Motorola DROID BIONIC vs HTC ThunderBolt vs Samsung Droid Charge vs LG Revolution

Introduction and Design

The big news from Verizon Wireless earlier this year at CES 2011 was their new 4G LTE Android smartphones that were on display. The first one that was released was the HTC ThunderBolt in March, followed by the Samsung Droid Charge and the LG Revolution. Now the circle is complete, as the highly anticipated Motorola DROID BIONIC has hit the stores. All four of these smartphones have similarities, but in this four-way comparison we’re also going to take a look at their differences, as well as and point out things that we like and don’t like about them.


These four smartphones share a similar “candy bar” form factor, but each one looks and feels a bit different. Coming in at 5.04 oz, the Samsung Droid Charge is the lightest of the bunch, but we didn’t care for its slippery plastic body, which makes the phone feel cheap and that it could slip from your hand at any moment. Though we do appreciate the larger power and volume buttons on the side. It is also the only one that uses real push-buttons below the display, which can prevent accidental presses.

The Motorola DROID BIONIC is slightly heavier at 5.60 oz, but is the thinnest at only 0.40” thick near the bottom, though it does become slightly thicker at the top due to the camera hump. We like its overall solid construction and the glossy gray frame that encompasses the beveled-edge glass on the front, as well as the soft-touch coating on the back. When holding the device, it feels sturdy in the hand and fits quite nice.

The LG Revolution comes in at 6.06 oz, but is also the tallest out of the four. Because of this, the device feels like a brick in our hand and has almost no style to it, which we don’t care for.

Meanwhile, the HTC ThunderBolt is the heaviest at 6.23 oz and thickest at 0.56”, which did weigh-down our hand when talking on the phone for a while, or when using the web browser for an extended period of time, but it also felt quite solid and sturdy. We did like the two-tone gray color combination that is used and the kickstand on the back.


One of the most important features of any smartphone is its display, as you will be continually viewing it while using different apps, browsing the web, or taking pictures. All four of these smartphones have a 4.3” display, which is pretty much the standard size, but it would have been nice if at least one had a larger screen.

The one on the Samsung Droid Charge stands out, as it is the only Super AMOLED Plus display in the group, but still has a WVGA resolution of 480x800 pixels. The HTC ThunderBolt and LG Revolution have a standard TFT display, also capable of WVGA resolution, while the Motorola DROID BIONIC has a PenTile Matrix TFT Display, which means there are white sub-pixels with the RGB ones, and has a qHD resolution of 540x960.

Even though all these technical specifications sound interesting, the real key is how they perform in a variety of lighting conditions. We used several test images on the displays with the brightness turned all the way up, and found the results interesting.

When viewing indoors or in a dark environment, the Samsung Droid Charge produced the most saturated colors and had the highest contrast levels, but this over-saturation can cause images to “jump” out at you – though some may prefer this – but it also has a tendency for whites to have a blue hue to them. Despite this, the display on the Droid Charge did have the best viewing angles, where you could look at it from all four sides without any major shift in color or brightness. The HTC ThunderBolt and Motorola DROID BIONIC also did a good job for inside viewing of images and web text, but you have to look at the display mostly head-on, as any off-axis viewing will cause a loss of color and contrast. We also noticed that the PenTile display on the DROID BIONIC can occasionally create a “screen door” effect, though it seems to be most prevalent when primary colors are shown – such as blue text on a green background – or when watching videos. The LG Revolution  produced average colors, but images and text didn’t look sharp and clear as the other phones.

We then took the phones outside in direct sunlight, and the display on the DROID BIONIC was the brightest and easiest to view (as long as it was head-on), followed closely by the Samsung Droid Charge with its wider viewing angles. Meanwhile, the displays on the HTC ThunderBolt and LG Revolution were not easily visible and appeared dark.


Even though all four of these smartphones are running Android (Gingerbread on the DROID BIONIC and Froyo on the rest), the user interface varies between them. By far the easiest and most customizable is the HTC ThunderBolt with its Sense UI. Not only does it provide a large selection of widgets, it allows for different scenes and skins, which the other devices do not.

