HTC ThunderBolt Review

Introduction and Design

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 theback 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:

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