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HTC Thunderbolt: Battery Life is Disappointing, Less than 4 Hours

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The HTC Thunderbolt’s 4G LTE connection is blazing fast, but all that speed comes at a price. After using the HTC Thunderbolt for a day, I’m disappointed in its real-world battery life and benchmark results.

How to Get Better HTC ThunderBolt Battery Life

For most of the day yesterday I battled against low battery warnings as broke my HTC Thunderbolt in. I’m an Android phone newbie, so I wasn’t sure if I was doing something wrong and just needed to adjust some obvious settings. Then, my friend Avram Piltch from Laptop Mag pointed me to his colleague’s review of the Thunderbolt and my fears were confirmed. While browsing over 4G, the Laptop Mag battery benchmark tool clocked in just 2.5 hours of Web browsing time. Avram asked me to benchmark mine and while the results were a little better, they’re still not pretty.

Before I went to bed last night I downloaded the My Settings app. I then set the HTC Thunderbolt’s screen brightness to 40%, turned off WiFi, killed background services and set the device so it would never go to sleep. I then started the Laptop Battery app and ran the test, which simply loads the world’s most popular sites (Google, Wikipedia, Yahoo!, etc.) over and over again until the battery is drained. The HTC Thunderbolt was left unplugged and worked away while I slept.

Thunderbolt Verizon HTC Battery Life

When I woke up, the HTC Thunderbolt was drained.  I plugged the phone back in and checked the results. The Thunderbolt lasted for 3 hours and 49 minutes before quitting.   That’s 52% longer than what Laptop Mag experienced, but still not long enough for many users. The reason for the wide gap may be sample variation. More likely, I’m guessing that I have a stronger 4G LTE signal than the Laptop Mag Reviewers in New York have. I ran the test in my bedroom, which is at the top of a hill in a residential neighborhood in San Francisco. Laptop Mag’s office is in a big building near Times Square in New York.

This battery test is pretty conservative. It doesn’t use any power-hungry apps, run background services or display video. It doesn’t take into account sharing the 4G connection with other devices via WIFi. It’s pretty difficult to test a ‘typical’ user’s day when switching between apps, locations and activities, but it’s pretty safe to say that it’ll be tough to muster more than four hours of active use.

By comparison, the HTC EVO 4G scored just under five hours of battery life on Sprint’s WiMax service. The EVO 4G can be switched to 3G-only mode, but you can’t turn off 4G on the Thunderbolt.

I’m loving the HTC Thunderbolt’s speed, but it’s going to be a challenge to keep this thing juiced up.

It’s nice to have a thin Android phone with a big gorgeous display, but I would trade a little thickness and weight for a battery that would last all day. Anyone want to sell me an extended battery for my HTC Thunderbolt?

Xavier Lanier is the publisher of Gotta Be Mobile and a photographer. He uses too many devices to count, but his current favorites are the iPhone 5s, HTC One, Nikon D800 and Sony RX 100M II. You can follow him on Twitter and Google+.

47 Comments

  1. GoodThings2Life

    03/19/2011 at 3:02 am

    My mom bought the extended battery for hers. I got here at 7:30pm and as of 11:00pm I took it from 80% to 50% with very heavy use downloading apps, configuring/tweaking it, and such. Had it been my EVO I would have had it drained.

    As has always been the case with Android devices, the OEM’s err on the side of function over battery life. I have had no problem tweaking them to be more spectacular though. I typically go to bed with 65% battery. It’s down to 50% tonight from slightly heavier than normal use.

    I’m sure with the tweaks I made to my mom’s Thunderbolt it will improve quite a bit.

    • Xavier Lanier

      03/20/2011 at 2:01 am

      Can you please share what kind of tweaks you made to the Thunderbolt ?

  2. Bweisholtz

    03/20/2011 at 4:19 am

    You can buy 2 spare batteries plus an external charger on eBay does $10 shipped. Problem solved.

    • hmm

      03/21/2011 at 9:36 pm

      shouldn’t have to

  3. Abc

    03/20/2011 at 4:26 am

    Bweisholtz – lol, i just came from ebay to post the same finding. $9 shipped. as long as the batteries don’t explode…

  4. SomeGuy

    03/20/2011 at 3:37 pm

    LOL, $600 phone and you want me to lugg 2 extra batteries around?!? Fail!

