Verizon and HTC show the true meaning of 'disastrous software support' - update the HTC ThunderBolt to ICS

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.

Does anyone even remember the HTC ThunderBolt? We needed a few minutes to recall its appearance (and specs sheet), and when we finally had the complete image in our heads, we realized just how wrong all of this is.

Verizon has now released an update to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich for the ThunderBolt. An update, issued in 2013, brings a 2011 OS to a 2011 handset. Isn't this a disaster? How many people are still using the ThunderBolt anyway? Sure, better late than never, but in this case, we think we should look at what's happening from a different angle. How about carriers and Android phone manufacturers stop missing their own deadlines? We mean, the ICS update for the ThunderBolt should have originally come out in August 2012! (This was already late, considering that ICS was ready at the end of 2011.) Instead, it's here half a year later, ready to improve the experience for the five remaining ThunderBolt users.

This may not be Verizon's fault only. In the end of 2012, HTC "famously" tweeted that the update is coming "soon." This sounds like it was HTC that has delayed the update, which makes the whole situation that much more complex. It means we now have not only the carriers to blame, but also some of the device makers for being super-slow with their software updates. What can our opinion be of a company that doesn't see it as necessary to provide a critical update to one of its products in a critical market? Because ICS is just that - it's a critical update, since the difference between Gingerbread and ICS is truly immense. Does such a manufacturer really care about the user experience of its customers? It certainly doesn't seem so.

We've got to hand it to Samsung for at least making efforts to improve in this respect. They are providing the latest Android updates to their top models like the GS III and Note II in a timely manner. Well, they may not be particularly fast with their older devices like the GS II, but at least the critical ICS update has been provided there. Users of HTC's ThunderBolt, however, haven't been so lucky as Samsung's users. And we have to mention that the ThunderBolt is also a high-end model - the first with 4G LTE on Verizon for that matter. It's not some cheap, budget phone.


We just can't write an article about software updates without mentioning Apple. Apple may be many things, but when it says that an update will come on a specific date (yeah, Apple gives specific dates for its updates), it simply comes. No delays, no roll-out phases. Everyone with a compatible iDevice gets a notification about the update they need to get as soon as the person in Cupertino hits the launch button. Why can't Android manufacturers do the same? We know they have much broader portfolios, but hey, they can at least do it for their once flagship devices. Budget phones don't get too many updates anyway. So, the fact that they have a bigger number of handsets to support is not an excuse.

And why can't Android manufacturers give precise release dates for their software updates? We guess it's very comfortable to stay clear of any due dates and release your updates when you're ready, but is this a luxury one can afford in the wildly-competitive mobile landscape? We don't think so. The fact that most Android manufacturers can't turn a profit speaks for itself. If the price for delivering faster updates is the smaller amount of proprietary UI features, we, personally, are willing to pay it.

We also cannot understand why carriers need to make sure that everything works before issuing an udpate. As we all know, this process can sometimes take forever to complete, and may be the main reason for an epic delay. Apple's devices are also offered through carriers, so why don't they have to go through the carrier verification process? If Apple can bypass it, the others should be able to do it too! After all, it will be the customers of both the respective device maker and carrier who'll be happier, should they get their OS updates faster.

Unfortunately, this isn't anything new. We've been witnessing these major delays for quite a while now, and it doesn't look like things are going to change anytime soon. The just-released ICS update for the HTC ThunderBolt only confirms that.

Related phones

ThunderBolt
  • Display 4.3 inches
    800 x 480 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP (Single camera)
    1.3 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon S2, 0.75GB RAM
  • Storage 8GB, microSDHC
  • Battery 1400 mAh
  • OS Android 4.0

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84 Comments

84. TheRetroReplay

Posts: 256; Member since: Mar 20, 2012

Android updates didn't used to be this bad, the original Motorola Droid got it's updates pretty quick, it got Froyo shortly after the Nexus One was released and a lot of other Android handsets got timely updates. It wasn't until Verizon got the iPhone is when all these Android updates grinded to a severe halt. More than likely, and I know this sounds crazy, in the deal that was signed between the carriers, they are more than likely forced to delay Android updates so that people would shy away from the "fragmented" Android ecosystem and go with Apple's products.

