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The HTC Thunderbolt will be Verizon first LTE phone. That makes it one of the most compelling smart phones of the spring.  (Source: HTC/Verizon)
The new handset launches March 17 on Verizon

The wait for a true Verizon 4G phone is almost over.  Verizon Wireless, America's largest carrier, is set to become only America's second carrier to offer a phone that supports true fourth generation wireless technology, following in Sprint's pioneering footsteps (T-Mobile and AT&T advertise HSPA+ as "4G", but it's roughly half as fast in its current form as deployed LTE and WiMAX from Verizon and Sprint, respectively).

The HTC Thunderbolt will land on March 17, and come complete with a $249.99 USD price tag with two-year contract, according to a long awaited official announcement.

If you were hoping for Android "Gingerbread" 2.3, you won’t find it with this release. The phone only comes with Android "Froyo" 2.2 (though a Gingerbread update will likely be in the works before long).

Otherwise the phone packs solid hardware.  It offers a massive 4.3-inch touch-screen WVGA display and standard 8 MP/1.3 MP rear/front cameras for imaging and video chatting.  It features one of Qualcomm's next-generation 1 GHz SnapDragon single-core processors.  

The new phone's resemblance to the HTC EVO 4G on Sprint in features and looks is somewhat uncanny.  Like the HTC EVO 4G on Sprint, it has a kickstand, for watching movies when you're seated.  It comes packed with 8 GB of internal flash and a 32 GB microSD card.

Verizon will be offering customers LTE data for the same rate as 3G -- $29.99 USD for unlimited use (Sprint bumps its 4G data rate by $10).  If you want a hotspot, that will be an extra $20/month.  The hotspot will be capped at 2 GB per month (unlike Sprint's which is currently unlimited) and will support up to eight devices.

Compared to other Verizon offerings like the recently acquired iPhone 4, the Thunderbolt looks competitive from a hardware perspective.  While it lacks a dual-core CPU like the upcoming Motorola Atrix "4G" on AT&T (which can only muster HSPA+, not true 4G), ultimately it should have more than enough power and the single-core processor will arguably be more beneficial in terms of prolonging battery life -- a trouble spot for HTC in the past.

And at the end of the day, having LTE is what really sets this phone apart.  The EVO 4G and Epic 4G on Sprint were arguably two of last year's top smartphones, not so much because of their hardware (which was matched by similar or identical models on other networks), but for it's ability to tap much faster data speeds.

A lot of the utility of a smartphone is the ability to browse the web, send emails, and more.  In general data speeds still have a ways to go before attaching large files like pictures to emails becomes painless and until web browsing reaches desktop-like page load speeds.  The switch to 4G wireless technologies is an important step in that direction.



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Still Waiting
By FDisk City on 3/15/2011 2:14:49 PM , Rating: 2
I'm still waiting on a dual-core Android phone to come out on a carrier that doesn't cap their data plans. I would buy an Atrix but AT&T, bleh.

Anyone else waiting for one of the new dual-core Android phones?




RE: Still Waiting
By bplewis24 on 3/15/2011 2:44:28 PM , Rating: 2
I am definitely waiting. The LG Optimus G2x seems like the phone to get for me. Unfortunately it means I'd have to switch carriers.

Brandon


RE: Still Waiting
By mcnabney on 3/15/2011 3:12:38 PM , Rating: 2
I am pretty sure the article confirms that Verizon isn't capping their data plans (but does for tethering).


RE: Still Waiting
By FDisk City on 3/15/2011 3:28:57 PM , Rating: 2
Has Verizon released a dual-core Android phone?

I'm looking forward to the Bionic but it's not out yet.


RE: Still Waiting
By FITCamaro on 3/15/2011 3:16:27 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah I loved the thought of the Atrix. Cell phone that can potentially be a laptop computer. I'd love to see a dual core smartphone running Windows 7 Phone in phone mode and a pared down Windows 7 version on a laptop dock where power isn't an issue. Add the ability to seamlessly switch between the two. Would be killer. Essentially a Windows laptop in your hand.


RE: Still Waiting
By JasonMick (blog) on 3/15/2011 3:34:36 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
Anyone else waiting for one of the new dual-core Android phones?


