Review by Dan Seifert on Wednesday March 30, 2011.
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HTC offers a better-than-stock music player with a nice interface and slick widgets. Albums can be flipped through in a carousel, though a more familiar list interface is also available.
There are no earphones included with the ThunderBolt, but audio quality was good with basic ones that I had from other phones. You can opt for different equalizer settings when using headphones, which is a nice touch. There is also SRS enhancement, but I found it to be unnatural sounding and left it off most of the time. Stereo Bluetooth streaming worked without issues and sounded good as well. There is an FM radio built-in, but it requires the use of wired headphones, which act as the antenna. Thanks to the kickstand and the external speaker behind it, music was full and loud, or as full as can be expected from a phone.
Unfortunately, the powerful high-speed 4G radio is also the root of the ThunderBolt's greatest flaw. Battery life from the stock 1400mAh battery leaves much to be desired with the ThunderBolt. Most smartphones on the market today are capable of lasting the entire day on a full charge. This is not the case with the ThunderBolt, especially if you are in a 4G area. Verizon claims that the 'Bolt is capable of 6.3 hours of talk time and almost 14 days of standby. On an average day, making a few phone calls, using text messaging all day, occasional web browsing, and syncing two email accounts along with Facebook and Twitter, the ThunderBolt's battery would last approximately 6 to 8 hours before showing the red line and needing to be charged again. In some cases, such as areas where there is a weaker network signal, the battery would drain even faster. Unlike the EVO 4G, HTC has not included a widget to toggle the 4G radio on and off (though there is a trick for that).
I usually recommend a second battery with any smartphone that allows you to swap out the battery, but with the ThunderBolt it is almost a necessity.
The HTC ThunderBolt is a groundbreaking device, despite having a pedestrian design and familiar interface. The speed offered by a true 4G network and the impact it has on mobile technology cannot be understated. The ability to have true broadband connectivity while out and about will change the way we use mobile devices.
Unfortunately, the sub-par battery life holds the ThunderBolt back from getting a full 5 stars. Everything else was a pleasure with the device, but not being able to last a standard day is a real deal-breaker for many people. Yes, you can get an extended battery or a spare stock battery, but that is an added cost and weight on a device that is neither inexpensive nor light to begin with.
Currently, the HTC ThunderBolt could be considered the best Android device on the market - or at least the best from Verizon. Its combination of a great interface, top-notch specs, and unparalleled data speeds make it tough to beat. It's a no-brainer if you are lucky enough to live in one of Verizon's 4G markets, and a strong contender even if you are not - that is, if you can deal with the poor battery life and the slightly larger size.
You'll find a sample 720p HD video shot with the HTC ThunderBolt as well as some still photos on the following page.
Dan is MobileBurn.com's Editor-in-Chief. Based in Poughkeepsie in New York, Dan can be found on Twitter as @DCSeifert.