HTC ThunderBolt Owners Coping With Buyer’s Remorse

A few days ago I wrote about how HTC and Verizon were preparing to bring back the HTC ThunderBolt Gingerbread update  from the dead. And while I knew that the news would please quite a few owners of Verizon’s first 4G LTE smartphone, I also knew that would open up old wounds. Wounds that will likely never heal.

Sure enough, the post has been flooded with ThunderBolt owners who regret buying their phone.

I don’t blame them.

The HTC ThunderBolt has had more issues than we can count.

HTC ThunderBolt


From the random reboots and crashes, to the phone’s poor battery life and Gingerbread delay, the phone has been nothing but headaches for early 4G LTE adopters.

Here is a quote from a GBM reader with a ThunderBolt.

VZW should give Thunderbolt owners the option of a full refund or choice of another phone. They should also refund or credit the monthly service charge the owners have paid since purchasing the phone. There is no excuse for VZW or HTC to have released this phone in this condition without it undergoing proper testing.

And another:

I will probably die of old age before the Thunderbolt gets Gingerbread.  This is ridiculous and the Thunderbolt is by far the buggies tech product of all time.  It makes Windows ME look like OSX.

HTC Vigor
The HTC Rezound has an uphill climb ahead.

And the sting of those failures probably never felt worse than yesterday when Motorola introduced the 7.1mm thin Droid RAZR and Samsung announced the highly anticipated, Android 4.0 powered Galaxy Nexus.

It’s not just owners of the ThunderBolt that are going to feel the sting of those two devices either. I think HTC is going to as well.

The company is poised to announce a new, powerful 4G LTE smartphone called the HTC Rezound, which is also known as the HTC Vigor. It’s a phone that I just don’t think will be able to compete with the Galaxy Nexus or the Droid RAZR.

That’s not because it’s a bad phone. It’s because of how poorly HTC and Verizon have handled the ThunderBolt. There isn’t a chance that I would buy a 4G LTE phone from HTC after what transpired and I have a feeling there are more than a few people in my camp.

And those that aren’t, might find themselves on my side of the fence once they’ve heard a horror story or two from past and present ThunderBolt owners.

This was a phone that many anticipated would be better than the iPhone 4 but you’d be hard pressed to find someone singing that tune these days.

So please. Do your research and do your best not to fall victim to the hype when looking for your next smartphone.

Lest you might end up feeling like this poor soul, a mere seven months into an experience that was supposed to be unlike any other:

I’m selling my TB soon as the prime is released. This was pretty bad, my first experience with HTC and last.


  1. Whenever you buy something that’s the first of its kind, there is going to be a higher risk that it will have issues. In this case, it did.  There will always be a better phone right around the corner.  About a month and a half ago, people were getting really jazzed about the Bionic coming out.  I’m sure a lot of Bionic owners won’t be very happy about the Razr coming out so soon after it.  Such is life in the evolutionary era of smart phones.
    I don’t like HTC phones so it was a no-brainer for me.  While the HTC Rezound has awesome specs, IMHO, it is one ugly phone.

      • How do you read web text on the 4s? When u double tap to zoom, the text is still too small. If u pinch to zoom even more, u have to scroll left to right because the words don’t automatically fit the tiny screen. Android does this PERFECTLY. You can pinch to zoom as much as u need and the words fit so u only have to scroll down to read.

        • The 4s has an option to read whatever you are looking at on the web through the e reader. Not really needed but a great option. Thunderbolt/ Mecca sucks. Long live the iwhores. 4s bitches!!!

  2. Call me absolutely crazy, but I love my Thunderbolt. I paid $300 dollars for this phone back in July, and have never had any problems with it outside of poor battery life, but because I came from using a crappy Droid Eris, this was nothing new to me, and I came to expect it in an Android phone. The Gingerbread update that I went ahead and installed the day it came out and and stuck with it has the option of using the “power efficiency mode”, so I turn that on when my phone is sitting idle and if I need to turn it off, I do it with the touch of a few buttons. Drastically saves me battery life.

    Honestly though, I don’t see the need to go looking for a new phone anytime soon. The specs of the phone are still nice, and Thunderbolt owners have been able to use Netflix for a few months now, which was one of the few things I was looking for in a smartphone. Guess I’m just lucky.