    • Sajones0302

      03/24/2011 at 9:41 pm

      Juice defender beta will solve ur battery problems for some reason when in standby tb cannot figure which tower or network to lock on to installing juice defender kills all auto sync and 3 and 4G radios without stopping txt or calls once unlocked phone will reactivated auto sync and radios and also lock to a tower and network better not sure y but I bought an extended battery before trying this app and in 2 days have yet to completely kill the battery with extremely high use

  5. Anonymous

    03/20/2011 at 5:16 pm

    The phone should work a day under normal use without recharging. They boast 4G, fine then make it work for day of normal 4G use. They know ppl are going to be banging this phone all day. I think it’s BS that the battery won’t last. And I have to buy more batteries after what I have already payed to use the phone. I am returning it.

  6. Roberto

    03/20/2011 at 9:54 pm

    I have to say that’s a big fail. It should it at least last till lunch time when I might have a chance to charge it in my car.

  7. Machile

    03/21/2011 at 1:33 pm

    I am also returning it today. Took it off charger at 4:00 PM yesterday. Made a 5 minute phone call. At 7:00 PM battery was at 50%. At 9:00 PM was down to 15%. That is with the screen turned off the entire time except for the 5 minute phone call. This is a joke!

  8. Jsoulios

    03/21/2011 at 1:48 pm

    my iphone last from 2 days with heavy use

    • Bummed

      03/22/2011 at 1:30 am

      Bummed out, I work in a classifed facility and have to put my phone in a phone locker where it doesn’t get reception, took it off the charger before going to work, only one phone call on the way in and at lunch, after being in locker for 5 hours, the battery indicator was amber, my friend’s iPhone was still fully charged. I thought the low battery life was a quirk after playing with it this weekend but it isn’t. I’m thinking about returning it but I love the speed compared to other phones, to include the iPhone4.

  9. Katherine Luding

    03/23/2011 at 5:49 am

    Agree. Mine lasts 6 hours but with only minimal use (couple of 20-30 min phone calls), checking emails once an hour and maybe 45 of surfing the web. I can’t get it to last me from am till the afternoon. Sadly, I am going to return this phone. I just can’t afford to charge the battery twice a day! That’s insane. My Droid X at least makes it from 7am till midnight with the same use and does everything the Tbolt does…

  10. Bballer0619

    03/23/2011 at 2:53 pm

    I know everyone is complaining and so am I. I ran my phone for 7 hours yesterday, I turned off the LTE until I needed to get on, and throughout the day I used the phone as a normal phone texting and calling people. I know no one wants to turn off their connection, but it will help your battery life.

  11. Unquist

    03/24/2011 at 1:18 pm

    You actually can turn the 4G off apparently, it just requires a little sleight of hand trick:

    http://forum.androidcentral.com/htc-thunderbolt/70282-how-turn-off-lte.html

    I’ve gotten this working, but have yet to test it thoroughly to see if it really saves battery life.

  12. Pinkpants55

    03/24/2011 at 10:17 pm

    I am on the road a lot and noticed I wasn’t really using the internet or email function of the phone. So I went to settings, wireless & networks and shut off the mobile network. My battery is still at 75% right now after a full day of phone calls and texts and when I did want to check my email/facebook I just turned it back on and the emails loaded right away. I know its not the best solution, but it worked out well for me today.
    Just wanted to throw the idea out there for you guys.

  13. Mowestgrif

    03/25/2011 at 10:07 pm

    I dont even have 4g in my Area and i have my phone on silent settings. In 2 hours my batter will be 50% drained or more.. This is my first droid!!!!! I was previously a blackberry tour guy and i might go back to it b/c i have to carry around and have a phone charger every where i go! Its SuCKS!

    • Dflou

      07/05/2011 at 9:46 am

      Your phone is searching for 4g you should go into all apps then LTE OnOff,change your CDMA+LTE/EvDo auto, change that to CDMA auto (PRL) after you make this change it will search only for 3g,If you change it to CDMA you will only be able to send and recieve phone calls and text not flix or internet but it will save on battery.

  14. LaTasha Johnson

    03/25/2011 at 10:36 pm

    Horrible battey life, it drains without being in use and I am an die hard android users, but this is ridiculous!!!! I charged t completely the first day and I got to work and there was already a missing battery cell but by the end of my 8 hour work shift I was being warned of 10% battery left. Ok not panicking let it die completely then charged it fully , which took FOREVER!!!! to only have it last the whole 8 hours but I did not access the browser one time, only checked facebook received a few email, text and made a few calls and it was 50% drained. COming frm the moto droid 2 Ifeel liek I have downgraded whats the point of having a fully loaded phone if you can only use it for 1-2 hours w/o having to run for a charger. Really HTC lets be forreal this is a HUGE issue. Lets noit blame it on LTE becuase iM in a 3G only area. I have a task killer and it kills teh apps everytime the screen sleeps. I have gps, wifi and bluetooth disabled, dimmed display. The only thing I havent done is keep it pwr’d off.

