As someone who outright refused to pay for a data plan until late last year, I was never really interested in the cutting edge of mobile broadband technology. Beyond knowing that AT&T had decent data speeds and coverage in areas not involving the letters “NYC” or “SFO” and that WiMAX wasn’t nearly as fast in practice as Sprint would have you believe, I didn’t have a whole lot of feel for data plans. I’m a poor college student that lives in a world of campus-wide WiFi; I was always either in a place with wireless internet or in transit to a place with it, so why pay the $30 if I didn’t really need to?

An increasing number of trips out of town forced my hand, and I started to learn more. I got a data plan just as T-Mobile launched its first HSPA+ phone, the T-Mobile G2. It was faaaast, especially in the greater Seattle area. I was seeing download speeds in the 8 Mbps range and upload speeds around 4 Mbps. For a 3G network, that was insane, and T-Mobile has gotten better since then (though I will never be able to get over the 4G stunt that their marketing department pulled). By chance, I recieved a Verizon 3G version of the Galaxy Tab for evaluation, and I found its ~1 Mbps download speeds to be a bit unbearable in comparison. In my review, I said that Verizon really couldn’t get their LTE network deployed quickly enough. 

I didn’t know what to expect with LTE until CES. I had heard some insane speedtest numbers through the grapevine, confirmed by Brian during his hands-on with the Thunderbolt at Verizon’s LTE launch event. 18 Mbps down is pretty solid for a Comcast connection, but it sounded borderline crazy for mobile broadband.

Physical Comparison
  LG Optimus 2X HTC EVO 4G HTC Thunderbolt LG Revolution
Height 123.9 mm (4.87") 121.9 mm (4.8") 122 mm (4.8") 128 mm (5.03")
Width 63.2 mm (2.48") 66.0 mm (2.6") 67 mm (2.63") 67 mm (2.63")
Depth 10.9 mm (0.43") 12.7 mm (0.5") 13.2 mm (0.52") 13.2 mm (0.52")
Weight 139.0 grams (4.90 oz) 170 g (6.0 oz) 183.3 g (6.46 oz) 172 g (6.08 oz)
CPU NVIDIA Tegra 2 Dual-Core Cortex-A9 (AP20H) @ 1 GHz 1 GHz QSD8650 65 nm Snapdragon 1 GHz MSM8655 45nm Snapdragon 1 GHz MSM8655 45nm Snapdragon
ULP GeForce Adreno 200 Adreno 205 Adreno 205
NAND 8 GB integrated, up to 32 microSD 1 GB integrated, 8 GB microSD preinstalled 4 GB NAND with 32 GB microSD Class 4 preinstalled 4GB NAND with 16GB microSD preinstalled
Camera 8 MP with autofocus, LED flash, 1080p24 video recording, 1.3 MP front facing 8MP with dual LED Flash and 1 MP Front Facing camera 8 MP with autofocus and dual LED flash, 720p30 video recording, 1.3 MP front facing 5 MP with AF and LED flash, 720p video capture, 1.3 MP front facing
Screen 4” 800 x 480 IPS 4.3” 800 x 480 LCD-TFT 4.3” 800 x 480 LCD-TFT 4.3" 800 x 480 LCD-TFT
Removable 5.6 Whr Removable 5.5 Whr Removable 5.18 Whr Removeable 5.6 Whr

Fast forward to two weeks ago, when I received this LG Revolution on my doorstep. The box was similar to the Thunderbolt and relatively unassuming (from the outside at least; the flame red treatment on the inside was only slightly less subtle), as is the phone itself. It’s a little bit like the Optimus Black, actually, just a lot thicker. 

When I first took it out of the box, I texted Brian with “This seriously feels like a gaming notebook circa 2004, the ones that ran hot and were three inches thick.” His response? “Yeah, that’s basically a good analogy for all LTE phones right now.” After years of companies going on and on about the thinnest devices they can make, this is different. As with the Thunderbolt and original EVO 4G, the Revolution is a big F U to the supermodel-thin iPhone 4’s and Galaxy S II’s of the world. 

Other than thickness, it’s very similarly sized to the other 4.3” phones on the market, so it’s not a big adjustment to make. When it’s in your pocket, you really don’t notice, and for girls that toss their phones into a purse, it probably doesn’t really matter either. It feels very substantial in-hand, and you can feel all 172 grams when you pick it up. But it’s not uncomfortably large or heavy, it’s just bigger and heavier than you expect. The extra transceiver and antenna hardware has everything to do with that size, but it’s still a chunky device. 

The Hardware
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  • antef - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    I believe even streaming video will not make use of anything > 5 Mbps or even less. HD Netflix on a PC only requires about 5-6 and I don't think you're getting that same 1080 resolution from the Netflix app on the phone. So I really don't see what good > 5 Mbps is on a phone unless you're tethering to a computer and doing downloads on that.
  • name99 - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    I don't want to be cruel but, good god, you are stupid.

