 straight hours of video over LTE on battery power on my 2,750 battery and still be only down 2 bars (20%).
- I normally want a backup battery anyway, so I got an extended battery. I actually like the extra heft and ridge to hold it. I have fewer worries about battery life than any of my previous 3 smartphones.
- Unlimited LTE exposes a wide host of options I never before considered, like streaming Pandora or Hulu while at my desk at the office without going thru the firm's firewall (since it is against stated policy to do so). This would be an occasion where I would just keep it plugged in.
- Before ordering a new phone, I call the phone company to get the unlock code of my previous phone before deactivating it so I can use a SIM card from another country on that phone. They will generally have no problem doing this when it is out of contract.
Regarding getting the phone from AmazonWireless:
Wow, what a price. 130 plus activation fees (which my corporate account allowed me to avoid) vs 250 from vzw.
If you want more control over sorting/filtering the reviews, go to Amazon.com to read these same reviews (instead of wireless.amazon.com)
I ordered the phone late at night on the 9th and received it bright and early on the 11th from KY (the delivery estimate was for the 12th).
Regarding VerizonWireless initialization:
I did not turned the phones on (I let VZW do this), but I did charge them up for an hour before heading off to the local VZW store for activation (as AmazonWireless does not do corporate discounts nor phone number rollovers for new family accounts)
I arrived without a employment photo id (do not have one) nor a amount-redacted paycheck stub, so I was sent back home to get one as they do not discuss corporate discounts without such proof.
I also needed to bring the AT&T account number (which I got by calling 611, but bringing the invoice would have been faster).
I also should have printed that email that AmazonWireless sent with the phone numbers as it would have speeded up the process.
VZW first activated the phone numbers that arrived with the phones and then ported over our AT&T #s and about 1 hour later the AT&T phones were disconnected and the new phones were ready to use with our old #s. (very fast)
If you order more than one phone... keep everything separate! I threw everything into one bag and they spend a good 10 minutes looking up their records to figure out which 4G card went with which phone. I still suspect it did not matter, but they wanted to be on the safe side.
If you arrive with your old phones and your google account information handy, they were happy to assist you in setting it up and transferring the data over (I did not, so I did it myself)
I receive a Welcome to VZW text next day with links to walk me thru setting it up (I have not yet used this, but I have kept it as it seems it may be useful)
I have found thru my own experience and a good amount of googling, that the cheaper data plan is fine if you are using Corporate Microsoft Exchange email with ActiveSync. I am not sure why they have two plans and neither did the folks at the Verizon Wireless store.
Regarding the phone itself:
To use the speakerphone, there is an option to just put it face down on a flat surface.
I almost wish it had a stylus. I clicked the wrong item far too often, but I am getting much better at it.
It feels very solid and pleasant to hold and has already survived two 4' falls onto concrete. get a screen protector ASAP! I didn't and it is now badly scratched, but the Zagg screen protector made these scratches invisible.)
As a phone, it does not have the best voice quality by any means, but it is usable and loud enough. It sounds much like our computer sounding VOIP system at work rather than a traditional voice line (it SEEMS to be doing VOIP over 4G, in which case it would affect most 4G phones. The same quality was mentioned in a review of the Charge). I was in upper Door County last weekend where there is no 3G signal and sure enough, voices sounded human again.
I was surprised to find that headphones must be unplugged when receiving a phone call, otherwise the mic does not work. You need an adaptor with a mic that allows for quality headphones to listen to music. I just unplug the headphones.
I use it for listening to music with headphones A LOT. (Pandora or FM Radio)
The camera is okay, but not nearly as good as I was hoping, however the software to control it has a lot of cool options for a cell phone.
A lot of gripe has been made about the position of the usb port and I agree it probably should have been place on the other side of the phone so you can view it on the kickstand sideways while plugged in.