83. vincent95

Posts: 17; Member since: May 19, 2012

I have been holding onto my Thunderbolt ever since they announced the update back in July or so, and I am so happy they are finally going to release the update! (:

82. RomeoJDR

Posts: 245; Member since: Dec 09, 2011

Why does everyone support the manufacturers? Sure the Thunderbolt has outlived its prime and shouldn't expect an update but the one its receiving should have been provided last summer. The only problem with this article is it only calls out HTC and provides undeserved credit to Samsung. Google is the worst offender and biggest hypocrite not living up to their own standards by abandoning the Photon. It would be nice to see a piece written that examines and compares the timeliness of all manufacturers and carriers pushing out updates over the past 2 years rather than singling out examples, but at least this one is advocating for more emphasis toward updating phones. Pretty sure that is something we all support.

81. Xander297

Posts: 9; Member since: Apr 29, 2010

Wow Ray S, think you can bash a little more? This article is rediculous. While I may agree the update should have been out sooner (I just upgraded to DNA from Thunderbolt, but keep it as my backup), it doesn't give you the right to bash HTC and the products or say Android manufacturers don't make profits. That is basically saying that every manufacturer out there is junk and we should just give them the middle finger. Then of course, as you stated, we MUST bring in Apple on this article. Why? Just to use them as part of your opinion to bash Android and it's manufacturers?? Oh and then there is this; "We also cannot understand why carriers need to make sure that everything works before issuing an udpate." Really? Can't understand? I personally want to have something working when it comes out. You said Apple is perfect with their updates, but that is not true at all. There have been many problems in the various updates they have had, but then again nobody is perfect. All in all Ray S, next time you decide to try and write an article, try and leave the bias at home where it belongs.

80. RORYREVOLUTION

Posts: 3131; Member since: Jan 12, 2010

For the 1st US LTE cell phone and despite the Droid Charge and Revolution coming out before it, it's the only one getting the ICS update and considering how old it is, that's not bad at all.

79. GoBears

Posts: 456; Member since: Apr 27, 2012

Who cares about comparing this update to other phones and manufacturers? The important thing is that the people still using this device, which is a lot more than we all think, get to enjoy their phone a little longer. In these hard financial times, it's not uncommon for people to keep a phone for 3 or more years. This will breathe new life into an older device which will be welcomed by many. Kudos to HTC and Verizon for even giving a crap.

74. RomeoJDR

Posts: 245; Member since: Dec 09, 2011

I have an HTC Flyer. It was released with GB when all other tablets were shipping with Honeycomb, but HTC stated HC updates would be out shortly. 8 months I guess was their idea of shortly. They then abandoned it from further updates and when I emailed them to complain for not providing an ICS update they responded back blaming it on the carrier. I didn't hear back after informing them the Flyer is a Wifi only device not provided through a carrier. Guess thats how they roll when it comes to product support.

71. crysiswarmonger

Posts: 82; Member since: Feb 06, 2012

Phone makers do not want to update the OS, they want it to be obsolete in 12 months and you to HAVE to buy a new phone.

67. xtremesv

Posts: 299; Member since: Oct 21, 2011

I'm not sure the comparison to Apple cuts it anymore. You said it right, the difference between Gingerbread and Ice Cream Sandwich is big and every iteration of Android so far have brought new relevant features . iOS on the other hand, since 4.0, hasn't evolved meaningfully besides facebook and twitter integration, notification a la Android and bug fixes, then my question: how difficult must it be for Apple to update iOS devices at once if practically the same OS is being delivered over and over?

65. mikeguy1981

Posts: 88; Member since: Jun 23, 2012

Who cares. Go outside, ride a bike, kiss a girl. Trust me its great.

64. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

This is why I just go to XDA for my updates...my captivate has always been ahead of AT&T and Samsung on their updates, now on 4.2.1. My DROID RAZR is on 4.1.2 and has been on jelly bean for months now, where as Moto finally got that phone to official Jelly Bean. I do love having a Nexus products for the timely updates, though, on my Nexus 7.

61. robinakilt

Posts: 14; Member since: Mar 30, 2012

If you look at the history with Verizon wireless and HTC it has always been horrible. Verizon has carried some of the best phones made by HTC with horrible software support and NO accessories for the HTC phones. I have had the HTC Rezound and I now have the DNA both phones are amazing in quality and specs but SUCK when it comes to some SIM card issues and there are no accessories. Verizon concentrates on Motorola and Apple but they still charge just as much for the phone. Just a small rant but I am not surprise that the Thunderbolt is just now getting its update. I personally will not buy another HTC phone for the reasons I mentioned.

57. b1acktiger

Posts: 223; Member since: May 19, 2012

Note 2 got 4.2 ? What update are you talking about ? At least here India One X got 4.1 before GS3, Sensation got update before GS2. Sensation XE, Sensation XL, Incredible S, Desire S, Rhyme, all those devices are updated to 4.0. Did you people mentioned Galaxy SL, S Plus, Ace Plus, S Advance ? Most of these doesn't have any update or still relying on 2.3 GB which is still in markets. You can credit to apple bcoz apple is the only one selling iOS Devices and same software in all the older models.

56. dorianb

Posts: 617; Member since: Oct 24, 2012

Does this mean my DROID Incredible 2 will get an official upgrade (even though I already jumped manufacturers 3 months ago) in April/May???

46. speckledapple

Posts: 902; Member since: Sep 29, 2011

I think this story should be broadcasted across the world and the comment section should be sent to every manufacturer of a Android smartphone for them to read personally.

47. ojdidit84

Posts: 462; Member since: Jul 16, 2011

I think the comments sections to a lot of the articles here should be broadcast to a lot of companies like HTC, LG, Nokia and a few others so they can really see what their customers were REALLY thinking.

51. Commentator

Posts: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

With a censor of the obvious pro-Samsung bias, yes.

43. NateAdam8

Posts: 439; Member since: Feb 17, 2012

I'm still waiting for a update two my HTC Radar 4G and they said it was supposed to have been released at least 7 times sense DEC and my bother got told by HTC that his HTC Amaze 4G is getting a update, HTC, Android and Microsoft all have us guessing on when updates will be on time for once.

41. ojdidit84

Posts: 462; Member since: Jul 16, 2011

The fact that phones like this and the Droid Charge didn't receive any timely updates leads me to believe that Verizon has something to do with the length of time in the update (not) coming out. Every HTC flagship I've had on any carrier has gotten timely updates. Every phone on Verizon lags behind on updates. Even the Galaxy Nexus had delayed updates on Verizon.

38. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

WOW HTC u guys really suck at updating your old phones. just glad I never bought one

37. ahhxd717

Posts: 332; Member since: Dec 08, 2011

Honestly, this article is just mess. it has so many misconstrued facts and clear bias in here that it's ridiculous. First of all "a 2011 OS released in 2013". Umm... ICS was released at the end of 2011 and the only phone you could get with it was the GNex until like March 2012 (around when the One X and those phones started coming out, and when the HTC Vivid was updated to ICS). I'd definitely say ICS is a H1 2012 OS as all 2012 flagships came out with it and didn't update to jellybean until like Novemberish. The galaxy S2 didn't get an update til the summer of 2012- your beloved Android flagship. Also, there must have been a reason for the delay for so long. Not a good reason, but still. Oh, and carriers shouldn't test updates before releasing them? Imagine the field day you "writers" would have if an official update ended up bricking a phone or not playing well with the network. And of course Apple can bypass it, they're APPLE so nobody gives a f**k and they only update like 3 phones world wide, 2 of which have half baked versions of the new OS (and barely an update in the first place). Now, Android updates are not written for specific phone's hardware or just for use by a single manufacturer, so a lot more optimisation and testing is probably due. When a new version of Android is released, the manufacturers don't know all its ins and out like Apple would for its OWN update. Also, that samsung part is kind of stupid. Yes, they're good at updating their flagships, but as I said before, their Charge never even heard of an ICS update and never got anything past gingerbread, yet that's perfectly fine somehow. WTF????? This article is a mess. Proof-read beforehand and truly think about what you're saying. Sounds like a 14 year old boy who doesn't like HTC nor Android wrote this article. This really annoyed me. Sorry for my long winded rant.

