Tuesday, April 26, 2011

HTC Thunderbolt / Blackberry Storm2 Review

                   HTC Thunderbolt          RIM Blackberry Storm2

            HTC-ThunderBolt RIM-BlackBerry-Storm2-9550

Back about 12 years ago I replaced my cell phone every year or so. I had to have the latest and greatest. That was up until I bought a Motorola Star-Tac through Verizon and I was in hog heaven. Crystal clear audio rarely dropped calls, fantastic phone. Jump forward a few years and I start working at a new company and they provide our cell phones.

We switch to T-Mobile and the new fangled cell phone / camera phone arrives and not only does it suck as a cell phone, it sucks at taking pictures as well. So for a few years we plod along with these types of phones until the RazR comes out and it’s the closest thing to the Star-Tac and works great! I used that phone until we decide to move to the Blackberry’s in 2006. I got the 8700 which was a rather large plain phone but I liked that all it did was phone and email, that’s all I needed and I kept it until 3 weeks ago (people who know me can’t believe this fact). The 8700 will last for days on a charge, perfect for business, plus the volume was more than loud enough to hear and the speakerphone is loud and very clear.

iPhone side note - In August of 2008 I bought myself a new iPhone 3G for my personal use and it was ok for everything but what I bought it for. The speaker for the ear piece stunk, music played loud but you can barely hear the person on the other end. The battery life was horrible, a firmware update helped but it was never a phone that could go unplugged for more than half a day and I regretted buying it but enjoyed the apps. In August 2010 I cancelled the service and let it sit, I have an iPad so the phone was useless to me. Know anybody who wants to buy a very mint iPhone 3G? Let me know.

Back to the work phones. We decided at work it was time to replace our aging phones so which one to get? We quickly decided against the iPhone, we knew we wanted to move to Verizon and they would have the iPhone when we changed but didn’t believe it would fit our business. We started looking at Windows phones and a few looked great but we were hoping for a newer version Windows phones to come out and the ones I researched were still down the road a few more months (or more) so we looked at Android phones and saw the HTC Thunderbolt was coming out so we decided to go with a choice between the Blackberry Storm2 and the Thunderbolt.

1 person opted for the Storm2 and the rest of us opted for the HTC Thunderbolt. So we ordered the phones and when they came in I set them up for everybody. The HTC’s came in first, I was very impressed with the packaging but honestly, all these companies would be better off putting the money into the product and not as much into the boxes, just my 2 cents. The phone build quality is very good, the speaker in the back could have been designed better so we’ll see how they hold up considering this is also where they installed the kick stand.

The Thunderbolt’s were easy to adapt into our environment and came with 4G and unlimited data plans, unless you use it for a personal hot spot, then the devices using the hot spot are limited to 2 Gigs per month. Initial impressions were the Thunderbolt smokes the iPhone but like the iPhone the battery life was horrible. The speed these phones have is incredible however, at everything they do, pure unadulterated speed. As for Internet speeds on 4G I’m seeing about 8megs down and 4megs up and latency is very low. Websites load near instantly and apps download and install very fast.

The Storm2 came in last and when I opened it up I was very impressed with the build quality. It feels very solid and looks like a high quality piece of hardware. When I set it up for it’s user I liked it a lot, however it still has that click interface along with touch. Not sure I’m a fan of that but it works well. The other thing is it, like the iPhone only has up to 3G speeds, for some people this is fine but if I’m going to spend premium dollars then I better get some speed! Errr wait, in this case my boss is spending the money, either way, we want the most bang for our, I mean his buck! I say that jokingly but I do try to make sure what ever we buy for the company it’s something that gives the company good value.

The user I gave the Storm2 to likes the interface and the clicking of the screen. She loves it so clearly it was the right choice for her.  The people who got the Thunderbolt’s love them. Mine seemed to be the only one with battery issues (thank God!) but since I got the phone I have done a full reset on it and suddenly a week later the battery life is going from lasting just a few hours even if un-used to going all day, I can’t say I’m complaining about the improvement! It also takes decent pictures and videos so that’s a side benefit.

Remember the picture I took of the ‘03 Travel Supreme? It was with the HTC.


How does the Thunderbolt do with GPS? Glad you asked, it’s AWESOME! Ok, the Google voice for the GPS stinks but I installed the WorldNav product and the side benefit was a voice upgrade, the Google voice still makes itself known but considering how good it works, no complaints! Screen refresh is so fast you can’t tell, everything just moves forward, very nice. It also functions as a GPS for hiking, I’ll be testing that this weekend.

