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Motorola DROID 3 vs HTC ThunderBolt

Posted: , by John V.


Motorola DROID 3 vs HTC ThunderBolt

Motorola DROID 3 vs HTC ThunderBolt
In a battle for the good fight, Verizon’s lineup is stacked to the brim with some quality Android smartphones that encompass every bit of the spectrum – so whether it’s data speed or processing power that you’re concerned about most, they have you fully covered. Naturally, the HTC ThunderBolt has been riding the wave of success as being the carrier’s very first 4G LTE enabled smartphone, but with anything technology related, its top tiered status will naturally dissipate over time. With that knowledge, the Motorola DROID 3 is coming from out of the shadows to take back the spotlight and shine it on the beloved original DROID line once again. So who’s going to come out on top with this one?


On the surface, the two appear to be quite similar with their conventional slate looks – albeit, the DROID 3 takes the QWERTY landscape sliding form factor. In all honestly, their industrial designs don’t come off as being drastically different from the crop, but the ThunderBolt feels considerably better to hold in the hand due to its rounded corners and curved edges. At the same time, we definitely enjoy their metallic like casings that are complemented tremendously with their soft touch coated rears, which enables them to look fairly clean at all times. Their overall size might be almost identical, but it’s impressive to find the DROID 3 actually sporting the thinner frame at 0.5” thick – especially when it’s packing a spacious landscape keyboard. Nevertheless, there isn’t any particular one that unanimously manages to capture our attention since they use the same solid construction and cookie cutter designs.

The Motorola DROID 3 (left) and the HTC ThunderBolt (right) - Motorola DROID 3 vs HTC ThunderBolt
The Motorola DROID 3 (left) and the HTC ThunderBolt (right) - Motorola DROID 3 vs HTC ThunderBolt
The Motorola DROID 3 (left) and the HTC ThunderBolt (right) - Motorola DROID 3 vs HTC ThunderBolt

The Motorola DROID 3 (left) and the HTC ThunderBolt (right)

Rightfully so, the DROID 3’s display exhibits more detail thanks partly to its 4” qHD (540 x 960) display, which results in higher pixel density than the ThunderBolt’s 4.3” WVGA (480 x 800) Super LCD panel. Nevertheless, we’re accepting of their sharp details that allow fine text to be more than visible to the eye. However, we prefer the ThunderBolt’s color production since it’s able to pump out the more vibrant colors tones between the two. Just by a smidgen more, it’s evident that the DROID 3’s overall brightness output is stronger – though, we’re still finding ourselves shielding both devices outdoors with the sun around.

Viewing angles on the Motorola DROID 3 (left) and the HTC ThunderBolt (right) - Motorola DROID 3 vs HTC ThunderBolt
Viewing angles on the Motorola DROID 3 (left) and the HTC ThunderBolt (right) - Motorola DROID 3 vs HTC ThunderBolt
Viewing angles on the Motorola DROID 3 (left) and the HTC ThunderBolt (right) - Motorola DROID 3 vs HTC ThunderBolt
Viewing angles on the Motorola DROID 3 (left) and the HTC ThunderBolt (right) - Motorola DROID 3 vs HTC ThunderBolt

Viewing angles on the Motorola DROID 3 (left) and the HTC ThunderBolt (right)

With its graspable lip, we pretty much have no issues in accidentally pressing the usual set of Android capacitive buttons on the DROID 3. On the other hand, we still find ourselves doing just that with the ThunderBolt since they’re positioned close to the edge.

As a whole, the DROID 3 utilizes prominent power key and volume rocker – but we’re not fans of their stiff response. Conversely, the ThunderBolt’s physical buttons are rather flat in stature, but at least they produce a better tactile feel when pressed.

Increasingly becoming prominent amongst top-end smartphones, we find the Motorola DROID 3’s microHDMI port especially gratifying seeing that it allows for quick and easy sharing of multimedia content – not to mention offering that ever so useful mirrored experience. Sadly, the ThunderBolt lacks this one particular element to shine its overall allure. Maybe next time around?