The designers likely put it there for the HTC Desktop Docking Station for HTC Thunderbolt Docking station
Charges HTC Thunderbolt with standard or extended battery on device
Charges Spare Standard or Extended Battery
Angled for better viewing
HOWEVER!!! Since I have the Seidio extended battery, I use Seidio's case for this phone which that has a kickstand built into it that allows you to view it from either side (usb side up) and they also sell a desktop docking station in which you do not have to remove this case. [[ASIN:B00526TW60 Seidio ACTIVE Case for HTC 2750mAh and Seidio Innocell Extended Life Batteries for HTC ThunderBolt - 1 Pack - Retail Packaging - Black]] and [[ASIN:B005163JJ2 Seidio BD3-CRDHTMEC Desktop Cradle Kit for HTC ThunderBolt - Cradle - Retail Packaging - Black]] (tho the BD2 alternative is 10 bucks cheaper by not including a travel charger).
As not all apps rotate to allow you to have the USB port up, the docking station was a good buy for me and allows the volume buttons to be on the top and easily accessible.
A lot of gripe has been made about the lack of an HDMI out. Know that there is a Media Link Adaptor coming soon that will allow you to view on HDMI via DLNA (tho it costs WAY too much money... but wireless does make more sense). Personally, I do not see the point. I already have a HTPC setup, so I have a much better method to stream video to my HDMI TV.
I had to buy adaptors and cables for the multiple locations we charge (home/work/car). [[ASIN:B001QATRCA BlackBerry USB Cable Micro USB 1.0m (Black)]] [[ASIN:B003Q6CSVE Amzer Handy Converter Mini USB Connector to Micro USB]]
I have no problems with WiFi or USB tethering. LTE is faster than my home DSL connection.
PDANet would not work without first installing HTCSync (and then uninstalling it... it leaves behind the drivers you want... there are three different uninstall icons), but once installed, I was getting 7Mbps down and 1.7Mbps up via usb modem on my notebook according to DSL Reports (my at&t dsl line maxes out at 2.6 Mbps down and 0.7 Mbps up).
I have had no problems at all with it getting too hot.
All my smartphones have been built by HTC and I have been content with their quality and they have been reasonably on top of their software updates.
I experience no hiss at all listening to Pandora with my [[ASIN:B0028N78KC AKG K 272 HD High-Definition Headphones]] at any volume and I listen to it every workday and have a good ear (or so I like to think as a former musician).
The Mount as Disk Drive option also seems to require HTCSync to be installed (see comments for link). Again, you may uninstall HTCSync after it installed the underlying drivers you need.
It is much closer of an experience to using a computer rather than a phone. It certainly is faster and has a higher resolution screen than my first 4 computers, each of which cost thousands of dollars. The AmazonApps store is addicting with its free app of the day and its abilty to browse the internet and see exactly the same website as on my desktop with just the same speed is abolutely amazing. My "7.2Mbps" AT&T Tilt2 had the ability (sans flash) but was so slow as to make it a waste of my time.
As a new Andriod user, it took me days to figure out that you can swipe down the top bar and click on an app running in the background and be right back where you left off. Too bad you cannot actually close apps from here tho.
The video recording volume IS too low, but acceptable for my needs and there may be a software fix coming in the future.
I use Swype, however I really like the HTC on-screen keyboard. A big reason for wanting a huge power draining screen was to have a surface large enough for my big fingers to hit the correct keys. I always had a physical keyboard before, and I was very reluctant to lose it. I still wish I could see the entire screen while typing, but it is not as bad as I had feared.
Swype however still does not automatically include spaces in text messages (tho it does everywhere else) and it is still a bit of a pain to get it to work as expected when just typing letters. It took a while to figure out that the back hardware button was used by Swype to hide the keyboard.
Roboform is working quite nicely on it. It behaves like it is an entirely different internet browser. I tend to start at the Roboform list when I want to browse to a password protected website or a site I know I bookmarked within Roboform.
I really like the HTC Sense UI. I am seeing no downside at all so far, but then again, I am not using it for email or contacts or facebook or tasks, I am using Touchdown to sync with my office's Exhange server. My wife uses Facebook every day, but uses the htc web browser not the HTC Facebook App.
It is nice having at multiple AppStores to choose from: (VZW, AmazonApps, KindleBooks, and MarketAndroid) Interestingly enough, AmazonApps allows more than one phone on one account.
Regarding Verizon's pre-loaded apps. Personally I think the issue is widely overblown. They seem to do little harm and do not consume any measurable amount of battery power.