Since we all work from basically everywhere we also got the Verizon MiFi 4G LTE for each person. These provide a hot spot for up to 5 devices and have a 5 Gig per month limit. I’ll see how well the phone and MiFi works this weekend when we go on our short weekend camping trip.

Till then see ya!


Alan and Marilyn McMillan said...

I'm not an electronic person, but I know I prob need a new phone -- mine is 3 yrs old and is quite simple -- don't laugh...it's a Verizon LG, But I can text on it & talk of course, but I'm thinking now it would be nice to have one with a little more umphhh. I'll have to read your post several times before I understand it...LOL!

Erik's RV Blog said...

Alan and Marilyn - If you have any questions let me know and I'll be glad to answer them. Nothing wrong with the LG, heck if you saw my Blackberry 8700 you'd get a laugh!


DeanO said...

going with a cheap phone service and the old standard Razr phone

Sue and Doug said...

I have the new I-phone4..love it ..my husband has the Android..but you know it is all a personal choice..so good for you for not jumping on the IPhone band wagon..march to your own drum...hope it works well on your camping trip!!

Big Matt said...

Well, if your company has been using unlimited data plans, one best be ready for a boat load of suck to be inbound as T-Mobile will be AT&T in about a year or so when the merger is completed.

Erik's RV Blog said...

DeanO - I would use the Razr as well but we have to use email and the Razr doesn't support Exchange.

Sue and Doug - Don't get me wrong, there are thing I like about the iPhone, but for business it just didn't work well and my boss has an iPhone 4 and he says the speaker phone is just as bad in it as in my 3G. I'm glad it's working well for you though!

Matt - We moved to Verizon and for 2 years we are locked into an unlimited data plan. AT&T can have T-Mobile, they were meant for each other and I used to like AT&T back in the day About 12 years ago when they were Ameritech, it was the best cell system out there. My how times have changed.

Tcloud said...

We have Motosat for our internet but we have a limit on what we can use. I have been looking at the Verizon I Phone and with the data plane you have unlimited internet access. Is there a way to tether the phone to a laptop and get unlimited internet access.

Erik's RV Blog said...

Tcloud - Actually using an iPhone for internet access would be a slow way to get on the web. The Thunderbolt supports creating a personal hot spot for 5 devices and they also sell the MiFI which does the same, both at 4G speeds.

Lee and Loralie said...

Thanks for the write-up. I think we will break down and get new phones soon, and the info will be really helpful.

Tcloud said...

Thanks Erik. I was looking at the The Thunderbolt today and I liked it.I liked the Google maps a lot. We use Motosat for our internet now and its not unlimited.

Diana said...

This is great info Erik. I will share it with my husband as we are thinking of changing companies and getting new phones. I have a question, don't know how well you can answer but I'll ask anyway. We've used AT&T for years as my husband is a trucker and is often not on major highways so we want to find a company with good coverage. AT&T has been very good with back road coverage and we are almost afraid to change. We'd like to find a company that's a bit cheaper. Any suggestions? Love Di ♥

Erik's RV Blog said...

Diana - Hard to answer, for my area and West of me which is where I roam so to speak AT&T has been worse than T-Mobile. Since they are merging this should improve by a very large percent however.

Last year we had three phones, my wife had her Verizon phone, I had my AT&T iPhone 3G and I had my T-Mobile 8700 Blackberry.

At every single campground and surrounding area only her phone worked, my iPhone never worked and my Blackberry was spotty at best. I used a Verizon card to get onto the web at these locations and like my wifes Verizon phone, it typically worked.

I'm not sure how that helps your husband though since his route I'm sure covers much more territory. I would look at each companies coverage map and see how well it covers his routes.

I WOULD NOT ask any company what they think of their coverage, they will always tell you you're covered.

Good luck!


Erik's RV Blog said...

Diana - Forgot to mention costs, none of them are cheaper that have any kind of decent coverage. :(

shab's life said...

Erik, I appreciate your post about the phones. I am about to 'upgrade' from a Storm 2 to the Thunderbolt. Besides what seems to be ubiquitous battery issues, my concern is synching with my Outlook Calendar. All my emails are POP, so that shouldn't be a problem. Do you have experience with Outlook and the Thunderbolt?
thank you,

Erik's RV Blog said...


My experience with email on the Thunderbolt is with using Exchange, not POP. I imagine POP should work fine and if you use Active Sync everything should work out. I would check out their documentation to make sure.

timtechs said...

BlackBerry Storm 2 is very cool! This kind of phone have great features and quality. :)