Android capacitive buttons - Motorola DROID 3 (bottom) and the HTC ThunderBolt (top) - Motorola DROID 3 vs HTC ThunderBolt
Power key and volume rocker - Motorola DROID 3 (bottom) and the HTC ThunderBolt (top) - Motorola DROID 3 vs HTC ThunderBolt
Ports - Motorola DROID 3 (bottom) and the HTC ThunderBolt (top) - Motorola DROID 3 vs HTC ThunderBolt

Android capacitive buttons

Power key and volume rocker


Motorola DROID 3 (bottom) and the HTC ThunderBolt (top)

Some commonalities between the two include their front-facing cameras for video chat and taking those illustrious self-portraits, microUSB ports for charging and data connectivity, microSD card slots, and 3.5mm headset jacks.

The sides of the Motorola DROID 3 (bottom) and the HTC ThunderBolt (top) - Motorola DROID 3 vs HTC ThunderBolt
The sides of the Motorola DROID 3 (bottom) and the HTC ThunderBolt (top) - Motorola DROID 3 vs HTC ThunderBolt
The sides of the Motorola DROID 3 (bottom) and the HTC ThunderBolt (top) - Motorola DROID 3 vs HTC ThunderBolt
The sides of the Motorola DROID 3 (bottom) and the HTC ThunderBolt (top) - Motorola DROID 3 vs HTC ThunderBolt

The sides of the Motorola DROID 3 (bottom) and the HTC ThunderBolt (top)

Photo enthusiast will undoubtedly like the fact that the two smartphones feature 8-megapixel auto-focus cameras in the rear. However, the ThunderBolt complements things with a dual-LED flash as opposed to the single one on the DROID 3.

Front-facing cameras - The Motorola DROID 3 (bottom) and the HTC ThunderBolt (top) - Motorola DROID 3 vs HTC ThunderBolt
8-megapixel cameras in the rear - The Motorola DROID 3 (bottom) and the HTC ThunderBolt (top) - Motorola DROID 3 vs HTC ThunderBolt

Front-facing cameras

8-megapixel cameras in the rear

The Motorola DROID 3 (bottom) and the HTC ThunderBolt (top)

Blatantly, the two handsets deliver their own unique characteristics to separate them from one another. Specifically, text messengers will truly adore the spacious and absolutely useful physical keyboard of the Motorola DROID 3. And in fact, we still can’t stop throwing Motorola with adulation for refining its iconic looking keyboard! Oppositely, the HTC ThunderBolt enchants movie buffs with the aid of its flip out kickstand – giving us that hands-free experience while watching some of our favorite flicks. Sure it can keep the ThunderBolt up, but seeing that the DROID 3 has some sharp edges, we’re able to prop it upright on its side as well.

The two handsets deliver their own unique characteristics - Motorola DROID 3 vs HTC ThunderBolt
The two handsets deliver their own unique characteristics - Motorola DROID 3 vs HTC ThunderBolt

The two handsets deliver their own unique characteristics

Motorola DROID 3 360-degrees View:

HTC ThunderBolt 360-degrees View:

  • Options

posted on 21 Jul 2011, 10:24 6

1. LXH (unregistered)

yes, stop comparing any phones to Iphone4, It's not that good anymore.

posted on 21 Jul 2011, 10:37 3

2. bucky (Posts: 2563; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)

I would go with the iphone over these two unfotunately

posted on 21 Jul 2011, 17:33 5

11. Immolate (Posts: 310; Member since: 17 Jun 2011)

Android is indeed a scary place with all of those choices. No worries though, that's exactly why they invented the iPhone--so you could be a one-of-a-kind rebel, like everyone else you know.

posted on 22 Jul 2011, 01:15 8

15. tuminatr (Posts: 773; Member since: 23 Feb 2009)

iphone owners make me laugh. the Iphone reminds me of fisher price My First series of baby toys, look its my first smart phone AWWW CUTE. someday you will grow up and want a big boy phone!!

posted on 10 Aug 2011, 06:10 1

28. LinuxGold (unregistered)



Android Phones:


posted on 09 Sep 2011, 17:26 1

63. GeekMovement (Posts: 2156; Member since: 09 Sep 2011)

Actually the iPhone is not good enough to be compared with the top android models which is why it's left out of the game. Maybe iPhone 6 will be comparable with the phones compared in this article...

posted on 26 Jul 2011, 19:43

22. heyHEYYOU (unregistered)

but this isnt an iphone article, so keep your opinion to yourself!

posted on 21 Jul 2011, 10:38 2

3. CDMA (unregistered)

In the T-Bolt's defense, if you put the T-Bolt in CDMA only mode ... the battery life would probably be close.

