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At $600, the HTC Bolt is simply too expensive for what you get. The phone’s outdated hardware and unforgivable bloatware make it difficult to recommend, especially since the excellent HTC 10 is only $50 more.
The Bolt isn’t a bad phone on the outside, but it was made bad by Sprint’s mandatory software that tries to sell you apps and services at every turn. You shouldn’t have to spend the first several hours of phone ownership uninstalling bloatware (or uninstalling the half you can actually get rid of) and disabling tabloid news stories from showing up on your lock screen.
If you must have a phablet and are stuck on Sprint, the Bolt may be worth considering if you can forgive its high price and bloatware. If you can stand having a slightly smaller screen, the HTC 10 is a much better value.
Who’s this for?
If you’re stuck on Sprint and want a big phone, the HTC Bolt isn’t a terrible choice. It’s one of the fastest phones available on the carrier, and the fastest running Android 7.0, taking advantage of LTE-Advance speeds.
Should you buy it?
No. The Bolt is simply too much money for what you get. When you consider the fact that the HTC 10 is just $49 more, it makes the already outdated Bolt hard to justify. If you can live with the smaller 5.2-inch screen, get the HTC 10 instead.
The HTC 10 is the Bolt’s natural alternative. HTC’s smaller flagship phone is a better value at just $49 more than the Bolt. For that money, you’ll get a faster camera, Quick Charge 3.0, a modern processor and the same tank-like build.
Full review: HTC 10
iPhone 6S Plus
If you don’t have to stick with Android, the iPhone 6S Plus is around the same price as the Bolt on Sprint. This may be last year’s iPhone, but it’s still plenty fast. Apple’s software optimization and ability to push updates to its older models in a timely rate means the iPhone 6S Plus will continue being speedy for years.
Full review: iPhone 6S Plus
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
If you can afford to splurge a little more, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is a great alternative. It’s water resistant, sports one of the best smartphone cameras on the market and features a beautiful curved edge screen. You’ll have to deal with Samsung’s skin and long waits for updates, but it’s a compelling package.
Full review: Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge