HTC ThunderBolt Review

When we first learned in 2007 that Verizon was going to be updating its network to 4G LTE, we’ve been wondering which smartphone would be the first to utilize it. Now it’s here: the HTC ThunderBolt. Without a doubt, the ThunderBolt is being advertized as the must-have device, with fast internet data speeds, a 4.3” display, and a 1GHz processor. Verizon is counting on early-adopters at this point; people not wanting to wait around for other 4G smartphones, such as the dual-core Motorola DROID BIONIC, LG Revolution, or the (un-named) Samsung 4G LTE smartphone with Super AMOLED Plus display. But there are already a few 4G devices out from other carriers, so let’s see if the ThunderBolt was worth the wait, as we dive into it.

Included in the retail box is the HTC ThunderBolt ADR6400 phone, 1400mAh battery, SanDisk 32GB Class 4 microSDHC memory card preinstalled, wall charger with detachable microUSB cable, and user guides.


The overall design of the HTC ThunderBolt is pleasing, but it isn’t ground-breaking by any means, as it looks to be an amalgamation of other HTC phones, such as the Inspire 4G and EVO 4G, though we like the black and graphite grey colors that are used on the exterior. The phone is constructed out of plastic, but feels quite sturdy, and has a noticeable weight to it, coming in at 6.23oz, making it even heavier than the 5.47oz metal DROID X. The ThunderBolt also has a generous size to it, and feels very “wide” when holding it, so people with smaller hands might not be as comfortable with it. When we placed the phone in our pants pocket, we could feel it there, and after walking some, the weight started to get annoying.

You can compare the HTC ThunderBolt with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

We are glad to see that HTC stepped-up to a 4.3” WVGA capacitive display on the ThunderBolt, where the HTC Droid Incredible from last year was limited to a smaller 3.7”. Though in doing so you give up the AMOLED display for a standard TFT. One thing that we noticed (as we had 2 ThunderBolts to compare) was that one of them had better looking display, as colors were more saturated and life-like with good contrast, while the second ThunderBolt’s colors were a bit more “dull” and whites looked more gray. We looked at the same images, videos, and web pages on each, and could clearly see a difference. This doesn’t mean that the 2nd unit’s display is defective, as it could have been made at a different plant or not calibrated correctly, just that there are differences here that we noticed. Regardless, the one thing that we didn’t care for is that you can hardly read the display while being outside in sunlight, as it is dark and hard to see, even when the backlight is turned all the way up. In comparison, the Motorola DROID X is a bit easier to view in sunlight.

The HTC ThunderBolt comes with the standard touch-sensitive buttons on the lower part, which will take you to the home screen, menu, back, and search. Up above is the earpiece speaker with a hidden LED status indicator that will flash green when you get a new message, as well as change between red and green while charging, and on the opposite side is a 1.3MP camera for taking self pictures, and (eventually) for video chatting via Skype. Along the sides are the microUSB port, volume rocker, power/lock key and 3.5mm headset jack. Even though the volume rocker is large and protrudes some from the surrounding plastic, the power/lock key (which is used more often) is small and flush with its surroundings, making it more difficult to find by touch alone. On the back is the 8MP autofocus camera with dual LED Flash, and a kickstand that comes in handy when watching videos, though we don’t like that it covers up the rear speaker when closed. Removing the battery cover can be quite difficult, but will reveal the hidden slot for the Verizon 4G SIM card, as well as the microSDHC memory card slot. One thing missing from the ThunderBolt is an HDMI output, but it does support Wi-Fi streaming to DLNA compatible products.

HTC ThunderBolt 360-degree View:



1. dirtydirty00

Posts: 428; Member since: Jan 21, 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: 428; Member since: Jan 21, 2011


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: 470; Member since: Nov 16, 2010

Exactly, the Droid x killed the thunderbolt. Stop trying to make this phone better than it is.

7. Rejeimha

Posts: 18; Member since: Jul 29, 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: Jan 07, 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

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

I played around with it. The speeds are impressive.

9. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

coming from you dude thats a complement

10. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 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.

11. Lucas777

Posts: 2137; Member since: Jan 06, 2011

that was a nice comment

12. Kjayhawk

Posts: 294; Member since: Oct 07, 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: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 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: Feb 17, 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: Jan 07, 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: Feb 17, 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: Jan 07, 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: Feb 17, 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 unregistered

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 unregistered

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: Jan 07, 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: Jul 25, 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: Jan 07, 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: 1048; Member since: Dec 10, 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: Jan 07, 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 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
  • Display 4.3" 480 x 800 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.3 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon S2, Single core, 1000 MHz
  • Storage 8GB + microSDHC
  • Battery 1400 mAh(6.30h talk time)

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