    What these devices enable is

    (a) substantially more CONSISTENT performance across a cell. Instead of the maddening variability of the current system, you should, much more often, get decent performance even at the edge of a cell.

    Unfortunately, the one place you'd most like to have this is with voice, and it seems that our oh-so-sophisticated cellular overloads can't get their act together enough to move their voice transmission onto 21st century technology. Perhaps if we're lucky, this will happen sometime before 2025.

    (b) somewhat better usage of the limited bandwidth available (ie a larger aggregate bandwidth for the entire cell), which in turn means that in places where, right now, data can be so slow as to be useless, data will now perform somewhat better.
    Once again, this likewise has implications for voice meaning, for example, that (once the cell companies get their act together) there will be less need to drop to the low bit rate (and really crappy sounding) codecs.

    One can understand why the cell companies talk up 4G speeds. The numbers are easily understood as meaning "better than now", and discussing them does not mean having to concede "yes, our current systems are inconsistent, frequently overloaded, and have crappy voice".
    There is rather less justification for why ARS obsesses about these peak speeds, rather than discussing the actual issues that 4G technologies improve --- aggregate bandwidth and signal consistency.
  • Omega215D - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    I have a stock Thunderbolt and I see better battery life than what's indicated here and I live in NYC. Moderate usage gives me 18 hours of life while constant internet pegging brings me down to 5 - 7 hours all on LTE. I've never experienced intermittent LTE signals when here or traveling (to other LTE cities) either.

    LTE makes sense for quick pull ups of sites when on the road, like restuarants/ eateries, or for my future plans of video calling my friends who are moving overseas while I make my move to the west coast.

    Also I am grandfathered into Unlimited Data in which I am happy that I got my T-bolt when I did.
  • PCTC2 - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    Just letting you know there's a typo. Nothing big.
    "Brian saw LTE speeds clustered around 10 Mbps down and 2-3 Mbps down."
    Isn't the second one supposed to say "up"?

    As for 4G, I would appreciate the speed even remotely close as I barely get 1 Mbps down, 0.2 Mbps up, but I guess I can't complain because 80% of my day is spent in WiFi coverage anyways.
  • VivekGowri - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    Fiiiiiixed :)
  • Lolimaster - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    Now Anand, remove sysmark from your cpu benchmark, it's now a useless biased bench. We all know that except "some" sites.
  • bluelite - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    Wait. Isn't this the same engine as the one on my over year old Incredible ? And LTE is nice. IF it is available at your location. It's not available here. Suffolk County Long Island.
  • Omid.M - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    I picked up a used Thunderbolt for $330. That included shipping, 5 batteries, two chargers, case & holster, and screen protector.

    Why did I do this? I dislike the phone itself but this was the fastest way to secure unlimited 4G before tiered plans come (likely early July). I will use the Bolt until a phone based on Krait comes to market. I hope HTC releases something like the Sensation for Verizon, based on Krait and with a qHD/SLCD display. I want the Galaxy S2 but I doubt it'll have LTE. There's just no way.

    Yes, I would buy my next phone off contract to avoid locking myself into a contract with new terms (i.e. tiered data plans).
  • Mr Perfect - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    Could you test out the camera's macro mode? One of the main things I use my phone's camera for is taking pictures of small parts and labels, things like product and serial numbers, connectors and those little bits that people always manage to break off of devices. My current phone is OK at best, usually requiring some trial and error with things like distance, flash and focus. Thanks!
  • Impulses - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    "this is a huge peeve of mine with the HD7, iPod touch, and anything Samsung makes - bottom-mounted headphone jacks and side-located power buttons are stupid."

    Wow, I strongly disagree on both counts... I know a lot of people prefer the top mounted headphone jack because it's easier to hold the device this way with headphones plugged in, but I generally listen to music with the phone in my pocket... I also tend to slip it into my pocket upside down so that when I slide my palm over it and take it out the device is already right side up. However that's impossible to do with headphones plugged into a top mounted jack, unless the headphones have an L plug (and even then it's awkward).

    It might be a different story for people with thinner phones or pockets (i guess they'd pinch the screen or the sides to slide it out, which always felt precarious with my EVO)... It's a pretty personal thing I guess.

    The side power button isn't as personal a matter tho, imo. I've got fairly long fingers and after a year with an EVO I don't see why anyone prefers it up top on any 4.3"phone, no matter how you hold the phone it requires an awkward finger reach to press... Samsung's side mounted lock button seems like the way to go imo. Even better would be a front button that wakes up the device, I like capacitive buttons better but I do miss the ability to easily wake it while it's laying down (without gripping it to press a side button).

    Surely there's gotta be an ingenious solution that combines all the pro's and con's... At least most Android devices are coming with notification lights.

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