HTC Thunderbolt: Facts you need to know

HTC released a video today that introduces us to the staff that helped create Verizon’s first 4G LTE phone, the Thunderbolt.  Other phone companies across the globe need take note; this is how you create a promo video.  This may come off a little like a fluff piece, but they’ve filmed it in a very attractive way with topics and commentary that are actually interesting.  It’s definitely worth the entire 4:24.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e551ZTFOfTc

In not-so-shocking news, Best Buy has announced that it will extend the $249 price of the HTC Thunderboltpast March 20.  The original plan was for BBY to sell Verizon’s first 4G LTE phone to pre-order customers and early adopters at $249, but then jack the price up to $299 on contract starting Sunday.  Someone obviously drank the over-70 IQ Kool-aid.

Statement: Best Buy® Extends HTC ThunderBolt 4G Pricing at $249.99

MINNEAPOLIS, March 17, 2011 – Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) today confirmed that it will extend the $249.99 pricing for the HTC ThunderBolt 4G beyond the initial May 20 end-date outlined in the original announcement, available at Best Buy Mobile standalone stores and online atwww.bestbuy.com/mobile. This pricing change reflects Best Buy Mobile’s ongoing commitment to provide the most smart phones under one roof with straightforward pricing, informed advice and someone to be there for the life of your phone.

The HTC Thunderbolt comes with a Qualcomm MSM8655 1Ghz processor, 768MB RAM, 8GB internal storage, 32GB pre-installed SD card, Android 2.2, 720P HD video recording, and HTC Sense UI.

BUILD & DESIGN

This model is going to set a new standard for what a high-end smartphone offers, starting with its 4.3-inch, WVGA touchscreen.

This isn’t going to be an AM-OLED display, but HTC ran into problems trying to get enough AM-OLED screens to meet demand for its products last year, so it’s not surprising they decided to forgo this new technology in what’s almost certainly going to be a very popular device.

This large screen is going to make the ThunderBolt a good option for watching video while on the go, especially as it includes a kickstand on the back to hold it up at a good angle.

But keep in mind, this won’t be a small device. Like all models with 4.3-inch displays, it’s going to make a sizable lump in a pants pocket.

PERFORMANCE

The HTC ThunderBolt will run Google’s Android OS 2.2 (Froyo) on a 1 GHz Snapdragon processor. It will also include the latest version of HTC’s Sense overlay.

This combination is already available on a number of other smartphones, and performance for this is quite good… I see no reason this one will be any different. Still, there will be rival models with faster processors, as the first devices with 1.2. GHz processors and ones with Tegra 2 dual-core chips will be hitting the market soon.

In addition, the device is going to sport 768 MB of RAM and 8 GB of internal storage. But that’s just the start — it will include a microSD card slot with a 32 GB card, bringing its total storage capacity to 40 GB.

Communication & Wireless

Of course, the most-advertised feature of the ThunderBolt is going to be support for Verizon’s new 4G network. The carrier says this LTE network is going to provide data transfer speeds of 5 to 12 Mbps for downloads and 2 to 5 Mbps upload speeds under real world conditions. For comparison, tests on this carrier’s current 3G network give download speeds of 0.6 to 1.6 Mbps and upload speeds of 0.5 to 0.8 Mbps.

Verizon is still rolling out 4G service, so most customers will still need to depend on 3G. But that’s going to change significantly over the next year or so.

LTE is a data-only service, so this HTC model is also going to support CDMA voice calls. These will use the carrier’s very extensive voice network.

This smartphone is going to include hotspot software, so it can share its fast connection with outer devices over Wi-Fi. And it will also support Bluetooth accessories.

The ThunderBolt is going to be one of Verizon’s first that can make video calls – it is going to include a 1.3 megapixel, front-facing camera and an upcoming version of the Skype VoIP app. This software is still some way away from being released, so I wasn’t able to test it out.

Other Features

Because this model hasn’t been released yet, it’s too early to do any testing of a great many of its features, such as the 8 megapixel rear-facing camera, or the life-span of the 1400 mAh battery.

CONCLUSION

The HTC ThunderBolt will be an amazing device, and it’s going to be a noticeable improvement over models that Verizon released last year, like the Motorola Droid X or HTC Droid Incredible.

If it has a flaw, it’s a lack of innovation. This is essentially going to be an enhanced version of Sprint’s HTC EVO 4G a smartphone that was released last year. Still, sometimes it’s best to not mess with a good thing.

Verizon hasn’t said yet when the ThunderBolt is going to be released, aside from the fact that it’s going to be after march but before the end of June.

The carrier has also kept mum about pricing, but I’m willing to guess it’s going to be in the neighborhood of $200 with a two-year wireless contract.

 

HTC Thunderbolt Issues

According to Vince from SlashGear, the Thunderbolt lasted only 3 and a half hours on a single charge, dropping down to 50 percent after about 2 hours. No phone calls were made, no videos were watched, just LTE web browsing, emailing downloading, Twitter posting, and app downloading.

The HTC Thunderbolt has just got out of Verizon’s front door, but we are already hearing about some problems on the device, with users complaining that there is an SMS bug preventing them from sending messages effectively – does this apply to you?

This hasn’t been confirmed by Verizon yet, but it is bound to be a fresh headache for the carrier who came under criticism for their repeated delays of Verizon’s first 4G LTE capable smartphone.

The apparent problem is an unusual one as welll, as we’re hearing that when some Thunderbolt users send messages, the recipient sees a SIM card number on the calling display, rather than their actual number. This has been clarified on both the XDA Forums, and Android Forums, as reportedfrom Phandroid.

Aside from the fact that some users are having problems sending any messages at all, we’re hearing that some recipients are getting double messages as well. We don’t know how widespread this problem is at the moment, so help us out and tell us if you are experiencing any problems on your Thunderbolt.

The first thing that Thunderbolt will lack is going to be Mobile Hotspot feature. It used to allow the 4G device owners to share up with this awesome feature among up to 8 other devices. This feature might arrive to the gadget sometime soon, but anyways it might not be available at the time of the launch.

The second sad news is about the Skype apps. The icon of the feature will be available on one of the screens of the smartphone with the idea that you’ll have a chance to use the video application. But as  a minus you will be able to use it sometime soon, again not after the actual launch of the smartphone. And this is a little bit weird as the users would need  to download the feature from the Android Market anyways.