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).
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
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
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