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one! I still love my Thunderbolt, did the Gingerbread update, and have had few problems with it. And I don’t have battery issues because I followed my own battery saving tips so… yeah.

    • I’m with you Adam. I love my Thunderbolt. Everyday I’m reading all the smack talk directed at the Thunderbolt yet I have had limited problems with mine. I had experienced the random reboots but that was solved when the update was released for that problem. I also was one of the few that d/l’d Gingerbread when it was released for a few hours and that dramatically improved the battery life. I use Google voice for voicemail so the  voicemail notification bug didn’t affect me. I’m very satisfied with my Thunderbolt.

    • I also agree with Adam.  The TB is my first smartphone purchase and I am VERY satisfied with it.  When GB came out in September, I downloaded it and my battery life improved significantly.

    • I haven’t had any major issues with my TB either.  This is my 3rd smart phone, if you count the old Motorola Q as smart.  :)

      I also didn’t manage to get the GB update when it was released, but that is ok.  I am a patient person and can wait for it.  :)

    • I am a happy Thunderbolt user after rooted the Thunderbolt on the day WiFi Hotspot was taken away. Verizon molested the Thunderbolt by giving it a boat load of bloatware, that made the device totally useless. As I learned, you do not own the device until it is rooted, let’s not count on Verizon or HTC, take control now!!!!

      HTC Thunderbolt running Synergy rom Gingerbread 2.3.4 with HTC Sense 3.0

    • Adam, are you lucky enough to live in an area that gets 4G all the time. Verizon days I have 4G in my area, but my phone is constantly connected to 3G & now for some odd reason either to 1x or I am forced to fine a Wi-Fi connection. Not why I bought my phone. I am still waiting for the day that can have 4G from the time I wake up til I go to sleep. That’s why I bought my 4G Verizon Thunderbolt.

    • I agree with you Adam, maybe I’m just not that tech savvy . I love the Thunderbolt and haven’t had any problems with it . I got mine in may. Had I waited two weeks, I may have gotten the charge but I am perfectly happy with this phone.

  3. People who finally rooted it have no remorse. This thing is amazing when you put some good developed software on it.

    • I agree.  I rooted my Thunderbolt and could not be happier.  First off, I got rid of all that useless and never asked for bloatware.  I installed a custom ROM that I really like, much better than the stuff that Verizon wants me to use.  This phone is sharp when it is set up properly, somethint that Verizon or HTC seem to want to do.  Its all about the bucks for them.

  4. You know there is something I’ve noticed that’s kind of starting to bother me. People have started getting in the habit of implying that because the TB had so many issues that it means the Vigor will have lots of issues. I just don’t get that. The Vigor is not the TB. I mean the phone isn’t even out yet and it’s semi taking heat for what happened with another phone. If one iphone had problems do you really think people would say all iphone from now on suck and I will never buy one? Of course not. Yes HTC makes both phones and yes there were issues with the TB but damn how about how about we see what they do with the Vigor before assuming it will be exactly the same as the TB.

    • Good or bad- companies earn reputations over time. Companies often use similar components, designs and manufacturing methods from device to device, so I think it’s completely reasonable to doubt the vitality of a phone based on its predecessors. Apple’s a perfect example actually- if you didn’t like the iPhone 4, you probably won’t be impressed by the iPhone 4S.

      • Well you do have a point and I can completely understand that if the company has a history of bad phones but we are basically talking about ONE phone here.(not saying they have a perfect record just saying all I ever hear is the TB was bad so the Vigor will be bad) Seems a bit extreme to me but to each his own I guess.

        • For me it was two bad HTC experiences… Droid Eris,then Thunderbolt.  I loved the TB three weeks ago, now I want to take a hammer to it.  The GB update effectively broke my phone.  It isn’t just the missing VM notification for many of us.  My phone froze and rebooted 8 times yesterday.  It constantly loses its connection, car dock is broken, won’t remember defaults…etc. I hate it.

