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

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.

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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

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11 comments
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  • Interesting, but, I think the most important Android phones will be the

    the basic, inexpensive models that are still durable and sufficiently fast, that will replace feature phones. Look for super inexpensive Android phones to essentially wipe out the feature phone market.
    DonnieBoy
    • Yes, the more so these top Android smartphones can not compete to iPhone 4

      @DonnieBoy: ... in the "top" category unless user specifically wants VHS-cassette sized device, has religious preference in OS, and feels necessary to be lab rat with super tiny coverage area which holds pricey 4G test-mode network. <br><br>iPhone 4 has 30%-225% better details/clarity/resolution than any other significant smartphones produced or even announced. And it has IPS technology screen, and all of its screen layers are glued together to fight parasitic refraction. And its antenna, despite being vulnerable in lower left corner, hold times weaker signals than typical designs (-122dB against -114dB, according to AnandTec). The device has longest running active-use battery life among top class smartphones, and it is not plasticky.<br><br>And the platform/environment has way more apps, and it is the only platform to have Retina class apps (designed to run 960x640 contrary to <b>lowest common denominator</b> of Android phones like 400x240), it has the widest media library, and it has AirPlay and AirPrint capabilities.
      DDERSSS
      • RE: Top 2 Android superphones: Atrix 4G vs. HTC Thunderbolt (photos)

        @denisrs

        Yes but many do not like how locked down the iPhone is, for example the ability to install applications not approved by Apple, to use it as a removable drive, to change the battery or even to install a memory card.
        anonymous
  • RE: Top 2 Android superphones: Atrix 4G vs. HTC Thunderbolt (photos)

    They have no physical keyboard, they are worthless as a tool for anything serious on that point alone. Wouldn't mind having one as a toy, but other than that they're just hunks of garbage.
    Onaka
    • Well, some people will prefer a flip out keyboard, but, I have seen people

      that can type extremely fast on the newer much improved on-screen keyboards. You can also carry a folding keyboard which is about 100X better than a flip out keyboard if you really need to type a longer email.
      DonnieBoy
    • RE: Top 2 Android superphones: Atrix 4G vs. HTC Thunderbolt (photos)

      @Onaka

      Well, I will start by saying that it is completely based on personal preference as to whether any particular type of phone is useful for any particular type of tasks.

      OK, political correctness aside, I totally agree with you; I find slab phones nearly useless for doing anything that requires a lot of typing. Sure, slab phones work fine for a quick text or some light websurfing; but you try typing a full email, perform any tasks on a PC remotely or have to do anything that requires a lot of symbols, and you'll soon discover the short-comings of having a phone without a physical keyboard. Besides the loss of screen real estate, special keys (punctuation, symbols, etc) are not as easily found on on-screen keyboards, and any function that requires the repeated use of these keys becomes quite dubious without a physical keyboard.
      NetAdmin1178
    • Swype is much faster than a physical thumb keyboard

      @Onaka
      You're way off base. Swype is way faster than a physical keyboard. Even without swype you can type just as fast or faster with an on-screen keyboard. No waiting for a click, no having to press down hard enough for it to register. Just a light touch. In reality, though, people will use what they prefer. However, I maintain that swype is much better than a physical keyboard.
      lightning_77
      • RE: Top 2 Android superphones: Atrix 4G vs. HTC Thunderbolt (photos)

        @lightning_77
        Okay, use Swype to quickly type in the following:

        /etc/init.d/apache2 status
        nano /var/log/error_log
        CTRL+X
        /etc/init.d/apache2 restart
        screen emerge --ask =www-apache/mod_ruby-1.2.6
        CTRL+A+D
        Onaka
  • RE: Top 2 Android superphones: Atrix 4G vs. HTC Thunderbolt (photos)

    Why would you type that into a phone? This is a phone we are talking about here. And to the apple fan boy enjoy your ipod that makes phone calls. I prefer creative control. I don't knock iphones but I tire of the blah blah iphone is the best blah blah. Many folks already declared the EVO better than the iphone. I have one. My friends with iphones spend 10 minutes with my phone and go crazy. Its really all about personal preference. As a tech phone junkie iphones with their late on everything to make you buy the next one approach (video, cut and paste, etc) just doesnt do it for me. Androids are loaded with options and each carrier has one to suit different customers. There are small ones, big ones, htc sense, motoblur, keyboard, no keyboard etc. Options are what make life great. Steve Jobs makes a hell of a computer but I will pass on the phone. Plus I already own an ipod touch.
    Cizzy
  • RE: Top 2 Android superphones: Atrix 4G vs. HTC Thunderbolt (photos)

    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.
    http://www.motorolaatrixforum.com
    jakson0100
  • RE: Top 2 Android superphones: Atrix 4G vs. HTC Thunderbolt (photos)

    my dogs better than your dog, my dogs better than yours...
    my dogs better cause he's mine, I know his smell, he knows mine...
    I know how to scratch him, he knows where to lay dow...
    and if I get a new dog he'll be the best too!
    what would be better is to speek to the traits that turn you on, all the finger poking is lame.
    Bristlecone Bill