Also, in CDMA, the T-Bolt supports data and voice at the same time. Not sure if the D3 can. (For me, I can't live without this.)

posted on 21 Jul 2011, 10:39 2

4. xenover (Posts: 174; Member since: 27 May 2011)

dual-core vs single core
pointless comparison

posted on 21 Jul 2011, 10:57 7

5. iankellogg (Posts: 155; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)

how is it pointless? one has lte one does not, one has dual core, one does not. The phones are fairly evenly matched in their selling point.

posted on 21 Jul 2011, 11:19 5

6. jroc74 (Posts: 6005; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)

One thing I noticed...the infamous Pentile screen doesnt look bad on the Droid 3. The D3's screen actually looks better than the Thunderbolts.

posted on 21 Jul 2011, 11:28 2

7. ahtin (Posts: 5; Member since: 18 Jun 2011)

I returned my T-Bolt because of the poor poor poor battery life (even in CDMA mode!). Got my D3 and l like it so far.

However, if it's not because of the battery issue, T-Bolt would be a keeper for me because:

1. HTC Sense is way better than Motoblur. It's more useful friendly. I like how I can link my FACEBOOK account with HTC Sense for the profile picture in my contact list.

2. T-Bolt has more RAM on board while D3 only has 512MB!! (That's the sad part.)

3. The whole qHD display on D3 is a joke. Color comes out darker compare to T-Bolt. I can tell the different when playing Angry Bird and using Google Maps. And the picture/video quality is bad.

4. D3 is heavy!

Well, there is something good about D3 though:

1. The battery will last me a day.
2. Love that keyboard too!!
3. Signal strength is better in my area comparing with T-Bolt.
4. Faster processor
5. More business looking than T-bolt. (personal preference.)

I was going to wait for the Bionic, but I am still worry about the battery issue with 4G phone. I think I should wait until the next round after they fix the battery issue and get the 4G.

posted on 21 Jul 2011, 20:25

13. doubleD (Posts: 78; Member since: 13 Dec 2010)

You CAN link your FACEBOOK acct with MOTOBLUR for the profile pics in contact list. Easily.

posted on 21 Jul 2011, 21:25 1

14. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 3108; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)

Of course the D3 is heavy. It has a slideout keyboard and is a solid build device. You can't mark it down for that. And honestly, it's not that heavy, maybe you are just a wimp. lol jk

posted on 21 Jul 2011, 14:54 2

8. DROIDX0430 (Posts: 468; Member since: 24 Nov 2010)

Why don't you compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. This is no comparison. Why would you compare a dual core, 3g device to a single core, 4G device. The only comparison with the Droid 3 is the DroidX2. Dual core to Dual core, 3G to 3G, Motorola to Motorola.....See which is the best phone when the only big difference is QWERTY vice PHYSICAL keyboard--other than than they are the same. The Thunderbolt should be compared with the Samsung Charge, and LG Revolution---single core, 4G LTE devices........come on iphonearena.

posted on 09 Sep 2011, 23:42

64. thunderbolt89 (unregistered)

why would you want to compare to things that are the same? lol thats just silly. also i wanted to add that i have the thunderbolt and i absolutely love it. this biggest issue for me (as stated numerous times) is the battery life, but what i did was significantly lowered the brightness of the screen which added a tremendous amount of battery run. i find that the screen is so bright to begin with that even after lowering it to about a third of it's full brightness the screen still look pretty damn good. now don't get me wrong if i was showing my phone off to a friend i might bump it back up a bit haha but honestly i haven't lost any usability since changing it.

posted on 21 Jul 2011, 14:56 1

9. DROIDX0430 (Posts: 468; Member since: 24 Nov 2010)

big difference . iankellogg .... if you know anything about phones.....

posted on 21 Jul 2011, 15:53

10. Sure its a valid compare (unregistered)

Why not?

Does a dual CPU really help with the fluidity of the display? (For example)

Does the dual CPU help with displaying pages faster? (For example)

The D3 has a higher density display, yet can keep up; therefore, one could conclude that the dual core is kicking in a bit here. It would have been nice if the dropped the Thunderbolt to 3G only to help in some of the comparisons. We know LTE is going to kick 3G butt.