    • I know what you mean, Blackthanos. It drives me up a wall that people completely forget all of HTCs other products that have done very well and were very good handsets. Take the first Incredible for instance. It was an amazing smartphone that had little to no complaints other than a sub-par battery(it’s a smartphone, they don’t have good batteries, get over it). In fact, the Incredible is the reason we have these new smartphones with amazing specs coming. It was the first phone to have a 1 gHz processor, first 8mp camera, and one of the earliest smartphones with super AMOLED. They act like the TB is the only thing they’ve ever done and form their entire opinion on the company about that one phone. 

      Xavier, that may be true, but when a phone was as bugged as the TB, they are without a doubr GOING to fix those problems. No company (well except Apple) is dumb enough to just re-use a software that had so many complaints.

      • I’m a T-bolt owner, since March. I was coming off an iPhone 3G and this phone–and all of its bugs–still blows the 3G out of the water. So I’m not joining the ranks of those who cry foul or “demand” a refund. But, with that said, this is my first experience with Android, HTC, and Verizon, and while I had high hopes going in, I’ll definitely say I’m finding the overall experience underwhelming. I’m not an Apple fan. Quite the opposite, I’ve always been “a PC.” iHate iTunes and I was won over by the the ability to configure my phone as I saw fit. But my next phone very well might be an iPhone again. Quicker updates, better testing, and a MUCH better autocorrect (I could type so much faster!).

        Unfortunately, I can’t afford to drop tons of money on a new unsubsidized phone, so for the next year and a half I’m going to hope for that ever-elusive Gingerbread update and make due with a “decent” phone, even if it doesn’t quite live up to the hype.

        **Note: HTC/Verizon, add Skype video! It’s nice to video chat my kids when I’m on the road!**

    • My T-Bolt is better than an iphone.

      The people who should really feel screwed are Bionic owners, with the Razr blazing on the scene less than 2 months later.

      • Lol funny, the thunderbolt sucks ass, the battery is crap it’s screen looks ugly it reboots and lags and still doesn’t have gingerbread even when ics is a few weeks away, and specs dont mean shit the 4s got 6000 bench mark with a 800 MHz dual core processor while android phones with a 1200 MHz dual core processor and twice the ram got 3000 do the math stupid, and oh yeah I believe the tbole barely got 2000

        • Maybe you need to grow up. Calling people stupid for thier opinion makes you unreasonable. PLUS, iPhone and Android are two different operating systerms, THEREFORE, thier benchmark scores may be different and point values may not be equivalent. You should look into these things before you call someone stupid, iSheep.

  5. You bring up some good points, but jd092 also makes a good point: when you root the phone and finally get some decent software on it, the Tbolt is a great phone.  Independent developers have proven this to be a good phone and there’s lots of support for it, but that still doesn’t help the people stuck with what HTC/VZW put on their phone.  Again, not everyone can or should root and I agree with the camp that says you shouldn’t have to hack your phone to get the most benefit out of it.  Nevertheless, HTC and VZW totally let down their customers on the software (not hardware) of this device. Word of mouth and marketing are powerful tools and at this point it’s likely too little, too late for the Tbolt.

    • Well put, good sir or madam. Unfortunately for us T-bolt owners, I’m starting to get the feeling that we’ve been abandoned by HTC and Verizon, who have moved on to where the money is in this market–new phones.  Like Microsoft discovered with Windows ME (and quickly reacted with Vista), there’s no money in supporting a failure, so you move on and hope those who got screwed don’t lose all faith.

      I own my device, but my company pays for the service,so I haven’t been comfortable with the idea of rooting. Anybody have a good place to start researching the topic?

      • This “REVOLUTIONARY 5 MINUTES ROOT WITHOUT DATA LOSS” thread on thunderboltforums would be a good resource to look at. It has step-by-step instructions. To get your HBOOT version, you’ll need to briefly restart your phone into HBOOT by holding volume up while powering on the device. Also you may need to disable your computer’s automatic driver installation, as it will attempt to install USB drivers that interfere with the rooting process when you connect your phone to it. You have to go into the Admin services on Windows 7 to do it; it’s pretty straightforward if you look up the procedure in a Google search.

      • You’ll still be on stock ROM afterwards, though; flashing a new ROM is something you’ll definitely want to consider, whether it be Synergy, CyanogenMod, or BAMF. Before you flash a new ROM, you’ll want to back up all application data to your SD card using TitaniumBackup, and just to be extra-careful, create an image of your phone’s current state using RomManager/nandroid/etc. If you aren’t comfortable using HBOOT to flash the ROM manually, RomManager can do it for you, provided you place the .zip file for the new ROM on your SD card.

