I've been carrying the HTC ThunderBolt for just under a week now. If you read my first impressions or full review, you know that while speeds are ridiculously fast, the battery life is pretty short lived, getting roughly 6 hours of use per charge...or less. I expected poor battery life when I first picked the phone up, but I never imagined this phone to eat batteries through batteries like it does.
So what is cause of this pitiful battery life? According to the native battery statistics application, the Super LCD display eats up anywhere from 60-80% of the juice (depending on how much you have your display turned on and at what brightness). As this has been a problem with Android phones for some time, I just accepted the fact and moved on, carrying a spare charger with me everywhere.
Luckily, I was wrong. The display isn't the sole cause of rapid battery drain. The accomplice is the LTE radio (no surprise there).
Out of the box, Verizon did not provide an easy way for users to toggle the LTE connection. This means that LTE is in an always-on state. For those that are in a 3G only area, their LTE radio is constantly searching for a LTE signal, not that this will account for a huge amount of battery consumption. But for those on the fringe of a 3G/4G area, not being able to turn off LTE wreaks havoc on your battery life. Even in strong LTE coverage, the battery drains very quickly. Being able to toggle LTE and use it at your discretion is vital.
There is no definite answer as to why Verizon didn't include a toggle switch. The only thing that even makes any sense is that they want to keep users who can take full advantage of LTE on the LTE network and relieve their 3G network from some of the stress. Would they do this and sacrifice the device's battery life? Unfortunately, it appears that way.
Swooping in to save the day, the typical Android tinkerers did their thing and figured out how to turn off the LTE radio – a very simple tweak. I did this yesterday to put it to the test. Needless to say, it made a tremendous difference. I went from getting 6 hours of battery life – whether I used the phone or not – to 9 hours of moderate use only draining the device to 45%.
The good thing about this tweak is that it's very quick and easy. To toggle LTE off:
This is just as easily undone as it is done. To turn the LTE radio back on:
Note: PhoneDog is not responsible for any damages to your phone. If you attempt this, you are doing so under your own discretion and are solely responsible for any damages to your device.
There are several different applications available in Android Market that can help make this process a little quicker, too. What I did was download an application called Any Cut. This provides a shortcut to just about anything you can imagine on your phone. For ease of use, I created a shortcut to Phone info, and it makes this just as quick as toggling options in the Settings app.
This should help improve battery life for just about all ThunderBolt users and gives users the option to choose when they want to use LTE. I'm certain that a toggle widget or application will be made eventually and we can hope that one is included in a future, official update. If you have tried this, let us know the difference in battery life you are experiencing in the comments below!