Verizon: Thunderbolt by HTC Goes on Sale Thursday March 17!

Verizon officially announced that the HTC Thunderbolt will be available starting Thursday March 17 at retail stores and online beginning March 17. That’s right, no more rumors, but a solid Thunderbolt release date! With an official price tag of $249.99, the HTC Thunderbolt will be the first Verizon 4G LTE phone.

There have been  HTC Thunderbolt’s price and release date rumors since the device was officially launched at CES 2011. Best Buy began taking pre-order reservations on February 6 and as of yesterday continued to do so. Verizon’s announced that it will not be taking pre-order reservations between now on Thursday and that its retail stores will open at normal hours.

The subsidized price of the HTC Thunderbolt is $249.99. This price requires a new contract or eligible upgrade. A voice plan, starting at $39.99 per month, an unlimited 4G LTE data plan is $29.99 per month.  The Thunderbolt’s wireless hotspot feature is free through May 15, but after that date it will cost $20 per month for 2GB of data.

The HTC Thunderbolt can be used on both Verizon’s 3G network and 4G LTE netwok. Much of the U.S. is not covered by 4G LTE, but subscribers that are covered should experience blazing fast upload and download speeds that rival those of wired ISPs. Thus far, Verizon customer have only experienced 4G LTE through USB modems plugged into laptops. A 4G LTE MiFi card from Novatel is expected soon.

The HTC Thunderbolt is similar in appearance to the HTC EVO 4G, a phone that was announced a year ago and that runs on Sprint’s 4G network. There are several key improvements to the Thunderbolt, including a faster processor, more storage capacity and LTE compatibility.

Below is a summary of the HTC Thunderbolt’s specifications. You can find full Thunderbolt specifications and more details here.

  • 4G LTE
  • 4.3” WVGA display
  • 8-megapixel rear facing camera and HD (720p) video recording
  • 1.3-megapixel front facing camera
  • Latest generation 1GHz Snapdragon processor
  • Mobile Hotspot capability – share 4G connection with up to eight Wi-Fi-enabled devices
  • 8 GB of onboard memory and a pre-installed 32 GB microSD card (Actual formatted capacity will be less)
  • Built-in kickstand for easy media viewing

The HTC Thunderbolt will be available at BestBuy, Verizon Wireless and Wirefly starting on the 17th. Wirefly is taking pre-orders and is promising that shipments will begin on the 17th. Best Buy locations may still be taking pre-orders, but some stores are reporting that they won’t likely be able to fulfill all orders on the Thunderbolt’s launch date.

If you’re not eligible for new Verizon phone, the Thunderbolt will cost you at least $669.99. If you’re not eligible for an upgrade, you’ll have to spend a serious chunk of change to get the Thunderbolt.