Top 2 Android superphones: Atrix 4G vs. HTC Thunderbolt (photos)

Summary:The top 2 Android phones currently available are the HTC Thunderbolt on Verizon and the Motorola Atrix 4G on AT&T. We put them head-to-head to see which one is tops.

The Android phone space is hard to keep up with as new phones get released seemingly every day. The top 2 superphones currently available are the HTC Thunderbolt on Verizon and the Motorola Atrix 4G on AT&T. This is sure to change soon as new phones appear, but based on testing these are the two to beat currently.

Check out the photo comparison of the Motorola Atrix 4G and the HTC Thunderbolt.


Image Gallery: Check out the Atrix 4G and Thunderbolt from AT&T and Verizon.
Image Gallery: Atrix Thunderbolt
Image Gallery: Thunderbolt Atrix

Quick comparison:

These two phones are as different as two Android phones can be, with the Atrix 4G sporting a dual-core Tegra 2 processor and the Thunderbolt a single-core Snapdragon. The 4.3-inch display makes the Thunderbolt a bit larger than the Atrix with its 4-inch screen. The Atrix comes standard with Motorola's MotoBlur interface, while the Thunderbolt has the HTC Sense interface onboard. The connectivity is the biggest differentiator on the two phones with Verizon's speedy 4G LTE network supported by the Thunderbolt and the AT&T "4G" HSUPA+ network supported on the Atrix.

The Atrix is smaller than the Thunderbolt and feels much lighter in the hand due to the plastic construction. It fits comfortably in the hand and will work best for those with smaller hands. The Thunderbolt is as heavy as a smartphone can get and still be easy to use, and is wider in the hand. That extra screen width comes in handy when browsing the web as more can be displayed on the screen at once.

I have been using both of these phones for a few weeks, and while I expected the dual-core Tegra processor of the Atrix to be faster that is not my experience. The Atrix is fast, but it occasionally exhibits minor lags in operation that plague lots of Android phones. They are not particularly troublesome, just noticeable. The Thunderbolt, however, has not exhibited any lags at all throughout all facets of operation. I put the two phones about even in the operation speed category.

The network operation is a different matter entirely. The Verizon 4G LTE network is the fastest of the two by far, and this is evident in the Thunderbolt operation. That connection speed comes at a heavy price, however, as the battery life on the Thunderbolt is not very good when operating on 4G. The battery doesn't last all day on the Thunderbolt, while it easily does on the Atrix. That is in part due to AT&T's failure to fully enable 4G speed of its network on the Atrix. The carrier has admitted it is not enabled but will be soon via a software update. See the photo gallery for a comparison of network speeds.

Conclusion:

Both of these phones are the best of the best in the Android world currently, and I have no problems with either. They are each as capable as a phone can be, more so in fact as they are both full-blown handheld computers. The Atrix has special docks available to turn the phone into a laptop and a multimedia nettop computer, at extra cost. I have no qualms recommending either of these phones to those in the market for a good Android smartphone.

Topics: HTC, Hardware, Mobility, Telcos

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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