    • White Power

      04/08/2012 at 12:29 am

      I read that first sentance and I didn’t even have to look at ur name to know u are black. U people need to learn how to speak. Jigaboos….

  15. Jamdown821

    03/28/2011 at 4:21 pm

    This phone is really nice except for the battery. Took it off the charger @ 9am by 11:45 am it down to 30%
    battery charge with no use , just sitting there. This is my 1st Android and will be my last. I’m going back to my old BB Storm , yea i k now laugh @ least the battery last for 6 hours with moderate to heavy use.

    • Aol

      04/08/2012 at 12:33 am

      Get the iPhone I usually go 2 days without charging

  16. Dennis K. Biby

    03/28/2011 at 11:15 pm

    Notice how the Verizon Thunderbolt ad guy is stringing high voltage cables all over the place? That’s because the phone needs a cord to run more than a few hours. It certainly won’t run 24 hours untouched.

    There’s very little “mobile” in my Thunderbolt!

  17. sypher50

    03/30/2011 at 4:20 am

    FOUND A TEMP. SOLUTION TO THIS BATTERY LIFE ISSUE WITHOUT HAVING TO TURN OFF YOUR 4G APP OR VIOD WARRANTY!!!!!!!!!

    I have had issues with the battery life for the thunderbolt only lasting a few hours in a day and have had to charge this phone more than twice in one day. I called verizon customer service and have got the im sorry about that speech. I then called HTC and spoke with their reps about this issue and was told the following:

    1. If using an application killer or battery saver app delete.
    2. Turn off gps when not needing to use apps requiring gps use.
    3. Go to settings, then to wireless & networks
    4. Turn off the mobile network setting and only turn it on when you need to use the internet or application requiring internet connection.

    If you follow these steps you should see a 90% increase in your battery life.

    Hope this helps!

    • gmm6797

      03/30/2011 at 1:13 pm

      By doing steps 2 & 4 you are taking the “smart” out of the phone. If I am going to get my monthly data costs back from VZW then I could do these… not to mention, turning off the data and the GPS is equal to a generic phone, era 2000… not why I bought the Thunderbolt

  18. Johnpdw

    04/04/2011 at 11:41 pm

    I was lucky that my work supplied me with a new thunderbolt last week. After playing with it out of the box and after charging the battery, the battery was at 50% after about 1 1/2 hours. I was like “oh no”. I have had problems since then. I was sitting at a doctor’s office waiting room last Friday for 2 1/2 hours, and I had the thunderbolt in my jacket pocket and i could feel the heat just pouring off the phone. This was like the egg frying cpu on a computer hot. I was wondering why the phone was so hot, what was it working so much on while on standby?? So I did all the things that the blogs say. I turned off the constant updates for stocks, news, and weather that i do not need and it seemed to help a little. So, then I got rid of the weather animation on the home screen and put a regular background on it, rather than the cool moving clouds. (bummer) This helped a little more. Then, i charged it and left it on the charger from 6pm to 7am this morning. I tried turning off the vibration whenever you hit a key on the keyboard, and that seemed to solve the problem. I have been unwired all day, made several calls, did some web surfing, and the battery is still over 50% this evening. I am not sure if this was the thing that did it, but it has only been 1 day and I do not want to return it, as I did last week. Other than that, this is a really cool phone, hold it next to your friend’s iphone and just look at the difference.

  19. Johnpdw

    04/04/2011 at 11:43 pm

    btw, I have been monitering what is using all the battery, and it was always the display that was taking up all the juice.

  20. Mr. Dissapointed

    04/08/2011 at 2:35 am

    I’m glad I came across these comments because I was really close to getting the Thunderbolt…Don’t get me wrong, the phone seems awesome. However, it sucks that people are paying +$200 for this phone and the $30 a month data plan to only be able to use it to a certain extent. If manufactures make a phone with a blazing fast internet and awesome features, what good is it if the consumers have to turn those features off to save battery life to be able to use their mobile device for a prolonged period of time. It’s just not worth it in my opinion.