Personally ... I think you could not go wrong with either. Other than ... I think the Thunderbolt is a bit more future proof as LTE is definitely here to stay I would think for the next 5 years+ easy. So, assuming you had enough batteries ... ;) ... you might be able to keep the Thunderbolt around longer.

posted on 22 Jul 2011, 07:01 1

18. snowgator (Posts: 3583; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)

Future proof in LTE, yes. Not in Android updates. No device will get a full Ice Cream Sandwich update without a dual core. It will be designed for dual core. I can understand if LTE is more important to you, but the T-Bolt and it's single core will not get to take full advantage of the update, if it gets any at all. Just food for thought.

posted on 22 Jul 2011, 11:46

20. Sure its a valid compare (unregistered)

The Thunderbolt still won't be dead in the water though. Hardly.

Will it:

Be able to take calls: check
Be able to hotspot/tether: check
Surf the web: check
Exist on LTE: check

Now it could be crippled in the sense:

I have a second generation iPod Touch that no longer gets OS updates and is now limited as far as what apps I can download and use. The Thunderbolt could fall into this category here. Again though the Touch is still quite "usable". The Thunderbolt would be too I am sure.

posted on 21 Jul 2011, 17:40

12. Immolate (Posts: 310; Member since: 17 Jun 2011)

I used my Tbolt for a few months and replaced it with the D3 since it came out. They are both really pleasing phones to use. When it's all said and done, the thing that will decide it for you is what matters more to you, the best network speed around or the best keyboard around.

If I had to chose between the two, and living in a 3G area, I'd chose the D3. But I loved that Tbolt with dasBAMF on it. Thankfully I don't have to chose so I'll probably upgrade to Bionic in a couple of weeks.

Oh, almost forgot. The reviewer was confused as to the internal memory components. Tbolt has 8GB internal and an included 32GB Sdram. D3 has 16GB internal and no included Sdram, but capacity of up to 32GB. This comes out about even from an objective point of view, I think. But for my preference, I like the 16GB internal better simply because you can't expand internal memory. You can, however, buy a 32GB Sdram chip. So now I have 48GB on my D3, 8GB more than the Tbolt had at maximum capacity.

posted on 22 Jul 2011, 01:40

16. Sam (unregistered)

The D3 pentile screen looks terrible all around the board. I have no idea hoe they think these screens are a good choice. Greens have black spacing all over and the color production is terrible. Also, the thunderbolt and D3 are same thickness(tbolt is slightly thinner) so we know the reviewer was going off incorrect numbed posted somewhere. Lay them on the table and its clear. Motorola's software is still laggy and put together poorly. Sense is so much cleaner and useful.

posted on 22 Jul 2011, 06:57

17. snowgator (Posts: 3583; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)

This was a well done show down. I will almost always take a HTC over any other product, but I have to admit I think the Droid 3 wins this one. I know LTE rules and all, but the upside to the D3 really does stand out against the T-Bolt. If you are looking at these two phones, then it is pretty clear that LTE isn't a deal breaker for you. In that case, It is hard to pick against the Moto.

posted on 22 Jul 2011, 11:31 1

19. Hotspot (unregistered)

Mobile hotspot ... SVDO ... simulataneous voice and data on 3G.

If you are in a 3G market ... this could lean weight on the Thunderbolt.

You have your laptop connected to your cell phone via hotspot. Doing something critical ... BAM ... a call comes in ... your phone now DROPS your hotspot connection (potentially losing any data or critical work) ... in favor of the phone call.

I have heard the Thunderbot would allow the hotspot connection to continue. This could save you as you would not have to purchase a USB along with its associated montly plan. A huge plus here is if you are grandfathered, your tethering is unlimited.

Now throw LTE in there and you enjoy those benefits.

Really though ... these phones are very very close.

posted on 23 Jul 2011, 20:01

21. Tom (unregistered)

Can someone give me the Thunderbolt's wallpaper? That is hot!

posted on 31 Jul 2011, 23:33

23. vzwbb21 (Posts: 33; Member since: 05 Jun 2010)

no software really utilizes both cores so its pointless

posted on 19 Aug 2011, 08:20

33. binglut9 (Posts: 10; Member since: 12 Dec 2010)

yes it does

posted on 09 Aug 2011, 11:48

26. freddie (Posts: 3; Member since: 09 Aug 2011)

saw a better comparison done @beigephone, plus they have the best prices on these phones.

