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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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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.


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