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Steve Wozniak: The HTC Thunderbolt Was One of the Worst Gadgets I Ever Purchased

Bear with me here, because the mention of someone from Apple doesn’t necessarily mean a flame war immediately. Gizmodo recently asked their readers what the worst technology gadget they had ever purchased was, and if you dig through the comments you can find Apple honcho Steve Wozniak weighing in that the HTC Thunderbolt was right at the top of his list.

Unfortunately, he did not go into much detail, but take a poll from the TBolt owners we have reading the site and they can be sure to tell you. Bad LTE signals all over the place, random reboots, update failures and that isn’t even touching on the horrible stock battery life.

Would you agree with Woz that the Thunderbolt was that bad? Or have you had worse?

Via: Gizmodo

  • PC_Tool

    I love how in every other thread, Samsung makes the worst phones, but you wouldn’t know it here. Suddenly the HTC TB was the worst device ever made…

    My lack of faith in the hive-mind seems to be justified.

    I wonder what the thread would look like if someone posted how much Woz liked manufacturing skins… 😉

    • noc007

      I have an equal disdain for both HTC and Samsung.

  • New_Guy

    Not the greatest phone in the world but not horrible either. Well…battery is horrible, but CM7 all but made the battery problems disappear. LTE does cut in and out quite often though; which can be pretty annoying.

  • Todisco

    Have to agree with Woz on this – I could not even get a half day per charge on this phone, plus reboot glitches. This phone single handedly converted me to iOS from Android.

    • LionStone

      If you gave up that easily on Android, you always wanted an out anyway.

  • clingeek

    I am having more issues with my Samsung G3 then the T-Bolt. Yes, it’s heavy with the stronger battery, but the minor inconveniences were easy to overlook. G# battery is WORSE than the standard T-Bolt and I keep having Wi-Fi problems.

    But the G3 is still awesome!!

    • PC_Tool

      Odd. My wife has the G3 and easily gets over a day’s use out of the battery. I believe she is making use of the power-saving mode or whatever (she said something about that ability), but she has had zero complaints about battery life (or really, anything else…other than S Voice being *really* slow.)

      • LionStone

        My wife also gets a day or more on her phone because she hardly uses it except to check email, text and talk…maybe check her ‘screen on’ time to get an accurate estimate.

        • PC_Tool

          My wife is a Birds/FB-aholic, so I’m not sure I’d classify her use as “light”…

          • LionStone

            Oh man…ok, I agree she probably isn’t a light user 🙂 Perhaps the S voice is slow due to FB app?

          • PC_Tool

            Could be. FB for Android is about the worst app out there.

  • Jose C

    My first ever Android phone, and only to date, is the HTC Thunderbolt. I love the android platform, I HATE THE PHONE. Battery life, Reboots, etc. has made a very unpleasant 18 months with Verizon. Not only will i never , ever buy another HTC phone, I won’t even consider locking myself to a contract ever again. I rather buy off contract and pay full price for a phone. That way if it’s another piece of junk, i don’t have to waste two years of my life. #HTC, your financial books are only the beginning of your problems, no repeat customers is the Glacier

    • JoshGroff

      Thundershed, and maybe an extended battery, you’re welcome.

  • I Love HTC

    Thunderbolt is great! Maybe Steve is jealous of HTC!

    • JoshGroff

      Hardware wise, yes. Early software wise, not so much. (sometimes it pays to wait until the first patch or two to buy a phone, unless you’re going to ROM it anyway.)

  • Once the problems were mostly fixed and it had 2.3, it was definitely solid. If you have access to wifi, the battery is ok. My GNexus also has horrible life on LTE so you can’t fault the TBolt completely. It wasn’t wonderful. But it gets way too much crap I think.

    • New_Guy

      People quickly forget that it was VZW’s first LTE device. Also has my favorite kickstand of any phone…ever. It’s the main reason I’ll be sad to part with it.

  • Dustin Foreman

    I’ll agree, terrible

  • Tim242

    I loved my Thunderbolt. It is built like a tank. It was hard to let go of, when I got my Nexus.

    • collinjw51

      I am getting ready to pick up a nexus coming from the TB. What were your impressions?

      • florious80

        GNex on verizon has worse 4G radio signal than TB. But other than that, GNex is superior in every way. 4.0.4 helped a bit, but not much. TB had steady 4G after the last OTA radio update.

        • collinjw51

          Yeah, I have no issues with signal, but I am in a completely saturated area in Northern VA. I am gonna be one of those people who will never give up unlimited data, so I think I’m always going to be on a “6-month old phone” purchasing cycle to avoid the $600 new price tags.