The wording on the Settings/Power/Fast Boot options is a bit confusing. You want to check the box to get fast boot. It defaults to NOT checked for broadest app compatibility. When FastBoot is enabled, the TB just hibernates instead of truly turning all the way off so it will turn on again and be usable in 10 seconds (tho reacquiring the signal take a bit longer). Nice if you want to conserve battery power and want to turn your phone "off" at night. If you want to reset your phone, just choose restart instead of power off.
My TB arrived with Android 2.2.1, then Verizon updated it to Android 2.3.4, then Android 4.0.4
Power usage March 23, 2011
Reviewer: Barry "DoesAnyoneCare" (Western USA) -
After my first day I was ready to return because the battery life was abysmal, less than 4 hours before it died whether I used it or not. Plus the thing was feeling warm to the touch at all times because programs were constantly running in the background.
My young Droid X daughter said she had the same problem but fixed it by installing, for free, Advanced Task Killer and Green Power. This worked to eliminate the heat leakage which was coming from a batter constantly in use and killed lots of unnecessary programs running in the background.
Now that this issue is fixed, so far the phone is worlds ahead of my BlackBerry Storm 2. Worlds apart improvement in the entire UI experience.
Now why HTC and Verizon allowed this phone to ship knowing full well its not configured to give a good user experience is a question they'll never answer.
From the Dark Ages To Enlightenment May 1, 2011
Reviewer: Steve-n-Dorth (Backwoods, Tennesee) -
I'm in the "over-50" club and remember when telephones had rotary dials and party lines. As the earth cooled and cellphones made their debut, a "good" one was about the size of a shoebox and weighed in just under your standard locomotive. Around this same time, PCs were slowly becoming a "must have" addition for any household that wasn't wallowing in abject poverty.
As technology sped past us, many of our employers began to demand that we dinosaurs either catch up and get tech-savvy or be replaced by young whippersnappers who could program the vcr and the microwave clock without having to take valium and check into a mental health facility for a rehabilitative period typically lasting several months. Several of us did our best to get up to speed, but the phone for many of us was still one of those things that we belligerently continued to use to make genuine phone calls, all the while complaining that as a result of the cellphone, we have no "downtime" for ourselves anymore because these damned things would now travel with us - everyfreakinwhere. Places that used to provide us respite from the grueling workload; the horse-n-buggy, the outhouse, the leisurely walk through the park, were now as much part of our office as our office was. We hated it, and most of us continue to hate it to this day.
Then phones became smarter, and we noticed that while we geezers were fumbling through phone books and day planners, or trying to Google directions and info on the "internets," our children and our bratty little junior employees were making us look like the doddering old fools we are with their damned smartphones. So this ol T-Rex took a look at a couple of smartphones, starting with the Blackberry and switching over to the Mogul, but frankly, they SUCKED worse than Britney Spears after a fifth of Jack Daniels. Buttons way too tiny to push with the average male fingertip, more instructions than a nuclear warhead schematic, and a learning curve so steep by the time we learned the phone's full capabilities, we'd be having our chins and butts wiped by the orderly at the local nursing home. Worse, at least for me, the claim of "internet access" was a cruel hoax, since I'd only recently gone from dial-up to cable modem and was getting very appreciative of the rapidity in which info would magically appear on my big, luminescent computer screen. With the Mogul and the Blackberry, it was as if I'd returned to those days of dial-up and to make matters intolerable, the screen was just too damned tiny for my rheumy old eyes to see very clearly.
I tossed those lousy phones onto the dungheap of obsolescence and chose the LG env. Simple, big slide-out QWERTY keyboard, worked well for my needs, didn't overwhelm me with too much technology, allowed me to suffer through texting and best of all, actually worked as a pretty decent phone. I was happy.
Then I started a new job as a "remote" employee and began traveling full-time for my work. Our company is heavily into technology as our primary way of communicating and as I lumbered from city to city toting my ancient env, I noticed that many of my colleagues were using the I-Phone and, peering over their shoulders, I became jealous pretty quickly, as well as disappointed with the lack of functionality my env had stuck me with.
