HTC ThunderBolt Review
The 8MP autofocus rear camera on the HTC ThunderBolt does a very good job of taking pictures as long as there is plenty of light. Since there isn’t a physical camera button, you have to use the display to tap where you want it to focus (otherwise it will focus on the center) and then tap the shutter icon on the right side. Images that were taken outside during the day had highly saturated colors (though a bit too much) and were sharp with plenty of detail. But we did notice that bright areas have a tendency of being overexposed and just look white. When moving indoors however, image quality is still OK if there is enough light, but in low-light conditions, images start to look grainy and soft. When you want to take a picture in the dark and use the LED flash, it tries to focus without using the flash first, which is impossible to do. Then when it does use the flash, it can be out of focus or have a blue hue to the image. It took us several attempts of using the flash just to get a picture that was in-focus and had good color. There is also a 1.3MP camera on the front that you can use for self portraits, but the quality is pretty lacking of course. One cool thing that you can do with either camera is press the little magic wand icon on the right side of the screen, which will then open up a menu on the left of different camera effects, including Distortion, Vignette, Depth of Field, Vintage, Vintage Warm, Vintage Cold, Grayscale, Sepia, Negative, Solarize, Posterize and Aqua. They are fun to try out, though we doubt they would get much use.
Depth of Field
Rear 8MP camera
Macro Bright Light
The camera effects of the HTC ThunderBolt
Videos can be recorded up to 1280x720p resolution with 28 frames-per-second and a data rate of 8 Mbps. When viewed on a PC, the color is very saturated, just like when taking pictures, and there is plenty of detail, but the video looks jerky, even though we were holding the phone steady with both hands and just panned slowly left-and-right. So it’s probably best not to move the phone at all when recording videos. One thing we wish is that it could record in stereo (like the DROID X) instead of just Mono audio.
HTC ThunderBolt Pro Sample Video:
For phone viewing of your media files, such as photos and videos, they are broken down by folders in the Gallery app, plus you also have the ability to browse content from your Facebook and Flickr accounts. All the common features are there for photos, like pinch gestures to zoom in/out, but there are multiple options in terms of sharing them. Moreover, the handset offers the minimal set of editing tools at your disposal – such as cropping and rotating.
With its WVGA display and 1GHz processor, there is no arguing the effortless approach that the ThunderBolt takes when playing high definition videos. Upon loading a video encoded in MPEG-4 1280 x 720 resolution, it didn't have any problems in playing it entirely. In fact, the details are crisp, vivid, and super smooth with no evidence of jerkiness or slowdown to ruin the experience.
For video streaming, there is Bitbop, which can play pre-recorded clips and full TV episodes (currently at 156). We tested a couple, and after about 10 seconds of buffering, the video will start to play. You can also jump to other parts of the video, but it has to re-buffer each time. At first we had it set to the highest setting of 9MB/min, but noticed that the video wasn’t playing smoothly and there were some audio-sync issues. We lowered it down to 5MB/min, which did improve the smoothness of the video, though there was still some audio-sync problems, so we’re not sure if that has to do with the way the videos were encoded, or with the data connection. You also have the option of subscribing to VCast Video and Blockbuster, both of which have their own fees involved. Thankfully there is a YouTube app, which works quite well over the 4G network and doesn’t require a subscription fee.
The HTC Music Player is noticeably a step-above the stock Android player that most other phones use. Even though we’re presented with pretty much the same look in portrait mode, tilting the phone to landscape presents a full cover-flow interface that effortlessly allows you to swipe between albums. Audio quality is decent though the rear speaker, though you have to uncover it by opening up the kickstand for best sound. There is a SRS Enhancement, but all it does is give a reverb-delay that we didn’t care for, so we kept it turned off. If you plug-in a set of wired headphones, there are a few other equalizer presets that you can select, but again it sounds best without using them. By the way, when you have your headphones connected, you can also use the FM Radio app, which actually uses the headphone wires as the antenna. Just don’t expect any amazing radio quality from it. Or if you want a wireless connection for listening to your music collection, you can always use a pair of Bluetooth headsets (just remember the radio app won’t work with it).