          • I’m pretty sure most of the people reporting signal issues with the GNex are running the .10 baseband. Everyone I know with .09 has good, steady signal connectivity.

          • florious80

            Yeah, i think you are right. I have .10 baseband. T.T

          • cobjones

            I’ve had great luck with Korean (.9 and. 11) but not Chinese ( .10 and.12)

          • 4n1m4L

            It shows up in baseband, but its not firmware. Its hardware revision

        • agreed. i currently have both the mecha and toro and the tbolt has better 4G signal as of late.

  • the Thunderbolt was/is my first smartphone and it’s treated me well. At this point almost everything is working on ICS, which is the same place a lot of other phones are at too. once the dev’s finish up ICS it’s on to JB! (hopefully).

  • One word….Bionic

    • New_Guy

      I would say, the worst launch in the history of electronic devices.

  • KleenDroid

    My Thunderbolt was a good phone and my wife still uses it. Of course I ran custom roms…

    I think it was better than my Droid 2.

    I don’t care what phone you are talking about, there will always be someone who has problems with it.

    • JoshGroff

      It’s funny to hear people saying how bad the Thunderbolt was, and then remembering even worse complaints about the G-nex, each phone has people who complain and occasionally there are major issues, that’s what OTAs and ROMs are for. 😉

      • New_Guy

        Great point. I own one and it’s really not bad. It’s basically been turned into a wifi hotspot since buying the TF300T, but the thing has held up for over a year and a half now. and CM7 runs great on it.

        • JoshGroff

          Speaking of, did they retroactively make WiFi hotspot free, because now for some reason I can use it even though I don’t have a share plan nor did I enable it on the VZW site.

          • New_Guy

            Custom ROM. Rooted early on and have never looked back.

          • JoshGroff

            I am too, but I mean I can use the feature with no blocks on Thundershed, maybe they have a security bypass or something?

          • Joseph M.

            Verizon changed the policy to include LTE hotspot on all tiered smartphone data plans. Now they don’t care how you use your allowance. It had something to do with them losing some LTE C-block neutrality lawsuit. (I don’t know whether it affects grandfathered unlimited plans.)

          • JoshGroff

            Oh sweet, the more you know. 🙂

      • LionStone

        Took that thought right out my head…I was gonna say what’s these other phones excuse? TB was the First on VZ with LTE…and while those people were complaining, I was still having seamless handoff with my stock TBs radios.
        And I agree with Mr Kleen…my TB is better than my wife’s D2G.

  • DJyoSNOW

    Sounds like my charger I opted for at the time wtf. With a 2yr agreement these are still in the wild… :'(

  • durangojim

    Obviously Woz never owned a Blackberry Storm

    • New_Guy


    • zepfloyd

      HAHA! +1 for truth. Can’t believe I fell for that POS.

    • jseah114

      I owned a Storm and a Thunderbolt and I can unequivocally say that the Storm was by far worse.

    • BroRob

      Yeah, I went from my Blackberry Storm to the TBolt… DOH!!!!

    • feztheforeigner

      I don’t think it was really Woz anyways…

      • rockstar323

        It is. He did a Q&A there a month ago and randomly posts from the same account.

    • Me too! Storm to Thunderbolt.. maybe that is why I like my Thunderbolt? I am due for an upgrade in November but I think I may keep this TB for a while, it still does everything I need it to do and I don’t seem to have any of the problems that others seem to have.

  • Once ThunderShed showed up, I was immensely satisfied with my Thunderbolt.

    • New_Guy

      One word…Hellsyea! TShed is awesome!

  • Mason Lammers

    Agree. I picked up that lump of coal the last day Verizon offered their one year contract. I covered it up with a million custom roms, but there is only so much a developer can do. Personally, I have never had a great experience with HTC’s and their radio’s, 4G or otherwise but I do live in the middle of no where so I can’t expect much (Nebraska).

  • Josh Flowers

    bought the T-Bolt launch day, jumped ship from Sprint ($200 ETF involved).
    loved it while i had it.
    yes it was horrible with random reboots (until rooting), yes it got horrible signal (until rooting), and yes it had horrible battery life (well..no help there).

    at least it helped me decide never to buy an HTC again.

    GSM GNEX all the way (just–not from HTC)

  • Indy82z

    I really never had issues with mine..I was actually thinking of going back to it if it ever gets ICS..

    • New_Guy

      It’s scheduled to have it by the end of the month =).

