The iPhone has a tough new competitor on the shelves at Verizon Wireless stores.
Starting Thursday, Verizon will sell the first phone to use its new 4G LTE network — old school 4G, from the days when 4G meant either WiMax or LTE.
Called the ThunderBolt, it’s a 4.3-inch slab made by HTC, running Android 2.2 on a 1 gigahertz Snapdragon processor.
Verizon said customers should expect download speeds of 5 to 12 megabits per second and uploads of 2 to 5 Mbps where there’s LTE coverage.
Verizon launched its LTE network in December, but so far it’s been available only for use with modems, such as the LTE USB stick that gave me stunning 16 Mbps downloads in Seattle when the network was wide open.
The ThunderBolt also works as a mobile hotspot that shares its 4G connection with up to eight devices.
It has an 8 megapixel camera that takes 720p video, a front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera for video chats and 40 gigabytes of memory — 8 GB of onboard memory, plus a 32 GB memory card.
Preloaded apps include EA’s “Rock Band” and Gameloft’s “Let’s Golf! 2.”
It’s not cheap, though. Verizon is selling it for $249.99 with a new, two-year contract. Unlimited LTE data plans start at $29.99 a month.