I'm by no means an Android detractor (I own an EVO 4G), but I don't get the idea of dual core smart phones. For what? My EVO can already run PSX-looking 3D games, edit docs, surf the full net... pretty much do anything I want.

I'd much rather have better battery life than an extra core.

To me I think part of the dual-core smart phone sales pitch is because it SOUNDS impressive. But if you're actually actively running both cores, I'd hate to imagine what your battery life is. My EVO is doing well to make it through 10-11 hrs, even spending the majority of that on standby with maybe an hour or two of active use.

I COULD see dual-cores being a nice perk on tablets, which have larger batteries, though...


RE: Still Waiting
By FDisk City on 3/15/2011 4:16:35 PM , Rating: 2
I guess it's more future-proofing than anything else. I'm concerned a new game or OS will come out in maybe a year that will require/greatly benefit from using a dual-core. Plus, it impresses the ladies. :)

I only buy a new phone once every 2.5 or 3 years, so I want it to last. But if you wait for the best to come out, you'll wait forever...

I'm very impressed with HTC phones like the EVO. I hope they release a dual-core phone soon.

Also, the Tegra 2 processor is supposed to be very efficient but battery life is a concern of mine. I see your point.


RE: Still Waiting
By DanNeely on 3/15/2011 5:11:15 PM , Rating: 2
I think the immediate benefit would be multi-tasking performance in that you can eg stream music in the background without impacting the performance of your angry birds session.

Assuming power gating is in place for each core separately, I don't expect it to cause a battery hit when not being used. Atom SoCs are getting a 2nd core for the same reason that desktop ones did a few years ago; within the current power envelope adding a core did more for general performance than adding more circuitry to make a single core faster.


RE: Still Waiting
By thrust2night on 3/15/2011 11:03:43 PM , Rating: 2
... then I recommend you read this.

http://androidandme.com/2010/11/news/5-compelling-...

A lot of the data is from Nvidia so I admit some exaggeration may be involved, but the benefits of dual cores over a single core is obvious. I would agree with you on the battery issue if both cores were constantly pegged at a hundred percent against a single core pegged at a hundred percent but considering real world usage, a dual core phone is easier on battery life.


RE: Still Waiting
By robinthakur on 3/18/2011 1:02:17 PM , Rating: 2
To a degree it is future proofing, but this argument in the smartphone space holds less water as you get a new one every year.

I think the battery performance impact of having 2 cores is the most important detractor (unless you are Apple) and the fact that, incredibly, the Android interface still looks choppy even with all this power because there is no GPU acceleration to speak of. Until they implement this and work on the overall looks of Android a bit so it's less inconsistent and pig ugly, I'll pass thanks.


RE: Still Waiting
By SkullOne on 3/15/2011 4:36:03 PM , Rating: 2
Nope not waiting. Will upgrade to a Thunderbolt on Thursday. No reason not to upgrade my original Droid. Dual-core will have it's place in smartphones but I honestly don't think it's right now.

Plus with Android moving towards hardware acceleration of the interface dual-core will likely matter even less.


RE: Still Waiting
By YashBudini on 3/15/11, Rating: -1
RE: Still Waiting
By nuarbnellaffej on 3/15/2011 11:11:52 PM , Rating: 2
Can't you read!?, he obviously thinks a duel-core processor isn't really necessitated at this point in time. Have you even considered battery life?

Every one of your posts' come across as condescending and smug, I think the world would be much better off if it weren't packed full of pretentious jerks like yourself.


RE: Still Waiting
By FITCamaro on 3/16/2011 8:36:47 AM , Rating: 1
Generally I agree with you about him but sadly I agree with him here.


RE: Still Waiting
By YashBudini on 3/16/2011 6:39:01 PM , Rating: 2
Your response to back up cameras was correct overall, but your analysis of the economic effects were way off base.

1. See the definition of "economies of scale."

2. Here base price plays a major factor in a sale. No one car company is going to increase the base price of a car by $300 for such a camera if the Korean brands pull it off for $50. I'm not saying that will be their price, I'm simply saying US companies are in no position to increase the price disparity that much for such a gadget.

Have you wondered if such a camera will eventually make drivers even sloppier?


RE: Still Waiting
By YashBudini on 3/16/2011 6:46:41 PM , Rating: 2
Also - In this state local governments had made cell phone use and texting illegal which one could be stopped for and ticketed. Now the state has made such violations "secondary" meaning one has to commit an infraction like running a light before they can be pulled over for the cell phone use. And the state in its law decreed that their law overrides locals laws.

1. Imagine if "reckless driving" fines were given out only after an accident. Three near misses wouldn't count.

2. Historically laws that overlap, say state and federal safety laws would always enforce whichever law offered the citizen better protection. Here the state law waters down the safety and yells "I'm in charge here." Did the cell phone manufacturers have any say in how this law was written, or did they actually write this law to begin with?


RE: Still Waiting
By YashBudini on 3/16/2011 6:33:10 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Have you even considered battery life?


Your response is non-sequitur. Where do you see any aspect of hardware addressed in my post? Yet you go off on that. Care to explain how that works?

quote:
Every one of your posts' come across as condescending and smug,


And apparently it doesn't matter if I am smug or not, because you just assume so. Kinda opens the door, doesn't it?

My post addresses human behavior of one group impacting the lives of the general population in a not so good manner.

You're free to call me anything you want, but try to be a little bit accurate?


RE: Still Waiting
By FITCamaro on 3/16/2011 8:35:39 AM , Rating: 3
No reason to spend several hundred dollars on a new phone either just to say you have one. I have an original Droid. Just got an update to 2.2.2 last night and it seems to run faster than before.

4G networks aren't deployed so you're just paying to have a shiny new phone you can brag about. I'm not upgrading until there are more options available and the prices come down as a result.


RE: Still Waiting
By SkullOne on 3/16/2011 9:00:00 AM , Rating: 3
Actually I live in the DC Metro area so I get 4G. So no I will not be bragging about it. I will actually get to USE it. ;)

My D1 served me faithfully. Have it running Project Elite 5.0.2 right now. The problem is the phone is showing its age. The lack of RAM is really hurting. The phone literally can't keep up with me anymore and what I want it to do.

My upgrade is ready as well so it's not liking I'm spending any extra money. Dual-core at the moment is nothing but a marketing sales pitch. Android 2.3 uses dual-core but it is not optimized. The rumored update to Gingerbread (2.4) is said to make that better. However, there are very few dual-core phones meaning applications will not take advantage of that anytime soon because of the millions of single core devices out there already and more on the way. Sounds a lot like what happened with PC's when they moved to multi-core CPU's. ;)

The Thunderbolt will be plenty fast until I upgrade again in 24 months. Plus, being HTC it most likely will not be locked down meaning my phone will only get better thanks to developers like the CyanogenMod team and the guys over at XDA.


More than the less...but still not really
By theArchMichael on 3/15/2011 2:10:28 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The wait for a true Verizon 4G phone is almost over.

I thought LTE was still not technically 4G, in it's current implementation but just a bit 'more 4G' than HSPA+.




RE: More than the less...but still not really
By xavier78 on 3/15/2011 2:42:20 PM , Rating: 2
BINGO ;-) Yep, 4G hasn't been completely agreed upon at the international level. So the statement is very "sales-y"


By lwright84 on 3/15/2011 4:20:45 PM , Rating: 4
This is incorrect. LTE is true 4G, and not only that but LTE has been accepted by the vast majority of Eurasia as the next-gen 4G platform.

Beyond that however and more referencing the top comment on this article, it boggles my mind how there is always someone who is never satisfied with current high-end products and is always "waiting" for a model that has "this" or "that" instead. I mean, seriously.. you can't be bothered with a badass phone because it's not dual-core? When a dual-core phone comes out you'll be too concerned with ensuring it has 2GB of RAM? Then you'll be outraged that someone would bother releasing a dual-core, 2GB RAM phone with anything less than a 12MP camera. And then it'll be because it *only* does 720p video. And then it'll be because it *only* has 64GB of embedded storage.

Jesus Christ, stfu already. You will never, ever be satisfied. You might as well stop purchasing anything remotely technical and just move into a log cabin.


RE: More than the less...but still not really
By JasonMick (blog) on 3/15/2011 3:13:20 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I thought LTE was still not technically 4G, in it's current implementation but just a bit 'more 4G' than HSPA+.


