I loved my original Motorola Razr phone. So when Verizon announced the new Motorola Droid Razr, I was anxious to take a look.
The HTC Thunderbolt is, without a doubt, one of the best smartphones in the market today. It is the first 4G phone that runs on the new Verizon LTE network. If you don’t know wat 4G LTE is, it can be summed up in one word — FAST. With download speeds of 5 Mbps to 12 Mbps and upload speeds of 2 Mbps to 5 Mbps is the fastest smartphone that we’ve reviewed. No waiting for web pages or directions…everything appears quickly and easily.
At 4.75 x 2.44 x 0.56 inches, the Thunderbolt is on the large size for a cell phone. That size, however, gives you a large 4.3-inch TFT LCDscreen. The Thunderbolt also has an FM radio and a kickstand that holds it upright. It runs the 2.1 Android operating system, which is excellent and very customizable.
If you like a big phone with a large screen, the HTC Thunderbolt is the best device of this type in Verizon’s current lineup. The clear and responsive screen, good storage capabilities, useful email interface, excellent music player, and FM radio make it hard to beat. The kickstand adds even more functionality. It is blazingly fast on Verizon’s new 4G LTE network and has the ability to perform voice and data tasks simultaneously.
Although battery life could be better, most average users will find it adequate. Verizon will be releasing several new 4G phones in the near future, so you may want to see what these phones will offer, but my guess is that the HTC Thunderbolt will be able to hold its own against upcoming competition. If the Verizon 4G service is available in your area, this is a great phone.
Check out my full review with pictures at the Hardware Secrets website.
Since its inception in 2007, the iPhone has been exclusive to AT&T. So it is not surprising that recent news of the iPhone becoming available on the Verizon network piqued the interest of many. So many, in fact, that Verizon Wireless announced that the number of iPhones it sold in the first two hours of availability exceeded the one-day total for any other device’s debut in the carrier’s history.
Now AT&T is fighting back. Ric Whitman, the AT&T Area Retail Sales Manager, gave me a list of reasons why the iPhone on AT&T is better than the iPhone on Verizon:
1. On the AT&T iPhone you can do simultaneous voice and data. On the Verizon iPhone you cannot.
2. The AT&T iPhone has an International advantage. It can be used in 220 different countries. The Verizon iPhone cannot.
3. AT&T has over 23,000 hot spots where AT&T subscribers can get free wireless access.
4. AT&T has the lowest priced iPhone offering the 8GB 3GS for $49.
5. AT&T has the nation’s fastest mobile broadband
So let’s look at these in depth to help those of you who want an iPhone decide which carrier to use.
The first point is well taken. Only the AT&T iPhone will allow you to surf the web or get directions while talking on the phone. If you are a heavy data user, this might be a big drawback, but most average users will only encounter an occasional situation of this type.
The second point is also very valid. The AT&T iPhone is a GSM phone which can be used internationally. The Verizon iPhone is a CDMA phone that will not be able to be used in most overseas countries. So if you plan to travel internationally, AT&T will be a better choice. Again, however, this will be important to only a small number of users.
AT&T hot spots are certainly a plus for AT&T users. They can not only give you faster data access, but they take some of the burden off the mobile network. AT&T has set them up in Starbuck’s and other establishments and also has many in a variety of Metro areas.
The cost of the current iPhone is the same at both AT&T and Verizon. $199 for the 16GB model and $299 for the 32 GB model, along with a two-year contract. So to be able to get an iPhone for $49 with a two-year contract is a big savings. This is sure to appeal to users who want to get in cheaply. But by purchasing this older model, they will be giving up the iPhone 4’s retina display, dual cameras, HD video, and other perks. Although this older 3GS can run iOS 4, the latest operating system, some capabilities like the improved accessibility options will not be available.
