Why I have kept my HTC ThunderBolt for so long

Taylor Martin
 from Concord, NC
Published: June 19, 2011

From the time I bought my first smartphone, I have had cell phone ADD. Partly due to a short attention span and getting tired of things quickly, partly due to a new phone releasing each week, it has always been hard for me to choose one phone and stick with it for more than a couple months. If I were to take a stab at how many phones I have bought in the past year, I would have to guess somewhere around 20 ... or more.

Hello, my name is Taylor and I have a problem.

Here lately, however, my ADD has been subdued and my wallet has had a chance to take a breather. I bought the ThunderBolt on launch day and have been using it – with little thought of defecting – ever since. The other day, Aaron and I were talking and made an interesting observation. He mentioned that I have held on to the ThunderBolt longer than any other phone I have had in the past year or so.

Considering the ThunderBolt was the very first LTE phone buying this phone ensured that I would not have to pay extra for LTE services; I am now grandfathered into an unlimited, no-extra-charge plan. The phone is a 4.3-inch HTC-made device with some spectacularly average specifications. Nonetheless, I had wanted an EVO since it launched but I was not about to switch back to Sprint. When I learned that the EVO's next-of-kin was coming to Big Red, my decision was made. The reasons why I bought the ThunderBolt are pretty self-explanatory. The interesting part, however, is why I have kept it all of this time.

Being a person that normally buys more phones than shoes, keeping a phone more than a two months is rare. Typically, I will only keep a phone if it is the best of the best, my funds have run dry or if the device has a strong development community behind it (tons of custom ROMs and all sorts of hacks and tweaks) to keep me occupied.

Surprisingly though, none of these are particularly true this time around. Although I placed it as number one on my top five Android smartphones list in April, its time at the top had an expiration date when it launched (just like every other Android phone). It quickly fell to number three after some dual-core smartphones entered the scene. And even though the development community is working around the clock on hacks and mods for the ThunderBolt, most of the stable ROMs are Sense-based and yawn-inducing, to say the least. There is a fairly stable and smooth performing CyanogenMod build, but that has only become a viable daily driver during the past week – long after I normally would have moved on to a new device. The most important factor of all is money, which is more of a non-issue at the moment.

So what exactly has made me hold on to the ThunderBolt for all of this time?

It's really tough to narrow it down to one single reason. I could blame it on the foreseeable obsolescence of dual-core phones and my reluctance to buy one or that I didn't want to get rid of my LTE grandfathered plan. I could also blame the fact that after nearly 24 months of phone hopping, I'm actually getting burned out of Android phones. Don't get me wrong, I love Android, but the manufacturers are churning out phones so fast that even I, a die-hard enthusiast, am growing tired of the perpetual launching of new phones.

I think what it truly boils down to though, is the increasingly lackluster devices that seem to be coming out which feature minuscule upgrades over previous models. Instead of the major improvements that we have all anticipated at one point or another, manufacturers are producing phones at such a rate that each device is effectively a stepping stone – one for short strides at that.

I finally realized that the game of Stay Ahead of the Curve has lost its luster and has become an impossible game to play and enjoy. I have settled in with my ThunderBolt and gotten pretty comfortable, regardless of the numerous phones out there that blow it out of the water.

Am I happy with my ThunderBolt? It fulfills my needs. Nothing more, nothing less. Is it the best thing since sliced bread? Hardly. Am I looking to replace it? You bet. But I'm not sure when or which device will make the cut.

What say you, ThunderBolt users (former users, too)? Are (or were) you happy with your ThunderBolt? Are you looking to replace it in the near future? If so, what with?