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printed October 21, 2014
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Review: HTC Thunderbolt

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Is It Your Type? Body The Three S's  

The HTC Thunderbolt is a big, big phone. Its 4.3-inch display mandates a dinner-plate sized footprint and that's exactly what you get. It is moderately thick, though by no means the thickest phone we've tested here at Phone Scoop. It is weighty, too. Apparently cutting-edge radio circuits and thin profiles aren't yet a possibility. Despite its sheer size, it’s not uncomfortable to hold and use. The back edges are pleasantly rounded, and the soft touch paint job on the back cover has an organic feel to it. If you've got big pockets, the Thunderbolt will fit.

HTC doesn't break any new ground in terms of the appearance and design of the Thunderbolt. In fact, it looks nearly identical to the wide range of super slabs that HTC has produced of late. The colors are conservative (greys, silver and black), and the Thunderbolt doesn't stand out visually from the large pack of Android devices in the market.

The four standard Android controls are placed on the front of the device under the screen. I am really beginning to wish these buttons appeared in a mandated order. Every handset seems to jumble them up at will. These buttons are the touch-sensitive type, and produce haptic feedback when pressed.

The microUSB port is on the left edge, close to the bottom of the handset. The volume toggle is on the right side, closer to the top. I am tired of HTC's volume toggle designs. This is another string-thin dash that is mushy to use. It doesn't feel good under your thumb, and the travel and feedback are simply not enough. I want something better from a $250 handset. The power/lock key and 3.5mm headset jack are on the top of the Thunderbolt. Thankfully, the power/lock key is easy to find and use.

Nowhere to be found? A dedicated camera key. For a device that packs an 8 megapixel camera, I expected HTC to include a camera button. Nope.

In what appears to be a new staple for its super slabs, HTC has added a kick-stand to the Thunderbolt. It is a thin strip of metal embedded into the back of the device. Pry it out with your fingernail and it will let the Thunderbolt rest at a nice viewing angle on a hard surface. It is one of the few pieces of metal on the device and has a brushed finish to it. It looks nice, and is easier to use than the kick stand that was on the HTC Surround. Due to where the kickstand and microUSB port are located, it is impossible to charge the Thunderbolt while watching a movie.

The microSD card slot is located in the battery compartment. Unfortunately, you have to remove the battery cover and the battery to get at the card slot.

From a design standpoint, the Thunderbolt follows the beaten path.

 

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