36. evil_slayer

Posts: 50; Member since: Nov 23, 2011

Well,us(optimus 3d) users still waiting for ICS update for the optimus 3d...and its not even bound to carrier...and lg promised this update to be delivered q3 2012 at least thunderbolt got the freakin update....while we are still waiting for it and stuck with Gingerbread in 2013 So here's a case thats even wrose And so i say again...screw you lg :)

29. ahhxd717

Posts: 332; Member since: Dec 08, 2011

I like how they try to commend Samsung in the article, yet they never updated their comparable phones to ICS. If I remember correctly, the Charge was also high end (one of the first with LTE) and went on sale after the TBolt. Now when is the last time that thing ever heard of an update? At least the TBolt got it in the end, but still people gotta bitch. And at least HTC went through with it. I'm pretty sure LGs track records are terrible (2X, anyone?)

53. JWS65

Posts: 32; Member since: Jan 22, 2013

Well, Samsung said that any phone prior to GS2 won't receive ICS update. So made it clear and sticks with their words. From GS2 and on, they kept update schedule fairly well. But HTC went back and forth regarding Tbolt update to ICS, confusing us many times.

59. Commentator

Posts: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

A parable, if you will: There are two men, Hal and Sam. They each pass a homeless vagrant on the street, begging for some food. Hal stops and says "sorry, I can't help you today, but tomorrow I will bring you a sandwich." Sam, who happens to be much richer and affluent than Hal, stops and says "sorry, I will never help you." The next day comes. Hal gets caught up in his own business and is unable to fulfill his promise to the homeless man. Sam, meanwhile, fulfills his promise by not feeding the homeless man. The day after that, Hal is able to bring the man a sandwich, albeit a day after he had promised. Sam, once again, fulfills his end of the deal by not giving the homeless man anything. Who is more commendable in the situation: Hal, who gives late, or Sam, who doesn't give at all?

77. CanYouSeeTheLight

Posts: 1122; Member since: Jul 05, 2012

Yeah i had one of those (the 2X) nice little phone awful software and support but extremely fast on CM7, if i'm not mistaken it received the ICS update last year, but i really doubt it will get JellyBean..

28. BadAssAbe

Posts: 509; Member since: Apr 22, 2011

Easy way to update android phone 1 make every manufacturer add their own custom UI as a launcher (HTC SENSE, BLUR, TOUCH WIZ, ECT...) 2 Have all carriers say "Update at your own risk" Spread the word

40. Whateverman

Posts: 3295; Member since: May 17, 2009

I've been saying that for years, but I don't think it's ever going to happen. OEMs and carriers are COMPLETLY ruining the experience for the super users, and although rooting is a fairly simple process, it a process that I don't want to "have" to do just to have the latest OS. And wouldn't it make life easier for them as well?

26. zrated

Posts: 14; Member since: Jan 30, 2013

i think i'm missing something about mobile phones. most people, including me, who bought the thunderbolt, should still be using it as our contracts aren't up yet. the thunderbolt came out at the end of march, 2011, so two-year verizon contracts are still in effect. i got mine on the very first day of release and i still have it. yes, i could have upgraded in october, but i wanted to wait to see what new devices would come out in the spring. i assume a lot of people are doing that, not to mention that most people didn't buy the thunderbolt on release day. so, for people who bought a thunderbolt, but are no longer using it, how did you get out of your contract in order to get a new phone, assuming you haven't upgraded?

35. androiddownsouth

Posts: 598; Member since: May 02, 2012

Upgrades are on a 20 month basis so those that bought it in March 2011 have been able to upgrade since late December dude.

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