      • indy82z

        I’m on the Nexus now and really miss my kickstand. Mine was rooted with custom roms and while battery life sucked, I find most everything else was fine. I was fortunate enough to be around power and a charger most of the time so it really wasnt a big deal. I still use it to this day as an alarm clock because the lack of kickstand and quite vibrate, the Nexus just doesnt cut it. In fact, if the SIM cards were the same, I would swap between them. Cant seem to get rid of it..I believe with ICS I might just have to sell the Nexus and pocket the cash and go back to the good old ‘Bolt. I always heard people complaining, but my Nexus drops 4G WAY more than my Bolt ever did. The Nexus is an awesome phone, but I had zero issues with my Thunderbolt.

        • New_Guy

          I responded a little while ago about the kickstand to someone else. Is my favorite feature of the phone and has the best KS of any phone on the market. The speaker behind it is amazing as well. The things also built like a tank.

  • reyalP

    I agree. Thunderbolt was a flagship and took forever to get updates to fix the numerous problems. But this is pretty much the case with most of the earlier HTC phones. Not sure about the latest because I swore never to touch another HTC phone until they make one that has a battery that lasts. The Droid Bionic follows a close second to the Thunderbolt. Another flagship that was late and still had a lot of problems.

  • Nicolas Pipitone

    I know it’s probably just me but the Thuderbolt has been one of my favorite phones. I bought it for the styling, weight, kickstand and screen size. It’s been absolutely perfect for me. As for technical problems I didn’t have many. First run was good and it wasn’t until they released an update did it ever reboot. That’s when I rooted it and replaced the rom. Never had a problem again. As for the battery I can still make it all day on a single battery and don’t have my settings minimized. I’m overclocked at 1.4 and running a good governor. It’s smooth and works like a dream. Not saying HTC didn’t drop the ball on updates etc but if you know what your doing it wasn’t a bad device.

    • Nicolas Pipitone

      PS – Running with the 1600 battery for the Vigor saved me from having to up to the extended battery. Couldn’t swallow having that big thing on the back of my phone.

    • coolsilver

      i LOVE IT. But I also hate how it has been treated by Verizon and HTC. It’s been good to me with custom roms. Battery blows though

  • jig

    Droid Charge was actually the worst 4G LTE device made, ever! 1. Droid Charge, 2. Thunderbolt. At least TB will get ICS soon!

  • Caprica_6

    I still have the Tbolt, was considering finally fleeing to the Note 2 (when it comes out), but just flashed a real, working ICS ROM with data and if this is anything like what the actual build is like, I’ll keep the phone for a bit longer. Very nice, very fast. See XDA for the ROM.

    • JoshGroff

      Do you happen to have the link?

      • Larry


    • jmasterj

      Only 1X works, not 3G or LTE – that’s kindof an important little fact.

      • JoshGroff

        Yes, yes it is. I’m going to wait and stay on Thundershed for awhile.

      • Larry

        I don’t know if links are allowed to be posted in here, so I ran a search for “xda ics rom for thunderbolt” and it was the first link that came up. It is limited to 1X data speeds as jmasterj has stated.

      • CGull

        From my research, you can get 3G/4G speeds. It simply is stuck at the 1X icon.

  • Mark

    My Thunderbolt was good rooted and rom’d but my worst was the Samsung Fasinate.

  • Brian Sargent

    Worst phone I have ever had was the Pantech PN-820. It was a business phone I was given before the OG Droid and I loathed that phone. I was longing for a BB Curve if that tells you anything.


    Yeah, the thunderbolt was pretty bad.

  • My Samsung Droid Charge was pretty bad … glad to have sold that one and upgraded to the Razr Maxx.

  • Dave

    My wife and I both had Thunderbolts and I can say unequivocally that it was the worst gadget I’ve ever owned. It was so bad that I was all ready to switch back to an iPhone until I regained my senses.

  • Ken Bosse

    I loved my Thunderbolt. I never had the problems that people had. I even got a full day battery a good majority of the time.
    but I have since moved on to the GS3

    • collinjw51

      I have had zero issues since the 2.11.605.9 update late last year. Before that, I had some random reboots and generally poor reception.

  • Eddie

    It was better than my DROID 2!

  • mofoliar

    Yes the thunderbolt looked good… but it did always have random reboots and bad battery… R.I.P. thunderbolt

  • i didn’t think it was that bad. yeah it had LTE issues at first but it was pretty quick to get some updates to fix that. it still had much better signal than my gnex. camera was really nice. it was pretty fast,nice form factory albiet a little chunky.
    screen was very colorful, and it was one of the more fun devices to customize because you could choose from about 5 different type ROMs. (sense 2,3,3.5, desensed, miui, AOSP)


      Hahahaha. Thunderbolt quick to get updates?