We are glad to see a 32GB memory card included, as this is a first on a Verizon smartphone, allowing ample room of saving picture, videos, music, and pretty much anything else you can think of. Though there is one thing that is puzzling to us – on the HTC and Verizon site it states that the phone has 8GB eMMC (internal memory) but we haven’t been able to find a way to access it. Furthermore, when going into the phone’s settings shows only 2.6GB of internal memory. So we’re not sure what’s going on here, or how the 8GB is split up, though it does seem like there is a lot that isn’t accounted for.
UPDATE (March 25): We contacted HTC directly about the 8GB eMMC internal memory feature that is listed on their web site (and Verizon’s web site) for the ThunderBolt. We were first told in an email from HTC that “this is a misprint and that the ThunderBolt actually has 4GB eMMC internal memory, of which most is being used to make sure the phone is running at optimal performance levels.” But a few days later we were contacted by someone else at HTC and were told by email that “the device does indeed have 8GB of internal memory, but much of that is occupied by the OS, preinstalled apps, and reserved memory for upgrades”. Regardless of which is correct (8GB or 4GB of internal memory), the fact still remains that only 2.6GB of it is available to the user for installing apps and storing information, such as contacts, emails, etc. By contrast, the Motorola DROID X also comes with 8GB of internal memory, but almost 6.5GB is available.
For GPS guided driving directions you have a choice of using Google Maps, which is free, or VZ Navigator, which is $10 per month. Both provide you with turn-by-turn directions and audio prompts, though their layout is slightly different. Our choice between the two is Google Maps, as it doesn’t have a monthly fee, but this is personal preference. We’ve used it in the South FL area, and with the 4G connection it is accurate and shows satellite images without having to wait for them to load (unlike with EVDO on the DROID X).
There is also a demo version of Lets Golf 2 and Rock Band, though you have to upgrade to the full version of Rock Band for $10 to have access to the MultiPlayer mode. Unfortunately we didn’t have anyone else to multi-play with, so just used the stand-alone mode, which works fine.
For viewing your Microsoft Office files, there is the QuickOffice app, which can view Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and there is a separate Adobe Reader app for PDF files.
1. dirtydirty00 (Posts: 267; Member since: 21 Jan 2011)
Mine also has a little static/buzz when the earpiece is turned all the way up... however i will say, that when turned all the way up, the volume is just way too loud. Its almost speakerphoneish. I have mine turned down to the half way mark. Not bc the quality, just bc the volume level.
as for my battery, i just got rid of my Incredible for this phone, and i think this battery is actually holding up better than my incredibles was.
2. dirtydirty00 (Posts: 267; Member since: 21 Jan 2011)
ALSO I FOUND THIS ON SKYPE'S WEBSITE:
I WOULD ASSUME THIS WOULD BE TAKEN OFF BY NOW IF SKYPE WAS NOT MAKING THE APP ANYMORE. SEEMS THAT IT MIGHT NOT BE DEAD AFTERALL.
3. Griffin2003 (unregistered)
the review states that the Thunderbolt is much faster than the Droid X loading web pages, yet you have a video on the site showing a real time comparison where the conclusion was that they were about the same speed. Can you explain this?
5. AstroStrat89 (unregistered)
I think they stated that all the flash content was turned off on the X.
4. Tre-Nitty (Posts: 461; Member since: 16 Nov 2010)
Exactly, the Droid x killed the thunderbolt. Stop trying to make this phone better than it is.
7. Rejeimha (Posts: 18; Member since: 29 Jul 2010)
Go back and read the update on the comparison test. They admitted that the DX was rooted in order to remove the flash ads from the browser, and the Thunderbolt was keeping up with it out of the box even though it wasn't rooted.
18. tragichero (Posts: 163; Member since: 07 Jan 2011)
i said on that comparison test and ill say it again. give it up tre-nitty.... your overwhelming bias is very apparent. its clear that anything you say regarding verizon should just be over looked. you have made up your mind already before the facts are out. thank you PA for letting the truth be known. i had previously said PA is the fox news of phones by how they tried to slam the thunderbolt and verizon with their faulty speed test comparioson and although i wont take back my comment i will commend you for letting us know the actual speed comparison in this review.
