Posts tagged Verizon
Probably one of the chief reasons that the major mobile carriers in the United States have been mum about the Samsung Galaxy S II’s arrival on American shores is that the blockbuster Samsung smartphone is not arriving at all as the black slab of beauty and power that the rest of the world has come to know and love. Instead, a Samsung Galaxy S II variant bearing a slide-out horizontal QWERTY keyboard is heading to U.S. mobile carriers–the one that’s heading to AT&T anyway.
The latest word says Verizon will be the first to get its hands on the Samsung Galaxy S II, to be called the Samsung Function, with handsets appearing in Verizon stores as early as August 12. Daryl Deino of Examiner.com quoted Paul Mueller, an industry analyst based in Los Angeles, who tweeted that the Samsung Function “will arrive first on Verizon and then the rest of the carriers within a month. Samsung will market this directly against the iPhone 5.” We have yet to verify whether the Verizon version will be the same variant as AT&T is getting or the same plain candybar as the rest of the world saw.
Meanwhile, photos of the rumored Samsung Galaxy S II slider QWERTY variant expected to reach AT&T next month have cropped up. Tech blog Boy Genius Report has gathered exclusive live images of the handset and its keyboard. The device will take on the name Samsung Attain on AT&T, according to earlier reports, although that currently stays within the realm of rumor and speculation.
The leaked photos show the device’s model number as SGH-I927, with Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread onboard. The keys on the 4-row QWERTY keyboard are floating, completely separate from one another, flat rather than domed, and generously spaced apart. QWERTY lovers will probably love the spacing between keys, as that would mean avoiding accidental hitting of two keys at a time.
The back cover has a rubber-like stud-textured finish–not quite like the one on the original Samsung Galaxy S II, whose back cover we find to be more elegant-looking. The camera array is wider than in the original S II and also houses what seems to be the phone’s speakers.
The AT&T variant of the Samsung Galaxy S II will expectedly be thicker than the original Galaxy S II because of the slider keyboard, although Boy Genius Report finds the phone’s depth to be still relatively thinner than other slide-out QWERTY smartphones.
All the other delicious hardware specs in the original Samsung Galaxy S II seems to be intact in the AT&T variant–that is, the dual-core 1.2-GHz processor (some rumors say the clock speed will be raised to 1.4 GHz, allegedly to take the iPhone 5 head-on), 1 GB of RAM, 8-megapixel primary camera, 2-megapixel secondary camera, and 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus touchscreen.
Reactions about the presence of a QWERTY keyboard on the U.S. variant of the Samsung Galaxy S II have been mixed. Some love it, other’s don’t. What about you? Do you want your Samsung Galaxy S II with or without a sliding QWERTY?
Motorola Xoom Review: The First Android Honeycomb Tablet Is Expensive, But Is It Worth It? [We Test Out The Xoom And Its Tegra 1GHz Processor, 10-inch Screen and Android 3.0 Goodness.
There’s been a lot of talk about the Motorola Xoom lately. The 10-inch widescreen tablet is the first to carry the tablet-ready Android 3.0 and the rest of its technical specs read like a wish list, but more recently, its high price has drawn attention and headlines to the device. So, after spending some time with the device, is the Motorola Xoom worth the high price that it’ll cost you?
- Price: $599 with a 2 year data plan ($799 without a plan).
- CDMA 800/1900 and with a free upgrade to LTE later this year
- Android 3.0 (Honeycomb)
- 5 MP camera and 2 MP front camera with flash, focus & digital zoom. Pictures and Video’s
- Media enabled, Music & Video on the device or streaming
- close to 9 hrs battery lifeÂ over 3G and 10 hrs over wifi, standby time is close to 14 days
- Email, Google mail, corporate, pop3/imap
- Google talk
- Bluetooth 2.1
- Wifi 802.11 a/b/g/n
- Data sync via Micro USB port to USB (no Charging)
- Headset jack
- Adobe Flash player
- Android Market place (limited in applications optimized for tablets)
- Googl Services, Maps, Talk, Ebooks, YouTube
- Multi touch screen
- Voice Commands
- Live wallpapers
- 10.1 inch WXGA 1280×800 px screen.
