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" 480 x 800 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.3 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon S2, Single core, 1000 MHz
  • Storage 8 GB + microSDHC
  • Battery 1400 mAh(6.30h talk time)

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84 Comments

1. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

At least it isn't as bad as Windows Phone. The last update before 8 came out (not counting it since it doesn't go to old devices) was well over a year ago, and not a single Windows Phone has even gotten 7.8 yet. As for software updates being more timely on iOS, the reason is that Apple only has itself to worry about. By the time the update is announced, they've already worked the software over and made it ready for their existing devices. In contrast, Google keeps the updates mainly to themselves prior to the announcement. At that point, it's left to the manufacturers to work over the software and calibrate it for the various processors, memory, cameras, screens, button positioning, and of course, the custom UIs. Note that now that Motorola's skin barely exists, its updates come out pretty lickety split. Jelly Bean on Motorola's Verizon handsets beat out the GS3 there. The other thing is that the carriers do have a better death grip over the Android manufacturers than they do over Apple. Apple has successfully put itself in a position where the carriers don't want to f**k with them. The other manufacturers...well, Samsung's certainly gotten better at this, as the GS3 and Note 2 design shows. It's the same across all major carriers (except for color), was launched with minimal differences in dates, and updates have come fairly quickly and smoothly. Oh, and, uh, FIRST! I guess.

3. GJanee

Posts: 214; Member since: Jun 29, 2011

i call nonsense on the WP part, 7.8 is constantly rolling out for all devices for the past 3 days now (even the optimus 7)

22. GJanee

Posts: 214; Member since: Jun 29, 2011

whoah, some uninformed droidboys got butthurt, or what? :D

52. cripton805

Posts: 1485; Member since: Mar 18, 2012

7.8 =\= 8 How long has windows been around? How many phones do they need to update? Not very many at all compared to Android. Nowhere even close. Also, Android has also had quite a bit of updates in 3.5 years since the release of the original droid.

55. cripton805

Posts: 1485; Member since: Mar 18, 2012

Correction 4.5

62. Commentator

Posts: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

I agree with you, but the fact that you used the term "original droid" to refer to the G1 makes me cringe.

54. frmrVZguy

Posts: 42; Member since: Mar 10, 2012

^:D Thunderbolt was obsolete the day it was released. Using two chips to handle 2g/3g and 4gLTE was a rush-to-market solution that is thankfully gone and replaced with single solution SOCs with all modems on a single chip... thanks Qualcomm :) I bet.the software is an obsolete nothing-else-like-it PITA to develope and test.

58. b1acktiger

Posts: 223; Member since: May 19, 2012

Windows 7 devices is still rolling in the same version. Which was relatively less devices + No customization. How about that ? How many devices got 7.5 and then 7.8 ?

7. gwhyte01

Posts: 44; Member since: Jul 09, 2008

You know im really getting sick of you android fanatics....you remind me of ios fanatics from back in the day......you've turned into what you used to make fun of.....ironic! anyways...this is how I know the crap your spewing outta your mouth doesn't hold a word of sense....windows phone has been updated from 7.0 to nodo, to mango, to tango, to its current version of windows phone 7.8 aka tango refresh....The nokia 6 and 5 series all come with it. want proof read. http://www.phonearena.com/news/Nokia-starts-pushing-Windows-Phone-7.8-update-to-Lumias_id39302http://www.wpcentral.com/get-you-started-with-windows-phone-78 Do your research son. Or don't talk about it at all.. You are absolute proof of a person who doesn't read or do your research, but hate and spew some bull**** just so you can make something you know nothing about try to look bad..

63. Commentator

Posts: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

69. Veigald

Posts: 290; Member since: Jan 13, 2012

Don't waste time on guys like that, I'd say. Fandroids accusing WP of not being updated and/or being fragmented is so far out there it's only funny :)

9. wp8forever unregistered

I don't know what so shocking about this , this is android being android , that's the reason I ,when to wp8 ,now I just got a nexus 4 that is the only android phone that gets updates on time ,if u like android n u don't have a nexus u my friend ain't gonna get one update on time lol and pls don't compare android updates with wp lol wp 7.8 is rolling out to 2 years old devices ,when Sony just announced that 7 month old devices ain't getting updated.

44. speckledapple

Posts: 902; Member since: Sep 29, 2011

Actually it is worse than that. As a previous owner of the HTC Thunderbolt and a proud owner of the now Galaxy Note 2, I can say that both Verizon and HTC are idiots. The only question is how long are customers going to deal with these weak and often very delayed updates before we force them to do more. Samsung thankfully is better than many and getting better but the rest are just disgusting.