6. AstroStrat89 (unregistered)
my cons so far... (upgraded from Eris)
It's just silly I can't charge and use the kick-stand
Screen is washed out in sunlight, Eris wasn't great either
Seem to be some very minor network "glitches" where the conx needs to reset or something. (update fix?)
cost, If I hadn't had a $100 NE2, i would have never gotten one.
Some pre-installed apps are annoying.
Would like a camera button.
Things I like
Screen otherwise is very nice to look at.
Eye popping 4g speeds
Very snappy even when running lots-o-apps
Sense upgrades are nice and useful.
LED under ear piece grid makes nice pattern on the ceiling in the dark :-)
Kickstand more useful then I thought
I think the camera is better then most give credit, the flash worked well for me.
I like the weight my self, feels nice in the hand
Free hotspot til May 15th! Sweet.
Things people need to relax about.
Battery life, give it time and I'll bet battery life will get better. The Eris was bas at 1st too. Also it seems to be the screen that's eating the battery. Not the 4g, but what do I know?
not dual core, I know two is better, but how much more battery will that take, and are you running a web server or something? Geeze.
No HDMI, really? Realllyyy? use the stream Luke.
8. taco50 (banned) (Posts: 5506; Member since: 08 Oct 2009)
I played around with it. The speeds are impressive.
9. protozeloz (Posts: 5381; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)
coming from you dude thats a complement
10. taco50 (banned) (Posts: 5506; Member since: 08 Oct 2009)
I'm not the troll. You sniggly and the rest of the Apple bashers are the trolls. I have no problems with android phones. I'm happy with my iPhone and at the same time realize other companies make good phones. I don't need to bash everyone that doesn't want the same phone as me.
12. Kjayhawk (Posts: 291; Member since: 07 Oct 2010)
I agree, I hate when people bash the iPhone just because its an iPhone. I get even more pissed off though when Apple fanboys get in an argument that makes no sense and act like they know what they are talking about, same goes for android fan boys. I don't pay attention to who is who, but overall I agree with your argument, things just get plain annoying
15. protozeloz (Posts: 5381; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)
I'll Give you thumbs for saying you aren't a troll, and I'll try not to strike you, but sometimes you do look like one.
bout calling me troll, I don't think I go brainlessly bashing against apple, But i can be proven wrong. I have to say they(Apple) produce pretty darn good stuff, I just hate when people brag calling other peoples tech trash or useless crap and start doing the 1 vs 100 comparison among other I say the apple VS android is a win loose comparison with anyone you win something and loose something.
13. Nunez20v (Posts: 14; Member since: 17 Feb 2011)
I returned mine today. I was only getting about 3 hours of battery life and the phone was actually running hot in temperature. The google maps and any other "navigation" app were totally off and not accurate. Don't get me wrong; the phone has great DL speeds in the Dallas, TX area. I just can't deal with the battery life and having to charge it up to 3 times per day. Also, the phone said it came with 8GBs; after a couple of apps downloaded I was down to 2GB. Maybe the Bionic will hold it down.
19. tragichero (Posts: 163; Member since: 07 Jan 2011)
it sounds like you had a deffective phone buddy..... maybe you should of just exchanged since you still had 11 days to try it.
24. Nunez20v (Posts: 14; Member since: 17 Feb 2011)
Maybe I did have a defected phone; just as well as 4 other people that same day @ Verizon (including the rep himself). But I guess that's why they offered the 14 day worry free return policy right? =)
37. tragichero (Posts: 163; Member since: 07 Jan 2011)
yeah or maybe your lying.... i have the thundrbolt my sister has the thunderbolt my mom has the thunderbolt.... thinking about getting grandma the thunderbolt..... none with problems you speak of. and it looks like those problems cant be as widespread as you say or there would have been a recall by now. battery is nothing special but clearly 3 hours is not what should happen. i get about 20 hours of battery a day using it very frequent. lucky for me im not awake 20 hours a day. you suck troll!