But I'm not an Appleaniac, and so I passed on the I-phone. Then my env went through the wash about two months ago and coincidentally, my Verizon contract was up for renewal. So I wandered on down to my local Verizon dealer and the Thunderbolt had just been released. We have 4g capability in our area and it took me all of about five seconds to see that download speeds were comparable (if not faster at times) to my laptop, the learning curve was relatively small for anyone with open source knowledge and a skosh of computer literacy, and the apps on the phone, many of which are pretty much worthless to me because of so many better and often free apps available, made it easier for me to really grasp the full on capabilities of the phone itself. The price is a bit on the ugly side, but one of the benefits of dinosaurism is that I have a pretty good job and the cost was offset by the fact that my company pays my phone bill.
I left the store smiling have been traveling in blissful awareness ever since. I cannot tell you how much this phone has improved my travel experience in virtually every city I've meandered through (with the exception of the area around the White House in Washington DC, which only had 1g access? WTF??? No wonder nothing gets done there!) and the ease of operability has made it relatively painless as well. It truly is as though I've left the dark ages of information deficit and entered the age of knowledge enlightenment. For those of you who can relate to what I've said here, I encourage you to check out any of the Droid phones before you run out to by an I-Phone, I think you'll be much happier, and you certainly won't regret your decision to step up into today's technology.
One final thought before I part; with the access to information we now have right in the palm of our hands, there is NO excuse for ignorance in our society any longer. Get a phone, become informed, be enlightened.
Amazing Phone March 18, 2011
I had the HTC Incredible, and upgraded as soon as this phone came out. Let me say, everything that bothered me with the Incredible and my husband's original Droid has been fixed with this phone. It is blazingly fast. The screen has amazing clarity. The front and back camera is that best idea out there (thank you iPhone for giving us the idea!), no turning the phone around and having to feel for the "capture" button to try and take a self portrait. The little upgrades to the settings, ringing louder when in a pocket or a purse but quieting once the phone has been touched, the self battery saving once it gets below a certain battery, the kickstand, etc.... it's all amazing. There is actually 4g in my area and when I dialed someone and it IMMEDIATELY went through, I was in awe. The attachments to my email and the ringtones download so quickly, much faster than my home internet. Can't wait to use it as a mobile hotspot (free until May 15th! Thank you VZW!) for all my home devices.
Don't get me wrong the only downside is that this thing is a monster in size, but that's what happens when you get this much punch in such a small package. It is basically a tablet. And it's much heavier than my incredible, which took some getting used to while holding it to play on it or talk on the phone. However, I knew this going into it and played with someone's Droid X (same dimensions) to get myself prepared. I am trading the size + weight for so many extras.
And to the guy that said it doesn't support NFL mobile, there won't be any football anyway this year, so your NFL app will be pointless. :) just kidding, I sincerely hope that doesn't happen.
About damned time March 18, 2011
Reviewer: David C. Wallace "Ego sum a lamiai, inflecto volo" (Las Vegas, NV USA) -
This is a cursory review to get started. I bought this phone on an impulse and am very happy. I have been struggling with an HTC EVO I purchased which is a great phone, but the data was never ever consistent.
The first thing I can say about the Thunderbolt is that it has, in Las Vegas, consistent 4G. I have yet to drop to 3G since I have gotten the phone and considering the almost complete opposite was true for the WiMAX EVO I am impressed.
So far my speeds on the phone have tested at 5-7Mbps down and 20-30Mbps up with pings of 110 or under. More impressively is that when I enabled tethering, I get 3-6Mbps down and 2-5Mbps up on the XOOM with a ping of 150 and under. With the EVO I was getting at or below 1Mbps both ways and pings of 150-250. I will be doing a scan later to look for noiseless channels to see if I can clean up the signal and performance of tethering.
A speedtest just now, at 03/18/11 12:16AM PST from Las Vegas to the FCC approved server in Los Angeles, gave me a download of 15.13Mbps, 22.03Mbps upload and 85ms ping. As more differences become apparent to me I will create a video.
