Rumors appeared in mid-July that HTC had stopped working on an Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update for the popular Desire HD smartphone. The news came from Canadian mobile network Telus, and stated that problems during testing motivated HTC’s decision.
Owners expressed their disappointment on HTC’s official Facebook page and through the comments section on its blog, but the company remained quiet. Any hope of a last minute reprise, or a statement saying the update hadn’t been canceled, died when the Desire HD was crossed off HTC’s own ICS update list.
The explanation echoed that of Telus but with a key change, as HTC didn’t mention Android 4.0 at all, saying: “After extensive testing, we’ve determined that the current version of HTC Sense with Android provides customers with the best experience on the HTC Desire HD.”
HTC Sense 3.0 came to the Desire HD in late 2011, along with Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread, but 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is accompanied by HTC Sense 3.6, a light version of Sense 4.0 found on new Ice Cream Sandwich phones.
As with the original HTC Desire, it again appeared that it was HTC’s user interface that was to blame for the decision not to upgrade the operating system.
Now, a week later, HTC has felt the need to offer another explanation for what it calls “a controversial decision,” and this time it’s Sense that doesn’t get a mention.
Storage problems on the Desire HD to blame
It says Android 4.0 won’t be coming to the Desire HD “due to how storage is partitioned” and that the large size of the Android software “would require re-partitioning device storage and overwriting user data in order to install the update.”
It goes on to add that while “technically advanced users” may find this acceptable, the majority of customers would not. The company considered reducing the size of the software, but found this would “impact features and functionality that customers are currently using.”
Tests showed that installing the planned update “negatively impacted the user experience,” and HTC is “truly sorry” for going back on its word to bring Android 4.0 to the Desire HD.
Maintaining the user experience is possibly code for “HTC Sense wouldn’t work properly,” and as the UI is an important part of HTC’s branding, it’s no wonder it’s not going to put out a limited version just to appease a few owners who want Android 4.0.
That’s it then, the Desire HD will remain on Android Gingerbread, a large percentage of owners won’t care, and some of those who do will find themselves a custom ROM instead. It’s those in-between these two groups who are the most vocal on the subject, and who may not choose an HTC device again in the future.
We now await the fate of the ever-so-similar HTC Desire S.