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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

Motorola DROID 3 360-degrees View:

HTC ThunderBolt 360-degrees View:



1. LXH unregistered

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

2. bucky

Posts: 3794; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

I would go with the iphone over these two unfotunately

11. Immolate

Posts: 310; Member since: Jun 17, 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.

15. tuminatr

Posts: 1164; Member since: Feb 23, 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!!

63. GeekMovement unregistered

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...

22. heyHEYYOU unregistered

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

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.)

4. xenover

Posts: 174; Member since: May 27, 2011

dual-core vs single core pointless comparison

5. iankellogg

Posts: 155; Member since: Jun 15, 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.

6. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 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.

7. ahtin

Posts: 5; Member since: Jun 18, 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.

13. doubleD

Posts: 78; Member since: Dec 13, 2010

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


Posts: 3131; Member since: Jan 12, 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

8. DROIDX0430

Posts: 469; Member since: Nov 24, 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.

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.

9. DROIDX0430

Posts: 469; Member since: Nov 24, 2010

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

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.

18. snowgator

Posts: 3621; Member since: Jan 19, 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.

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.

12. Immolate

Posts: 310; Member since: Jun 17, 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.

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.

17. snowgator

Posts: 3621; Member since: Jan 19, 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.

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.

21. Tom unregistered

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

23. vzwbb21

Posts: 33; Member since: Jun 05, 2010

no software really utilizes both cores so its pointless

33. binglut9

Posts: 10; Member since: Dec 12, 2010

yes it does

26. freddie

Posts: 3; Member since: Aug 09, 2011

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

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!

29. mr. droid

Posts: 278; Member since: Aug 21, 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.

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