- HD 720p
- 730 grams
- 32 GB memory expandable with micro sd card
- 1 GHZ Dual core processor
- Accelerometer, Gyroscope, proximity, ambient light, barometer
Hardware and Performance
This is a machine that has been released with its hardware ready and raring to go. Isn’t that supposed to be something that goes without saying? Yes, of course! You might find that the same cannot entirely be said about the software, though, thus the pre-mention here – more on that in the next section. What we’ve got to speak about here first is the loveliness in the physical bits.
This device is black. It’s very clearly supposed to be a blank canvas on which you’re meant to paint your first tablet experience. Because this tablet is being released in a world where one slate’s dominated the market for the first full year of the market being a reality, there’s two situations the vast majority of consumers are in. The first possible situation consumers are in whilst thinking about the XOOM is one where they’ve had an iPad – the second is one where they’ve never had a tablet at all. Thusly, the hardware choice is more than likely one where a consumer has been holding a tablet that’s basically the exact same size and weight as the XOOM, or they’ve had a much smaller smartphone and will be what they see as moving upward.
When one handles the 10.1-inch WXGA display with 160dpi, 1280 x 800 resolution, they instantly must consider the .8 x 6.61 x 0.51 inch device holding it, one that weighs in at 25.75oz (1.61lbs,) as it’s not especially realistic to be holding the device with one hand for more than a few minutes at a time. Then there’s the glossy, glossy screen. It’s so very glossy, it’s basically impossible to use anywhere near sunlight or a lamp. On the other hand, if you’re going to be using this device on your couch at home, at your desk in school, or for odd events like using it to show the 4D-sonogram doctor some 2D-sonogram pictures in a gallery. For that it works exceedingly well, indeed.
It doesn’t seem to our fingers that the screen’s response time and touch sensitivity could possibly be any better, and the monster motor inside is more than ready to back this situation up. You’ll find the NVIDIA Tegra 2 inside, a dual-core 1GHz SoC paired with 1GB of DDR2 RAM and 32GB of integrated storage. If that’s not enough to flip your lid, connections include EVDO Rev.A, WiFi a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, along with USB 2.0 and mini HDMI ports. In the future you’ll be able to have the following instead and/or as well: a functional LTE SIM slot, a functional microSD card slot, and a whole separate Wifi-only version of the device.
What’s the web saying about Honeycomb?
Engadget (Joshua Topolsky): “a lot of the new software feels like it isn’t quite out of beta (surprise surprise). We had our fair share of force closes and bizarre freezes, particularly in the Market app and Movie Studio. Most applications were fine, but there definitely some moments where we felt like the whole device was teetering on the brink of a total crash.”
CrunchGear (John Biggs): “if you open too many apps, it slows down to a crawl. The horrors that Apple seems to have avoided in iOS are readily apparent here. I had quite a few app crashes and many apps designed for 2.x devices crashed. Google Body, remade for Honeycomb, crashed every other try”.
WSJ ( Walt Mossberg): “I’ve always felt that Android had a rough-around-the edges, geeky feel, with too many steps to do things and too much reliance on menus. But Honeycomb eliminates much of that”. He went on to point out: “I found numerous apps in the Android Market that wouldn’t work with the Xoom”.
GigaOM (Kevin Tofel): “Honeycomb still has bugs to be worked out. Aside from some third-party apps crashing, the Android Market has crashed on me twice in a short time. And after Facebook crashed, the Facebook widget became completely non-responsive.” There’s good stuff too as Tofel also points out “Notifications are excellent, and competitors should take note.”
Slashgear (Vincent Nguyen): “The first batch of Honeycomb slates may have some wrinkles – the missing Flash and paucity of video codec support being two examples – but 2011 definitely looks to be the year that Android tablets will come of age.”
Cameras and Multimedia
There are two cameras on the XOOM, one on the back for photos and video, and another on the from primarily for video, but also for not-quite-great photos if that’s what you’d like to use it for. The back-facing camera is a 5-megapixel unit with auto-focus and dual-LED flash. The front-facing camera is 2-megapixels strong, has a fixed-focus, and can be switched to at the tap of a button. What you’re about to see here is a video example from both the front and the back cameras filmed by yours truly.