More aptly, it's incomplete 4G, while AT&T/T-Mobile's is incomplete 3.5G.

Don't be fooled, HSPA+ also falls far short of even the lesser speeds it promises.

Overall "true" (albeit incomplete) 4G tech like WiMax and LTE -- in its current form -- is about 1.5 to 2 times as fast as incomplete 3.5G tech in its current form, according to most speed tests I've seen.

AT&T themselves admitted HSPA+ is inferior to LTE and it's deceiving to customers to pretending it's 4G. Then a few months later they awkwardly turned around and did exactly that.

Like LTE/WiMAX, HSPA+ isn't available everywhere that 3G is currently, so it may be a moot point for some.

Currently T-Mobile and AT&T trail Sprint/Verizon in deploying true 4G networks, a fact that they'll likely try to disguise by (mis)advertising HSPA+.


By FITCamaro on 3/15/2011 3:17:43 PM , Rating: 2
Don't their ads even say in fine print that its 3.5G?


By Suntan on 3/15/2011 3:30:32 PM , Rating: 2
Who cares? It's still 3 to 4x as fast as the DSL landline offering I get at my house at close to $50 a month...

-Suntan


'Next generation'?
By jonc1028 on 3/15/2011 2:31:40 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It features one of Qualcomm's next-generation 1 GHz SnapDragon single-core processors.


Doesn't sound 'next generation' to me, the referenced article is talking about single cores at 2.5GHz and then dual and quad cores as well.

quote:
They are built on a 28 nm process and Qualcomm claims it will be shipping single core chips clocked at 2.5 GHz.




RE: 'Next generation'?
By DanNeely on 3/15/2011 3:08:45 PM , Rating: 2
Next generation refers to more than just core count. Qualcom is designing its own CPU architecture instead of using ARMs stock models. This is their Cortex A9 equivalent to the prior snapdragons Cortex-A8. Unless it's significantly faster than ARM's reference design though the single core is probably going to hold it back.


RE: 'Next generation'?
By JasonMick (blog) on 3/15/2011 3:30:39 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Doesn't sound 'next generation' to me, the referenced article is talking about single cores at 2.5GHz and then dual and quad cores as well.


Atom Medfield CPUs are "next generation" even though most operate at around 1 GHz and are unicore.

Just because you can clock a core @ 2.5 GHz doesn't mean you'd want to for ultra-mobile hardware like smart phones with small batteries.

That's why I'm a bit skeptical of the gains of dual-core smart phones. It SOUNDS great, but ultimately, I'd rather have one really efficient core that can do everything my HTC EVO's 1 GHz last-gen processor can, but be able to go back to the days of my old Samsung Clamshell from the mid-2000s that would last for a few days on a charge.

I know that might not be a realistic dream given the power consumption of wireless communications & the larger screen, but what I'm trying to say is that at this point battery life is a bigger issue than CPU processing power on smart phones, hence why Apple, HTC, and many other smart phone makers underclock, undervolt, and buy low-clocked next-gen chips.


RE: 'Next generation'?
By FITCamaro on 3/15/2011 5:06:40 PM , Rating: 2
They could do it if they didn't insist on building the thinnest phone possible. I'd gladly buy a phone a few millimeters thicker for extra battery life. Not to mention cooling. Todays smartphones get pretty hot when doing intensive apps like GPS navigation since they basically use the case as a heatsink.


Wait...
By hsew on 3/15/2011 2:30:30 PM , Rating: 2
Don't we already have a Thunderbolt from Intel?

This may not bode well.




RE: Wait...
By FITCamaro on 3/15/2011 3:18:37 PM , Rating: 2
Two different markets.


RE: Wait...
By cjohnson2136 on 3/16/2011 12:11:46 PM , Rating: 2
Thunderbolt from Intel is a port on a computer.
This is a phone.
Two VERY different things


By mattspeer01 on 3/17/2011 3:20:19 AM , Rating: 2
This article was obviously written by a moron. First off, LTE is not true 4G. Secondly, the Atrix is not an upcoming phone, it's been out for nearly a month (I already have one and it works great).

To all the people complaining about battery life vs dual core phones...the dual core processors are actually more energy efficient than the older single core ones. So your argument about dual core being useless and draining the battery faster is invalid.




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