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HTC ThunderBolt Teardown

Bill Detwiler cracks open the HTC ThunberBolt. Verizon’s first 4G LTE smartphone has chips from Qualcomm, Broadcom, SanDisk, Micron, and Atmel.

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In March 2011, Verizon began selling the HTC ThunderBolt--the first smartphone to run on its 4G LTE network. In his review, TechRepublic's Jason Hiner dubbed it the "Ferrari of smartphones". It's big, it's fast, and it guzzles battery life.

Follow along as I crack open the HTC ThunderBolt.

Photo by: Bill Detwiler / TechRepublic
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As of this writing, the HTC ThunderBolt costs $249 (US) with a 2-year Verizon contract. The ThunderBolt has the following technical specifications:

  • OS: Android 2.2 (Froyo) with HTC Sense UI
  • Processor: 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon (QSD8655), Adreno 205 GPU, and MDM9600 chipset for 3G/4G
  • RAM: 768MB
  • Storage: 8GB internal, 32GB microSD (pre-installed)
  • Display: 4.3-inch WVGA with 480×800 resolution
  • Battery: Lithium-ion with 1400 mAh capacity
  • Ports: microUSB 2.0, 3.5mm audio jack, SIM slot
  • Camera: 8MP with auto-focus, dual LED flash, HD video capture, 1.3MP front-facing camera
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, A-GPS, digital compass, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n; Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR
  • Tethering: USB + mobile Wi-Fi hotspot

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The HTC Thunberbolt weighs 6.23 ounces and measures 4.75 x 2.44 x 0.56 inches.

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The HTC ThunderBolt has a 3.7V Lithium-ion with 1400 mAh capacity battery.

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Luckily, the HTC ThunderBolt use standard Phillips screws inside the case.

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One of the case screws is covered with a "void" sticker.

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Using a thin metal blade, I released several clips that held the metal outer cover to the display assembly. There are two scrwes still holding the cover in place, so I can't remove it just yet.

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A thin piece of plastic covered the last two case screws. Using my thin metal blade, I was able to pop it loose and access the screws.

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With all the outer cover screws removed, I was able to separate the display/main PCB assembly away from the cover.

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Two Phillips screws hold an inner plastic case to the display/main PCB assembly.

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Before separating the HTC ThunderBolt's display assembly and main PCB, I needed to disconnect this small ribbon cable. It is likely used for the control buttons located along the bottom edge of the screen.

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Even with the control button ribbon cable disconnected, the display assembly is stil connected to the main PCB by two cables. These cables are used for the HTC ThunderBolt's display screen and digitizer.

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The HTC ThunderBolt's digitizer and display screen are held together with strong adhesive. You'll need a heat gun and a lot of patience to separte them.

As I want to reassemble this phone in working condition, I'm not going to risk dissecting these components any further.

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Several EMI shields and pieces of metallic tape cover most of the chips and connectors on the HTC ThunderBolt's main PCB.

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With the metal tape removed, we can access the connectors for the HTC ThunderBolt's front- and rear-facing cameras.

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To the right of the rear-facing camera is the HTC ThunderBolt's dual LED flash (on the blue PCB).

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With its cable detached from the main PCB, I removed the HTC ThunderBolt's rear-facing camera with a pair of tweezers.

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Internal components, such as the vibration motor (shown here), are soldered to the HTC ThunderBolt's main PCB.

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The 3.5mm headphone jack, notification LED, and a small, brass-colored sensor are soldered to the HTC ThunderBolt's main PCB. The sensor looks nearly identical to the microphone mounted along the bottom edge of the main PCB. I assume this sensor is also a microphone.

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The HTC ThunderBolt has a Broadcom BCM4329 Low-Power 802.11n with Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR and FM transceiver.

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The markings on this HTC ThunderBolt's main PCB indicate that it was manufactured sometime around October 28, 2010.

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Cracking open the HTC ThunderBolt was tricky but not overly difficult. It uses standard Phillips screws, which are easily accessable. Unfortunately, there's not much to do inside the case once you get there.

The ThunderBolt appears to be designed for easily assembly, not repair. Nearly all the internal components are soldered to the main PCB. For all practical purposes, the display/digitizer assembly is a single unit. And components, such as the speakers are actually embedded into the device's covers.

Photo by: Bill Detwiler / TechRepublic
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