  6. I must be lucky but I love my Thunderbolt. I have no regrets buying it. The battery life could be better. But I knew that before I bought it and prepared.

    • Call the warranty center and complain about the numerous issues about the tbolt from random reboots, awful battery life, constant dropping of data connection, and the gingerbread update issues. And say you honestly think the tbolt should have never been released or at least recalled. Say you can’t deal with all this phone’s issues anymore and would like to get another phone, but don’t want to pay full retail. Ask if they will push up your upgrade date. Worked for me. Twice.

  7. I was one of the first adopters of the tb and aside from few problems absolutely love my bolt! 4g network and WiFi hotspot. Can’t do that with my girlfriends iPhone4s. And it took days to get cloud to work properly and get contacts back on phone. Sticking with Android baby!

  8. HTC sent me a customer satisfaction email about contacting them about the issues with the GB update.  I made it clear I was not happy with the lack of support from Verizon/HTC.

  9. I also have the T-Bolt, and also have the GB update which was pushed then pulled, and I am glad I got it. Battery life is better, and I use vz visual voice mail, so dont care about the notifications bug. 

    Sure I had the reboot issue a while back like everyone else, and the battery life was pretty bad. Bottom line is that I love this phone,it is the best I have had, and I have had  iphones, treos, blackberries. This does everything I need, synchs flawlessly to my cars bluetooth, streams music, has skype with video, netflix. Its fast and solid. It is too bad that the GB carrot on a stick update has gone on this long. 

    Verizon/HTC could have avoided bad press if they just pushed the update, and provided free visual voice mail until the fix came in. 

  10. I’m one of the lucky ones I haven’t had any problems with my tb other than the battery life I’m running ginger bread update I got from Verizon and it seem to run fine for me besides the voice mail notification. But over all I’m very happy with my phone

  11. Do all the commenter below work for HTC? We have had nothing but problems from day one. VZW replaced it once, no better. After much complaining &I numerous trips to VZW, they are allowing us to get a new &I different phone. They & HTC have admitted they don’t know when the fix will be released and if it will help.

    • I cannot speak for others, but I can definitely tell you I don’t work for HTC. Again, I feel bad for you, but my experience has been the opposite. My phone does practically everything I need it to do.

    • I don’t work for them either.  Just a lowly programmer at a company in the automotive industry.  But, I still really do like my TB.  Have had very few problems with it, and never regretted the purchase one bit. 

      Sorry your experience wasn’t as good, though.

  12. My friend bought a Thunderbolt despite my reservations. He is nothing but happy with it. He did a couple things to tweak the battery life which is incredibly disappointing at first. It’s great now though. My main reservation was it was a single core when I knew the world was going dual core shortly. He may be feeling the pinch come the second year of his contract which will end in July 2013.

  13. HTC won’t be selling phones much longer in the US anyway if Apple has their way.  Too many patent violations that have already hurt them (and Samsung) from importation into the EU and sale in Europe.  HTC will be dead-in-the-water soon.  With Motorola and Google being partnered now, I suspect the best devices to buy will ONLY be Motorola ones down the road…at least if you want ANDROID.

  14. Amusing how every person I’ve come across who says “Thunderbolt Owners hate their phones, so many problems that they’re just awful!!!” is someone who doesn’t own one.

  15. I have a tb and I’m with u the first update the sound wasn’t the same it is poor and it freezes too much it is also my first and last HTC phone

  16. If I remember they said gingerbread update was right around the corner. In march I think the 15th . Man that’s a frigging big long corner.

  17. HTC makes great phones. As far as the buggy software goes; Verizon definitely played a major part.

    Verizons self imposed limitations on their phones is the main reason I left them, and I couldn’t be happier with my HTC EVO on Sprint.

  18. I am still rocking the HTC Incredible 1.  It is Incredible and 2.3 GB is awesome…..  Thank you Verizon/HTC.  The TB has some issues, hopefully 2.3 GB will fix them, I am sure Verizon/HTC is working on it.   My issue with HTC is they need a new look.  Every phone seems to look the same to me.