The back-facing camera is capable of capturing 720p HD video at 30fps, while a 1080p upgrade is promised for the future, while the front-facing camera’s recording capabilities really aren’t worth pecking about. Allow the video above to speak for itself as far as how this all translates to the web. As far as how well it plays back on the device, you’ve got the capability currently of displaying 1080p video on either the device’s screen or via the HDMI 1.4 output which you’ll be shooting out with the cable bundled with the tablet.
If you want to play any video you didn’t film with the device outside the web, it’ll need to be MP4, WebM, 3GP, or H.264/H.263. You could, on the other hand, download a third-party media player and roll with whatever format you can get working on your own. You’ll be rolling strong plopping videos on the device if you’re working with Mac OS X by working with the brand new Android File Transfer, which, if I may be so bold, makes the whole process of accessing the files on your Android device a WHOLE lot easier. Hopefully it works on all versions here on out (currently it works with Android 3.0 only.)
Of course, there’s the lack of Flash player. You’ll need to wait at least another week or two(?), or so, to be sent the update for this and the other things you’ll need to have a “fully” functional device. The ability to work with and watch movies with Flash player has been a big fat point of contention on devices over the past year or so – it’s no less a situation here. But it’s on the way!
The battery is amazing. The battery is slick, works amazing, and can basically sit around working forever. The longest we’ve had it working with HEAVY use was over 14 hours – while I’m writing this review, the unit has been on almost 20 hours with no charging and moderate usage, and the battery appears to only be a half-empty. A full recharge take a total of around 3 hours – that’s starting at zero and ending up at completely full.
The purpose of this overview is not to bash Honeycomb; there are lots of great features that Google has produced in this first tablet version. But that’s the problem: I’m not sure Google has the luxury of time to get the tablet experience nailed down to the point it is ready for consumer adoption. The recurring mention of crashes in early reviews is not something we should be hearing about a shipping product, and with the XOOM Honeycomb is indeed now shipping. Honeycomb needed to come out swinging for the fence, but it’s still in batting practice.
I suspect the state of Honeycomb had a lot to do with HTC choosing to go with an earlier version of Android for its upcoming Flyer tablet. It would not product a tablet with a glitchy OS. I also believe that what I’ve seen (in person) of webOS on the HP TouchPad is a better and more solid experience on a tablet. Google has its work cut out for Honeycomb, and better move quickly.
When we first learned in 2007 that Verizon was going to be updating its network to 4G LTE, we’ve been wondering which smartphone would be the first to utilize it. Now it’s here: the HTC ThunderBolt. Without a doubt, the ThunderBolt is being advertized as the must-have device, with fast internet data speeds, a 4.3” display, and a 1GHz processor. Verizon is counting on early-adopters at this point; people not wanting to wait around for other 4G smartphones, such as the dual-core Motorola DROID BIONIC, LG Revolution, or the (un-named) Samsung 4G LTE smartphone with Super AMOLED Plus display. But there are already a few 4G devices out from other carriers, so let’s see if the ThunderBolt was worth the wait, as we dive into it.
Included in the retail box is the HTC ThunderBolt ADR6400 phone, 1400mAh battery, SanDisk 32GB Class 4 microSDHC memory card preinstalled, wall charger with detachable microUSB cable, and user guides.
HTC Thunderbolt Specifications:
- Dimensions: 4.8 x 2.6 x 0.52 inches (122 x 66 x 13.2 mm)
- Weight: 5.78 oz (164 g)
- Display: 4.3 inch WVGA TFT capacitive touchscreen display, 480 x 800 pixels
- Memory: 8 GB + 32 GB MicroSD
- OS: Android OS 2.2
- Processor: 1GHz MSM8655 Snapdragon
- Camera: 8 megapixel camera, 720p video recording, front facing 1.3 megapixel camera
- Connectivity: CDMA Dual Band (800/1900 Mhz)
- Data: 1xEV-DO rev.A, LTE
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth 2.1, Stereo Bluetooth
- GPS: GPS with A-GPS
- Battery: Li-Ion 1400 mAh
- 4G speeds are unbelievably fast – LTE is a game changer
- Big, beautiful SLCD display
- Outstanding build quality
- 40GB of storage out of the box (8GB internal storage + 32GB microSD card)
- Snappy performance all around
- Single-core processor that will likely be rendered obsolete very quickly
- Rather chunky design
- No fewer than 11 non-removable bloatware apps
- Costs a rather pricey $250 upfront
- Still running Froyo
Design and Display
For those familiar with the HTC Desire HD, the HTC Thunderbolt should look very familiar. In fact, it’d be safe to say that the HTC Thunderbolt is designed almost exactly like the HTC Desire HD. The biggest difference being that the HTC Thunderbolt can access Verizon’s new 4G LTE network.
