HTC’s Thunderbolt is the flagship 4G LTE device for Verizon’s speedy new network. Seriously, this network is insanely fast, with download speeds averaging in the 10 to 15 mbps range, and upload speeds coming in between 3 and 5 mbps on average.
Though these bandwidth speeds are truly remarkable, especially coming from a mobile smartphone, constant use of the 4G LTE network has resulted in a detrimental impact on battery life for the Thunderbolt. I’ve been using the Thunderbolt as my daily driver for the past few weeks now, and it was truly a rare sight to see the battery make it beyond the 6 hour mark with moderate-heavy use, requiring me to charge the device 2 or even 3 times per day to make it through a full day of use. Now, I must state that I do live in an area that is fully covered by Verizon’s LTE network, and it is a well-known issue that the LTE network does have a negative impact on a device’s battery life, but should we really only expect our devices to only last 6 hours between charges?
As a personal and business user who depends on having a constant connection to the internet, my answer to that last question is a resounding NO. I (and I assume many/all of you) need my device to make it through the standard 8 hour workday at the bare minimum. No phones should be hitting the market in 2011 unless they can meet the bare minimum battery expectations. Up until the Thunderbolt, I haven’t had any problems getting to the 5pm bell.
What has me more worried than the abysmal battery life of the Thunderbolt is what this will mean for future LTE devices. Will they all be plagued with the same issues that cripple the Thunderbolt, or will device manufacturers find a way to bring the battery life of their devices back in line with our expectations? Will we in the future be forced to choose between a high end device that can tap the full LTE speeds or one that uses the lesser 3G networks but can last for a full day without needing to be plugged in multiple times per day?
Though I honestly don’t believe we will ever need to make that choice, the facts point a bit in that direction. The Thunderbolt launch was delayed by a full month to figure out a fix to the battery life issues, only to launch with the issues fully intact on the LTE network. Moreover, several individuals have pointed out that the Thunderbolt’s battery is just fine when using only the 3G network. All these signs point to LTE being a serious battery-suck, an issue that will require some creative engineering on the part of device manufacturers to remedy.
Hopefully it won’t be too long for a fix to present itself. Until then, we’re all left to wonder.