Over the past few weeks the talk of the imminent Incredible HD, or Thunderbolt/Mecha/Mocha as they're calling it now, has started stirring quite a bit. HTC leaked some close-up photos to the biggest tech blogs, they sent out some cryptic memorabilia hinting that it is a 4G phone and will be shown at CES, and even some very clear computer generated promo mocks have surfaced. Now that we've had a good look at it and have a fairly good clue as to what it's packing under the hood, I'm left to ask if this device will be the next big thing in Android.
It's already caused quite the buzz, but will it be 2011's “EVO?" Or will it just be another device that will be superseded by even better phones only months ahead? The HTC EVO 4G was and still is a contender for the best Android phone out there. Save for a few minor spec sheet differences, there was nothing that set this device apart from the Incredible, Galaxy S devices, or the Droid X. They all have a 5 or 8 megapixel camera (which aren't very different anyway), 1 GHz processors, and at launch they were all running Android version 2.1. So what was it that made the EVO stand out so much?
It was the archetype of next-generation Android devices and it was built by the ever-popular HTC. Due to the iPhone's exclusivity on AT&T, people have been searching for alternatives; something to fill that void without having to jump to Ol' Blue. The EVO was that device. It was the first (subsidized) Android device that could truly compete with the iPhone. It was also the first device to have the term “4G” thrown around with its name and it was the first US Android phone to pack a 4.3-inch display.
As for the Thunderbolt, or whatever the real name is, it has every potential to be just as popular as the EVO, maybe even more. It's essentially an EVO that runs on a LTE network versus WiMAX, and it looks – only slightly – different. On top of being the most popular Android device's long lost brother, it carries two things that make it special: build quality and being on America's largest network (by number of subscribers).
The Verizon LTE network is proving to be quite the example for what a 4G network should be, and hopefully that will remain true with millions of customers trying to rip it apart. As for build quality, we're all too familiar with this style. We've seen similar quality and materials in the HTC Desire HD and HD7, but the Thunderbolt will be the first widely available Android device in the US with such a design. It's a design that I'm quite fond of and I'm sure many others are too. It's a perfect balance of plastic and metal and doesn't feel like a cheap toy.
Even though the Thunderbolt won't be a huge upgrade from what is already available on Verizon (Droid X, Incredible, Fascinate, etc.) or the rest of the market, it should be a much more refined device with higher build quality. I don't expect it to have quite as much impact on the popularity of Android as the EVO did - not even close. But it will be an Android device that can truly battle it out with the iPhone side-by-side. Maybe it will be the device to settle the score once and for all. Who do you think would win? Also, do you think the Incredible HD/Thunderbolt will be the next poster child phone for Android?