Now we get to the last point. While AT&T may have the nation’s fastest access, it doesn’t do you much good if you don’t have good or fast coverage in the area where you live. This is the situation in this area of North Carolina. When I purchased my first iPhone in 2008, our area was on AT&T’s slower EDGE network. Although promises of an upgrade to the faster 3G network were made, AT&T never delivered. We are still on the slower EDGE network. So if you compare an AT&T iPhone to a Verizon iPhone in our area, the data access will be currently be much slower on the AT&T iPhone. AT&T again promises 3G in our area soon. And for the first time they have stated this in writing. Crystal Prince, AT&T’s public relations representative, writes in an email, “I’ve checked with our Network team regarding plans for 3G in Pinehurst-Southern Pines-Aberdeen. Rest assured it’s on the way. The team is working very hard to get everything in place for a launch soon so we expect that it will in fact be up by EOY (end of year) 2011.”
Both Ric and Crystal also say that AT&T is working on covering “dead spots” that they now have in our area including many in the Pinehurst-to-Raleigh corridor. I know this to be a fact as they are constantly adding new equipment and towers, but again, “when” this will all be accomplished is an important question.
Two other recent offerings and announcements show that AT&T is really trying to get your business. This week, they announced that AT&T customers will now get free calls to any cellphone in America. The only requirement is that you have certain voice plans that include AT&T’s unlimited texting plan. That texting plan is $20 a month for individuals or $30 for families.
AT&T is also offering free microcells to current customers. These are small $199 devices that hook up to the broadband in a home or office and pull the 3G signal from the Internet. If you don’t get good cell reception indoors, this is the answer to your problem. Although, not highly publicized, these free microcells are available to most AT&T customers with an additional year on their contract.
If you are ready to move into the iPhone world, you have to make a decision between AT&T and Verizon. You cannot use a Verizon iPhone at AT&T or vice versa, so you will be making a sizeable investment. While Verizon has much better and faster coverage in our area, some are worried that the high sales of the iPhone at Verizon may put a strain on the Verizon network. So this decision is not as easy as it may seem.
To give you one more thing to think about, Apple traditionally announces new iPhones in June, so this summer there may be a better and more capable iPhone available on one or both networks. For me, the choice is easy….Just wait to see if AT&T delivers on their promises, to see if the Verizon network can handle that additional users, and to see if the next version of the iPhone is the one I can’t live without.
As you might expect, people ask me a lot of questions. Because I review a myriad of cameras, printers, and cell phones, I always get questions about these devices. For the past six months, the two questions that I have been asked the most are: “Will Verizon get the iPhone?” and “When will Verizon get the iPhone?”
My answers have been: “Yes” and “Sometime this year.” This week proved my answers correct. Verizon just announced that they will be selling the iPhone starting Feb. 10th with existing Verizon customers able to start pre-ordering on February 3.
Those of you who were waiting for this announcement can immediately start cheering. There is, no doubt, a pent up demand for the iPhone on a carrier other than AT&T. This is especially true in our area where AT&T service is slow and spotty. So if you are thinking about getting an iPhone from Verizon, here’s what you need to know.
The Verizon iPhone uses a different underlying cellular technology. AT&T uses the GSM technology while Verizon uses a technology called CDMA. You really don’t have to worry about the underlying technology except to know that the AT&T iPhone has a SIM card while the Verizon iPhone does not. Since GSM is the technology that is used world-wide, but CDMA is not, the AT&T iPhone has world-roaming capabilities but the Verizon iPhone will have extremely limited capabilities for world travelers.
Because of the differing technologies, an iPhone that was purchased from AT&T cannot be used on the Verizon network. In reverse, if you purchase a Verizon iPhone it will not be able to be used on the AT&T network in the future. In the Verizon iPhone, Apple also rearranged the antennas to improve reception. Because of this, the volume rocker switch has been moved slightly. You may not even notice the difference, but if you have an iPhone case that had a cutout for the switches, even the AT&T iPhone case may not work with the new Verizon iPhone.