Starting off the HTC Thunderbolt has a 4.3 inch WVGA TFT capacitive touchscreen display covering the front of the phone. Below the display are the usual set of Android shortcuts for menu, home, back and search. Up above is a small 1.3 inch megapixel front facing camera used for video chatting. Placed on the right is the volume rocker, opposite resides the microUSB, and on top the 3.5 mm headphone jack and power / lock button. The HTC Thunderbolt is rounded out on the back with an 8 megapixel camera and dual LED flash. Underneath, the camera on the back, is a small kickstand that can be lifted up from the back. It’s nicely designed and adds functionality to the HTC Thunderbolt.
The 4.3 inch display is decent and the viewing angle is fairly wide, however, compared to the likes of the Samsung Continuum on Verizon’s network, which utilizes Super AMOLED technology, it is a bit lacking. Also, with the likes of the iPhone and the soon to be released Motorola Droid Bionic on Verizon’s network, one has to wonder how well the HTC Thunderbolt will take off.
The Thunderbolt doesn’t buck the trend of packaging high-end phones in high-end boxes — put simply, it’s an elegant, sturdy, matte black cube encased in a black sleeve. Lots of black here, actually, which means you can’t see the name of the phone… but you can feel it. It’s embossed! Nice touch, the kind of thing that’ll make you want to put the packaging away in a closet or drawer somewhere rather than throwing it away. The black theme is broken in rather spectacular fashion when you crack open the box – which is split down the middle – to reveal gobs of bright Verizon red and your shiny, new purchase square in the middle. Underneath, you’ll find some literature, a slim, glossy black USB wall charger, and a micro-USB cable – sorry, no trashy earbuds here. As we’ve said in the past, that’s just fine by us; odds are good that if you’re spending $250 on a phone, you’re going to be spending a few bucks on a decent headset, anyway – the units that are bundled with phones are almost universally awful, which ends up unfairly tinting your opinion of the phone’s audio quality. In our review unit, both the battery and 32GB microSD card came pre-installed.
Pulling the phone out of its cardboard cradle, you instantly recognize that this thing is a beast – it’s just big and heavy. There’s no other way to put it. If you’re acquainted and comfortable with the EVO 4G, you’ll feel right at home – the EVO’s actually a few grams heavier, which took us by surprise when we looked it up – but if you’re coming from pretty much anything else, you’ll probably mouth the word "whoa" the first time you take it into your hand. For comparison’s sake, it’s right around 20 percent heavier than an iPhone 4. We’re not necessarily saying that’s a bad thing; in general, phones have a tendency to feel higher-quality when they’re more substantial and they’ve got a little more junk in the trunk, and that’s certainly the case with the Thunderbolt – but it’s still something to consider. We’re fairly certain there will be at least a few potential buyers who are off-put by the weight, so you should swing into a store and spend a little quality time with it before pulling the trigger.
Once you get past the heft, you start to notice the details of the design. It’s typical HTC through and through, though we suspect they started working on it alongside Verizon quite some time ago because the design language feels somewhat last-gen – more of a remixed EVO than anything else. The most direct, concrete proof of this might be AT&T’s Inspire 4G – also a 4.3-inch HTC device – which shares a newer "unibody" metal design with the Desire HD. It’s thinner, less plasticky, and more solid-feeling (which is really saying something) than the Thunderbolt, and it better represents where HTC has been going with its handset designs in the past six months. Obviously, as one of the first commercial LTE smartphones in the world, HTC has probably had this one baking in the oven for a good, long while.
