LTE is really great if it’s in your area already. Even though the network is not fully populated when compared to WiMAX in it’s infancy, it’s still much much faster, and relatively low latency. It’s a mobile network that routinely puts low end cable and DSL ISP’s to shame in my opinion. The HTC Thunderbolt, the first Verizon LTE device, has seen high consumer adoption primarily because it’s connected to LTE. We know that Verizon has big plans for LTE, and part of those plans are getting handsets out in a hurry. The Thunderbolt and a previously unnamed 4G LTE phone from Samsung has been leaked, touched, and slotted for a “soon” release. We got to spend some time with the next big phone on Verizon Wireless, so take a look!
As is typical when comparing HTC and Samsung, the Droid Charge is a very different feel in the hand. Samsung’s recent tendency to make everything shiny light plastic has absolutely carried over to this phone. It’s also significantly lighter than the Thunderbolt, which is also expected. The 4.3″ screen is yet another of Samsung’s really incredible screens, now dubbed SAMOLED+ to signify deeper colors and much less power usage. When reviewing the device, we were not in an LTE area, so the battery life was terrific, though not an immediate indicator of good battery life when in LTE land. The phone has an almost badge shape, with a matching badge shaped notch in the battery plate for the 8 megapixel camera and LED flash. When traveling through Android 2.2 with TouchWiz on board, though the model we had was able to return to Stock, it was incredibly fast considering it was running the same Hummingbird processor found in the Galaxy phone line. All in all the experience was really positive. It was fast, light, supports LTE, and seemed to have much better battery life than the Thunderbolt.
I touched on this slightly already, but in the model we were using, the Droid Charge supported the ability to use the Stock Android 2.2 Launcher. With any amount of luck, this will be a trend for Samsung in the future, as it seems pretty popular. Whether in stock or in TouchWiz you can still take advantage of Samsung’s great widgets for aggregating social data, as well as access to Media Hub. Not much else has changed in the Samsung UI, especially for users who were lucky enough to get Android 2.2 on their Galaxy S device. The Camera app is still highly optimized, and the panorama shot mode has been further tweaked to allow for even better shots with the 8 megapixel camera. The real question regarding the UI will come later, when it’s time for the Charge to go 2.3 or higher.
Step for step, this seems like a direct competitor with the Thunderbolt, and truthfully the deciding factor here for many people will be of device preference. The Thunderbolt, even without the extended battery, is significantly heavier than the Charge. Plus, there’s quite a few people who prefer the shiny look to the matte look, and both companies seem to have done a pretty good job with their existing phones in terms of keeping the casing from peeling or cracking, so it becomes a personal preference deal at that point. The Charge is a fantastic device in my opinion, and it will lend itself quite well to Verizon Wireless’ arsenal of 4G LTE devices.