  19. I am very happy with my HTC Thunderbolt. Random reboots? Nope. Terrible battery life? Not really. I get a full day’s use from the original battery pack. No Gingerbread? Oops, maybe not from Verizon. Of course, I rooted it within an hour of buying it and installed Cyanogen Mod 7. If you aren’t happy with your Thunderbolt, don’t blame HTC. The hardware is solid. Blame Verizon for forcing you to use their bloatware and crippled Android ROM. There are plenty of forums and resources out there. Read up, root, and actually *own* the phone you paid for. That’s my 2 cents.

  20. I’m not totally disappointed with my TBolt, but mostly because I’m running CyanogenMod on it. it’s not the greatest phone, and I do think HTC/Verizon have droppe the ball many times on this one. I have a Galaxy Tab 10.1, and from that experience believe Samsung knows what’s up. I’m definitely buying the Galaxy Nexus, and selling the tbolt to any taker, although perhaps I should pity his/her soul.

  21. And still, no one even mentions that lack of constant 4G service. Never had the use of video conference service (Skype).
    The 4G network & video conferences were two of the main reasons I bought my Thunderbolt along with the promise of having the fastest phone on the Verizon fast LTE network (which always seems to run on 3G or 1 x ) . Yes I will be hard pressed to buy another phone from HTC.

  22. HTC, just like Samsung, (Vibrant) has lost me due to the myriad TB problems: rushed to market, failed updates and features that were promised but not delivered. Only the Android text reflow that comes standard has kept me from Cupertino’s tiny screen.

  23. I downloaded the GB update too before they pulled it and everything works much faster with better battery life but one bug or problem caused by the update is I cant view over half my video’s no more on the stock video player. Does anyone have or hear about this problem???

  24. First off, anyone who roots or otherwise modifies their Thunderbolt does not get a vote.  You are only asking for trouble when you do that.  I speak from experience, I rooted mine and it sucked.  I only did it to try it out..  I un-rooted the phone 3 weeks later.

    The only complaint I’ve had with my Thunderbolt was the battery life.  And the battery life wasn’t as bad as the phone I moved off of (Palm Pre Plus) but I thought it should be better.

    And two updates later my battery life is a lot better.  Even when using GPS.  In fact I don’t even think about the battery life anymore.  I don’t know what Verizon and HTC did but they really improved things.

    And if we’re being honest battery life is hurt more by the display than anything else.  All phones suffer from this.  The more you use it, the shorter the battery life.  It’s not rocket science.

    Overall I am very happy with my decision to get the Thunderbolt.  I like the size and the performance.  I wish they had put the charger plug in a spot that allowed me to use the kickstand.. but that’s not a show stopper for me.

  25. I love my HTC ThunderBolt work well and I have GingerBread on it 2.3.4 Software number 2.11.605.3 HTC Sense 2.1 all work well.  It is not rooted!  I have the HTC extended battery and cover and love it!
    I now can use the  cisco wireless security network at work with it..   

  26. I sale wireless phones for wireless advocates which is inside Costco.  We handle HTC androids, Motorola androids, as well as Samsung and LG androids.  We also sell T-mobile, Verizon and AT&T, and sold sprint at one time.  I’ve worked for the company for over 5 years. We sell in access of 350 phones a month, I’ve sold hundreds of each of these brands of androids.  I’m confident saying that not many people have had a larger more accurate sample of consumer feedback on all these different devices than I have.  Oh yeah and with my corporate discounts allowing me the luxury of owning many devices I can proudly say I’ve owned at least 1 of every one of these manufacturer’s androids.  I’ve also had service with all 4 of the major carriers.   That being said…. THERE IS NO SECRET MANUFACTURER OUT THERE MAKING PERFECT PHONES.  Don’t let your personal bad experience with HTC lead you to tell the world that they all need Motorola’s, Cause trust me, you’re wrong.   Stop expecting your electronics to work perfectly…  Weather you get a motorola, HTC, LG or Samsung android Guess what, THEY ALL HAVE ISSUES!  Now, with all that being said…  Motorola and LG androids (at least at this point) get brought back and complained about 10 times more than HTC and Samsungs do.  Get an HTC or Samsung android and stop expecting electronic devices to be perfect.   Thank you that’s all.  

