HTC Provides Even More Details On Why Desire HD Won’t Be Seeing Android 4.0


Most HTC customers were generally pleased when HTC officially announced that lineup of devices that would be seeing an update to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Just about every dual-core device made the cut, and to many’s surprise — a few single-core devices like the the HTC Desire HD made the roster as well.

More recently, there were murmurs around the net coming from users who heard from HTC reps in various countries that the HTC Desire HD would, in fact, not see an upgrade to ICS. HTC was quick to come clean confirming the rumors, saying this was due to hardware constraints. Many Desire HD customers were understandably upset at the news, going as far as calling BS.

Today, HTC has officially spoken out regarding the update, giving customers more details on exactly why the HTC Desire HD wont be updated to Ice Cream Sandwich relating to memory constraints. Here’s what they said via their blog:

We’ve heard your feedback on our decision not to update the HTC Desire HD to Android 4.0. We completely understand that this is a controversial decision.

For more background, due to how storage on the HTC Desire HD is partitioned – and the larger size of Android 4.0 – it would require re-partitioning device storage and overwriting user data in order to install this update. While technically advanced users might find this solution acceptable, the majority of customers would not. We also considered ways to reduce the overall size of the software package, but this would impact features and functionality that customers are currently using. Even after installing the update, there were other technical limitations which we felt negatively impacted the user experience.

We believe an update should always improve the user experience and carefully evaluate each update based on this criteria. While we are very aware of the disappointment from this decision, we believe the impact to user experience was too great. We recognize this is a change from our previous statement and for that we’re truly sorry.

I’m sure this explanation isn’t likely to quell upset Desire HD owners who were looking forward to Android’s new firmware. I’ve seen the argument that if hobbyist ROM chefs can cook up ICS ROMs, HTC should be able to do the same. But as HTC said in their statement, user experience for majority of their customers is their key focus and they’re not about to drop Sense UI for a newer firmware. But, as goes the story… When it comes to Android updates, they are almost always filled with anxiety, betrayal, anger, and relief — all the components of a good daytime drama.

[HTC Blog]

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

Jelly Bean factory images posted for Nexus S, Galaxy Nexus, and Nexus 7

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  1. I don’t see a problem with this. The technical users who are okay with compromises to the user experience that HTC provides (or getting rid of sense altogether) are free to unlock their phones through HTCDev and install a custom ROM.

    1. Exactly. I’m sure HTC promised an update before verifying with engineers that it was possible. And anybody who really wants ICS can still get it.

      1. They have stated several times that they have tried many different things to make it work. It just didn’t. It’s not like they just chose to abandon it.

        1. Oh I know. I am not faulting them. I’m sure they actually did try.

    2. Unfortunately it’s a little more complicated than that. At the moment, custom ROMs for the DHD are held back by the lack of an updated kernel. The ICS release would have fixed that.

  2. The ICS update for the Desire HD was cruical for the makers of many people who have made and are making ICS ports for older HTC devices like the Desire Z as some drivers don’t currently work. If HTC really are sorry then they would release the necessary drivers to the developer community so that those who really want to port ICS, can.

    1. Yeah, there’s that whole driver issue. I’m not sure WHY HTC doesn’t, I’m sure there’s politics, business talks and whatnot involved in that.

      I mean to us lowly consumers, it also makes sense for OEM’s to unlock bootloades, release stock builds that users can flash to instead of their custom UI’s, a bunch of things that are likely to never happen.. =/

  3. The Doubleshot (Mytouch 4g Slide) didn’t make the cut, and it has the same internals as the Sensation. We still don’t have a fully functioning, flawless ICS rom…..Oh well, I am moving on anyway soon.

    1. Least your just moving on and not complaining Lol.

  4. We are not going to update to ICS because we want to piss off even more of our current customers and help reduce our market share even further

  5. So in other words, they are complete IDIOTS. They couldn’t think the upcoming versions of Android would be bigger than the minimum amount of storage that they left for the OS? Or maybe they just didn’t expect to upgrade the device more than once?

    And hey, didn’t they initially say that there are “performance” issues with the upgrade? So that was just a lie, then? Because this has nothing to do with the performance of the device.