Worth the Wait March 17, 2011
Reviewer: P. Lyle
I have been due for an upgrade for a while now. Coming from the Windows Mobile Platform I needed something to make me not miss how customizable my Omnia II was. Back in December I almost made the mistake of jumping the gun and getting a 3g phone, boy am I glad I waited. This phone is everything I need in a phone. It's easy to use, extremely fast, makes great phone calls, integrates well with social media sites, has a ton of free, usable apps and I couldn't be happier with my purchase. Both my husband and I got the Thunderbolt and even my hard-to-please husband is very happy with this phone.
One thing I did miss was Swype not being installed but there is a Beta download available and it works okay. I would definitely recommend this phone to anyone.
Traded up from Blackberry Storm and glad I did! March 18, 2011
Reviewer: Windows 7 Hooked "Windows 7 Hooked" (Phoenix) -
Have been waiting for this phone to release for what seems like forever and I have to admit, the wait was well worth it! This is one great phone. Clear calls, super fast browsing, beautiful display & overall easy to use. I must admit it probably wouldn't have hurt if I'd cracked open the manual, but reading manuals is for wimps! lol I did flip through the manual after the fact, but by then I'd already figured the thing out. The phone is so much fun to use and seems to do everything I could want very easily.
I can't imagine wanting more in a phone. I got the wife a Droid Pro at the same time since she wanted a keyboard and she's really happy with that phone as well. I like the availability of all the aps that are available for the phone and the fact that there are a ton of free aps out there for it too. The cameras in the phone do a pretty decent job, especially for a cell phone camera.
Anyone looking for a really great phone with lots and lots of capabilities won't be disappointed with this one.
I might add that I downloaded and installed the Swype Beta keyboard and it really rocks on the Thunderbolt. The one negative I might have is it seems to go through the battery pretty rapidly, but that may be mostly to my app downloads and playing with the features. I hear Verizon is coming with a battery that will double use time, which I'm sure to get. Still love the phone after 2 days of pretty solid usage!
Unhappy Customer April 23, 2011
I'd been using an iPhone version 1 for the past 3 years, and was more than ready to upgrade... and I wanted to try an Android phone on Verizon, since I wasn't happy with AT&T's network (didn't work reliably at home or a few other places I spend a lot of time).
I really, really wanted to love this phone - great big screen, supposed blazing fast network... new fast processor, etc. BUT, my battery life is terrible - TERRIBLE (usually get less than 5 hours before I hit the below 20% mark). I've read lots of forum posts, blogs, articles, etc. about how to shut down all of the bells and whistles to extend battery life, but to me, those are the things that make the phone attractive - I don't want to switch my GPS on and off depending on what app I want to use - I don't want to turn off the 4G network - I don't want to micro-manage my phone - I just want it to work.
If you are like me, you are going to be disappointed by this phone. If you love to tweak your phone's settings all the time, maybe you'll love it?
Riding the lightening March 17, 2011
Reviewer: T. Heling "and the Zoo"
Just got this phone from Verizon this morning to replace my Droid.
All I can say is WOW!
The display is amazing - it's not nearly as heavy as I thought it would be - not as bulky as some reviews made it out to be.
It reminds me of the old Iphone style body - fits perfect in my hands (I'm female) and it's FAST!
The only complaint I have is that the car dock doesn't seem to work with the phone when the case is on.
Probably going to return the dock and get a universal - there is NO way I'm letting anything happen to this phone!
The cases are nice - don't add any bulk to the phone and don't impeded on using the screen.
If there was any doubt in your mind about getting this - RUN don't walk to Verizon or another retailer or click ORDER ASAP!
If Amazon sells out - I heard wire fly is also selling them for cheap as well.
Phone with Everything But Battery Life March 25, 2011
Reviewer: C. Williams (Brighton, MA USA) -
I'm one of the former iPhone users who got fed up with both AT&T's reception and the iPhone restrictions. After researching the market, I decided to wait for the Thunderbolt to come out, and purchased it on the first day available - March 17.
The things I love about the phone:
- Large display, much larger than the iPhone's
- Very sensitive touch screen
- Double menus - one at the bottom of the phone that's always there (but not as buttons), and the other on the screen. It's really nice to not be reliant on one button
- The 'back' button
- De-duping of contacts, including integration with my Facebook contacts
- Favorite contacts can be traced throughout the phone, so I can see emails from favorites
- The phone software itself is very fast, especially compared to the iPhone 3G
- Map navigation is excellent (don't use Verizon Navigator, just use the regular navigator)
- 4G is wicked fast!