That being said, "last-gen design" doesn’t mean "bad design" – far from it. There are many ways you could screw up the details of a phone this chunky, but the Thunderbolt is a legitimately handsome device. Unlike the EVO, the Thunderbolt’s soft touch back cover only extends about three-quarters of the way down from the top, leaving the integrated brushed-metal kickstand permanently attached to the surface of the phone chassis (which is smooth plastic in this bottom area) rather than poking through the cover. Underneath the kickstand (which has "with Google" engraved on it, by the way), you’ll find a metal grating that conceals the Thunderbolt’s loudspeaker – which is, in fact, quite loud. The only real problem here is that it’s a bit muffled with the kickstand retracted, but we suppose HTC’s logic is that you’re going to want maximum volume in kickstand-deployed video mode.
The Thunderbolt’s thickness and design details save it from a problem both the EVO and Inspire suffer from: the camera’s rim is essentially flush with the back and the lens is actually recessed, meaning you’re not going to scuff up your 8 megapixel shooter simply by setting the phone rear-down on a few too many hard surfaces. The dual-LED flash is arranged exactly as you find it on HTC’s other 4.3-inch devices, and it suffers from an unusual (but now familiar) quirk: you can’t use it when the Mobile Hotspot feature is enabled. Presumably, it’s just too much simultaneous power draw between the giant display, the beefy processor, and the LTE, CDMA, and WiFi radios to add a pair of ultra-bright LEDs into the mix, though it’s interesting that Mobile Hotspot uses no more components than you would in normal phone use – we suppose the WiFi power output might be at a higher level.
It’s a good thing that the 32GB microSD card comes pre-installed, because the battery cover is nigh impossible to get off. Actually, that’s not fair – it’s nowhere near as difficult as the side-mounted cover on the Desire HD and Inspire 4G, but it’s up there. It’s difficult enough so that you’re thinking "man, I hope I don’t break or gouge something" as you’re prying, red-faced, at the top-mounted notch. Underneath, you’ll find a relatively measly 1400mAh battery (more on that later), the microSD slot underneath (which, again, thanks to the 32GB that comes with the phone, you’ll probably never need to touch), an LTE SIM card tray, and an array of gold contacts that have us intrigued. At the top are four connection points in two locations that hook up to matching connections on the cover, which suggest that the cover probably plays an active role in signal reception. What had us more intrigued, though, were four pins near the camera lens that aren’t hooked up to the cover, which had us wondering whether there might be NFC capability in the Thunderbolt’s future – or whether it was in the works and got spiked along the way. Hard to tell, but it’s a thought.
The edges of the Thunderbolt are clean and simple; notably missing, of course, is an HDMI-out – a big deal for some and a complete non-issue for others. The power button is perfect: correct location and correct level of flushness with the surface of the phone. The volume rocker is also perfectly shaped, sized, and in the best possible location along the right edge, but for some reason, it feels really mushy. Not only that, but it feels mushy in distinctly different ways on the top and bottom – it’s just poorly engineered or assembled, as far as we can tell. While you’re on a call, it can be difficult to tell whether you’re actuating the rocker without proper detents.
As for the display, it’s pretty fantastic – definitely an upgrade from the EVO’s component thanks to a superior viewing angle that never washes out or inverts. Admittedly, WVGA starts to look just a tad pixellated once you get past 4 inches into the 4.3-inch category, but we’re spoiled these days – and if they Pyramid rumors are true, HTC is hard at work on qHD solutions for its next-gen devices anyway. One characteristic that we’ve noticed on a number of other phones in the past year that we miss here is the gapless display, a display so close to the glass that it appears to be on the surface of the phone itself (in fact, it’s so cool that Sony Ericsson actively markets it as a feature of the Xperia Arc). Well, there’s definitely a noticeable gap on the Thunderbolt, but it’s a purely aesthetic complaint – there’s zero effect on capability or usability whatsoever – it’s just fun to hold your phone at an angle once in a while and say, "wow."
Audio quality ranges from "good" to "great," with two caveats: one, the aforementioned problem with loudspeaker muffling when the kickstand is closed (not severe, but something to take note of), and two, the earpiece could use another level or two of volume. It’s plenty clear, but in noisy environments, we found ourselves wishing we could eke a little more out of it on a couple occasions. Callers told us we sounded a little "staticky" but were still totally audible – we were never asked to speak up or repeat something we’d said.
