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First 4G LTE phone debuts this week on Verizon

Mar 15, 2011 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 3 views

Verizon Wireless will begin selling the HTC ThunderBolt, the first smartphone to exploit its 4G LTE (long-term evolution) network, starting March 17. The ThunderBolt offers a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 8GB of internal memory and a 32GB data card, a 4.3-inch touchscreen, eight-megapixel and 1.3-megapixel cameras, and a mobile hotspot, says the carrier.

HTC and Verizon first introduced the Thunderbolt — officially, that is, as some images leaked ahead of time — at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January. As we reported then, the ThunderBolt runs Android 2.2, and features a 1GHz, newest-generation Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 768MB RAM, 8GB of internal memory, and a 32GB data card.

HTC ThunderBolt
(Click to enlarge)

The ThunderBolt features a 4.3-inch WVGA display, an eight-megapixel rear-facing camera with HD video capabilities, and a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera for video calling, says Verizon Wireless. The phone also offers a built-in kickstand, making it more comfortable to view videos on that not-insignificant screen. There's also Bluetooth 2.1 connectivity as well as GPS and Wi-Fi.

The phone is a DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) device, so it can also wirelessly stream music, photos, and movies to other DLNA devices, such as an HDTV, says the carrier. 

The ThunderBolt can share Verizon's bountiful 4G LTE bandwidth via a mobile hotspot for up to eight Wi-Fi enabled devices. Through May 15, Verizon is offering the hotspot free of charge. Afterward, however — once you're hooked — you can add it for $20 for 2GB of data per month.

The ThunderBolt combines Android 2.2 with the latest version of HTC's Sense UI layer, which includes enhancements such as new personalization options, a consolidated email inbox, and new camera effects and filters. Support for Google services, like Gmail and YouTube, are included, and there's also quick access to Google's Android Market. (For more details on the phone, see our original ThunderBolt coverage.)

On Dec. 5, Verizon launched its 4G LTE network in 38 cities and 60 airports, with plans to extend it to its entire 3G footprint by 2013. In a Mar. 15 statement, Verizon said that ThunderBolt customers can expect 4G speeds of 5 to 12Mbps and upload speeds of 2 to 5Mbps in coverage areas. 

Competitor AT&T, which has said it plans to introduce 20 4G devices this year, currently offers an HSPA+ flavor of 4G, but has plans to roll out LTE later this year. AT&T currently offers the 4G-enabled, Android-running Motorola Atrix 4G smartphone. However, following customer complaints that the phone — or AT&T — wasn't delivering on its promised speeds, AT&T has revealed that, while the Atrix is an HSUPA-capable device, AT&T doesn't quite support it yet.

According to a Mar. 11 Boy Genius report, an AT&T spokesperson wrote, responding to a Better Business Bureau complaint, "We currently are performing the testing and preparations necessary to ensure that, when we turn this feature on, you will continue to have a world class experience."


The ThunderBolt will be available starting Mar. 17 for $250 with a two-year contract, but the phone is also now available for pre-order via Wirefly, under the same Verizon contract, for $200. In either case, ThunderBolt owners will need to subscribe to a Nationwide Talk plan and have a 4G LTE data plan, which starts at $30 a month.

More information may be found in this Verizon ThunderBolt release announcement, and this Verizon ThunderBolt sign-up page. The Wirefly pre-order deal is available on this Wirefly pre-order page.

Michelle Maisto is a writer for our sister publication eWEEK.

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