Other things I appreciate are the camera and video functionalities, the ease of customizing screens, the way the weather updates on the home screen as you drive/walk, quick downloading of new apps directly onto the phone, the storage (40G!), the excellent call quality (it's loud and clear), and (surprisingly) the kick stand. The kick stand is a little flimsy - my guess is that it will be the first thing to snap off, but I've used it several times already to watch very important videos (Denver the Guilty Dog, for example). I also enjoy the typing, though I'm used to touch typing from the iPhone, the slight vibration that you feel when you type is helpful. The 'suggestions' I typically ignore, unless I'm typing something that's not a real word, in which case I force it to 'learn' the new word.
Things I'm not so happy about but that I hope will be fixed shortly:
- Contacts couldn't be ported over at the Verizon store because there was a 'bug' in the software
- Uploading several photos to Facebook took 2 hours for some unknown reason
- I can't open a favorite contact from the 'favorites' screen, which is something I took for granted on the iPhone --- think about it - if you call someone and they're not there, what do you do immediately? Try to call them on their other phone, or email them, or chat them. To do that on the 'Bolt, you have to navigate to contacts and then scroll through to find your favorite and click on the action that you want. I could 'game' the system by creating duplicate contacts for my favorites and adding those actions to the fave screen, but doesn't that defeat the purpose?
- As another review noted, there's some weirdness with the phone plugged in for charging sometimes, which is an issue as you'll see below
Finally, the things that almost make me ALMOST regret buying the phone:
- BATTERY LIFE
- Battery Life
- bATTERY lIFE
I tend to believe the rumors that the reason the launch of this phone was so delayed was the battery life. You have a fantastic phone that does all of these cool things, but then when you do them all, you have to plug the phone in to charge it.
Case in point: Left work with a fully charged phone at 5:45 PM. Throughout the course of the evening, I undertook the following activities. Texted/gchatted a few times, made one short phone call. A calendar alert went off (ding!). Looked up a restaurant on Google Maps (but did not use turn by turn navigation). Checked my gmail, work mail. Took ~7 pictures with the very bright Flash. Uploaded one picture to FB. Looked through all 65 of the pictures I have taken on the phone thus far (~10 min). Played Angry Birds for 10 minutes. Talked about how much I loved the phone because I could do all of these things on the go! Checked email a few more times, sent one or two emails. Went to bed around 11:30 PM. Sometime over the course of the night, the battery gave out and I was left with a dead phone. Thank goodness my boyfriend uses a traditional alarm clock or I wouldn't have made it to work this morning on time!
I think the camera/flash were responsible for a lot of the battery drain, which is something I'll keep in mind in the future.. and bring a separate camera with me to fun events (thus kind of defeating the purpose of having a decently ok camera in the phone).
Bottom line, you need to have a charger on you at all times. I'm going to get another wall charger so I can always have one at work, one at home. I have the car charger.
Even with all that, I still love the phone. I'll do some 'battery optimizations' like turning off the live wallpapers and some other sounds/vibrations and alerts, and restricting the use of the flash, and hopefully there will be some software updates to help with the battery life. I am still glad I have the phone - and you probably will be too if you get it.
Overall a Very Good Phone March 22, 2011
Reviewer: Susanta Chatterjee "Susanta C." (Woodbridge, NJ USA) -
Here is my review for HTC Thunderbolt. To put things in perspective, I was using Motorola Droid and the phone was dead after a system update and VZW qualified me to get a upgrade. So I was already familiar with Android OS. I never used an iPhone, so no comparison made with iPhone.
-> The phone is slick, beautiful and lightweight. It fits into my trouser/shirt pocket easily, though on the Jeans trouser pocket it seems a little oversize, but not bad. Very easy to hold and use.
-> The call quality is very good, I can hear the other side very clearly, which was always a problem with my earlier Moto Droid phone.
-> I liked my Droid stock UI with Moto Droid, but I guess with time I will get used to Sense UI, which looks bright and clear.
