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Verizon's Internal Battle
Verizon has been a dominant juggernaut in the U.S. market, releasing powerful smartphone after powerful smartphone. In this battle, the Motorola Droid 3 is pitted against the HTC Thunderbolt. On one end is a third smartphone in a trilogy of Droid smartphones, and the other is the first of 4G LTE smartphones. Both are Android powered beasts in the market, boasting quite a lot of power in hardware mixed into sleek and clean designs. With these two being released in similar timeframes, for Verizon customers, both new and existing, which smartphone is the one to grab -- Motorola Droid 3 vs HTC Thunderbolt?
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Design and Display
The Droid 3 and the Thunderbolt take different design cues from one another. The Droid 3 is a candy bar design with a slide out keyboard attached, giving it thickness and a more square look, along with a lip underneath the front screen. The Thunderbolt takes the familiar candy bar design, with the display dominating the front, and taking on a much slimmer approach. The displays on both are impressive, but the Droid 3 does look a bit better due to its qHD resolution, however the Thunderbolt does have a slightly larger display by .3 inches.
An interesting note about both smartphones is that both have taken on very similar design cues from their predecessors, with the Motorola Droid 3 nearly identical to the Droid 2 and the Thunderbolt nearly identical to any other HTC Android device released within the last year. They're not bad designs per se, but it shows that in the design element, it's really hard to innovate towards a new direction. The Thunderbolt does look a bit more modern than the Droid 3, mainly due to the slimmer design. It's a tough call when it comes to design and display, but in this particular battle, the Thunderbolt does edge out with the slightly larger display and cleaner, slimmer design.
Winner - HTC Thunderbolt
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When it comes to performance, the Droid 3 and Thunderbolt take different paths yet again. The Droid 3 is a dual core smartphone, each processor running at 1.2 GHz while the Thunderbolt runs a single core, 1 GHz processor -- the latest generation of the SnapDragon processor. Neither smartphone can be laughed at when it comes to responsiveness, as both are very responsive to user commands. The Droid 3 actually does perform a bit faster, no doubt due to the fact that it is a dual core smartphone. Since each do have their respective overlays, there was occasionally a tiny bit of lag for both.
Call quality on both was decent for both incoming and outgoing calls. No real echos or static distorting the calls. The big difference was with data, as the Thunderbolt is a 4G LTE enabled smartphone while the Droid 3 remains a 3G. The data speeds are much faster on the Thunderbolt; loading sites in an instant and browsing seemed very natural, while the Droid 3 didn't seem to keep up. It's definitely a toss-up when it comes to performance. On one hand, the Droid 3 responds every so slightly faster while the Thunderbolt is able to connect users to the Internet much faster. In this particular battle, the Thunderbolt edges out, as the tiny bit of lag it experiences compared to the Droid 3 is easily forgotten due to the faster network speeds.
Winner - HTC Thunderbolt
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The user interface on both the Droid 3 and HTC Thunderbolt are similar, yet very different, at the same time. While both run on Android, with the Thunderbolt on 2.2, and the Droid 3 on 2.3, they both have their respective overlays running on top. MotoBLUR for the Droid 3 and Sense UI for the Thunderbolt. MotoBLUR was originally, extremely intrusive at one point, but Motorola has done a fantastic job, making it less and less intrusive with each iteration. This particular version is pretty much a 'lite' version of the original, connecting users to their social networks, but not bombarding them with information.
Sense UI has also undergone considerable changes, and on the Thunderbolt, it's integrated into the operating system. With each interactive release, Sense seems to continue merging itself into Android, giving HTC Android devices a unique interface to work with. Sense not only connects users to their social networks, but also provides a variety of widgets and customizable features to easily change the interface.
The Droid 3 does have a small advantage in that it has a slide out QWERTY keyboard, a very impressive one at that. The keyboard is very well designed, offering a comfortable amount of space, responsive keys and a dedicated row of numbers across the top. The Thunderbolt has to just rely on its on-screen keyboard, which, if users are writing long e-mails, it does get tiresome, even with the help of Swype. In the case of user interface, the Droid 3 slides in with the win with its slide out keyboard.
Winner - Motorola Droid 3
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Both smartphones have 8 megapixel cameras, capable of recording high quality video, and access to thousands upon thousands of Android applications, but that's where the similarities end. The Droid 3 has the ability to connect to international GSM networks as it is a global smartphone while the Thunderbolt utilizes its ability to connect to the 4G network with its front facing 1.3 megapixel camera. Both are great features but they target different markets. Business users who travel internationally will most likely like the Droid 3 more, with its global prowess as well as the ability to wipe it remotely. Average consumers will more enjoy the Thunderbolt, with its faster network speeds and the ability to video chat with friends.
When it comes to features, it really swings either way depending on the type of user. It really is hard to determine which smartphone wins out when it comes to features. The Droid 3 does seem to feature a bit more, but at the same time the Thunderbolt is able to handle itself with the ability to utilize the faster network. For features, neither smartphone trumps the other.
Winner - Tie
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Coming in with a win in this Motorola Droid 3 vs HTC Thunderbolt battle is the Thunderbolt -- beating the Droid 3 in two categories, losing in one and tying in one. Both are formidable smartphones with similar release dates, but the Thunderbolt does edge out as the better smartphone. The Droid 3 is not a smartphone to be laughed at, but it does have its downfalls. There was no real innovation put into the latest release of the Droid 3, which helped in its loss to the Thunderbolt on this occasion.
Overall Winner - HTC Thunderbolt
- Motorola, http://www.motorola.com/Consumers/US-EN/Consumer-Product-and-Services/Mobile-Phones/DROID-3-by-MOTOROLA-US-EN
- HTC, http://www.htc.com/us/products/thunderbolt-verizon
- Source: Author's own experience