Well. For those of you who follow my life with a fine tooth comb, you’ll know that in December I bought the new Nexus S to replace my broken down Droid. I really loved the phone a lot. The battery life was great, pure android 2.3 was spectacular, and the speed of the phone was really nice. But the phone was essentially unusable due to it’s inability to find a signal anywhere. Either it was the phones radio or T-Mobile, but I couldn’t use the internets and I couldn’t make a call in my home. It was horrible.
So I decided to bite the bullet and buy something else. After a lot of research (and after convincing myself that waiting for the next best thing was pointless), I decided on the HTC Thunderbolt (which is on Verizon). First off, moving to Verizon was a definite requirement. I love their service in Philadelphia and since that’s where I am 99% of the time, there was no other choice. And from what I heard 4G LTE was the real deal (not some marketing hype).
I didn’t move to this phone quickly. There was a lot of fear going in. The biggest fear I had was moving to a phone that had a skin on it (in this case HTC Sense). I really loved the pure android experience on my Droid and on the Nexus S. As a techie, I really don’t like things added on to my UI just to make it pretty. I prefer the more utilitarian approach : get the job done efficiently. Plus I was really afraid all the gizmos running would kill my battery life. Then I heard that there is a lot of bloatware on the phone put there by Verizon that you can’t remove. That again really made me scared since the only way to remove the battery and memory hogging crap would be to root the phone (something I never want to do since I prefer to remain ‘stock’ as much as possible).
Well, here’s the deal. I bought the phone and fully charged it and after 4 hours it was flat out dead. The battery life was insanely poor. This I had also heard but I wanted to see for myself. My thought was that I could charge it at home and then charge it at work and be fine, but wow. I could almost see the battery life indicator moving downwards.. This was a bad sign!
Before I go on, a little note : What the fuck Verizon!?! How can you sell a phone that out of the box doesn’t work? What is wrong with the technology sector today that a company actually sells a premium product that doesn’t work? I have to say I really am upset that Verizon is marketing this phone as it is.
So I had two options at this point : 1) return the phone and then search for something else (don’t say “get an iPhone!” Don’t even get me started on that shit) or 2) take matters into my own hands and ‘root’ the phone.
Reluctantly I chose option 2. I found a really nice walkthrough and I got to work. Sadly, rooting completely resets your phone so the 2 days of getting the phone the way I liked it was going to go to waste, but I just had to bite the bullet (lots of bullet biting today!).
I have to say that rooting was kind of painless. It took me about an hour and the phone was exactly the same with one difference : I could do what I wanted to it! First up was removing the bloatware (you don’t actually remove it but move it out of the system into some other location so if you need to get an update from Verizon you can move it all back). Removing all this crap (and there was a lot) felt awesome. Next up was adding a program called JuiceDefender that actually turns off the data connection when I have the phone in standby. It also opens it up on occasion for my apps to connect and it’s fully configurable. Lastly I had considered removing HTC sense but I figured I’d give it a try first since that was going to be complicated.
The result? Well, the battery life was not only manageable, but pretty awesome. The only downside was that when I popped the phone on I had to wait a sec for the data connection to come back. This is an ok tradeoff for me and the only downside of the phone right now. HTC Sense I have to say is pretty amazing. The keyboard is 100 times better than had expected and the UI is more usable than stock android. I turned off some of the flash like their friend feed and the stocks app, but overall I am really really impressed with the usability of the phone directly attributed to Sense.
Overall I have to say this. 4G LTE is amazing. It’s as fast as WIFI. The phone itself? Well, this phone is pretty damn awesome. The screen, HTC Sense, the speed, I’m happy! But if you are going to use it stock, good luck. Verizon has screwed you there.