  21. Jay

    04/08/2011 at 4:20 am

    just root and you can see a 200% increase in battery life my TB lasts me a full 8 hours of normal usage and only drops about 50%. all of that verizon bloatware kills the battery

  22. Ryan

    04/13/2011 at 3:53 pm

    Dial this phone number:

    *#*#4636#*#*

    Go to Phone Information, and you then you can turn off 4G by changing your preferred network type.

  23. Joseph Tresca

    04/14/2011 at 9:37 pm

    For those complaining about HTC Thunderbolt battery life, I feel your pain. However there are simple things you can do to mitigate this issue. If you don’t use Wifi, make sure you shut it off. Make sure you turn off 4G by using the dialing method. Google it if you don’t know how. Make sure you have GPS off unless you are using it. Lastly keep screen brightness to lowest level until needed. Make sure sleep function goes into affect after a short time of inactivity. Don’t download or install task manager apps. Advanaced Task Killer actually drains more battery life than if it wasn’t installed. Hope that helps. Personally I can get my phone to last me until 11:00 at night from 7:30am at 50% battery although I don’t use the phone constantly through out the day like some heavy users do.

  24. TINNA444

    04/25/2011 at 4:50 pm

    If you turn off all the features…why have the phone? If I pay for something, I should be able to use it whenever I want without turning it on/off all the time. EPIC FAIL!

  25. Coolfx35

    04/27/2011 at 10:56 am

    The battery really sucks man… I had my samsung fascinate before this, and the battery lasts 5 times as long this phone.

    I can’t believe I paid $250 for this with a contract.

    BTW, here’s some helpful info on the battery

    http://www.htcthunderbolt4g.com/htc-thunderbolt-general-discussion/battery-info/

  26. RaRa

    04/28/2011 at 4:37 am

    I returned the thunderbolt today (i was waiting for many weeks to get it though) due to battery. according to me it is not a mobile phone ..it is a landline phone! It wont work for more than few hours without the power cable connected to it.

  27. Anonymous

    04/28/2011 at 7:58 pm

    My battery life was great using Advanced App Killer, but then my text messages suddenly and completely got erased. I brought my phone into the store and they told me it was likely Advanced App Killer overriding the text log program causing it to shut down, and they said with the Thunderbolt the AAK wasn’t necessary. Since uninstalling it, my phone’s battery now drains a lot more heavily when sitting idle at work or while I sleep. I used to be able to play games on my ride to/from work but now I just keep it in my purse the entire day in case I need to make or accept a call. Kinda lame, not sure how to resolve this…

  28. Azara David

    05/22/2011 at 10:31 pm

    The thunderbolt rocks you just have to have the right settings and an extended battery. I get twenty three hours of heavy use and 34 hours standby. If you have a regular battery you can get 7 hours of heavy use and ten hours standby. Disable background data. Only necessary when in the market. This alone will give you double battery life. Also install juice defender and advanced task killer. Set juice defender for basic and advanced task killer to crazy. Also set to autokill when screen is off. After a full charge each morning pull the battery and restart. You will lose 10 to fifteen percent doing so but this method will guarantee almost 8 hours of heavy use on standard battery with 4g on. Any questions you can email me @ [email protected]

  29. Don Draper

    06/01/2011 at 8:04 pm

    I recently made of couple of odd setting changes that seemed to have upped my battery life to over 24 hours with the stock battery and now up to 36 hours on the extended battery. The sudden change was dramatic so I documented what I did. Hope it helps someone else out. Still too early for me to know what actually made the difference.

    http://www.dondraper.com/2011/05/possible-clue-to-getting-long-battery-life-with-htc-thunderbolt-android-phone/

  30. yeahman

    06/18/2011 at 6:45 am

    I literally get around 80 hours on the stock battery with average use (Texting frequently, Gaming occasionally, even using navigation a few times). The extended battery.. well I’ve actually never gotten anywhere near half battery with it yet, but I would assume that it would last me around 120-200 hours of use with my HTC Thunderbolt. All you need to to is to do the obvious fixes: Limit brightness, disable the completely unnecessary features, FREEZE BLOATWARE (Important, and probably the biggest factor), download and run Juice Defender with Mobile Data disabled so you still get instant background data, and root your phone (to freeze the bloatware). You don’t need to disable background data to get long battery life. You don’t even need to switch from 4g to 3g. My phone always has these things on. Just limit the amount of crap that auto-syncs every minute in addition to the steps above. Also, do not use app killers. I used to get only 4-7 hours with my phone before I took all these steps. I was laughing when my battery life increased by more than 1500%. The thing is, doing all of this does not degrade the phone in any way in terms of usefulness. You’ll still get everything you need out of your phone. It’s all the useless crap that kills your battery life!