In the amount of time since we received the Thunderbolt, we’ve only had time to run one proper battery test, which consisted of roughly 50 minutes of voice calls and two hours, 25 minutes of heavy LTE data / screen usage (a live Ustream feed). That test yielded five hours, 47 minutes of run time from full to automatic shutdown – certainly not enough to make it through a full day, but then again, we’re talking about some pretty extreme data consumption. Standby seems fine; we let the phone sit for about fourteen hours with a loss of around 20 percent of the battery.
Interestingly – unlike the EVO – we weren’t able to find a way to disable the Thunderbolt’s 4G radio and stay on on CDMA / EV-DO alone in an effort to conserve the battery. The phone seems to be doing some intelligent radio management, automatically switching between the two when necessary (and, presumably, staying pegged on LTE whenever it can find an LTE signal). From a pure consumer-friendliness perspective, that makes sense… but from a power-user perspective, it’s annoying at best. When using this as a primary device, we’d probably consider carrying a portable battery-powered micro-USB charger or a spare internal battery for peace of mind.
HTC has a spotty track record of delivering fantastic picture and video quality – but as 8 megapixel models go, we’re happy to report that the Thunderbolt is markedly improved from the EVO 4G. It’s unclear whether the changes are in software alone or if HTC has moved to a different combination of sensor and optics, but whatever they’re doing, they’ve moved in the right direction. That said, the system isn’t without its flaws. The touch-to-focus works quickly and consistently, though we were a bit disappointed at the lack of a macro mode. It really shows, too – we couldn’t focus extreme closeups at all. We also noticed some problems with light metering – it seems that HTC has elected to go with a permanent full-frame metering mode, which makes it extremely difficult to get the proper exposure on certain backlit shots (see the gallery below). And of course, we always prefer a physical shutter key – something the Thunderbolt lacks.
The 720p video was remarkably free of artifacts or distortion – it doesn’t do continuous autofocus, but you can refocus on the fly with a tap on the screen. Likewise, sound quality was quite good; we were surprised at how clearly our voice cut through the ambient noise when narrating.
The Thunderbolt is, of course, running HTC Sense. In this case, it’s on top of Android 2.2.1, but it’s a bit of a hybrid – it lacks support for the cloud features introduced with the launch of the Desire HD / Desire Z and HTCSense.com last year, but does include support for HTC’s unusual "Fast Boot" option (which was introduced at the same time). It comes disabled by default, but can be found in the Power menu in Settings with the ominous warning, "Turn off to use some Market apps." Which ones? Well, that’s for you to guess, and HTC to know, apparently. The feature basically puts the phone into an ultra-low power mode (akin to standby or sleep on a laptop) rather than turning it off altogether, and we’ll admit, the results speak for themselves: with Fast Boot on, we were seeing boot times of roughly 9 seconds, as opposed to 58 seconds with it off. If you frequently turn your phone off (say, on airplanes, when they tell you to power down your gadgets rather than simply using airplane mode), that’s a notable difference.
From a UI perspective, Sense looks exactly the same here as it has on any other Sense device from the past year or so: same colorful menus, custom soft keyboard, home screen elements, and so on, so we won’t spend much time talking about it. We’re not huge fans – we prefer almost everything about the stock experience – but we know that it’s largely a matter of personal opinion (and Sense certainly has its share of fans). So instead, let’s take a look at the non-standard apps that HTC and Verizon have included, along with descriptions of the less-obvious ones:
- Adobe Reader
- Bitbop: A subscription service that offers a variety of movies and television shows streamed to your phone, along the lines of Hulu Plus.
- City ID: A service that displays the city and state of incoming calls – handy, admittedly, but probably not for the $1.99 they charge after your 15-day free trial expires. Too bad you can’t uninstall it if you don’t want to subscribe!
- FM Radio: Yes, that’s right – the Thunderbolt’s got an FM radio tuner. Nothing fancy in the app, which – like most phones – requires a headset be plugged in to use (it doubles as the antenna).
- Let’s Golf 2: A trial of a 3D golf game with a silly name. $4.99 to buy the full version.
- Quickoffice: Many Android phones have one version or another of Quickoffice in ROM, but the Thunderbolt’s got full Word and Excel editing capabilities at no extra charge – a nice touch.
- Rock Band: This is actually nothing more than a shortcut to download a trial version of Rock Band from EA. That’s already uncool, but what’s even more uncool is that when we tried, it just went to a black screen and hung. The only thing worse than crapware is broken crapware.