  27. It has the Gingerbread update now cause the woman on the phone said lady had called and wanted to activate her phone (the thunderbolt) and when she called they said do u want your phone updated and she said yes and now the thunderbolt has the Gingerbread now

  28. I purchased the thunderbolt over the other phones because it was 4g with Verizon. Buyers remorse in deed. From not having the gingerbread update which limits many desired apps to the regular proximital sensors turning on and off the speaker phone involuntarily and the screen which the recent update corrected that issue. And before the recent update, I could not do face to face using front cam via Skype and others, that was frustrating. Now I waiting for the gingerbread so I can do Hangouts via Google plus. With my next smartphone purchase, I know better what to look for, so I wont be as disappointed. I have to agree, HTC might loose me the next purchase. Although Ive been told by some techs the problem was more with Verizon than HTC. Then again, how would I know that for sure? The recent update fixed a lot of frustrating issues thankfully. But Im still waiting for the ginger bread.

  29. i must say i was quite surprised to read that people were having so many problems with the TB. i upgraded from the eris the week the thunderbolt came out & 8 months later i still love this phone. i have root & have been running gingerbread for quite some time now with either gingertheory or at the moment team bamf SOAB gingerbread 2.3.4 with sense 3.5 which i love. my phone runs smooth as butter & with juice defender i can go a full day of heavy use with browsing & the occasional video & not have to worry about it going dead before i go to sleep. it seems to me that if anyone wants the latest software updates with the choice of trying out different variations from different independent developers need to look into rooting their device. most of us here are early adopter geeks anyway & its not that hard.

    • Yeah, I think that must be the ticket, it has to be rooted.  I bought a thunderbolt around the same time as you and it has been nothing but problems.  But I kept all the HTC bloatware and invasive crap they loaded it up with.  After trying to convince Verizon a dozen times that they should let me trade the phone out to another model because the TB was defective.  I am eternally bitter about HTC and Verizon.

  30. Newbie alert: since we went back to mountain time from daylight savings time, my tb won’t stay on the right time-stuck on daylight saving time or Sacramento time and I’m in Colorado. Dealer did a factory reset yesterday but today I’m back on dls time. Advice?

  31. Builld quality has been terrible to me. 1st thunderbolt the volume button quit working. 2nd thunderbolt the screen quit responding. Waiting for my 3rd thunderbolt to arrive in the mail. Its already 2 days late and is in Iowa. I’m in wisconsin. Beginning to regret my decision. If the 3rd goes bad I will never buy an HTC device. Also pretty unacceptable service from Verizon for releasing this phone and 2nd for not giving me a full refund

  32. The latest software update has created internal files dates 12-31-69.  This is a known issue according to the 5th tech I spoke to last night.  Unfortunately, the tech never called me back with a fix.  I am requesting an entirely different phone today. 

    • Consider yourself lucky. It’s always good when the phone manufacturer and phone carrier have no clue about common issues.

  33. I can not tell you how unhappy I am with my Thunderbolt. The sixth replacement is on its way. No damage. Just problem after problem. Where is the service we are supposed to be getting? How much are we supposed to take? What are our options?

  34. Any ideas wjy my thunderbolt has been 3G for ages? I remember when it ‘upgraded’ to 4G one night and lost all my info and settings…just happens sometimes…that was Verizon rep talking:). And 5 times since!…..Lesson learned.-do your own research, dont listen to the rep when you buy a phone!

  35. I just got the tb and I really like it I traded my iPhone 4 for it. And it had gingerbread on it and the person I got it from didn’t have any problems with it I had the eris and I didnt have to many problems with it. And almost every phone I have ever owned has had issues randomly restarting after being dropped a bunch. I like HTC and plan on continuing to use there phones I haven’t noticed anything bad about this phone and this phones battery life is like any other android I have had I just keep my charger with me and use the battery saver settings on the phone.

  36. I think HTC started with a great product concept but they rushed to put the product on the market with pressures from Verizon, of course. Mistake. I waited for months until they sent the latest operating system release late last year. With that operating system release, it fixed most of the frustrating problems including the proximital sensors which kept turning turning on my screen on and off irregularly and my speakers etc.

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