Conclusion and Final Thoughts

I have to admit that I like the Charge a lot. It’s thinner and lighter weight than the other 4G LTE handsets, and SAMOLED+ is both super contrasty and remedies my number one concern with AMOLED and SAMOLED by giving PenTile the axe. The phone has a lot going for it, and is an all around excellent performer both in throughput tests and application performance, minus the obtuse inclusion of RFS which brings it down in filesystem-centric benchmarks. I carried the thing around long enough to definitely get to know it well, and overall I came out impressed with Samsung’s 4G LTE handset, even if it really is a rebooted Galaxy S with a few Galaxy S 2 features and new basebands. To be honest, the Charge has gotten me incredibly excited for Samsung Galaxy S 2, which we’re going to finally review very soon. 

Positive things about the Charge said and done, the handset’s positioning by Verizon leaves me totally and completely confused. My confusion is namely over why Verizon picked the Charge as its premiere ‘Droid’ level 4G LTE handset over the Thunderbolt. The HTC Thunderbolt offers 256 MB more RAM, 2 GB more internal NAND, the best cellular architecture of the three with SVDO support, and on average better battery life with the stock battery (were we to normalize out the Charge’s 0.73 Whr battery size advantage, the TB is a fair margin more efficient). 

The main leg up the Charge has is Samsung’s much thinner and lighter build profile, Hummingbird SoC, and SAMOLED+, all of which earns the phone a $299 on-contract price. That’s a whole $50 premium over the already higher than normal $249 Thunderbolt and Revolution. I’m sure there’s some political reason for the whole thing, but it still is confusing. The pricing structure just seems wrong - the Thunderbolt and Charge seem like obvious front runners, followed by the LG Revolution for shoppers that want an LTE handset but don’t want to pay way more than the usual $199 contract price. 

Zoomed way out, the optimal cross section of features still is LTE alongside a dual core SoC. Right now web browsing is more CPU bound than network bound, and having another core will help balance things out so the smartphone browsing experience is finally almost indistinguishable from the desktop. 

My last parting thought concerns LTE data use. See this screenshot: 

8.712 GB of unlimited. That gave me a bit of pause as well, considering that this entire month I’ve done no tethering thanks to the Charge hotspot being disabled. Every bit of that data was used on the handset. LTE is stupid fast, and I’ve found that I now eat correspondingly more bandwidth doing things like remote desktop, watching my five network cameras, making artists on Google Music available offline in the airport, watching long flash videos, and of course running endless speedtests. Unlimited Verizon 4G LTE data ends with the introduction of tiered data plans on July 7, after which point using this much data will get much more expensive than $30/month. 

Anand and I both have a bit of a backlog, and have a bunch more devices to get through this week. I have an odd Sensation that the next one will be exciting...

Battery Life: About Par for LTE
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  • GrizzledYoungMan - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    Howdy!

    I could use some wisdom from the thoughtful nerds at Anandtech here. I'm a Verizon subscriber (who won't be switching networks, on account of the fact that I like getting reception), and I've been holding onto my Blackberry Pearl for last three odd years.

    Seriously. Don't laugh. The reason being that I haven't been so impressed with any Android phone that has come out in recent memory. I really like having a hardware keyboard, and I've found that for the stuff I need to do most - messaging, calling, mapping - the Pearl was as good as the first and second generation Android phones, except not fat.

    Now, it's come time for me to move on. To what? The iPhone is out, since I'm not an asshole. And I would really prefer to get something with an LTE radio. So I'm left with the prospect of the Thunderbolt, which sucks juice like a fat baby, or the Droid Charge, which is just straight up ugly. And, in my experience, has a maddening color cast to the screen.

    In my mind, it's worth it to wait a few more months, after years of avoiding upgrades, for the Droid 3, Bionic, GS2, etc. Any thoughts on the following?

    I like the look of the Droid 3, and my hunch is that battery life would be at least reasonable without an LTE radio on-board. But would I miss that connectivity? Overall, I prefer faster connectivity to a dual core proc. The hardware keyboard on the Droid 3 would seem to be a big draw, but the keyboard on the Droid 2 is so awful that I feel like I'm taking crazy pills every time people rave about it.

