Sunday, September 9, 2012

Android Displays the Power of Open Source

I have five Android devices used by different members of the family.

  • HTC Desire HD (Released Q4 2010)
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab P1000 (Released Q4 2010)
  • HTC Sensation XE (Released Q4 2011)
  • Google Galaxy Nexus (Released Q4 2011)
  • Samsung Galaxy S III (Released Q2 2012)

All these are, or were, top of the line handsets at the time of their release. However, software support has been so so.

  1. The HTC Desire HD and Samsung Galaxy Tab are officially stuck at Gingerbread (Android 2.3.x) due to alleged "performance issues" or other issues. 
  2. The HTC Sensation is on Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0.3), and while HTC may update this phone to Android 4.1, my view in HTC's support for softwares updates these days is dimm, so I think this phone will get stuck here.
  3. The Google Galaxy Nexus and Samsung Galaxy S III are on Ice Cream Sandwich with Jelly Bean on the way.
So, if we were to look at just Ice Cream Sandwich upgrades, with five top end Android devices, we would have 40% fragmentation. 

But Android is open source. It means kind hearted third parties can mess around with it and give, us what the manufacturers don't want too.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab P1000 is now on Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.04) courtesy of CyanogenMod.  Work is already being done on a Jelly Bean ROM (Android 4.1), with a very functional experimental version on its third release, expect a stable version of this ROM out within the month, or next.

The HTC Desire HD is now also on Android Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.04) courtesy of Team Blackouts ICS Incredible. Actually, it is hard to pick a good Ice Cream Sandwich ROM for the HTC Desire HD. You have too many choices. You have a nice stable full Sense 4 ROM from the Virtuous Team, a nice AOKP (Nexus like) ROM from LorD CloakaN, and literally another dozen other versions. There are already several mature Jelly Bean options too, and if that suits you randomblame's Jelly Time is a good bet.

Of course, you will need to root your phone, and many fora are not too newbie friendly. Don't go it on your own. The nice people at the Phandroid Android Forums are very happy to help first time rooters.

So, what is the bottom line? 

Manufacturers Ice Cream Sandwich compliance for < 2 year old devices = 60%.
Manufacturers + Community Ice Cream Sandwich compliance for < 2 year old devices = 100%.

Will report on the Jelly Bean score card in a few months.

In the end, two obsolete devices, the HTC Desire HD and the Samsung Galaxy Tab have gotten updated that make them viable for a another year or so of use.

Look at this in contrast to a closed environment. The original Apple iPad has good hardware, better than the Apple iPhone 3GS. But the 3GS get one more update to let it live on till 2013. In a few days or weeks, the Apple iPad will be offically obsolete.


  1. I ditched my HTC One V warranty and rooted my phone. I installed the most stable, bloat free sense 4.0. ROM (myoneV 5.0 FX) c/o CKPv5. I changed the kernel (Titanium Kiss) and OC the device to 1.5ghz. Stable, fast and improved battery life.

    The then super-laggy HTC One V stock ROM now performs silky smooth with good battery life. Before I contemplate of buying a dual-core phone, but now, i think I can keep this for another year. Until my plan expires.

    Android is the best. Beat that IOS.

    1. I would recommend not over-clocking beyond what 1200 vdd can handle.

      I have Android 4.04/Sense 3.6 installed on my 19 month old HTC Desire HD and Android 4.04 on a 20 month old Samsung Galaxy Tab. Feel the same as you. No reason to upgrade.


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