However the iPhone 4, which is the current version for both AT&T and Verizon, will pretty much look and act the same. They look almost identical with Apple’s slick, thin, high-tech appearance. They will both have the 940×640-pixel Retina display, 5-megapixel camera with HD video capture, and FaceTime. If you have purchased Apps from ITunes for an AT&T iPhone, all of those Apps can be used on your Verizon iPhone.
The actual price of the iPhone will be the same at AT&T and Verizon. Both are charging$199 for the 16GB iPhone and $299 for 32GB iPhone. In order to get the iPhone to work, in addition to your cellular talk and text costs, you must also purchase a monthly a data plan. This is true with all smart phones on all cellular networks. AT&T charges new customers $15 a month for 200MB; $25 for 2GB. Verizon has not made iPhone data pricing information available yet, but the company’s data plans for other smart phones are: $15 a month for 150MB; $29.99 for unlimited.
One other difference between the two iPhone is that the new Verizon iPhone will be able to act as a hotspot, meaning that with an addition monthly fee to Verizon, you will be able to use your Verizon iPhone to get up to five other devices like laptop computers on the Internet. This, however, is not a big drawback for the AT&T iPhone as it is scheduled to get the same capability with a software update that will be available soon.
This brings us to another important point – iPhone updates. The iPhone has gone through 4 generations with each new generation coming with a major release of the iOS operating system, which runs the iPhone. Each of these was introduced in June. Each generation ushered in huge changes. These included things like the 3G cellular network capabilities, a compass, the ability to take video, a second camera, and a higher-resolution display.
This leaves everyone wondering if they should jump on that Verizon iPhone now or wait until this summer to see if a new version appears? The other question that is being asked is if the Verizon network is strong enough to withstand millions of new Verizon iPhone users. Although Verizon says that they are prepared for this, it obviously depends on how many iPhones Verizon sells and how much people use their voice and data network.
In any case, this is a win-win situation for consumers. Those of us who want an iPhone now have a choice of carriers and more competition between the carriers is good for the consumer.
Smartphones like the iPhone and the Droid are great, but some of us just want a basic phone that can keep our telephone numbers handy and can easily make and receive calls. One such phone is the LG Accolade SX5600, which is sold through Verizon. I say it is sold through Verizon, but the fact of the matter is that if you sign up for a two-year contract, you can get it online through Verizon for free. You can probably also talk the Verizon store into doing the same thing. Oh, and you can get this phone from Verizon on a pre-paid basis, as well.
The LG Accolade VX5600 is a good basic phone. It only has a numeric-type dialing keyboard, so it is not great if you want to text all the time. However, it will do for an occasional text message. The dialing keyboard has big white letters and white backlighting. Pressing each key gives a nice tactile feedback. It’s easy on the eyes. The menus are easy to navigate. I advice going into the Settings & Tools menu and choosing Main Menu Set, then choosing the “Tab” layout for the Menu Display. This makes the phone much easier to navigate and I wish that LG had set it as the default menu setting. The phone itself is pretty easy to use.
This Accolade is small and lightweight and fits easily into your pocket. Although made of plastic, it is a sturdy phone that feels good in the hand. Call quality is excellent and so is battery life. It also has an excellent keypad with good backlighting. It is both easy-to-see and easy-to-use. You can also set the text to a slightly larger than normal size, so it’s a pretty good phone for those of us with aging eyes. The feature set that focuses on the basics and provides everything you need to make and receive calls including voice dialing, speed dialing, Bluetooth, speakerphone, and a good phone book. While you can use this phone for email, Internet, and texting, other phones may be better for that functionality.
The Accolade has a 3.1 megapixel camera, but the internal memory is so limited that it won’t hold many pictures. You will only want to use it to snap an occasional picture. Also, there is no easy way to get the photos out of the camera. Yet, the camera is there if you happen to need it in a pinch. No music player. No video camera. Yet, this is what you expect from a basic cell phone.
This is an inexpensive phone that gives you all the fundamental features you need to make and receive calls. It’s a good choice for those who don’t need more.
If you want to check out another easy-to-use phone simply for making calls, see my review of the Jitterbug phone.