-> Mobile hotspot is a great feature on this phone. On NJTransit train while the train is actually running, I tried to use T-Bolt as Mobile Hotspot with my IPad (Wifi only). I ran a speedtest using speedtest.net app for IPad and found the speed to be varying between 7-8 Mbps downstream and 4-5 Mbps upstream. At home, the speed was higher.
-> At work (New York city, midtown), the same test yielded similar (or slightly less) speed.
-> 4G works very well at most of the places I have been(Central and North New Jersey and New York City) and falls back to 3G correctly, when 4G is not available (that happened to me in the South Jersey area).
-> A big plus for me is that it had built-in FM Receiver, and comes with a FM Radio app. So, now I can use my phone to listen to the FM Radio, which I missed while I was not in my car. Only downside is that it uses headphone/ear bud cord as Antenna for signal, so you cannot listen to radio with built-in speaker
-> Booting up speed is quiet fast and flawless.
-> The camera, video recording and voice recording worked well. I did not find any issues with that yet.
-> I tried to test the GPS feature by traveling a short distance from my home to a nearby location and that worked well. The Map search works well too. All these features can be used with or without voice command.
29th March, 2011 - Update: After using it for more than weeks now and I am hooked into this phone. It is such pleasure for the things I do - like, reading Amazon Kindle book, using the Web Browser, playing games (I mostly play Angry Bird), and other regular apps. Also I started using this with my Toyota Camry in-car blue tooth and worked well and I tried the music player app, and it is far better than the earlier one. A new nice feature is that you can still stop playing a music, even though the phone screen is locked. With my earlier Motorola Droid (original), I had to unlock screen first to stop music player. This is a nice value add on this phone.
Cons(the reasons which took away 1 star)
-> Like all other reviews, battery life is a serious issue, but it can somewhat be tamed with turning off GPS and auto-sync for everything which requires sync(like GMail, data backup, social networking, weather etc) and use auto-sync only for those things which require your constant attention (for me it is GMail). Also, you can turn off screen animation, vibration notification if possible to save battery life.
Also, I am keeping brightness to lower side to save battery.
-> The phone speaker for talking and music is on the lower side as one reviewer posted before. It is clear while inside a quiet room/hall, but outside in the street, it was difficult to listen to. I needed a headphone to talk. Similar issue with the speaker phone, but I guess if you use blue-tooth or headset, this should not be a problem.
-> Kickstand works well both in Portrait and Landscape mode, but when in landscape mode with kickstand, the charger slot cannot be used - that is a design flaw as couple of reviewer noted earlier. Charger can be used with kickstand in portrait mode though, but you cannot watch a movie/youtube video on landscape mode and charge at the same time.
-> Home screen and app screen does not auto-rotate. though most of the app including browser and GMail screen do auto-rotate.
Very Impressive phone April 6, 2011
Reviewer: K. R. Weiss
I switched from a BlackBerry World Edition to this Android phone. I cannot really comment on how fast it might be compared to the previous generations of Android phones, and think I may very well have just as happy with one of those. But I don't upgrade often and decided to splurge. Since I have no comparison to 3G I cannot really comment on the advantages of 4G. I can say that the browsing is comparable (slightly slower) to my home FIOS connection.
I have no regrets with this purchase. I had previously commented that my BB was the best phone I had ever had. It did everything I wanted it to do and did it well, when I got it. I have to say this phone takes it to the next level. It does everything the BB did and more. I have only begun to explore the Apps and options. But the internet access is a night and day difference. It is VERY popular with my kids for the games.
Aside from some interface learning curve type things I have had no issues making the phone do everything I need. My primary concern is use with my business and it has performed well. I was comfortable using it in a day.
Prior to purchase I had concerns from research about syncing the phone with Outlook on a single computer (no exchange server) for my business. I had downloaded and installed the Google calender sync before purchase to see if it worked. It had no problems so I went ahead with purchase. So far the syncing has been seamless and easy and has worked great. Arguably easier then the corded or bluetooth manual syncing that I did with the BB. I also found that the calendar sync also synced my contacts (a fairly simple list,) so my contacts were there and ready with no extra work (aside from some minor adjustments.)
