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HTC ThunderBolt: Ages Worse Than Charlie Sheen



One of the hardest parts about reviewing phones is knowing which phones will hold up over time. The HTC ThunderBolt is a prime example, one which, to my dismay, I own. While all phones age, the ThunderBolt has aged worse than Charlie Sheen in the last 9 months.

We’ve covered the issues of the HTC ThunderBolt before, numerous times, but here I am again. 9 months after I purchased the HTC ThunderBolt, and agreed to use it as my phone for two years, I can barely stand to take it out of the house, let alone put it in my pocket.

What’s so bad about the HTC ThunderBolt? I mean, it does have Android 2.3 Gingerbread on it. It has 4G LTE and it has a large 4.3″ display– and don’t forget the kickstand.

Well, here’s the thing.

Like most phones, there is a period of enjoyment that comes right after purchasing a device. The Honeymoon Phase. Next up is the a period of Complacency, where the phone may not be shiny new, but is still cool enough, fast enough and able to do enough, that you aren’t drooling over the next phone. Eventually the phone hits the Seven Year Itch, when you can’t take it any longer and you are ogling new phones and checking your renewal date on a bi-weekly basis.

Normally, you can count on the middle phase to last at least a year, but the ThunderBolt has already hit the seven year itch, with little chance of lasting through the second year of my contract.

My Biggest ThunderBolt Issues

  • HTC ThunderBolt Ages Charlie SheenLaggy — just like Charlie Sheen couldn’t be bothered to show up on time for his own show, I feel like the ThunderBolt is constantly trying to recover from a Charlie Sheen night out on the town. Navigating through Android and using many apps will result in just enough lag to be noticeable, to lag that lasts long enough I may as well put the phone back in my pocket.
  • Battery Life — You know how your smartphone or laptop battery used to get after a year and a half of use? Six months in my battery life was so bad I had to buy the extended battery just to get through the day. Now that I have 4G LTE available, I need all of that massive extended battery. I’m afraid to think how this will be a year from now, when I still have 3 months left on my contract.
  • Too Old Too Quick — Just like many venues should have known better than to book the “Winning”, “Tiger Blood” loving Charlie Sheen, I should have known better than to buy a first generation 4G LTE phone with a single core processor and no high resolution display.

Now, like so many other ThunderBolt owners, I have buyer’s remorse.

It’s sad that a phone can’t even go a year without aggravating users and feeling like a dead phone dialing.

Perhaps the ThunderBolt can ring up Charlie Sheen for some tips on a comeback. I’m not even sure an ICe Cream Sandwich update could save the ThunderBolt.

If you own the ThunderBolt, how do you feel 9 months in?

Charlie Sheen image via Twitter.



  1. J_Dav1

    12/06/2011 at 1:16 pm

    I’m running a bamf rom on mine and it is fine, I would love

  2. David

    12/06/2011 at 2:57 pm

    I’m always wanting a new gadget but can’t see spending the money on most of the phones I’ve seen since the Thunderbolt.  The battery is better with the last few updates and we have 4G in my area now so it still works just fine for me at least for now.

  3. lametaoist

    12/06/2011 at 3:27 pm

    Try using the HTC Rezound battery with the Thunderbolt.  Some of us got it for $20, but it at least solves the battery issue.  And these days, any phone would be too old.  Every phone that doesn’t come preloaded with ICS is going to be old soon, and it’ll be a long time before any phones get that refresh.  That has less to do with the phone that the rapid progress of updates. 

    Those of us that got the Thunderbolt still have access to unlimited tethering.  I’m paying for it, but I use it.  Unlimited 4G data and unlimited 4G tethering is something that’s hard to complain about–I know the unlimited data may be available, but is unlimited tethering available for any other phone?

  4. V_dinatale64

    12/06/2011 at 3:36 pm

    My thunderbolt is all stock except for an upgrade to a 1700mah battery and I get about 18 hours with normal use. That’s using 7 to 8 gb data a month and download speeds between 7 to 15 mps, so I’m happy with my bolt. No it’s not a dual core runs great for me.

  5. Jbk7890

    12/06/2011 at 3:44 pm

    Works great.  After doing a restart you need to turn off all the apps that also start with the reboot.  Don’t know why, but they do start.  I have no lag and the phone is very fast.  Stock battery last all day with moderate use. 

  6. Anonymous

    12/06/2011 at 5:46 pm

  7. R Santiago

    12/06/2011 at 5:58 pm

    I owned it for 3 weeks. Luckily, I worked at Wireless Zone and my boss swaped it out for….an LG Revolution, which was even worse. So I jumped back into the Thunderbolt. Thankfully, I was finally able to ditch it for the Bionic, which I gotta say is a great phone, even the battery life.

  8. cenobite

    12/07/2011 at 8:52 am

    A couple months ago I would have agreed with you on most counts, but a root and a few custom roms later and its like a brand new phone. I am a fairly heavy user and get well over a day on the extended battery. I am running sense 3.5 with no noticeable lag and will upgrade to an ics Rom once one is available and continue to love my thunderbolt.

  9. ronhoo

    12/07/2011 at 10:37 pm

    6 months in and still digging this phone.  There are +/-s to all phones.  Overall the bolt is a solid phone.  I got the $20 Rezound battery which seems to allow my standard issue to last a bit longer and I have the bonus of a backup.

    Is 4g tethering supported for free?  If so this phone keeps getting better!