      I don’t think the camera was that great either.

    • New_Guy

      I have to agree that the camera is pretty damn solid. Used it to take picture while in Rome and they are very crisp; even when bown up.

      • JoshGroff

        Coming from a Rezound, I think it must be the same camera. That thing takes some nice pics.

  • florious80

    I would disagree, after the latest OTA. The radio signal improved tremendously and I didn’t have random reboots or any other problems. I could have been one of the few lucky ones, but I feel that the phone wasn’t as bad as some of the other owners have experienced.

    The battery life, though, was god awful. If you have the extended battery like i did, the phone does last 24 hours on a full charge (48hrs at home on a weekend). But boy it was an ugly hunchback.

    • Agreed. It mostly had teething problems (I tend to blame VZW more for their OTA mishaps). By the last update, I was getting great battery life and signal.

    • JoshGroff

      If you think the new OTA is good, try Thundershed, it’s absolutely brilliant.

      • Larry

        Very tempting, although I always find myself reverting back to SkyRaider Zeus 1.3. I’ve tried so many different ROMs that it almost seems pointless for me to give it a whirl, yet I’m sure I’ll end up taking it for a test drive anyways.

    • I am sure the Woz gave up on the TBolt long before the problems were ironed out

  • Mudokon83

    Long ago, my first smartphone purchased WAS going to be a Thunderbolt, as I wanted a 4g phone, but at the time, Verizon denied me a 4g phone and said I had to purchase a 3g phone, luckily I chose HTC Incredible 2 and it was an amazing phone with great battery life.

  • Yes, the TBolt was a big POS IMHO

  • I must be lucky, because I had/have one and thought it was pretty good. VERIZON, on the other hand, sucked balls. Mine had no reboot problems until one of their OTAs (I think the one to remove the free wifi hotspot). I also got pretty good battery life, at least considering everything else.

    That said, Thundershed ftw!

  • Its hard to knock down kind of a LTE pioneer phone. Cuz yeah… battery life absolutely sucked, but at the same time it was a first gen you know?

    • New_Guy

      Yeah, no one knew how much Verizon’s LTE drained battery until the T-Bolt. Was an unfortunate guinea pig.

  • JP

    The TBolt was, at the time, meant to be Verizon’s HTC EVO 4G equivalent, however, Verizon did so much crap to that phone that it couldn’t recover and the LTE radio inside was pure junk. It was the LTE launch phone for verizon next to the DROID Charge and it was truly a bad launch.

  • collinjw51

    Don’t really mind my TB honestly. Other than the battery life and it being heavy as hell, I think I can stand it until my upgrade in Feb.

    • JoshGroff

      That speaker makes the weight worth it. 🙂

      • New_Guy

        I have to agree, the speaker on the back of this thing is pretty damn amazing =).

  • My thunderbolt has been great since day one. I’ve had it since it launched and never ran into those horrible reboots. I do feel for users who did have a horrible experience with the phone as most did not root or flash custom ROM’s.. But for those who have been on the stock ROM the entire time, I cannot say that they are wrong.

  • wheineman

    I had one, and it was bad. But it was the first and only LTE device on the market. You expect those problems! I remember getting 25+mb/sec Up AND Down on launch day! No other phone has ever touched those speeds since (not the fault of the phone, just the joy of being an early adopter)

    • JoshGroff


    • New_Guy

      Yeah, the speed test I were showing people were making them drool. Had a friend with an Evo and ran the same test standing next to me and it was a joke. The T-Bolt was king of LTE for at least a few months =D.

    • I had it the first hour of launch day so I was pretty much alone in a major metro area (chicago) on launch day. That first week I was pulling about ~50-75 down and ~25-35 up. My friends on other carriers were like “wtf bro… why would you need that…” My response “because i can.” 🙂 Battery sucked donkey though lol

  • The Thunderbolt was pretty awful, I would agree. Although the last update for the Bionic has killed my data connection and Verizon has nothing to offer as a fix besides sending me new Bionics with the same problem.

  • Ruprect

    It’s awful. I put up with it for awhile for the LTE but eventually gave up on it. I will never buy an HTC phone again

    • JoshGroff

      Every “first” device to do anything has its issues, Having owned multiple HTC devices, I can say that the Thunderbolt is the exception to the rule.

    • Wow. You’re judging the whole of HTC’s range on bad experience you had with one of their phones; the first ever LTE device in the US, as well. Didn’t you expect it to have some problems?

      • ERIFNOMI

        I wouldn’t go so far as to say I will never buy an HTC device again, but having owned a Thunderbolt I won’t be jumping on anything HTC right away. One bad phone doesn’t mean they’re all bad, but that’s not to say it’s the only bad phone they’ll ever make.

