Once again, we’re shown that the HTC ThunderBolt and Apple iPhone 4 could not look more different with their user interface. But here’s the interesting thing – both interfaces work really well and are quite easy to use. If you’ve never owned or used a smartphone before in your life, the iOS platform on the iPhone 4 would probably be quickest to learn, but the HTC Sense layered over Android on the ThunderBolt is also quite simple and takes the guess-work out of using Android. Both devices have multiple home screens, but the ThunderBolt has a world of desktop widgets, scenes and skins, all of which make it highly-customizable.

Since both feature fast processors, moving between the homescreens and opening programs are fast, though there does seem to be a bit more fluidity with the iPhone 4.

Messaging is also quick and painless on both devices, as they can be set-up to use pretty much any email account out there. We used both with our POP3 and IMAP accounts, and had no problems with them. The same thing goes for text messaging. The only real differences is that the ThunderBolt is easier to type on, due to the larger on-screen QWERTY keyboard, and that it integrates all of your contacts better (phone, Google, Facebook, Twitter) in one area called “people”.

Internet and Connectivity:

Here’s where things start to get interesting. The iPhone 4 is a 3G device and uses Verizon’s EVDO Rev A network for all data, while the ThunderBolt is 4G and will use Verizon’s new LTE network if you are in a 4G area, otherwise it defaults back to 3G. Because of this, and since we are in a 4G area of south FL, web pages load much faster on the ThunderBolt  - hands down. For example, it only takes 22 seconds to fully load the web site on the ThunderBolt (including all Flash content and ads); while the iPhone 4 takes 40 seconds (keeping in mind that it doesn’t support Flash). One clear advantage with the ThunderBolt is that it is only smartphone on Verizon that allows you to use their 4G/3G data service (web, email, etc) while also using the voice call service. Keep in mind the iPhone 4 for AT&T also has this functionality, but it is not on the Verizon version.

Even though both devices show web pages pretty much how they would appear on your home PC, the winner here is the ThunderBolt, as it loads quicker (due to the 4G network), has full support for the latest Flash Player, and when you factor in that 4.3” screen, it just adds to an overall more enjoyable web browsing.

Using the app on both devices, we were able to get download speeds between 8-12 Mbps on the ThunderBolt, while the iPhone 4 was limited to downloads of only 0.4-1.0 Mbps

Both devices come with Verizon’s Mobile HotSpot app, though using it on the ThunderBolt is a more pleasurable experience due to the faster connection speed. In fact, we linked the iPhone 4 to the ThunderBolt via Wi-Fi and used the 4G connection on it. In doing so, the iPhone 4 was also achieving the same 8-10 Mbps speeds that we saw on the ThunderBolt. But when we reversed the HotSpot, where the ThunderBolt was connected to the iPhone 4 and using its 3G connection, the downloads crawled at only 0.3 Mbps. Hopefully there will be a 4G LTE version of the iPhone in the future.

Another advantage with the ThunderBolt is that it has an Internet Connection Mode, where you can tether the phone to your PC via USB cable, and have your PC use the phone’s 4G internet connection.

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