The Motorola DROID BONIC is our second favorite with its updated MOTOBLUR interface that has some eye pleasing 3D effects and nice selection of widgets, though we wish that it came with 7 homescreens instead of only 5. The Samsung Droid Charge with its TouchWiz 3.0 interface is close, again with some very nice widgets. Not far behind is the LG Revolution with its Optimus UI 2.0, but its user interface isn’t as polished as the rest, and it doesn’t offer as many widgets.

Internet and Data:

Since the WebKit browser is used by all of these smartphones, they display web pages nearly identical to one another and have similar features, such as pinch-to-zoom and Adobe Flash support. What we were most interested in finding out was if there were any differences in their web page load times and data speeds, as all four of these smartphones are using Verizon’s 4G LTE network, but have different processors and amounts of RAM.

Both the Motorola DROID BIONIC and HTC ThunderBolt were equally fast at loading our web site in 25 seconds on the first attempt and 20 seconds on the reload. The LG Revolution was only slightly behind, taking 27 to load on the first attempt and 20 seconds on the reload, while the Samsung Droid Charge took a little longer at 30 seconds on the first attempt and also 30 seconds on the reload. All of these are faster than a Verizon 3G device, such as the Motorola DROID X, which would take nearly a minute to load the web site.

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We also ran the app on each device and had it connect to two local servers. The Motorola DROID BIONIC was the fastest with download speeds of 9-10 Mbps (but did hit as high as 12 Mbps), and uploads speeds were 5-6 Mbps. The HTC ThunderBolt and Samsung Droid Charge were not far behind, as both had download speeds of 7-8 Mbps, but uploads were only 2-3 Mbps. The LG Revolution showed download speeds between 5-6 Mbps, but uploads were an amazing 10 Mbps (which makes us think there might be a bug with the testing app and the Revolution).

We should also point out all four of these smartphones from time-to-time would occasionally drop from 4G to 3G (but we made sure it didn’t happen during our testing). What was interesting is that it would only last for a few minutes (at the most) and would return back to 4G, except that the Samsung Droid Charge would stay fixed on 3G and required us to turn the Airplane mode on and off so that it would go back to 4G.

Based upon our usage, we believe that the Motorola DROID BIONIC is the leader here, as it had the fastest downloads in the SpeedTest app, and was also very quick at loading web pages. Close behind is the HTC ThunderBolt, as it loaded web sites in the same amount of time as the DROID BIONIC, but its SpeedTest results were slightly slower. The LG Revolution comes in next with a slower SpeedTest results and web page loads, leaving the Samsung Droid Charge in last place, as it took the longest at loading our web page, and also seems to get stuck in 3G mode at times.


Even though it’s nice to have a phone with a built-in camera that has a high megapixel count, it is even more important that it is capable of capturing good looking pictures in a variety of shooting conditions. Expect for the LG Revolution that uses a 5MP autofocus camera, all other come with 8-megapixel shooters.

When taking pictures outside, both the HTC ThunderBolt and Samsung Droid Charge produced the most pleasing images, as they showed good detail and the most accurate colors, though ThunderBolt did at times seem to have an issue with its auto white balance, while the Droid Charge did not. Meanwhile, the Motorola DROID BIONIC’s outside pictures were just average and not anything worth writing home about, as its detail wasn’t as good, and color accuracy was also lacking at times. The LG Revolution produced the most overexposed and unappealing images outside with some unnatural looking colors.

For pictures captured indoors, we were surprised to see that the Motorola DROID BIONIC was actually as good as the HTC ThunderBolt when there was strong to medium light, while the Samsung Droid Charge and LG Revolution were overexposed. But for low light and flash images, the DROID BIONIC did the best, followed by closely by the ThunderBolt and Droid Charge, while the flash on the Revolution is very weak and had little effect in a dark environment.

Video recording on a cell phone is nothing new, but out of this group the video captured by the DROID BIONIC at 1920x1080p resolution was clearly the best, as it had the most detail and was also fluid at 30 frames-per-second. It was also the only device in the group to record videos with stereo sound (using the two rear mics), instead of just mon sound. The other three devices were limited to recording videos at 1280x720p resolution, with the HTC ThunderBolt producing good results, while the video by the Samsung Droid Charge had the lowest detail and also looked the most “shaky”.

