Customer Review

181 of 202 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I wish I liked it more, March 22, 2011
This review is from: HTC ThunderBolt 4G Android Phone (Verizon Wireless) (Wireless Phone)
I bought the original Motorola Droid when it first came out. That device was not only a flagship (like the Thunderbolt), but was a "Google Experience" device, which means that Motorola did not botch it up nor did the carrier because Google wanted a pure experience for the user. The Thunderbolt is NOT an experience device, sadly.

The Good:
The internet speeds are awesome! Within about 6 minutes of signing into my phone in the store, it had downloaded and installed all 58 of my apps (if you aren't aware, Google knows what you use and automatically downloads them when you sign into a new phone or sign into a phone after you have reset it).

The phone is very fast; my Droid was getting so slow, this thing blows it out of the water.

The screen is large but not too big. The phone feels good in your hand; it is a bit heavier than my Droid, but is the same length and barely any wider, yet has a much bigger screen.

The Bad:
The amount of preinstalled and unremovable programs installed by Verizon & HTC is insane. ALL of those programs run in the background, constantly. Even WITH a task killer, they automatically come back on every time (this does NOT help the battery life issue).

That said, I know a lot of people love Sense UI, but I do not. Sure, it is better than MotoBlur and maybe some other skins out there, but I much prefer the pure Android UI. Sense DOES have some nice features, but all of those features are again, running constantly and interfere with other things on the phone, killing the battery and making it less enjoyable to use. A great example is "Facebook for HTC Sense." It isn't an actual substitute for the Facebook app, it just means you have to sign in a second time and that program then populates other fields on the phone. If you end up setting both to sync, then you end up with 2x the FB contacts. Also, FB for HTC populates your FB events on your calendar. I don't know about you, but I 'attend' a lot of events that I either don't go to or aren't real, in person events. It would be great if there was a standard Google Calendar, but there is not.

Speaking of Sense UI some more, all of it's add ons require you to sign into your accounts twice; they don't talk to the accounts you are already signed into on your phone to begin with.

On my Droid I had RockPlayer installed and could watch movies/videos in any number of formats, including MKV. I haven't tried any format other than MKV on my Thunderbolt, but it couldn't play it for some reason. I read online that it has a very limited set of compatible formats, so that might have something to do with it. That said, this is a big down side for me.

I didn't realize this when I bought it, but there doesn't seem to be a notification light of any type. A light comes on when it is charging, under the speaker screen, but there is no notification light on this phone. How am I supposed to know if I have a message or something waiting if I am not sitting next to it to hear it? REVISION: The light is there, it is just not as bright as the charging light & it is farther behind the speaker grill, meaning you have to be looking DIRECTLY at it or you won't see it. From the side? Good luck! Oh, and it appears to stop blinking after a certain amount of time, which is also dumb.

Battery life: all you need to know is, it's bad. It would be better if you could turn off the preinstalled apps, the duplication of Facebook (but you need both on & updating for the various applications and widgets), etc. Also, it would be really nice if you could have an option to turn on and off the 4G radio only; most of the time you are fine with 3G and only need 4G on when downloading large files, web pages, or data intensive apps. If you were able to turn off the 4G, then you could save battery life as well.

The phone is fast, gorgeous, and has a great feel in hand. However, switching from a Google Experience device to a non-experience, skinned, and bloated device might prove to be too much of a negative change for me. I can overlook a few things because, after all, if every device was the same, we wouldn't make any forward progress. That said, there might be too much that I don't like on this phone that I just can't ignore, even though I REALLY want to and really want to keep it! I bought it at Best Buy instead of Amazon (cheaper) or at Verizon because Best Buy has a 15 day return period. Sadly, I might be taking advantage of that flexibility in hopes that the Droid Bionic by Moto doesn't suffer from these same issues.
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Tracked by 5 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 30 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 22, 2011 8:38:27 AM PDT
Hi Ryan, Thank you for the detailed review. However, I differ on some of the opinion about your phone. You said "(but you need both on & updating for the various applications and widgets" - that is not true. I keep all the background data/app sync off and thereby extending battery life to a great extent with power saver options. You could that too.

About not liking a Sense UI is a matter of personal taste - I like stock Android better too like you, but some people may like Sense a lot. In fact, in Android forums, people are more excited with Sense UI.

I am enjoying my HTC Thunderbolt a lot. I will post my own review as soon as I get acquainted with all the features and find out pros and cons myself.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 22, 2011 8:40:32 AM PDT
RJ says:
you can turn off the background data/app sync, but then why have a smart phone? i constantly get email notifications, weather updates, etc. if i turn it off, i get none. now i'm actually on the phone with tech support though because i cant seem to get any 4g (or even 3g) data today in DC

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 22, 2011 8:46:14 AM PDT
I am not trying to pick up a fight with you, and I respect your opinion, however having a smart phone does not mean that you need to have all the sync continuously. You may just turn on only those which you need most (like I do for GMail) and keep others (like Facebook, Weather) off and just sync them on demand when I have time to look at it. That greatly saves my battery. I used to do the same with my original Motorola Droid too.

I have no problem with 4G/3G signal in New York city and central New Jersey area. I hope you quickly resolve your issues. Best of luck.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 22, 2011 8:58:27 AM PDT
RJ says:
likewise. i partially blame HTC's UI though, since like I said in my original review, if you want to use the social features, integrated, it means you're signed in twice which is pretty dumb.

I also take issue now with the location of the charging plug. You can't use the kick stand and charge it at the same time!

Posted on Mar 22, 2011 5:24:14 PM PDT
G. Major says:
You are right on the battery life, it is quite bad. But as phones get more power and are faster, they are going to get worse. Or they get even bigger and heavier. I consider this phone almost too big as it is. The Bionic is a 1/4" longer and has a bigger battery. That is worse in my opinion.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 25, 2011 7:06:36 AM PDT
Sheri Payne says:
You can charge it with the kick stand, just turn in up right instead.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 25, 2011 8:02:05 AM PDT
RJ says:
yes but you still can't watch a movie or show in landscape mode since it will totally deplete the battery and you can't charge while watching it... watching widescreen stuff with the kick stand was kind of one of it's selling points

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 25, 2011 8:28:21 AM PDT
In this case, I complete agree wih Ryan. You cannot use it with battery intensive program and charge it. This is a major design flaw - in my humble opinion.

Posted on Mar 25, 2011 9:42:14 PM PDT
H. Wagner says:
So what are you getting instead, Ryan?

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 26, 2011 4:48:41 AM PDT
RJ says:
i have high hopes that the Motorola Droid Bionic will be the phone for me. It is 4g, so it will still drain a battery, but the battery is larger. Also, it has a dual core processor and 512mb of desktop quality ram. It does not have a kick stand, sadly, but I feel like Motorola has more attention to detail.
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