posted on 09 Aug 2011, 15:37 1

27. ChewChong (unregistered)

I live in a 4G area making the T-bolt a better choice for me. Its got a great processor (1.0 Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon 4G Lte) Compared to the Droid3 1.0 Ghz Dual Processor. I personally like dual processors more but in this case when the T-bolt has 4g lte its makes it better. qhd is not useful to me, 780p is just fine when you have a 4.3 inch screen on the t-bolt. T-bolt has a kick stand......Thunderbolt wins!

posted on 10 Aug 2011, 18:55

29. mr. droid (Posts: 278; Member since: 21 Aug 2010)

I would take anything out there over a motorola or samsung any time any day. both make inferior hand sets compared to everyone else. SO many issues with the fascinate and everything in the droid line from motorola that i could never bring myself to spend money in a handset made by either of the said manufacturers.

posted on 12 Aug 2011, 16:51

30. rayjones09 (Posts: 149; Member since: 16 Dec 2010)

Phonearena! You guys are some of my favorite reviewers. Would you all please do a HTC Evo 3D vs HTC Sensation 4G comparison. Also, a HTC Evo 3D vs Motorola Photon 4G comparison? Thanks for the consideration. I've been checking multiple times a day for the Evo 3D vs Photon comparison but to no avail. Other websites have done them but this site is more reliable.

posted on 20 Aug 2011, 09:41

35. myopinionisright (unregistered)

Look, i work at verizon and the droid 3 is pure crap. I have seen many reviews praising it, but here is my experience: call quality is horrible, the display is horrible, and even with a dual core processor, it lags horribly due to the over-bloated motoblur crappy ui. It is one of the worst phone we carry. At least near the bottom of the heap. If you read the BGR review on it, it describes almost exactly my experience with it. perhaps google can whip motorola mobility into shape, but for now they are poor phones compared with HTC or Samsung.

posted on 22 Aug 2011, 14:08

38. l3adBoy (unregistered)

Droid 3 is the best

posted on 23 Aug 2011, 14:49

41. Dade (unregistered)

This is going to be tough since I'm upgrading this Friday. I had my heart set on the T-Bolt, but after reading several reviews, it looks like they're a lot closer than I thought. Also, the majority of the comments support getting the D3 over the T-Bolt.

For me, the 4G isn't that big of a deal, and having your battery die in 6 hours isn't cool either. RIght now, I'm having to re-think my decision.

Thanks for this great in-depth review - it really opened my eyes to how good of a phone the D3 is.

posted on 25 Aug 2011, 22:37

45. marceloG (unregistered)

Dual-core is all hype. It hasn't proven faster processing in real-world scenarios. Wanna see a proper review of the Droid 3? Check out Attack Of The Show's review on G4 or G4.com.

posted on 29 Aug 2011, 21:13

50. s (unregistered)

The picture with the phones displayed with their keyboards out is incorrect... that is not the Thunderbolt. TBolt does not have a keyboard like that.

posted on 05 Sep 2011, 21:06

59. dschu (unregistered)

all iphones are probably the most glitchiest phones on the market i work with celll phones its my job and i deal with more glitched out iphones than any other device. all iphone users sorry but the IOS is not as Good as the Droid operating system. the devices are much more powerful and allow u to do 10x more than than the iphone. look more at your device before you start hating on the droids because when it comes down to which phone can destroy the iphone most phones on the market nowadays can.

posted on 11 Sep 2011, 02:41

65. Phandroid_Hater (unregistered)

I had a few android phones and they were cool. I have an iPhone now and I'm enjoying it. Who cares if the new android phones out there have more RAM, dual core processors and all the other bells and whistles. Having an iPhone doesn't mean that I'm a follower or that I'm a iSheep or whatever names you jerks give us. iOS is closed and you can't do much, but as far as the guy above saying that he deals with "glitchy" iPhones is crazy. Hey buddy, I work in the cell phone buisness too, I use mine every day; just because you "use" phones doesn't make you an expert on iOS. If you like Android, good I'm happy for you. But when the iPhone 5 launches, and all of your SEGMENTED android devices can not use certain apps, blame the developers. iOS may be closed, but its consistant and reliable. Its funny, now ALL android 2.2 and 2.3 phones can stream Netflix, when people were doing it on the iPhone 3G for years. Good Luck with your Honeycomb, and Ice Cream sandwich; sooner or later you guys will have to use Hydroxycut to get rid of those extra empty calories.

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