Verizon had hoped their first 4G handset, the HTC Thunderbolt, would be in stores by now but it appears that several issues have held up the release so far. The phone was unveiled at CES back in January and Best Buy began advertising a pre-order campaign the first week of February, but recent comments from Tony Melone, Verizon’s CTO, suggest we might be waiting several more months.
In a statement provided to ZDNet, Tony Melone said, “First half of the year is what we promised, first half of the year is still on track. So we don’t believe there are any new or surprising issues. I think what we’re facing is what you would expect, and that is a new technology, you are working through issues. And we anticipated that, and we are pleased at how we are working through issues. And as I said, you are going to see LTE smartphones on the network as promised, before the first half — before the second half of the year, by the end of the second quarter.”
The Thunderbolt has had so many rumored release dates, that it has been hard to keep up with them all. First we thought it might launch February 14th, followed February 24th, and then March 4th. The phone missed every rumored launch date and Verizon pulled down their promotional videos from YouTube, so we have no idea how long it will be before it actually arrive in stores.
When asked to detail the Thunderbolt issues that Verizon was working on Melone said, “I’m not sure I would say there are any key issues. I would say all the issues are being worked.”
From what we have gathered, there are three rumored issues that have held up the release. Our friends at Android Community report that Verizon has a problem with the switch between 3G and 4G networks and the transfer was not as “seamless” as they truly desired. Next we had Engadget reporting that the Thunderbolt suffered from terrible battery life, but a newer firmware update is said to address that issue.
Finally several site like ZDNet have reported that pricing issues could be delaying the release. Fran Shammo, Verizon’s CFO, said the Thunderbolt will usher in a new “tiered pricing structure”, but we have yet to discover the official details on these plans.
The Thunderbolt has also been rumored at several different prices including $249-299 on contract and $699-749 off contract, which would make it one of the most expensive Android phones.
If are wanting to pick up the Thunderbolt when it launches, your best bet right now is to visit Verizon’s Thunder Tracker and sign up to be notified of its release. For an overview of the Thunderbolt and complete specs, visit the official HTC product page.