HTC Thunderbolt

“In other words, the Thunderbolt has a very real opportunity to be the finest 4.3-inch device HTC has ever made — for the moment, anyway…”

At a quick glance, without any background information, your eyes might tell you that the HTC Thunderbolt is little more than a Verizon remake of Sprint’s EVO 4G and AT&T’s Inspire 4G. After all — like its contemporaries — the Thunderbolt features a spacious 4.3-inch WVGA display, 8 megapixel camera, and dual-LED flash. In reality, though, the Thunderbolt is something more: from the Inspire, it borrows a better, crisper display with a wider viewing angle and a newer-generation (though still single-core) Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. From the EVO 4G, meanwhile, it borrows a cool integrated kickstand and the addition of a second “4G” radio, making this a spec Frankenstein of sorts — the best of both worlds. Of course, instead of Sprint’s WiMAX for that 4G radio, the Thunderbolt grants you access to Verizon’s LTE network — a network so fresh, it still has that new-network smell. There’s a lot of horsepower here.

The Thunderbolt doesn’t buck the trend of packaging high-end phones in high-end boxes — put simply, it’s an elegant, sturdy, matte black cube encased in a black sleeve. Lots of black here, actually, which means you can’t see the name of the phone… but you can feel it. It’s embossed! Nice touch, the kind of thing that’ll make you want to put the packaging away in a closet or drawer somewhere rather than throwing it away. The black theme is broken in rather spectacular fashion when you crack open the box — which is split down the middle — to reveal gobs of bright Verizon red and your shiny, new purchase square in the middle. Underneath, you’ll find some literature, a slim, glossy black USB wall charger, and a micro-USB cable — sorry, no trashy earbuds here. As we’ve said in the past, that’s just fine by us; odds are good that if you’re spending $250 on a phone, you’re going to be spending a few bucks on a decent headset, anyway — the units that are bundled with phones are almost universally awful, which ends up unfairly tinting your opinion of the phone’s audio quality. In our review unit, both the battery and 32GB microSD card came pre-installed.

Pulling the phone out of its cardboard cradle, you instantly recognize that this thing is a beast — it’s just big and heavy. There’s no other way to put it. If you’re acquainted and comfortable with the EVO 4G, you’ll feel right at home — the EVO’s actually a few grams heavier, which took us by surprise when we looked it up — but if you’re coming from pretty much anything else, you’ll probably mouth the word “whoa” the first time you take it into your hand. For comparison’s sake, it’s right around 20 percent heavier than an iPhone 4. We’re not necessarily saying that’s a bad thing; in general, phones have a tendency to feel higher-quality when they’re more substantial and they’ve got a little more junk in the trunk, and that’s certainly the case with the Thunderbolt — but it’s still something to consider. We’re fairly certain there will be at least a few potential buyers who are off-put by the weight, so you should swing into a store and spend a little quality time with it before pulling the trigger.

Samsung Infuse 4G

4.5-inch Super AMOLED Plus display and crazy thin…

The Samsung Infuse 4G has yet to make its way to market, but when it does, you might be able to find it at Walmart. Rumor has it that the retail giant has been sending around circulars indicating that the Infuse and its 4.5-inch Super AMOLED Plus display will hit shelves sometime next month. The notices also mention that the device will be sold for $178.88, which would likely be bundled with a two-year AT&T contract.

First introduced just last year on the Wave, it feels like Super AMOLED was just starting to get its sea legs… but here we go again: Samsung’s latest handset — announced today in collaboration with AT&T at CES — is the first to tout “Super AMOLED Plus” technology that features a 50 percent boost in sub-pixel count, promising improvements both in contrast and outdoor readability. Maybe more importantly, the display clocks in at a whopping 4.5 inches, besting HTC’s 4.3-inch range (the EVO 4G, Desire HD, and likely the Thunderbolt) without getting dangerously close to Dell Streak territory. It’s got an 8 megapixel camera on back paired with a 1.3 megapixel shooter up front, a 1.2GHz single-core Hummingbird processor, and still somehow promises to be the thinnest smartphone on AT&T when it launches at a to-be-determined date. Now, the controversy: despite the name, the Infuse 4G apparently doesn’t have a hint of LTE — it’s HSPA+, which means AT&T’s now playing the same game as T-Mobile.

We’ve had a brief chance to play with an early Infuse 4G dummy unit, so we weren’t able to turn it on, but we got a pretty good impression of how it feels. Basically, we came away encouraged that 4.5 inches isn’t going to feel too big for practical use — if you’re accustomed to something like an EVO, you probably won’t skip a beat (that’s undoubtedly due in part to the fact that the Infuse seems to be quite a bit thinner). We’re told the tastefully textured matte rear cover that we saw wasn’t final, but we’re crossing our fingers that the retail unit doesn’t diverge far from what they’ve done here, because it felt exceptionally high-quality and looked a whole lot better than the typical glossy plastic on the existing Galaxy S series. Speaking of Galaxy S, the Infuse is described as “a Galaxy S phone” — so yeah, that brand isn’t going away any time soon. Software-wise, we obviously weren’t able to get a feel for speed on the non-functional model, but you can expect the usual TouchWiz skin atop Android 2.2; sure, Gingerbread would’ve been nice at launch, but you can dry your tears on that 1.2GHz silicon.