39. Nunez20v (Posts: 14; Member since: 17 Feb 2011)
I suck troll? WTF is this, kindergarden? I chose not to keep a phone because of its performance and the issues it provided. I just went back to my simple and very effective BlackBerry Curve. Obviously you've read continuous posting on the battery life. If they haven't had a recall for the device they probably will in a couple of months. Look at everyone trying to figure out how to turn this off and turn that off yet not being able to enjoy the full functionalities of the phone. What's the purpose of pocketing out $250 if I can't even enjoy it?
25. theo14461 (Posts: 172; Member since: 08 Oct 2009)
Returned mine also. Great display, good call quality, nice build and feel, horrific battery life. Would drain 20% in about an hour of "normal use"
27. theo14461 (Posts: 172; Member since: 08 Oct 2009)
I'd like to update my last comment. I must have had a defective TB, exchanged it for another, and battery life is MUCH better.
41. bugsbite (unregistered)
The phone is not defective we just got the phone yesterday and only getting 3-4 hours of battery time and it does run hot, I have no clue how tragichero is getting 20 hours ( maybe running 3G?). Do a Google search this is a known problem.
Will return promptly..............
14. griffin2003 (unregistered)
Regarding downloading apps, doesn't the phone have a 32GB SD card? Can't that be used for apps?
Battery Life -
If you remove the Sim card, does the phone work as a 3G phone? If it does, this would allow testing if the 4G or the display is the source of the battery drain?
In addition, when we had dual digital / analog phones, if you were in a weak area, the battery would drain faster as the phone searched with high power analog transmit to snag a tower. What happens with the 4G channel when you are not in a 4G area? Does the phone burn more battery trying to find towers that are not there? These might not be questions for the Thunderbolt alone, but for all the new 4G phones.
20. tragichero (Posts: 163; Member since: 07 Jan 2011)
the phone wont work on 4 or 3g if the sim is out so that test wont work. it needs the sim. yes it uses battery looking for 4g network while in 3 g but using the term burn or drain is an overstatement.... hardly anything at all. the phone shouldnt get only 3 hours and if it took up that much memory its clear nunez just bought a defective phone
16. etownone (Posts: 40; Member since: 25 Jul 2010)
Now i'm hearing rumors or the Droid Bionic being released mid April ...
and my upgrade is on march 31, and i was set on getting the TB.
Mostly every review complains about battery life ... and recommends to wait for the Bionic.
i was so ready to upgrade to the TB ... especially since Verizon might get rid of that unlimited data plan ... but now i'm thinking to take a chance and wait for the Bionic.
bigger battery, dual core CPU, HDMI, qHD screen, and the option of a laptop dock in the future.
22. tragichero (Posts: 163; Member since: 07 Jan 2011)
im waiting for the bionic too. its the best phone to be realeased at least in the first half of this year maybe the whole year
23. LionStone (Posts: 468; Member since: 10 Dec 2010)
Yea, it'll be interesting to do some comparison testing with the T-Bolt and Bionic. The TB is very quick, and like the article stated I also clocked about 18 seconds to download Angry Birds...under 30 seconds to download and install. Near SFO area, 11mbps down and 4 up.
The display is clean and sharp and Sense UI I think looks great and feels polished. It does have a good heft to it and I like that. I can definitely be happy with this phone for the next two years. Im coming from the Incredible so sound quality is much better. I don't notice the sound difference with the kickstand open or closed, it sounds great either way.
Hopin for some Netflix and Skype video/chat in the near future, will try Tango...still need to test dlna...Mine also says only 2 something gb available, so I need to go in to see about that one.
17. griffin2003 (unregistered)
According to the review in Phone Scoop, the battery drain is caused by using 4G and in an area without 4G, the battery life was much better. They promised numbers soon.
I also found a comment that I cannot find again that said you can dial a particular number (some sort of support number) and force the network preference to CDMA. This seems pretty drastic, but without control on the phone itself, it would all you to save the rest of the battery in desperate situations.