- V CAST Apps
- V CAST Media
- VZ Navigator
Interestingly, as far as we can tell, none of these can be uninstalled, which is an unfortunate decision on Verizon’s part – especially considering the fact that we found most of the crapware on AT&T’s Atrix 4G can be removed without any hacking or trickery. Sure, some of these – Reader, Kindle, and Slacker, for example – are Android staples that you’ll probably want installed anyway, but it should always be your choice, not Verizon’s.
Notably absent, though, are Skype and Netflix. Skype video calling on Android was introduced by Verizon at CES (alongside the Thunderbolt) to great fanfare, but recent rumors prior to the Thunderbolt’s release had suggested that the carrier elected late in the game to pull the app from ROM. What we don’t know, though, is why that happened; we’ve heard rumors that Skype’s partnership with Verizon is souring (there have been AT&T talks, after all), but it could just be a bout of last-minute bugs that Verizon didn’t want to hold up the phone’s release. Video calling aside, you’d think Verizon would’ve at least put its standard Skype build on here that allows calling outside WiFi networks, but no dice – you’re stuck with the standard Android app in the Market that locks you out on 3G.
Netflix was more of a wildcard, but we thought it might be loaded – it’s got a Qualcomm processor that can handle Netflix’s DRM scheme, after all, and that 4.3-inch display and kickstand would be a solid way to get the Watch Instantly functionality off on the right foot. Alas, we gave the leaked APK a whirl, and it wasn’t working, either. That’s not to say it definitely won’t work by the time it’s released, but it’s a no-go so far.
The HTC ThunderBolt will be an amazing device, and it’s going to be a noticeable improvement over models that Verizon released last year, like the Motorola Droid X or HTC Droid Incredible.
If it has a flaw, it’s a lack of innovation. This is essentially going to be an enhanced version of Sprint’s HTC EVO 4G a smartphone that was released last year. Still, sometimes it’s best to not mess with a good thing.
Verizon hasn’t said yet when the ThunderBolt is going to be released, aside from the fact that it’s going to be after march but before the end of June.
The carrier has also kept mum about pricing, but I’m willing to guess it’s going to be in the neighborhood of $200 with a two-year wireless contract.
If you were planning on buying the HTC Thunderbolt off contract, you may want to take a look at a new plan option that Android Central has uncovered. Should you buy an LTE smartphone without a two-year contract and don’t want to use the phone part of the phone, you can get a data-only plan for $50 per month.
That money will net you 5GB of data, with each gigabyte after that costing $10 until the end of the month. The catch is that you’ll have to get a voice and data plan first, but a quick call to Verizon should get you on your way.
The plan is great for folks who would rather use VoIP clients to make their phone calls or for deaf people where voice plans are useless. We’re not sure how many people will actually spring for this, but it’s nice to know you have options. Are any of you thinking of going this route?
New information has surfaced on a trio of upcoming Motorola phones headed to Verizon. We already knew that Verizon was launching the dual-core Droid Bionic later in Q2, but they also have a growing lineup of multi-core devices including the Droid X2, Droid 3 and Droid Targa. Read on after the jump for the latest rumors and speculation.
Motorola Droid X2
The Droid X2 is a refresh of the original Droid X, but this time Motorola went with a dual-core CPU. Rumored specs include a 1 GHz Tegra 2, 4.3 inch qHD display, 512 MB RAM, rear and front-facing cameras, and all the other bells and whistles of the original. Unlike the Droid Bionic which operates on Verizon’s 4G LTE network, the Droid X2 will only support Verizon 3G.
Look for this device to debut around early Q3 for $149-199 with a 2-year contract.
Motorola Droid 3
The keyboard-packing Droid is back again for its yearly update. Lately Motorola has been giving NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 a lot of love, but we hear the Droid 3 will still use a Texas Instruments chip like the first two versions. Rumored specs for the Droid 3 include a dual-core 1 GHz OMAP4430 CPU, 4 inch qHD display, rear and front facing cameras, and a five-row QWERTY keyboard. It is also said to be a global device and feature a SIM card slot for GSM networks.
We have yet to learn if the Droid 3 will support 4G LTE or be limited to 3G only. I expect the Droid 3 will appear on Verizon in early Q3.