70. KParks23

Posts: 725; Member since: Oct 13, 2010

The title of this article is a joke and figures ray wrote it.. The phone came out in mid 2011 the fact that's it's even getting updated is amazing and shows just how good a company htc is.. Did samsung update the more expensive later released charge nope htc only mistake was announcing this update existed

72. sithvenger

Posts: 371; Member since: Aug 25, 2012

That's all true , but this should go to show u that even almighty google has limitations on what it can do. Apple only has itself to worry about, but google chose the open source format, yet can't handle the updates. This is googles fault, and they should work to find a better solution.

2. cezarepc

Posts: 718; Member since: Nov 23, 2012

What do you mean disastrous? This is great news for any one who owns this device. Some handsets don't even get updated even once. Any kind of update is welcome news to any one who already owns an ageing unit.

4. OHaZZaR

Posts: 131; Member since: Aug 19, 2011

Sure, the fact that htc is issuing the update is welcoming to the few thunderbolt owners left, but I think the author was saying that the length of time taken to issue an old update to an old phone is disastrous.

6. JC557

Posts: 1919; Member since: Dec 07, 2011

Would have been nice if Samsung updated their Droid Charge. It's good to update these older phones regardless because there's a good chance that quite a few are still using theirs or keeping them as backup phones. I agree it should never have taken this long though.

11. wendygarett unregistered

Unfortunately not all readers here has a positive mind to think that... You pay what you get... Early adopters are always a white mouse when it comes to tech, and most user didn't know that

42. Commentator

Posts: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

Ray just needed an excuse to grind that old anti-HTC axe. He compares this update to Samsung and their Galaxy S II devices, even though the Thunderbolt and GS II were NEVER in the same league: the SGS II was positioned to compete with (and subsequently demolished, I might add) the likes of the EVO 3D and Sensation 4G (both of which have recieved ICS as well). The Thunderbolt is on par with phones such as the Galaxy S 4G, Droid Charge, and Infuse 4G: they have similar specs to the Thunderbolt and were released around the same time (H1 of 2011). None of them have received official ICS updates, but you don't see Ray ripping on Samsung for it. In fact, the Droid Charge and Infuse 4G were released later than the Thunderbolt, and were marketed just as heavily by Verizon and AT&T. The sad part is, had HTC never released this update in the first place, they wouldn't have opened themselves up to this scathing editorial, and while Samsung is just as bad (apparently worse, given the Droid Charge, Infuse 4G, and GS 4G examples) with their updates from phones of the same era, for whatever reason Ray still defends them

50. cripton805

Posts: 1485; Member since: Mar 18, 2012

"The fact that most Android manufacturers can't turn a profit speaks for itself" This is what stood out and annoyed me the most about this article. HTC is making phones for windows too now.

60. Commentator

Posts: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

Also, the Charge was $299.99 on contract, while the Thunderbolt was $249.99, so it seems that you should also mention, RAY, that the Samsung Droid Charge was more of a high-end model than the HTC Thunderbolt, released at a later date, on the same network, and yet, despite not being some cheap, budget phone, was never updated to ICS. (And I'm sorry for the run-on sentence, but I don't think I can clean it up in the under-240 seconds I have at this point.)

66. ojdidit84

Posts: 462; Member since: Jul 16, 2011

^ This. I remember back when I think a Desire phone didn't get updated to ICS because it didn't perform the way HTC wanted to and they went back on their plans to update. Everyone was up in arms about it, saying HTC was terrible with updates, yet no one complained about the Droid Charge, Galaxy S, Infuse or Epic receiving updates when they were released in the same generation as that phone or the Thunderbolt. I always found that funny how selective people's memories were when it came to the brand they were loyal to. People forget that up until the Galaxy S II generation of smartphones, Samsung was terrible with software support.

5. richardyarrell2011

Posts: 510; Member since: Mar 16, 2011

Barf on Verizon and the Htc Thunderdud.

8. akbar

Posts: 62; Member since: Feb 09, 2012

The main point of buying android device is to root it --> hack it --> instal custom rom :) So if somebody is using the HTC ROM on their thundrbolts - bad for you read some more on the net.

12. wp8forever unregistered

So that means , my mom , my grandmother, or even my dad should avoid android ,that my be a Lil complicated for them right ,imagine your mom , mom what u doing rooting ,and flashing this phone lol lol nerd , that's unacceptable by these companies ,once again I have a nexus 4 ,the only android device that works other than that android is the biggest mess. I have a limos 920 as well daily driver .

45. speckledapple

Posts: 902; Member since: Sep 29, 2011

I do not think that is the main reason to buy android. It has flexibility yes but only for rooting, no. I don't plan to root my note 2 and the device works just fine without it.

10. wendygarett unregistered

Another wonderful article you made Ray, they should stop winning and pick ios device instead if they wanna good software support... You should advice them as well sent from my iPhone 3gs running ios 6

18. squallz506

Posts: 1075; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

Whining*

32. androiddownsouth

Posts: 598; Member since: May 02, 2012

advise*

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