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Samsung Droid Charge vs HTC ThunderBolt

Posted: , posted by FAUguy

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Interface:

Since the Samsung Droid Charge and HTC ThunderBolt run on Android 2.2.1 Froyo, they have the same underlying operating system and can do pretty much the same tasks – though their interface does look different.

Samsung uses their TouchWiz 3.0 user interface on the Droid Charge, which allows for a few extra desktop widgets to be placed on the 7 home screens, as well as different layout for the application’s screen, which has to be moved side-to-side. But missing are any type of themes for the desktop. This is one area where the ThunderBolt does well in, as it uses the HTC Sense user interface. Not only does it come with a larger selection of widgets, but also has 6 scenes and 5 different skins, all of which allow for much greater personalization on the desktop.

The Samsung Droid Charge (left)and the HTC ThunderBolt (right) - Samsung Droid Charge vs HTC ThunderBolt

As we mentioned, both phones have 7 home screens, but moving between them feels faster and more fluid on the ThunderBolt. Sometimes the Droid Charge didn’t feel as smooth as you could see some delay when moving between the home screens.


Contacts and Messaging:

One area where both devices perform well in is with contact management and messaging. The HTC ThunderBolt will integrate all your contacts from your Google, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr accounts, while the Droid Charge also adds contacts from Skype, AIM, Windows Live, Yahoo! Messenger and MySpace. Even though there are some visual differences between the TouchWiz and Sense UI layout, they both allow you to view all your contacts together in one list, as well as edit them right from your phone.

Dialpads - The Samsung Droid Charge (left) and the HTC ThunderBolt (right) - Samsung Droid Charge vs HTC ThunderBolt
Dialing contacts - The Samsung Droid Charge (left) and the HTC ThunderBolt (right) - Samsung Droid Charge vs HTC ThunderBolt

Dialpads

Dialing contacts


The messaging app also looks a bit different between the Samsung Droid Charge and HTC ThunderBolt, but it still performs the same tasks. You can have it setup to work with any email account, including POP3, IMAP, AOL, GMail, Microsoft Exchange, Verizon.net, Windows Live Hotmail and Yahoo! There is also a separate Mobile IM app for connecting you to your Windows Live, Yahoo and AIM buddy lists.

Messaging apps of the Samsung Droid Charge (left) and the HTC ThunderBolt (right) - Samsung Droid Charge vs HTC ThunderBolt
Messaging apps of the Samsung Droid Charge (left) and the HTC ThunderBolt (right) - Samsung Droid Charge vs HTC ThunderBolt

Since neither phone comes with a physical keyboard, you have to use the on-screen virtual QWERTY. Between the two, we found the one on the ThunderBolt to be a bit easier to use, as the on-screen keys were slightly larger, and the word prediction worked better. But the Droid Charge also has the Swype keyboard included, so some of you may prefer using that.

On-screen QWERTY kyeboards of the Samsung Droid Charge (bottom, left) and the HTC ThunderBolt (top, right) - Samsung Droid Charge vs HTC ThunderBolt
On-screen QWERTY kyeboards of the Samsung Droid Charge (bottom, left) and the HTC ThunderBolt (top, right) - Samsung Droid Charge vs HTC ThunderBolt


Internet and Connectivity:

With the Samsung Droid Charge and HTC ThunderBolt, you are able to connect to Verizon’s 4G LTE data network – but not everything is wine and roses.

We’ve been using the ThunderBolt for almost 6 weeks now, and still have the problem we talked about here, where the phone will cycle through 4G, 3G, and 1x modes for no reason at all while we are in a 4G area. But if we put the phone in LTE only mode (as shown in that article), it significantly cuts down on the amount of times it changes to 3G and 1x, and will stay on 4G most of the time. But with the Droid Charge, it is always going between 4G and 3G, and most of the time will show 3G if we are in a house, car, or any type of structure. In fact, it happens so much that we have to use the Airplane mode dozens of times a day for it to re-establish a 4G connection. We’re not sure if this a problem with the Verizon network or with the phones, but the other 4G devices (USB modems, HotSpot, MiFi) will stay connected to 4G without dropping down to 3G in the same area.

As far as the phones' pure 4G data speeds are concerned, there is little to no difference, as we got 9.37 Mbps download on the Droid Charge and 9.27 Mbps download on the ThunderBolt, with both using the Speedtest.net app and connecting to the same server. Uploads were between 4-5 Mbps.

The Speedtest.net app - The Samsung Droid Charge (left) and the HTC ThunderBolt (right) - Samsung Droid Charge vs HTC ThunderBolt
The Quadrant Benchmark app - The Samsung Droid Charge (left) and the HTC ThunderBolt (right) - Samsung Droid Charge vs HTC ThunderBolt

The Speedtest.net app

The Quadrant Benchmark app


Both phones also come with a WebKit based browser and have similar features, but the web browsing experience on the Samsung Droid Charge is far from heaven. We noticed that several web sites (included our own) that use a lot of Flash content will completely lock-up the browser on the Droid Charge, making it unresponsive to scrolling and zooming. The only work around is to go into the browser settings for the Plug-ins and turn it off. This will allow sites to load without locking-up the browser, but you lose Flash support. Meanwhile, the HTC ThunderBolt can load web site, Flash and all, without any problems and without them locking-up. Because of this, we’d recommend going with the ThunderBolt if you visit a lot of Flash sites and want to maintain that support while viewing them.

Browsers of the Samsung Droid Charge (left, bottom) and the HTC ThunderBolt (right, top) - Samsung Droid Charge vs HTC ThunderBolt
Browsers of the Samsung Droid Charge (left, bottom) and the HTC ThunderBolt (right, top) - Samsung Droid Charge vs HTC ThunderBolt
Browsers of the Samsung Droid Charge (left, bottom) and the HTC ThunderBolt (right, top) - Samsung Droid Charge vs HTC ThunderBolt
Browsers of the Samsung Droid Charge (left, bottom) and the HTC ThunderBolt (right, top) - Samsung Droid Charge vs HTC ThunderBolt

There is also a Mobile HotSpot app on both phones, though the Droid Charge can support up to 10 devices connected through Wi-Fi, while the ThunderBolt can only support 8 – though we doubt most people would every use that many at one time.

One interesting feature on the ThunderBolt is that it has an Internet Connection Mode, where you can tether the phone to your PC via a USB cable, and have your PC use the phone’s internet connection.

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