Motorola DROID BIONIC Sample Video:

HTC ThunderBolt Sample Video:

Samsung Droid Charge Sample Video:

LG Revolution Sample Video:


There’s no denying the fact that the Motorola DROID BIONIC leads the pack in overall speed, such as opening and running apps or even moving between the home screens. This is because it’s currently the only Verizon 4G LTE smartphone with a dual-core 1GHz processor. Using the Quadrant benchmark app we got a score of 2465, which clearly beats the LG Revolution with a score of 2122, HTC ThunderBolt with 1703, and Samsung Droid Charge with 939. Equally impressive was the DROID BONIC’s results when using the AnTuTu benchmark app, which got an amazing mark of 5000, while the remaining three devices got marks between 2700-3000.

Call quality and signal reception is important on any phone, and once again the DROID BIONIC produced the most pleasing and best sounding voices on both ends of the conversation, with no background noise or static. The Samsung Droid Charge also did well with the voice quality, though it didn’t sound quite as good as on the Motorola. Meanwhile, the HTC ThunderBolt and LG Revolution did relatively poor here, as both had voices sounding flat and thin, and there was also a noticeable background “hiss” sound while using the ThunderBolt.

While using these four phones, we didn’t have any issues with their signal reception while placing or receiving calls, and none of the calls were dropped, but as we mentioned earlier, the Samsung Droid Charge was the only device in the group that would continually drop its data connection from 4G to 3G and stay there. The only work around being to turn the Airplane Mode on and off, which would get it back to 4G for a while.

Battery life is also a concern, as you don’t want to feel required to carry around a wall charger with you. The Motorola DROID BIONIC comes with the largest battery at 1735mAh, which was able to provide us up to 10.5 hours of continuous talk time on a full charge, or about 16 hours of mixed usage, which includes some talk, standby, web and app usage. The Samsung Droid Charge with its 1600mAh battery also did well and was able to provide up to 10 hours of talk time or 12 hours of mixed usage. The HTC ThunderBolt comes with the smallest battery at 1400mAh and can only provide up to 6.5 hours of talk time, but it is still longer than the LG Revolution’s 1500mAh battery that has a limited talk time of only 5 hours.


After using these smartphones for several days, we believe that the overall best device out of the group is the Motorola DROID BONIC. Not only does it have the slimmest design and has great build quality, it is also the fastest with the best benchmark scores and download speeds, which makes running apps and view web pages more enjoyable. Call quality and signal reception are also excellent, with voices sounding clear and natural, and the battery can provide almost 10.5 hours of talk time. But the camera quality was only average, and outside pictures were not amazing (though inside and flash images are good), but it does provide some nice looking videos at 1080p resolution. Unfortunately for some, PenTile Matrix qHD display can cause a “screen door” effect when viewing certain content, but the display is the brightest and most viewable in direct sunlight, as long as you are looking at it head-on.

Up next is the HTC ThunderBolt with its solid construction, though it can feel a bit heavy at times. We love the Sense UI interface on the ThunderBolt, which makes it the easiest and most customizable deice in the group. Data speeds and benchmark tests were also good, as were the outside pictures, but the display can be a bit dark when used outside, and the call quality isn’t the best we’ve heard.

The Samsung Droid Charge comes in next, as it has good voice quality and its Super AMOLED Plus display produces saturated colors and has the best viewing angles. Unfortunately, we don’t care much for the cheap slipper feel of the phone, and having the data connection continually drop from 4G to 3G more than the other devices almost ruins it for us.

Coming in at the rear is the LG Revolution, which isn’t surprising. It looks and feels like a big brick in your hand, and isn’t very comfortable to hold. And to make things worse, the call quality and display are also quite lacking, as is its abysmal battery life. With three other “better” 4G LTE phones out by Verizon, we can’t see why anyone would purchase this one.

Motorola DROID BIONIC vs HTC ThunderBolt vs Samsung Droid Charge vs LG Revolution:

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