HTC Thunderbolt Coming March 17th (Updated)

It is official, March 17th is the first date that one will be able to purchase the HTC Thunderbolt from Verzion Wireless.

Originally thought to be released in February, HTC has cited various technical issues, network testing delays and a few other little tweaks as reasons for the Thunderbolt’s delay. Keep in mind however that neither Verizon, nor HTC, has ever released a hard date on this device. Even still, with the blogs speculating that the true delay was to keep the millions of iPhone4 purchasers from being able to swap in their 30 day window for a phone that should seriously blow it’s doors off, you do have to wonder if there’s not more truth to that than either Verizon or HTC want to admit.

The Thunderbolt is a serious monster device. Even without the LTE radio on board, which should allow you to pull down 10Mbps streams from the internet on a regular basis, it has an amazing 4.3″ screen, 1Ghz processor, 8GB of internal storage, an 8MP back camera and a 1.3MP front camera for video chatting and self portraits. All in all, it’s a Verizon branded EVO without the HDMI port, but it includes that coveted LTE radio. The device was also slated to ship with Android 2.2.1. Check out the full specifications below, paying close attention to the underpowered 1400mAh battery. The performance on a battery that small should be interesting to see over the long term as the EVO’s 1500mAh battery has taken a beating from most users.

Overall, when the Thunderbolt does launch, the biggest deciding factor with this monster is going to be pricing. Rumors have pegged the pricing at $299.99 at Best Buy locations, and there has been no indication at all of the ‘actual Verizon’ price. This makes third party sites that sell the Droid X for free on contract seem like a much better deal in the short term.

While having the first LTE device may sound great, the higher sticker price and the current availability LTE coverage may make the suburb-dwellers stick to Droid’s for now. Verizon currently offers LTE in 39 major markets and 60 airports across the US.

HTC Thunderbolt Specs:

* Networks: LTE 700, CDMA EvDO revA
* Chipset: Qualcomm MSM8655, 1GHz, Qualcomm MDM9600
* Operating system: Android 2.2 + HTC Sense
* Display: 4.3 in. WVGA TFT capacitive touch screen
* Camera: 8MP with autofocus, LED Flash (2x LED), 1.3MP front facing camera
* Memory: 8GB emmc + 768 RAM Memory card, preinstalled 32 GB microSD
* WLAN: 802.11 b/g/n
* Bluetooth: 2.1 with EDR (3.0 when available)
* GPS: GPS/AGPS
* Battery: 1400 mAh
* Special features: Dual mics with noise cancellation, surround sound, compass sensor, g-sensor, proximity sensor, light sensor, 3.5mm audio jack, microUSB, FM radio, LTE SIM slot, TI audio DSP

Update: HTC has made it official today that the Thunderbolt will in-fact be launching on the 17th. It will be $249.99 with 2 year contract/renewal. Off contract pricing has not been announced, but if you aren’t due for one yet, expect to pay closer to the $600 mark for this online or at Verizon stores.

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