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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  • name99 - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    This is a silly statement. The problem is not specifically with CDMA, it is with Verizon, or if you prefer, with IS-95.

    CDMA as an underlying technology has won, no-one is arguing about this anymore. Every future cellular standard (even the GSM ones) utilizes CDMA as part of the suite of technologies that it uses.

    You are correct about this particular problem with the Verizon system (along with various other dumb problems, eg issues in consolidating long SMS messages, or use of unicode in SMS), but are mistaken in what you blame for the problem.
    Reply
  • tdenton1138 - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    Got a Charge after having an 1.1Ghz (OC'd) OG Droid on CM 7.0.3 and WOW what an upgrade. Of course, you'd think it would be but its amazing the difference.

    There are two custom roms out, a few kernels, voodoo lagfix and cwm recovery works, except for nandroid (at the moment).

    Weird the review said the T-Bolt gets better battery life... Everyone over at XDA and AC complains about the T-Bolt battery and those that have switched to a Charge have seen a marked improvement in battery life. Don't know what to make of that, but I get 17+ hours of normal use, so I don't complain.

    We've now got 3 Charges in the family and we all love them. Would I have rather waited for the SGS2? Not after using the Charge. It was more than enough of an upgrade for me right now. Dual core will be helpful sometime (Honeycomb? Ice Cream?), but I can do everything I need with zero lag (and I mean zero), so its no big deal for me today.
    Reply
  • GrizzledYoungMan - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    Any advice on custom ROMs for the Droid Charge? The Google seems to come up with disparate results, and few reviews. I'd love to hear your thoughts! Reply
  • Omega215D - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    I get around that many hours of usage from my STOCK Thunderbolt. I just don't push e-mail or Facebook notifications as that will kill any phone (like my Storm 2). I find that my Thunderbolt gives me similar battery life that I was seeing under my Droid 1 but on LTE with the Thunderbolt. Reply
  • tdenton1138 - Thursday, June 23, 2011 - link

    @ GrizzledYoungMan: I'm currently running Altered Beast v5 (its a themed rom) with gummyCHARGED 1.7.5 kernel, voodoo lagfix enabled. There's also a gummyROM that's more AOSP than Altered Beast. To each their own.

    @Omega215D: Not having a T-Bolt, I can only relay the comments I see on the Charge boards at XDA and AC. If you get great battery life, then great! FWIW, I also got great battery life "STOCK", but wanted to de-bloat and get rid of most of the poop brown that Samsung seems to like.
    Reply
  • dudefrommars - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    The physical buttons are great. I wish my other phones had those.

    I had this phone for 3 days and returned it.
    The voice quality had more pops and cutoffs than my nexus one on t-mobile.
    Small difference in voice quality, but I found it really annoying.

    The touchwiz ui is awful.
    The browser lacks the +- on screen buttons that zoom in and re-format web pages to screen width. With touchwiz, you can zoom in, but end up scrolling left and right - I HATE that.

    The disabled tethering was the final straw.
    I only use mobile data with my laptop a few times per year, so paying fees for all those months with no usage is not acceptable.

    On the plus side, verizon was very good about the return.
    $35 restock, and they pro-rated the usage to the days I had the phone.
    Reply
  • Omega215D - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    I felt the same way when I contemplated about returning my Thunderbolt for the Droid Charge. The screen on the Charge is great and the battery life seemed to be better (looking at the battery meter on an unplugged Charge and its usage) and for some reason didn't feel as slippery as many reviewers noted.

    Playing with the phone for an hour or so and it was a bit of a pain. The lag and lack of web reformatting got to me. Plus there isn't any LED notification light.

    With 2.3 supposedly on the way I have no real reason not to like my Thunderbolt but Sense UI is great to use without being on 2.3.
    Reply
  • sitharien - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    You seem to be way more thorough in your phone reviews. Please review the EVO 3D, for Sprint. The last guy just seemed to speed past everything. With Android devices, battery tests really matter, but the guy that reviewed the EVO 3D barely spent a paragraph on it. He seemed biased against the either the phone or the carrier from the outset. Maybe the 3D moniker ruffled his feathers.... Reply
  • Impulses - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    What are you talking about, Anandtech hasn't reviewed the EVO 3D yet, they ran a hands-on performance preview but that was it. I think they're gonna be doing the Sensation and Droid X2 first, but I hope they tackle the EVO 3D after that...

    Other reviews on the web are so contradictory it's not even funny, and no one seems to be able to run a proper battery test. Honestly, all the news blogs reviews are mediocre at best, it's pretty dad when a CNet review actually gives more detail than almost anything else (Laptopmag's was pretty thorough too, still nowhere near AT standards tho).

    I'm actually holding off on upgrading while waiting for the AT EVO 3D review, even tho my EVO 4G has been suffering from sporadic reboots lately (they seen to be heat related). If the Photon wasn't on the horizon I might've taken the plunge knowing I have 30 days tho.
    Reply
  • Brian Klug - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    I think you're alluding to our hands-on piece with the EVO 3D from a meeting with HTC at Qualcomm Uplinq. We're absolutely going to review the EVO 3D, actually that's scheduled now. Anand is going to do that review however since there is no WiMAX in my state sadly. I've got the HTC Sensation, however.

    -Brian
    Reply

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