        I haven’t seen a One series in person so I’d like to know, do they still hide the antennae in the battery cover? And does the battery cover still wrap around the sides? The battery cover on all my Thunderbolts as well as the Rezound VZW sent me would creak every time you grabbed the thing which drove me mad.

        • One X doesn’t have a removable battery cover.

  • Liked the phone overall but piss poor 3G/4G handoffs, severe lack of updates, and abolustely horrendous battery life. Glad I got my upgrade 5 months early (Gnex now) because I certainly don’t miss my TBolt.

  • Jerrod Schultz

    I would agree with his opinion… I’m on my second phone (better than most) and I still have daily issues with it. Can’t wait for my upgrade!!

  • Will Stager

    Mine was terrible… turning off and on frequently and a pain to update. plus, eventually it just died without cause. verizon even said they had never seen it before :/

  • Levi Wilcox

    I think the Samsung Charge was worse than the Thunderbolt

    • Liderc

      It definitely felt worse, man that was some cheap feeling plastic.

      • hkklife

        At the time of the initial trio of VZW LTE handsets,the Charge was considered the one to get due to its slightly smaller size/weight, battery life, AMOLED screen and superior camera. But now I’d say that the TB is the best of that lot due to the additional internal storage (8Gb vs 2Gb) and additional RAM (768Mb vs 512Mb) which means there is STILL a sliver of a chance the TB will get an official ICS port whereas the Charge and Revolution are totally EOL. Plus, HTCs are always better built than those shoddy Samsung plastics.

        For the record, the worst Android device I ever purchased seems to be a toss-up between the Archos 101 and the Viewsonic G-Slate.

        • antwonw

          My arches 101 was so slow! At the time my DroidX was faster than my 101! I can’t believe I bought that thing! Lol. My Nexus 7 makes it look like a kids toy.

    • New_Guy


    • Kevin Kelly

      +1000 to Levi.

      My Charge experience (and my other friends’ experience with it) has forced me to adopt a new rule of thumb: give a newly-released Android phone a month or more for real user-reviews to come out and tell me how good/bad the device actually is. And from now on I will only recommend the iPhone if I know that a person is not willing to wait for a decent length of time after release, do the necessary research, and purchase the best Android phone (*braces for hell*). But for anyone willing to put in that time and effort, I think a good Android phone is always as good (and arguably better) hardware as the iPhone. After playing with an iPad for the last two weeks, I am completely convinced that the Android OS is superior to iOS. So convinced that I wish Apple would have their R&D team spend some time with the Android OS and try to adopt some of Android’s best features because it’s a shame that iOS users are missing out on some really great features.

      • noc007

        Really the wise thing for any purchase is to know the product ahead of time and that includes letting other people “beta test” it for you. I will say that not all of the “high-end” Android phones have the hardware quality that the iPhone does. That being said, I still think having glass on the back of their phone is pretty stupid.

  • AGREED. I Love mine, but its pretty buggy… even with custom ROMs and Kernels. Hoping to get the S3 soon.

    • JoshGroff

      Have you tried Thundershed? It’s smooth as butter, I don’t even need to overclock it.

      • Larry

        It’s very tempting to give it a shot, but everytime I try out a new custom ROM, I always find myself reverting back to SkyRaider Zeus 1.3. For me, it’s the least buggy ROM that I’ve encountered by far that’s also very smooth.

    • Larry

      You should check out SkyRaider Zeus 1.3. I feel it’s the best ROM out their, but I’m hearing a lot of good things about Thundershed. So it’s safe for me to say it’s definitely one of the top three custom Thunderbolt ROMs on the market without question.

  • Liderc

    It was pretty bad. Signal was poor, although that was to be expected with LTE at first and the battery was godawful.

    • InyRules

      My friend can take his Thunderbolt off the charger at 9am with a full battery, and by 11am he is below 10%.

      • That ain’t right, man. Sounds like an app running in the background. I routinely could get 12+ hours off of a charge.

        • InyRules

          He’s got the thing rooted, flashed with the best ROM he can find, and that’s what he gets out of it. His girlfriend had to abandon hers for another phone.

          • David Henry

            A bad app can still drain the battery, even with a better ROM. Though I have to agree with that it is likely a bad battery.

      • JoshGroff

        Sounds like he needs a new battery, mine lasts a good solid day. (then again I’m on Thundershed and not stock)

  • Woz…. why you gotta be a hater? (Clinging on to my TB)

  • sinofueramos

    I was so glad when I sold my T-bolt after just a couple months.