The touch screen typing (another concern I had going in) is very good. It is no harder to type on this phone than the keyed BB, honestly it may be easier. The automatic word correction thing is pretty good, but does frequently change an unusual word incorrectly if you are not watching. The speech to text feature has worked great on the few trials I have done, I can see learning to use it much more.
The only downside I have found, which is much talked about online, is battery life. I have to say that several friends have other brands of android phones and report the same issues. The phone does definitely burn through the battery. Knowing this I automatically plug it in every time I can - desk, car, whatever. I am not positive that it would make it through a day without this, and I would not consider myself a heavy user. I understand that all the features available are going to use power greedily. I have ordered a set of back up batteries with a wall charger to maintain spares (an imperfect solution since changing the battery with the case I have it in is a pain.) This is the reason for only 4 stars. While I completely understand the problem and it's causes, I can see the situation where this makes the phone unuseable. It would be nice if they made power management more user friendly. I could see the emergency situation happening where you run out of battery, when you need it because crap is running that you cannot turn off. Which leads into the other widely reviewed complaint of bloatware pre loaded onto the phone. There is a boatload of it. Terrible idea. Most of it is inane and stupid (Blockbuster? REALLY??? they are bankrupt~!!) (Let's golf????) I don't have huge issue with them putting this stuff on there, I understand they have contracts. BUT LET IT BE REMOVED!!! I cannot say I have noticed too much of it running in the background, but then it is often tough to tell exactly what is running. I would be curious to know if such bloatware come on other Verizon Android phones. Given the battery life issues that go with the power and display of these devices, they should be very concerned about helping to maximize battery life. I would have to say they do not seem to care.
Overall, though this is a great phone and I am very happy with my choice.
Great phone with some drawbacks March 21, 2011
Reviewer: S. Hsu "Chubby Puppy" (Los Angeles, CA, USA) -
The phone itself is pretty incredible. Big clear screen, very responsive. 768M of memory is great.
The biggest issue for me is the battery life as others have mentioned. I turned off GPS, put screen at lowest brightness, etc, but still pretty bad battery life. I could get the extended battery but pics of it shows how big it is (and the protective case won't cover it)
The phone itself is pretty sizable. I feel like I am carrying another wallet.
The phone call volume is quite a bit lower than my old phone (Verizon Samsung). It's clear enough indoors where it is quiet, but outside I have to concentrate to hear.
Verizon loaded the phone with some crapware that you can not delete like the Blockbuster app. Are they even in business? They also included a bunch Verizon service apps that costs extra if you want to use them. Visual voicemail should be free, not extra $3 a month.
I love the Verizon network so I want to stay on it, but this phone's battery life will be bothersome. At least with these new batteries you can just charge whenever you want without worrying about battery memory and so forth. I am sure it will last the 2 years that I will use this device. I am considering getting the extended battery but that seems huge, so I might just get multiple charges.
BTW not all micro USB charger plugs are the same. My iPad charger plug is 2.3 Amp while this phone's plug is 1 Amp so be sure you are using the correct amp plug.
DOWNLOAD 4G SWITCH, AND THEN UR BATTERY WILL LAST ANYWHERE FROM 6-8 HOURS April 7, 2011
Reviewer: Ebony Prince
The thing that I didnt like about the thunderbolt at first was ultimately the battery; and what was dissapointing to me, was how Verizon's customer care reps wasnt knowledgeable about how you could download an app which is called "4G SWITCH" OR "LTEOnOff" that would let you choose if you would like ur phone to operate off of 4g or 3g. If I hadn't learned about that app from a guy at a Best Buy store, I wouldh've returned the phone for an i-phone 4. So those of you who fell like giving up on ur device, DONT, i know how you fell b/c i felt that way at first too, but now i'm loving my phone and wouldn't give it up for anything; all you have to do is go to the android market and download the "4G SWITCH" OR "LTEOnOff" app and you will be good and it deter your mind away from having to go out and purchase an extended battery. Although I live in a 4G metroplex, I rather just use 4g ONLY when i'm at home or wait until the bugs are worked out before I turn 4G back on.