21. tragichero (Posts: 163; Member since: 07 Jan 2011)
DO NOT DIAL *228 on the thunderbolt unless you want to DESTROY YOUR SIM CARD. if you dial that number your sim card will be obsolete and you will have to get a new one. sheesh
26. ANTHONY G (unregistered)
its a nice phn but its so call lte such.my phn switches from x1 3g.4g. internet fades out,calls are cuting in an out so on so on. call vz , oh its doing that? what a joke
28. SMARTPHONE before Purchasing (unregistered)
This is a WONDERFUL phone. Everyone complaining about the battery life must....LEARN HOW TO USE A SMART PHONE BEFORE PURCHASING ONE!!! Pretty much you don't know how to use the phone. My battery last me all day and I have heavy call and emails volume. Go to Settings...Applications and CLOSE the apps that aren't being used. Close all of them!! Open apps as needed! Also you need to understand that the phone has live wall paper. If the performance of the phone is more important then looks ( WHICH IT SHOULD BE), change the wall paper. Do not keep your 4G on all the time. 3G works as great! Do not post silly reviews and deprive people of a great phone. Understand the device before posting. Moral of the story is....play with the device in store and ask questions before purchasing! LEARNING IS FUNDAMENTAL...Fantastic Phone for people who understand how to use electronics.
34. oldplayer (unregistered)
smarty, my phone is fully charged. I have an app killer on it with the most aggressive settings, no live wallpaper in fact everything is black, no 4g. No use at all!
I place the phone on the table and 4 hours later the battery without any app running, without any use, no calls, no text, no messages, not even touching the phone the battery goes down to 50%!
There, dummy. Sure it matters how do you use the phone but if it's messed up it's messed up.
I am not saying all the TBs are faulty but reading forums it seems like it's more than a few what would be acceptable in mass production.
HTC should fire a few people including half of the team who are responsible for this junk.
29. cookie (unregistered)
i got tunderbolt a week ago i dont really like or maybe i just have to get use to this new phone . i up grade from the driod x big mistake yes tunderbolt is fastter but it sucks for texting droid x has better texting options .
the other down thing about this phone no camera button on the side which at firts i thougth no problem but i guess yes is really annoying. what is the point to have 8 MP camera when it takes forever to take a picture .
battery life kinda sucks two i have to charge my phone like almost 3 times per day
big mistake sorry driod X i shouldn't got rid off you :(
30. griffin2003 (unregistered)
I have had the Thunderbolt for 2 1/2 weeks now. I live in a marginal area, so at home, 4G is about 1000 feet away. the extended battery solved battery drain issues. I can run the phone for 17 hours with light use and still have 1/4 to 1/3 charge left.
I did notice something which I wish someone at phone arena would look into. There are two antennas in the back cover, a small one( wifi?) and a large one (3G, 4G?). On the standard back, the large antenna appears to be some painted on material and the small antenna is a piece of metal. On the extended battery case, both antennas are metal sheets. Could this be part of the problem?
31. Jeradiah3 (Posts: 1009; Member since: 11 Feb 2010)
I need advice. i have AT&T prepaid and im looking into either staying with AT&T and get the Atrix or inspire...or go to verizon and get the thunderbolt???
i know that verizon is ending their unltd data plan soon and ive heard nothing but good things from them about their voice service...but i dont talk on the phone that much so its almost irrelevant to me.
Ive had little problems with AT&T, but i know that i'll go over 2GB/month with either the atrix or the inspire. i want to wait for AT&T to have its own LTE service and see what happens, but i dont know yet
i know that im going to get some biased folks to weigh in on this, but i want some REAL GEEKS to help me out with this because i'll have a contract with either AT&T or verizon and i cant afford to think twice about it
32. dave (unregistered)
i have just got back to England from vegas where i noticed the thunderbolt and i really liked the look and sound of it but the thunderbolt does not seem to have a realese date over here in England..
Can you please tell me when it will be realesed over here.
33. oldplayer (unregistered)
The phone I was waiting for so much turned out to be a big let down.