Motorola Droid Targa
The most interesting Verizon device to leak out is the new Motorola Targa. This smartphone just appeared on Howard Forums and little is known about it other than a rumored Christmas release date.
Motorola launched the first dual-core phone in the US with the Atrix 4G, so there is a chance that the Targa could become the first quad-core phone. NVIDIA recently demoed their quad-core Project Kal-El and said we should expect smartphones with the chip by Christmas. Motorola has a good relationship with NVIDIA, so I think they should be in the running to get the first smartphone with Kal-El.
Verizon already has the most impressive lineup of upcoming Android device in the next six months and it looks like they will continue to lead throughout the remainder of 2011.
How would you grade the rumored upgrades to Verizon’s Droid family?
We have learned from a number of trusted sources that the much-anticipated HTC Thunderbolt will launch this Thursday, March 17. We have also learned that online retailer Wirefly will be offering pre-orders starting at midnight (PST) tonight. The site’s Thunderbolt page has not yet been updated to reflect this, but they announced it via their Facebook page. Verizon’s first LTE smartphone lists for $249.99, but Wirefly is promising a "special price" for their customers.
After a series of frustrating delays and false rumors, anxious Verizon customers can now breathe a sigh of relief as the launch is finally concrete. Are you one of the many that are relieved to finally be able to purchase it, or have you already given up and jumped ship? Let us know in the comments.
The release date for the HTC Thunderbolt is getting a little boring now but we said we would report on everything we find, well how about adding March 21 to your release list.
So far we have all seen Verizon HTC Thunderbolt release dates being February 14, 17, 24, 28, then March 3 and 10th, which means these dates are void, then we heard that March 17th is a possibility and now according to BGR and Droid-Life March 21st has popped up.
Now these are all just online rumours, they could be true but we always suggest waiting for an official announcement and until then we will still report what we find or know. Apparently according to BGR their tipsters do not have proven track records but the new March 21 date did show up on HTC’s Facebook page briefly.
According to Droid-Life they were having a casual chat with a friend at Verizon and the word “Official” when the potential date was mentioned.
Verizon if we are not mistaken release products on a Thursday and March 21 is a Monday, and before you ask yes the Apple iPad 2 is being released on Verizon tomorrow but that is Apple’s doing. As soon as the official HTC Thunderbolt release date has been mentioned we will let you know.
Please do give us your HTC Thunderbolt release date predictions in the commenting area provided below. Thanks (Picture above is a fantastic Photoshop)
In your daily dose of "Nope, no release date for the HTC ThunderBolt just yet," we bring you a commercial that’s been floating around. And it’s pretty darn good, as you’d expect from HTC and/or Verizon. And, nope, there’s still no release date. [Android Central Forums]
Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference this afternoon, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo told investors that Verizon Wireless plans to move to tiered data plans in the near future. The plans, which could roll out as early as this summer, may be based on consumption, speed, or a combination of the two. “We are still working on the models,” said Mr. Shammo. The CFO mentioned that Verizon Wireless consciously decided against a tiered data option with the recently launched iPhone 4, noting that the company did not want to dissuade any potential buyers. When asked about the unlimited $30 data plan currently being offered for smartphones, Mr. Shammo quipped, “Everyone knows that isn’t long-term. We will move to tiered pricing in the mid-summer time frame.” What do you think Big Red customers? Sound off in the comments.
The HTC Incredible 2 has just been spotted in Verizon’s internal system almost a year to the day after its predecessor. Before you get too excited, assuming you are prone to getting excited about the Incredible 2, keep in mind that the original Incredible didn’t launch for a little over two months after it made its first appearance in a similar screenshot.
It’s a safe bet that the Incredible 2 will at least borrow quite a bit from the already announced Incredible S, but whether it is in fact a carbon copy remains to be seen. One trait it hopefully doesn’t pick up from its overseas cousin is Android 2.2.
Here’s a quick refresher on the basic Incredible S specs:
- 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 8255 Processor
- 768 MB Ram
- 4″ Super LCD
- 800 x 480
- 8 MP rear camera with dual-LED flash (720p video capable)
- 1.3 MP front facing camera
- 1,450 mAh battery
- Rotating capacitive buttons