    The Droid Bionic sounds like an awesome beast - and like something that could also replace my kindle, my ipod and my netbook to a limited degree - but I have an ugly hunch it's months and months away. And that when it does arrive, it's gonna be gigantic and require a portable nuclear reactor to run for more than a few hours.

    I hear that the Samsung GS2 is coming to Verizon, but is that likely to happen in my natural lifetime? And if it does, what are the odds that it also has an LTE radio without the accompanying diabetic-5-year-old appetite?

    Alright, this has degenerated into a semi-rant, but thoughts from others in the same situation are appreciated! Thanks!
    Reply
  • Pessimism - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    You're right that the QWERTY market for Android is sadly lacking. Motorola seems to be the only vendor even taking a decent crack at it. Downside is they refuse to open their handsets to the community (bootloader/system is locked down and encrypted up the wazoo) and they have already orphaned many of their earlier, otherwise capable droid phones on obsolete releases. Reply
  • GrizzledYoungMan - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    Yeah, the locked bootloader thing also bugs me. It really wouldn't if handsets shipped with stock Android, and some measure of confidence that the OS would be updated in a timely fashion. But given that handsets ship with absurd bloatware and crappy UI overlays - I guess that's what we need these dual core procs for, to get all that crap working? - and heinously slow update cycles, I want control of my own ROM.

    Sigh. I gotta say, this is all really frustrating. Relative to the choices I had back when RIM was king, the smartphone market seems to have gotten crappier. Reviewers get very excited about big screens and kickstands and video streaming (I mean, jebus, who gives a crap about video streaming? I need to live, people), without noticing that phones have gotten obese and slow and half-assed.
    Reply
  • PeteH - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    "The iPhone is out, since I'm not an asshole."

    C'mon dude, don't be that guy. Just say you don't want an iPhone.
    Reply
  • GrizzledYoungMan - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    Yeah, you're right. Maybe I am an asshole.

    I thought long and hard about the iphone. Unlike other Apple products which fall mind-blowingly short of the hype - I'm looking at you, OS X, you fat, slow, stupid bastard - It's clearly the best hardware package out there as far as size/performance/battery life, and iOS has definite advantages over Android (although neither is a clear winner in my mind, given the applications I have for a smartphone).

    But, I mean, man. I just can't do it. I can't be part of the whole Apple "thing" - the implied smugness, ignorance, the submission to an authority that clearly has contempt for me.

    Just can't do it.
    Reply
  • Omid.M - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    Yeah, seriously! I will admit when a product is well executed. I'm not the " I hate brand X" guy. I like BMW, I like the Hyundai Tiburon V6. The Nissan 370z...etc. If it's well-done, it's well-done.

    Apple makes a great product. It's just a different philosophy in terms of design and UX. They use high quality parts and their testing is good and pretty thorough. If there isn't a good Android phone out by the time there's an iPhone with a 4" screen and LTE on Verizon, I may go with iPhone. But, I do love the kind of apps that are available for Android, in terms of monitoring system resources, etc. Some cool stuff is available that you can't get on iOS unless you jailbreak.
    Reply
  • robco - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    "The iPhone is out, since I'm not an asshole."

    Actually with that comment, you proved that you in fact are...
    Reply
  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    You probably own an iPhone though, right? Reply
  • robco - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    I do, and I like it. But there are things about it I don't like. There are Android handsets that look good. I'm even open to WP7. I use a Mac, but it's a laptop. Say what you want, but Apple makes great notebooks. If I were in the market for a desktop, it would likely be a Windows box.

    I'm an asshole, but not because I own an iPhone. I was an asshole long before I got one. Assholes use all different kinds of technologies, drive different types of cars (not everyone who drives a BMW is a douchebag for example), live in all types of places. Being an asshole and owning an iPhone are mutually exclusive.
    Reply
  • name99 - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    "Being an asshole and owning an iPhone are mutually exclusive."

    You mean they are ORTHOGONAL.
    Reply

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