  31. Jawa6988

    06/20/2011 at 6:56 pm

    Last night I switched to “CDMA only” – not Auto 1X or 3G, but 3G only(we have no 4G here yet) and have had the phone on standby since last night and on about every 5 minutes since 6:00 am.  Thats 8 hours of medium-to heavy use and  I am currently at 40%!  I am a happy camper now… I was getting the same 2 to 4 hrs out of it as everyone else and was disgusted. As a side note, I’ve had no rebooting problems since either.  I almost returned this phone for the Charge, that would have been a mistake…  SAMSUNG YUCK! THIS PHONE IS AMAZING, YOU JUST HAVE TO SET IT UP CORRECTLY…  the iPhone only wishes it was as bad ass as the T-Bolt!

  32. Jawa6988

    06/20/2011 at 9:47 pm

    Update:  Its now been 10 hrs 45 min since I turned on the phone this morning, and I’m still at 30%.  This is much more reasonable.I have actually used my phone more “heavily” today than in the past simply because of the fact that it is still on and NOT plugged into a frickin charger.

    I hope the rest of you get it worked out. The t-bolt is an awesome phone as long as you can keep it turned on and charged up.  I believe we will have the kinks worked out soon…  I just hope that not everyone returns theirs before the upcoming software update

  33. Janhunt1

    06/22/2011 at 4:25 pm

    I bought a 4200mha battery for my Thunderbolt from Mugen and I get almost 48 hours of average use (I use my phone a lot but not consistently for one specific use – games, music, phone,internet, various applications, etc). The instructions say to charge, drain, and charge 4-5 times before you get full battery use and i’ve only done that twice so I hope the battery life gets even better. BTW, I was getting 4-6 hours of battery. Life with the original battery.

  34. Anonymous

    06/28/2011 at 11:49 pm

    I’m running the Thunderbolt, after using about a week I went and ordered an extended battery. However the next day I realized when I got home from work that I hadn’t charged my phone all day and it was STILL going. I’m running wifi and 3G, have background data enabled because I use instant messaging all day, the girlfriend and I exchange at least a few hundred messages a day.  I’m a heavy user, and I had my extended battery running for 24 hours last week without charging, and at about the 25 hour mark I still had 20 percent battery life.  That is on stock rom with no mods or tweaks, just the settings adjusted correctly.

    I’m no Android expert, I have an iphone and 2 ipads. This past month is my first time on Android, so its not that I knew anything different than any other novice user, besides doing a little research. I think nearly all of the battery life problems come from people not taking the time to learn to use and properly configure their phone. Also as a tip, the biggest battery drains I’ve found so far are the battery widget/battery performance apps, and the task killer apps. I’ve tested each configuration with and without battery increasing apps, and my runtime has been much better without those power saving apps and widgets.

    One of the biggest battery drains that I’ve seen is from people having their phone set to 4G who don’t have access to a 4G network, so the 4G radio is constantly searching for a signal that doesn’t exist. Takes about 20 seconds to fix the first time with the learning curve, 5 seconds after that, and dramatically increases battery life.

    I’m now running gingerbread with sense 3.0 overclocked at 1.4 ghz and pulling about 12 hours on the stock battery.

  35. Lifeofbryan1980

    09/10/2011 at 5:12 pm

    Let me correct this guy obviously he hasn’t played around enough with his thunderbolt oh can shut off 4g and use cdma only its in the settings menu under wireless and metworks and then mobile networks you can choose cdma only of 4g and cdma I get better batter life with cdma but that because with 4g your phones constantly searching for a signal to LTE and connecting and disconnectig

  36. guacamole321

    10/02/2011 at 7:53 am

    haha i love this phone but its biggest strength, verizons powerful 4g network, is also its biggest weakness. thats a king size LOL

  37. Hockyfan4life20

    11/26/2011 at 8:18 pm

    I worked from 9am-10pm and barely lost any battery on my thunderbolt that includes me texting and transferring pics from my sd card to the computer back to my new sd card I love this phone!!!!!

  38. Dave

    11/30/2011 at 9:57 am

    Get this monster and never have problems again: http://www.mugen-power-batteries.com/htc/htc-thunderbolt-4g-adr6400l/mugen-power-4500mah-extended-battery-for-verizon-htc-thunderbolt-4g-adr6400-with-battery-door.html
    Xavier, maybe you should test it.

  39. Pingback: Thunderbolt needs a little lightening | Kineto

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