    • Aidan Repmop

      03/22/2012 at 12:06 am

      4g tethering is available if u root it and download a program called open garden

  10. JohnnyDivine

    12/08/2011 at 5:42 am

    Purchased two Thunderbolt’s in October 2011 leaving the HTC Eris. Immediately upgraded to “Gingerbread” (Android 2.3). My purchase included the 1700mAh batteries. I don’t care for the new form-factor the battery causes, but I love this phone. I have not experienced any of the issues outlined by this author. I believe the author’s issue stems less from the phone itself and more from his own desire to simply possess the latest-and-greatest gadget. The HTC Thunderbolt has demonstrated to me that it is a solid phone and platform. I don’t bother to compare it to newer phones. I simply judge it on it’s ability to perform as advertised and I have not been disappointed.

  11. Tim Nichols

    12/12/2011 at 5:19 pm

    I got mine back in May. With the latest OS update and spending $20 for the Rezound battery, I have no issues with my phone.

  12. Rshackle

    12/14/2011 at 7:12 am

    I agree with the majority of the responses.  I have no problem with my Thunderbolt.  No, it’s not the latest techno;logy; but it does what I need to do and does it well.  As others have said, any new technology becomes old overnight.  A better solution for the writer would be to learn how to use what he has more effectively, rather than continually wish for latest and greatest.

  13. Mithrandir48

    12/16/2011 at 9:16 am

    I have to say I was very upset with the phone operation early on with all the botched updates.  There was a period where my phone was restarting at least 2-3 times a day.  I was also disappointed with the HTC/Verizon timeline on releasing an old OS (2.3) it took them well over 6 months to release a version of Android that was originally supposed be on the phone.  Finally the battery life is not good but keeping the wi-fi on at home seems to work out just fine and when I’m out of the house on 4G it generally lasts long enough to be out for a night.  I just have to keep it plugged in a work while I listen to radio station on 4G.  I haven’t really noticed much lag on the phone and the screen detail isn’t the best but it’s been just fine for me, the last few months I’ve been mostly happy with the phone…although I keep telling myself I have just one more year on my contract…but I’d be saying that even if this phone didn’t have all these issues.

  14. Shirkmac

    12/23/2011 at 5:58 am

    I have been very happy with the Thunderbolt, especially after that first update that fixed the continual shut down issue. It does what I need it to do and does it well. Remember…..there will always be somthing new and shiny around the corner!  

  15. Anonymous

    01/03/2012 at 5:29 am

    As a proud owner of a HTC Thunderbolt, I truly feel that Verizon should allow me an early upgrade without a penalty. I have 11 months left on my 2 year contract. Haven’t I suffered enough?

  16. Meeester

    02/06/2012 at 1:15 pm

    2 batteries and a charger, under $20 and like a diaper, change as soon as needed.

  17. Dylan W.

    02/08/2012 at 5:09 pm

    I was in LOVE when I got it. Now…meh. I’m afraid of rooting, but really want to try…. 
    The battery is horrific, this is my 3rd replacement and they won’t let me change phones without using my upgrade early (no thanks) and it’s creeky now. Hopefully I’ll be able to eventually root it though.

  18. David_1_1

    02/14/2012 at 8:47 pm

    I have already gone through one TB. They sent me a second one and it is doing fine so far. My first one froze on the right side making it difficult to time. Also it heated up up to 120 degrees. It froze the right side of the phone making it almost useless online.

  19. Gtonnis811

    02/18/2012 at 1:44 am

    I got the tb on the first day. The sensor that deactivates the screen for calling lasts a month or two. I have been through 8 replacement phones since I got the first. Each replacement phone costs me 3 hours of my time. I got the extended battery a long time ago barely lasts a day.
    contemplating switching to Sprint

  20. Jamespuma2

    02/28/2012 at 10:40 am

    I don’t get your points…I know what you’re saying, I just am not seeing all the problems you are. I bought my bolt the day it came out and slapped an HTC rezound battery in it and it works fine, and now its getting ics…so what’s the problem? Nothing.

  21. Jimmy Hand

    02/28/2012 at 2:42 pm

     My Thunderbolt lags on a regular basis. It will just totally stop, buttons fail to do anything for 10 seconds at a time. Sometimes it takes me 25 seconds to go from unlock to opening my text messages. I spend more time waiting on the phone than I actually do navigating.

    • Richard Lentz

      03/23/2012 at 12:29 pm

      I had many issues out of the box 4g, 3G, bloatware, slow operation. I rooted it and run Juice Defender APP (saves battery by shutting off data while screen is off) I now go through a whole day without recharge, unless I WiFi tether or run Google nav for long.
      Some issues are the hardware, most are the software. 

  22. Tom

    09/14/2012 at 4:17 pm

    Wife and I both have Thunderbolts, and have very satisfied with them for two years now. None of the issues above mentioned by the author at all. I agree with others that it is the author desire to get a new phone rather than the functioning of the Thunderbolt. We are sad it is not longer on sale, and that eventually we would have to go shopping for a new different cellphone after getting so used to the TB. But I guess this is all about the constant change in technology advances, though we refuse to buy into it.

    We would hold on to our Thunderbolts for as long as they allows us to.

  23. Greg

    02/13/2013 at 7:56 am

    After 2 years my Thunderbolt just started having reduced battery time. A screen problem thats somewhat common(screen not coming on when you pull the phone away from your ear) was easily resolved by blowing on the top sensor near the speaker where you listen. I love this phone and it has put others to shame. Apple with no Flash, smaller screen, bigger price tag, inferior GPS/maps, etc can’t hold a candle to it. The features my friends talk about now having on their new iPhones are things I’ve had for 2 years now!

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