    They better not come up with this excuse again for devices like HTC One X next year. Leave 2 GB of storage for the OS if necessary, instead of 200 MB like you’re doing now. Of course Android is going to get bigger as it evolves. And stop being so damn cheap on internal storage. HTC has always been extremely cheap on storage. That’s why most of their “high-end” phones of 2010 only had 150 MB of free storage.

    1. Really? So you’re saying the device should have packed 2012 specs, in a 2010 device?

      As far as Android users expecting every firmware update that comes out of Google, I think that’s unrealistic. I’m happy with a device launching with the latest version of Android, then receiving 1 update in the future. After that, it’s simply time to upgrade.

      1. Then you must not be happy often. Few devices ever see the latest version of Android without help from 3rd party ROMs.

        1. Android updates come out lyk twice a year. Hmm… If I didn’t change phones too often I’d be on my last year with the G2 with my contract expiring in Oct. I never complained about my G2. I was satisfied with it. ICS would have been nice, but I wasn’t going to get upset about not having a Face-to-unlock.

          Also, I’d be just in time for an update to a newer phone. Possibly the Note 2. Good things come to those who wait…or those who phone hop and root. =.P

      2. I usually agree with you, Chris, n for the most part I do here s well. However, I think that since Android seems to be upgraded twice a year, and most users are on contracts (which should be abolished imo) that last two years, devices should see more than one os update before it is time to upgrade.

    2. How can you say that the need to remove features from the update, or a negative impact on the user experience, have “nothing to do with the performance of the device”?

  6. I have an idea HTC……get rid of Sence for the Desire and you should be good!

    1. Better yet, how about compensating users by updating to the smaller Jelly Bean version? After all, there appears to be no indication that the fact that ICS doesn’t work NECESSARILY precludes the efficacy of JB.

      1. But if HTC let people with older devices update to the latest Sense version, how could they push you to purchase their all-new models?

        1. It’s true, there is a certain conflict of interest.

  7. I see no problem. Desire HD is the same generation as galaxy s. Galaxy s didn’t get it for the same reason.

    1. Are you f-ing kidding? The Nexus S is now updating to Android 4.1, Jelly Bean, let alone getting ICS 6+ months ago. Of course the near identical Galaxy S can get it.

      1. Near identical? Hardware- wise, perhaps. However, while the physical memory may be comparable, more of that limited memory (considerably more?) is spoken for in the Galaxy S, which has TouchWiz, along with some amount of bloatware, that the Nexus S does not.

      2. You just hit the nail on the head…Original Galaxy S= touchwiz; Desire HD= Sense; Nexus S= Stock Android.

        See the problem?

      3. It can but it didn’t. That is my point. If you want updates get a nexus or root, but the average user doesn’t really care and would find losing all their data a bigger loss than what they gain from ICS.

  8. they should just put a hybrid of sense 4 and 3.6 so it’ll be less bloated and still sense

  9. Er…just one thing. How do they know the majority of customers wouldn’t find the compromises acceptable? I for one sure as hell don’t remember being asked… but I might’ve just missed the memo.

    1. They just said that it would erase “user data”. Meaning you’d lose everything and have to start over. I’m sure hope you make a back-up of your apps on your non-rooted phone. Get what’s going on now?

      1. Oh, so it’s the boohoos over having to do one clean install? Well, whoever ain’t happy that just wouldn’t do it then, no? As far as I know, upgrades are not forced to be done…?

        1. You seriously underestimate the common user. I’m fairly sure that after numerous non-wipe OTA updates, if HTC put an OTA out there that wiped the phone, no matter how many disclaimers they put on it, a large chunk of users would just flash it without thinking and then get all pissy that they lost everything.

          It could be better, but I don’t think HTC are being too unreasonable. Most people don’t care what Android version they’re on, just what features they have. If people are bothered about the Android version then they’ve got HTCDev or community unlock/custom ROM’s coming out of their ears.

        2. I for one don’t care since I root, but stock wise, does your content transfer if you do in-app purchases? Do all your games save its data in the SD card and not phone memory?

          Those are the only things I can think of that you can’t back up… scratch that. You don’t need root to access your data files. You can manually back it up. LoL!!