Sidekick 4G – The Best Android Phone for Text

The perfect Android Phone for heavy SMS users, top marks as a favored deck for the younger set…

The T-Mobile Sidekick as we once knew it may be gone forever, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the franchise. Far from it actually.
T-Mobile dished out fresh details about the upcoming Sidekick 4G this evening, and the smartphone mixes a bit of the old with the new to offer something that’s both familiar to Sidekick fans and modern enough to keep it relevant in today’s competitive smartphone market.

Right off the bat, you’ll notice that the design doesn’t stray far from its roots. You get the five-row keyboard and even the navigation buttons are still located on the corners of the phone.
However, don’t think the Sidekick 4G is just a rehash of the previous design. Manufactured by Samsung instead of Sharp this time around, the smartphone is the first Sidekick to have a touch screen (a 3.5-inch WVGA touch screen, to be exact) with a spring-loaded hinge, a front-facing VGA camera for video calls, and a 1GHz Hummingbird processor.
The Sidekick 4G is also 4G capable and can hit theoretical download speeds of 21Mbps, which puts it on par with the Samsung Galaxy S 4G and potentially faster than T-Mobile’s other 4G smartphones, the T-Mobile G2 and MyTouch 4G.

Hardware aside, the Sidekick 4G was really more about taking the product to the next level, and T-Mobile approached that in a couple of ways. First, it enhanced the messaging capabilities of the smartphone by adding Group Text and Cloud Text features.

Don’t think the Sidekick 4G is just a rehash of the previous design. Manufactured by Samsung instead of Sharp this time around, the smartphone is the first Sidekick to have a touch screen (a 3.5-inch WVGA touch screen, to be exact) with a spring-loaded hinge, a front-facing VGA camera for video calls, and a 1GHz Hummingbird processor.

HTC Incredible 2

“The leaked Verizon roadmap we saw a week or so ago mentions April 28…”

Well, well, what have we here? An all-new, hot-off-the-press, get-it-while-it’s-hot look at the upcoming (and still not actually announced) Incredible 2 on Verizon. From what we can tell, the body’s exactly the same as we saw on the HTC Incredible S at Mobile World Congress (see our hands-on here). Same rounded corners, same plateaued battery cover (which we still really like). But this one’s all done up in Verizon duds, and that makes us all tingly inside.

Flip it over, and we see the same 8-megapixel camera with dual flash, and the ever-comforting “with Google” logo.

We also get another look at the HTC keyboard (which remains one of our favorites), confirmation that indeed we’re dealing with ADR6350, for those of you who keep up on your HTC code numbers, and this one’s running Android 2.2.1 at the moment. Whether it’ll launch with that, well, we’ll see (and keep our fingers crossed for something a tad newer).

And speaking of release dates. Nothing official, of course, but that leaked Verizon roadmap we saw a week or so ago mentions April 28. That said, we’ve heard that roadmap might already be out of date, and we might be treated to a phone or two a little sooner rather than later. Will the Incredible 2 fall into that category? And is that actually its name? We’ll just have to see.

HTC Sensation 4G

“HTC’s first device enabled with a new feature called HTC Watch…”

If you don’t remember, this model was originally being tossed around as the HTC Pyramid, so that name change rumor turned out to be true.
But let’s get to the important stuff. Enabled with both the signature HTC Sense interface on top of Android 2.3, the Sensation runs on a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-core processor. The Sensation 4G is also quite powerful than most other comparable smartphones when it comes to the 8-megapixel camera that also shoots full HD 1080p video at 30fps.

This is also HTC’s first device enabled with a new feature called HTC Watch. Basically, it’s an on-demand service with a library of movies and TV shows that can be rented or bought. Those purchases can be shared amongst up to five HTC devices. HTC also boasts that the Sensation allows owners to watch movies “in their full cinematic glory.” Let’s not get ahead of ourselves – this is still just a smartphone.
The Gingerbread phone is also outfitted with a 4.3-inch qHD touch screen, aluminum unibody and rounded edges. It sounds rather sleek and slender, so I’m definitely intrigued to see this in person when it lands with T-Mobile USA this summer. Pricing hasn’t been revealed yet.

HTC Desire S

“It’s not novel, it’s not surprising, it’s just very, very good.”

HTC is rightly proud of its aluminum unibody construction method. It goes beyond what other manufacturers do — such as Nokia with the aluminum-clad N8 — by using just one piece of the lightweight metal, which is wrapped around the phone’s internal components and acts as both its case and frame. On the Desire S, there are a couple of plastic-covered rear compartments, one to accommodate the 5 megapixel camera, LED flash, and loudspeaker, and the other to permit access to the 1450mAh battery and SIM and MicroSD card slots. The latter chunk of soft-touch plastic also acts as the Desire S’ antenna. You might expect the move to a metallic construction to incur some penalties in terms of weight and bulk, but the Desire S is five grams lighter than the original Desire at 130g (4.59oz), 4mm shorter at a height of 115mm (4.7 inches), and just slightly thinner and narrower than its predecessor. Another appreciable upgrade over the original Desire is that the display now sits closer to the glass at the front of the phone, eliminating what was a noticeable distance between the two on the older device.

HTC Thunderbolt

“One of the top smartphones on the market right now…”

The HTC Thunderbolt is Verizon’s latest flagship Android smartphone. The Thunderbolt has Verizon’s wickedly fast 4G LTE for download speeds ranging from 8 to 15 megs on the phone and sometimes faster when using the WiFi hotspot sharing utility that provides a broadband connection to your notebook, iPad or other device. We love the large 4.3″ display and kickstand that lets you kick back and watch streaming movies comfortably and the phone’s fast second gen Snapdragon CPU. The 8 megapixel rear camera takes sharp shots and 720p video and there’s a front-facing camera as well. The Thunderbolt isn’t perfect, but it is one of the top smartphones on the market right now.

LG Optimus 2X

The world cried out for a dual-core smartphone and LG and NVIDIA answered the call.

Actually, the world only ever dreamt about multicore mobile architectures up until late last year, but sometimes that’s all it takes to get those zany engineers engineering. So here we are, in early February 2011, beholding the world’s first smartphone built around a dual-core processor, the Optimus 2X. This is a landmark handset in more ways than one, however, as its presence on the market signals LG’s first sincere foray into the Android high end. Although the company delivered two thoroughly competent devices for the platform with the Optimus S and T in 2010, they were the very definition of mid-range smartphones and the truth is that Samsung, HTC and Motorola were left to fight among themselves for the most demanding Android users’ hard-earned rubles.
Nothing much has changed since we first met this phone under its codename of Star a couple of months back. One uninterrupted slate of glass covers the entire front, broken up only by the earpiece grille at the very top. Four capacitive touch buttons keep the 4-inch WVGA LCD company, along with a front-facing camera just to the right of the LG logo. As we said in our preview, this is an uncomplicated and restrained design, evidence perhaps that LG chose to spend its time and money on what lies beneath the skin.

The glass front slopes off on its left and right edges before being engulfed by a metallic frame that wraps around the whole handset. Fit and finish between the two is absolutely perfect. The third component to the 2X’s external setup is a flexible matte plastic cover that accounts for its entire rear section. It’s stupendously easy to remove and replace while still forming a very good seal with its surrounding elements. The austere black back (there’ll be brown and white versions too) is decorated with a silver column running through the middle brandishing a “with Google” slogan, which ends in a slight bump near the top, designed to accommodate the 8 megapixel camera module. We’re happy to see another little glass cover here protecting the lens from accidental damage.

Overall, the Optimus 2X feels very well put together. It is rigid and unyielding, and although its construction materials are nothing special, the cumulative result is a highly pleasing one. Attention to detail is evident throughout….
The skinny: Awesome hardware specs but wonky software implementation hold this beast back

Motorola Atrix 4G

“PC World ranks the Motorola Atrix 4G as their #1 Android phone model from their top ten Android phone list.”

A lot of excitement surrounded the Motorola Atrix at the Consumer Electronics show in January. It appeared to be not just another phone, but the cornerstone of a new concept that might deliver the mobility of a smartphone and the superior usability of a laptop in a single product.

After using the Atrix itself for a day or so, I came away impressed with the phone–especially the power of its processor, the clarity of its display, its no-hard-edges design, and its compact shape. Frankly, it’s a phone I would buy.

But I’m giving low marks to the new smartphone/laptop combo device that Motorola proposes with the Atrix. I like the idea of a close bonding of the two devices, but the execution in this instance is poor.

Still, the Atrix itself is a strong addition to AT&T’s growing line up of Android phones. The phone is one of the first AT&T phones to be branded “4G”, and the connection speeds I saw from the phone, while not quite 4G-like, were much faster than the 3G speeds we’ve measured from the AT&T network in the past.

HTC Inspire 4G

The Inspire quickly become one of our favorite Android smartphones”
HTC Inspire 4G
HTC Inspire 4G AT&T is getting serious with Android now that their iPhone exclusivity is over, and the Inspire 4G is one lovely high end Android phone at a reasonable price. The Inspire 4G has HSPA+ 4G, a sharp 4.3″ SLCD display running at 800 x 480 resolution and a second gen 1GHz Snapdragon CPU. The unibody aluminum alloy body is sumptuous and the 8 megapixel camera with dual LED flash does 720p video with aplomb. The Inspire runs Android OS 2.2 Froyo with HTC Sense software. It’s quickly become one of our favorite Android smartphones.

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