2011 Complete Guide to 4G Mobile Phones in the US: Verizon Edition, what's coming soon from HTC and more? Price drops?

Introduction

This 2011 4G phone guide will discuss Verizon. Guides are available covering the other carriers, such as

Verizion is one of two networks with true "4G" level technology. Too bad it's expensive. Find out why the term 4G had been neutered and what it was supposed to mean

Let's get started with Verizon Wireless, the first carrier to truly push LTE as the real "4G" network.

NOTE: All prices are from carrier's own website. You can often find them $50 to $100 cheaper if you go with an online reseller such as Wirefly or Amazon Wireless.

EDIT:Updated 04-NOV-2011, fully updated and synced with Verizon website of all LTE phones, including Pantech Breakout, Motorola Droid RAZR, Samsung Stratosphere, and more.


Verizon Logo
Verizon Logo | Source

Verizon: Expensive but closest to true 4G

Verizon Wireless is one of only two companies that have 3.9G networks (the other is Sprint) that needs only minor upgrades to go true 4G. Its LTE network have consistently delivered fast performance where available. However, this also means they are spending a lot of cash to expand the LTE network. Furthermore, their phones are also quite expensive when compared to other carriers.

Furthermore, Verizon no longer offers flat-fee per month unlimited data plan as of July 2011. This will factor into your decision should you decide to switch.

Verizon 4G LTE phones can do simultaneous Voice and Data when the phone is on the 4G network. However, it cannot do so on the 3G network. This is a problem. There are some talks that Verizon will fix that soon, but there is no time frame for this upgrade. Apparently HTC Thunderbolt has SV-DO (simultaneous voice and data) implemented, but no idea how widespread this is.

Let us find out what are special about these phones.


LG Revolution in action, streaming video over 4G LTE network
LG Revolution in action, streaming video over 4G LTE network | Source

LG Revolution

Features:

  • 4.3 inch screen, regular TFT LCD
  • 1 GHz CPU
  • 5 MP back camera, 1.3MP front camera
  • DLNA streaming, mini-HDMI out
  • $199 with 2 year contract (was $249)

LG Revolution is definitely on the low-end of the Verizon 4G hierarchy, having no special features and decided relatively average specs for a 4G phone. It seems to have only 512MB of RAM, normal for modern Android single-core phones. Other than 4G LTE, this phone really doesn't have too much to boast.

EDIT: Available from online discounters for as low as $99 w/ contract


HTC Thunderbolt 4G LTE phone from Verizon, blazing fast, but pricey
HTC Thunderbolt 4G LTE phone from Verizon, blazing fast, but pricey

HTC Thunderbolt

Features:

  • 4.3 inch screen
  • 1 GHz CPU
  • 8 MP back camera, 1.3 MP front camera
  • Simultaneous Voice and Data
  • $149 with 2-year contract after $100 promotional discount

Some may say HTC Thunderbolt is a cousin to other HTC phones such as EVO 4G (Sprint) of Inspire 4G (AT&T), and they are. However, it is also improved somewhat. Thunderbolt got the newer display from Inspire, and Verizon's LTE network is vastly faster than AT&T's so-called 4G. Battery life is a bit iffy, as 4G LTE eats up lots of battery, but speed is amazing.

EDIT: Available from online discounters for as low as $99 w/ contract


Droid Charge by Samsung, the 4G LTE phone that sips battery juice instead of slurping, but also the most expensive by far.
Droid Charge by Samsung, the 4G LTE phone that sips battery juice instead of slurping, but also the most expensive by far.

Droid Charge by Samsung

Features:

  • 1 GHz CPU
  • 4.3 inch super AMOLED Plus screen
  • 8 MP back camera, 1.3 MP front camera
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • $299 with 2 year contract

Droid Charge is the current Verizon LTE 'flagship' phone. It has a gorgeous Super AMOLED Plus screen, one of the best available (only second to Apple's Retina display). It is 1/6th lighter than the Thunderbolt or Revolution (at almost exactly 5 Oz) and its battery life is amazing. Engadget was able to get 2 working days without a recharge (and they were using the phone in the meanwhile, even in LTE modes).


Droid Bionic by Motorola

  • 1 GHz dual core CPU
  • 4.3 inch screen
  • 8 MP back camera, 1.3 MP front camera
  • Webtop and other Motorola dock support
  • $249 with 2 year contract

Droid Bionic went back to the drawing board after a demo earlier in January 2011. Apparently the specs are not good enough so Motorola told the designers to start over. Phone has been released, and reviews are up. Reviewers found it to be basically Droid X2, with LTE, and minor tweaks. It has webtop connector and more.

Here's Engadget preview

Samsung Stratosphere 4G LTE

  • 1 GHz CPU
  • 4 inch Super AMOLED screen
  • 5 MP back camera, 1.3 MP front camera
  • 5-row QWERTY slide-out keyboard
  • $149 with 2 year contract after $50 online discount

Samsung seem to be producing a modified version of Epic 4G, their keyboard slider for Sprint, for the Big Red. Being the only LTE phone with physical keyboard, it's worth a look.


Pantech Breakout

  • 1 GHz CPU
  • 4 inch screen
  • 5 MP back camera, VGA front camera
  • Simultaneous Voice and Data Support
  • $99 with 2 year contract and $50 online discount

This is another LTE phone destined for Verizon that is more economical than others, but also slightly lower spec.


Motorola DROID RAZR

Droid RAZR, which will be released only months after release of Droid Bionic, appears to be the Motorola flagship device. It has the following specs:

  • 1.2 GHz dual core CPU
  • 4.3 inch Super AMOLED Advanced screen
  • 8 MP back camera with 1080p video recording, 1.3 MP front camera
  • Webtop and other Motorola dock support
  • Price unknown, will be released 11-NOV-2011

Stay tuned!

Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Samsung and Google have teamed up to debut the first device EVER to deploy Android 4.0, codename "Ice Cream Sandwich". Thus far, it should have the following specs:

  • 1.2 GHz dual core CPU
  • 4.65 inch Super AMOLED plus screen and contour screen
  • 8 MP back camera with one-motion panoramic support, 1.3 MP front camera
  • Price unknown, product will be released mid-November 2011

http://venturebeat.com/2011/08/29/verizon-droid-prime-october/

http://www.google.com/nexus/

HTC Vigor

Rumored to have 1.5 GHz dual-core CPU, 1GB of RAM, and 4G LTE for Verizon, this is basically an improved HTC Thunderbolt.

http://www.engadget.com/2011/09/09/htc-vigor-hits-the-fcc-with-a-dose-of-verizon-lte/

LG Revolution 2?

Rumored LG Revolution 2 is believed to be dual-core and updated version of LG Revolution (reviewed above). So far this is complete speculation.


Q: What about the Apple iPhone 4 and 4s?

A: Apple's iPhone 4 and 4s are 3G devices.

Conclusion

Which 4G LTE phone should you choose on Verizon? The current situation is confusing. Those who want a plain Google phone will probably go for Galaxy Nexus (though it's expected to cost $300 with 2 year contract). Those who want just a regular experience and prefer thin phone will like go for Droid RAZR.

That leaves Droid Bionic and Thunderbolt the mid-range phones, which, with a bit more price drop, would make them the best 'bang for the buck'.


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2 comments

Michael Pruitt 4 years ago

I have been told that I could obtain educational literature on how to use my new Verizon 4G/LTE phone. I have yet to find this information on the web. The only literature I have is a "shortcut" book, and it doesn't cover the many questions I have.


kschang profile image

kschang 4 years ago from San Francisco, CA, USA Author

If you care to name some of the questions I think I can at least point you in the right direction...

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