There is no 4G in this area yet I still needed 2 apps to kill running apps and turn the 4G off or I had to charge the phone TWICE a day with MINIMAL use. Not sure if 4G had anything to do with it but that doesn't change the facts: the battery is good for a few hours. If I use it a little more I have to charge it 3 TIMES. I have never turn on the wifi and the standalone gps. Unacceptable battery performance.
The speaker is horrible, it's wavy.. the sound is higher, lower by the sec. but if I turn it off it's steady on the phone. In fact the phone is LOUDER on the lowest setting sometimes than the speaker. Horrible quality but louder. It gets stuck, it shows the phone at the lowest sound but it's on the highest and it so loud you cannot put it to your ear. My friends couldn't believe it, so we tried it a couple times. They are still laughing on the TB...
The call quality is substandard to say the least. Compared to my old Nokia XM (with the other provider) this is garbage.
Verizon is so proud about the coverage but in this area my old XM had full bar and the TB has 1-2, if I hold the TB in my palm all the signal is lost. The coverage map is a lie or this phone is bad at that one too.
Several calls/day go straight to the voicemail without even ringing!
My 3G turns to 1x or nothing time to time. Especially in buildings.
I only had it a few days ago so today I contacted WFly - the seller - and they are sending another one. I wonder how much better that will be... I should have waited for the Bionic.... I hate the icrap for the simple minded with their Fuhrer on the top and hated the greedy at&t more with their 4GB "unlimited" plan but not sure if this is any better... at least I could make a call on my xm at at&t.
35. dannyv (unregistered)
I just got a thunderbolt last week and I just love it so far. I wish I had 4G in my area right now but its coming soon. I bet most of the people complaining about battery life are coming from dumbphones or something. It's like a mini laptop people. You.can't expect it to load YouTube videos all week on one charge. It lasts me just fine for a day on moderate usage
36. Lou2253 (unregistered)
The thundrbolt is a great phone, It is fast, works great as a hot spot but I had it for 12 days and returned it.
The phone is only as good as the battery lasts and this battery only lasted 4 hours after charging all night. I can't work like that.
38. AaronsIpodTouch (Posts: 3; Member since: 01 Aug 2009)
Gosh! Sentence after sentence you degrade this device. Was the author of this review just irritated or something? Maybe your device was defective.
My thunderbolt's display is noticeably better than the Droid X's which i had upgraded from. Very easy, in fact, to see in direct sunlight when the brightness is all the way up. Whites certainly look, well, white especially in comparison to my computer's monitor.
Battery is disappointing, however I normally do not use my phone "heavily" for long periods of time so it is fine for me.
40. Christina (unregistered)
I have the TB. I love the TB. I switched from iPhone and cannot be any happier. I absolutely do not miss anything about the iPhone. I have 3g at home and 4g LTE at work. It is noticeably faster with LTE, but is still faster than my iPhone was at 3G. Battery life sucks, but it does on all smartphones. (In my opinion) I've never had a problem with the call quality as described in the article. It sounds great. I charge twice a day, and have always had to do that with every smartphone I've ever owned. Only because I'm an extremely heavy user. Overall, its an A+ in my book. I would wait for the Bionic if you necessarily have to have the HDMI port, but for me that is the least of my worries :)
42. MerkurRS (unregistered)
Thanks for the review and additional user comments.
I am looking at the next-best to possibly replace my Incredible. I am very pleased with it, but would enjoy an bigger screen and perhaps faster speeds.
Two comments I have in looking at the kickstand feature, is WHY wouldn't you be able to plug the charger in while in kickstand mode?? Another, if the speaker is severely hampered by the kickstand, it should be machined out so that the kickstand is just a frame and not solid.
Just my visual observations.
|Display||4.3 inches, 480 x 800 pixels (217 ppi) TFT|
Qualcomm Snapdragon S2 MSM8655, Single core, 1000 MHz, Scorpion processor
768 MB RAM
|Size||4.75 x 2.44 x 0.56 inches|
(121 x 62 x 14 mm)
6.23 oz (177 g)
|Battery||1400 mAh, 6.3 hours talk time|