      2. I prefer clean installs, guy with hat too big for his tiny head.

  10. My Thunderbolt will still be getting it though right? :3

    1. Probably not VZW is all about given you blue balls and raping your wallet.

  11. Also: there’s Blackout ICS, ported from Sensation XL. Now, my DHD isn’t repartitioned as far as I know, and I could install that, together with about 100 apps and had no storage problems whatsoever…

  12. Note to all: Buy a Nexus device. Enough with this unsupported garbage from other companies.

    1. Yeah. I’m eagerly awaiting the next one.

  13. I don’t get it. I have a Nexus S, which first got OTA ICS and now JellyBean. Nexus S only has 1GB internal storage, whilst Desire HD has 1,5GB internal. They are just lazy and trying to push people to get new phones, and everyone with Desire HD’s will get screwed because of it. So much for 18 months of updates huh.

    1. Did you even bother to read the post?

      1. Yes, my point is that it doesn’t need repartitioning. My Nexus S has considerably less internal storage on the system partition, and it’s happily running ICS.

        1. Your Nexus S isn’t running HTC Sense.

          1. If HTC sense takes up more than 500mb ( ie more than Android ICS itself ) then the developers at HTC are doing something horribly wrong. I think that’s BS. The Desire S has the same amount of internal storage, and gets ICS. This article sheds more technical details on HTC’s blatant BS ( sorry Chris to post from another site ;)

            Plus, there are enough Sense 4,0 roms out there for the HD that don’t require repartitioning.

  14. This sounds believable and honest to me. This is a decision I can understand and accept. I think all the technically impaired people like moms and mac users (sorry lol) that don’t even know which Android version they run would be really pissed if suddenly their pictures and music was gone. And I strongly believe that these people are the majority of users.
    HTC however could go the extra mile and provide an update which is not OTA, and backs everything up and restores it after the update. Or they could release the update as “Experimental”-“for experienced users only” and warn that personal data will be lost.

  15. Im sure HTC will most likely make the update available but as an option to download and install as they did with the original Desire after they said it wouldn’t get the 2.3 Gingerbread update due to technical reasons. When that happened they made the update available on the HTC website and allowed users who were desperate for the update to download and install. They could easily do the same again and make it clear that installing will overwrite data and also include a step by step for users who are not so technically savvy.

  16. Hey HTC here is a solution.

    Stop forcing Sense on top of the Android OS and ICS and JB will run perfect on any Android device you ever made.

    There is no reason for Sense anymore. You need to stop doing things the way YOU want and start doing things for your customers. If not you will end up like RIM.

    Take a look at your shrinking market share and anyone can tell you it’s time to do things differently.

    Sense 4 is a joke. While you promised to listen to the consumer and shrink your UI, from what I have seen ROMs with Sense 4 are just as bloated as previous versions.


    1. When you say “listen to the consumer”, don’t you mean “listen to ME and several dozen other commenters on Phandroid”?

  17. You know what Chris I would like to see the G1 run ICS or even Jelly Bean WTF. Damn I haven’t seen a update in ages. Your crying over ICS where’s my G1 love Google said hell with me. I want ICS on my G1 :D

  18. The technical users they are referring to will just end up rooting and flashing anyway.

  19. Stopping an update due to the majority of users being not technical minded is absurd, HTC should make the update available to those who want it.

  20. I use to get mad about these thing’s but I understand stand where they’re coming from. More advance users like I am know what they mean. But most people don’t realize that HTC gives you the tools to unlock your phone and install roms.

  21. Hey least most of you can upgrade and not lose you unlimited data, for me I’m stuck with the Rezound for life lol.

  22. Eh, the inspire 4G wasn’t getting it anyway and I have since moved on the HTC One X.

    I always choose htc over other oem’s but if they don’t start improving their business model ie. Memory expansion, better battery life and less sense devices, I might just move on to another android competitor. Oh and for the love of god, do something with the power & volume buttons.

  23. If that’s the only reason, then HTC should at least provide the update for those willing to overlook the warning.

  24. Why can’t they just leak it to XDA? An unofficial official update would make everyone dying for ICS happy and wouldn’t affect the non-technical consumers at all.

  25. Bloated sense strikes again!

  26. HTC was stupid to partition the device with so little space left on /system in the first place.

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