Update: 9:30 PM EST. See new item at end.
A mobile carrier, a manufacturer, and a smartphone walk into a conference, and... oh wait, you already heard that one? How about this one: The HTC Thunderbolt's rumored launch date has changed yet again. I know you heard that one, but did you hear the date is now February 28th?
Verizon may have launched its LTE service in several major cities, but it still doesn't have a 4G mobile phone that can take advantage of those 5-12 Mbps download speeds. So there are a lot of Big Red customers waiting for the Thunderbolt, as it will be the first mobile phone that can use its new and much faster network. Thus far, the Thunderbolt was supposed to be available on February , 11th, 14th, indefinitely,24th, 21st, and now the 28th. Plus there's the will-it-or-won't-it speculation on whether the Thunderbolt will be delivered with Mobile Hotspot ability, and then there's all that talk that Skype Video Chat is having problems.
I haven't even brought up the alternate availability dates should you want to purchase this 4.3 inch display device at Best Buy! And the best buying rumor of all was whether the US's largest carrier was deliberately delaying their first 4G smartphone to ensure that new iPhone buyers couldn't exchange them in for something a little (okay, a LOT) faster.
Last we heard, the pricing was $249 on a two-year contract, and $749 without one. At that latter price I don't expect to see many of them sold without obligation, but the with-contract numbers are about right for a high-end device.
How much do you believe this latest date? I'm a little wary of this newest item, because Verizon usually launches its major phones on Thursdays, and the 28th is a Monday. What do you think? Let us know if comments below.
Update: Stop me if you heard this before. We have... another rumored launch date, this time from Phandroid. Forum member gallandof provides a Verizon purchase order with the Thunderbolt arriving on February 23rd, for sale the next day, the 24th, as was already speculated.
That does fit with Verizon's Thursday launches. Also, the $749 price (above) is Best Buy's contract-free price, and that Verizon's retail price with no contract is $569. If you'd like a one-year contract (and that might be a good idea, given how fast the tech keeps improving), the phone will cost you $339, $80 more than the 2-year price.
And here's a tweet from Verizon to remind us why we shouldn't take these constantly shifting dates very seriously:
As with any news on this phone, stand by for it to change again.