Hands-On: HTC ThunderBolt
We go hands-on with HTC's new LTE phone for Verizon. Find out what we like, what we don't, how it compares to the other LTE phones, and how it compares to phones like the Inspire 4G.
The HTC ThunderBolt has a very refined, stylish-yet-businesslike design. It looks and feels extremely solid. The body clearly includes metal and has a soft-touch finish on the back that feels very nice. The rounded sides are very comfortable in the hand and help offset the large size of the device.
Speaking of size, it's not small, not remarkably thin, and not especially light. It's a smidge smaller than the LG Revolution, but it's substantially thicker than the Inspire 4G, a phone with the same screen, camera, and overall design. It's true that the ThunderBolt adds a kickstand, large speaker and front camera compared to the Inspire, but that doesn't seem to account for all of the thickness difference. In fact, the Thunderbolt has a larger battery (1400 mAh vs. 1230 mAh.) It seems that LTE requires a bigger battery, adding some size and weight. All four LTE phones are on the large side compared to non-LTE phones. This may change with future LTE chipsets, but for now there does seem to be a trade-off there.
The kickstand flips out in a way that allows the phone to stand freely either vertically or in landscape. Behind the kickstand is a large speaker grille. The kickstand feels surprisingly sturdy.
We were disappointed to find that the microSD memory card slot requires that you remove the battery to access.
The touch keys below the screen work well, even if we'd prefer physical keys. The power and volume keys work well. There's no camera key, although the front-facing camera means you can take self-portraits without turning the phone around.
The LCD display looks very nice. Unfortunately, the Thunderbolt lacks an HDMI jack for connecting to a TV; Verizon's other three LTE phones all have HDMI-out. The Thunderbolt does have an FM radio, though.
All aspects of the interface run fast and smoothly. The ThunderBolt does sport Sense 2.0 from HTC. It has the usual selection of excellent HTC home screen widgets and social network integration. Sense also includes some new shortcuts to make it very easy personalize your phone from the home screen, including a selection of skins, in case you prefer Sense features but with the look of wood grain, for example.
The camera interface for the 8-megapixel shooter is very nice, with pretty on-screen controls including touch focus and face detection. Dual LED flash should help in dark scenes.
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