Friday, August 17, 2012

Installing Ice Cream Sandwich on your HTC Desire HD

HTC unceremoniously cancelled the promised update to its 2010 flagship, the HTC Desire HD, 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. When we consider new versions of software, we weigh a number of factors, but ultimately the customer experience on the product is the deciding factor. We apologize for any confusion this change may have caused our customers. (Source: HTC Blog)

Well, the HTC Desire HD can run Android 4.04 Ice Cream Sandwich fine, courtesy of the Virtuous Development Team and Team Blackout.

Running Ice Cream Sandwich on a HTC Desire HD. People have been doing that since early this year. But without HTC support, there were always issues. While Android is open source, drivers for the HTC hardware are not. So early efforts had problems with 720p video recording, slow wake-up from sleep, WiFi Hotspot problems and similar issues. I tried one Ice Cream Sandwich build awhile back, and the Chrome Browser performance was poor, which for me is the main reason to update to Ice Cream Sandwich in the first place.

All that has changed. I am currently running Android 4.04 with the Sense 3.6 interface using Team Blackouts ICS Incredible ROM, and it runs better than Android 2.3.5 with Sense 3.0 (note, using a tweak to make the Sense widgets less taxing on resources which is built into the ROM). This ROM is ported from the official HTC Incredible S ROM, which has the same performance hardware as the HTC Desire HD.


But the HTC Desire HD Developers Community got together and fixed the camera, wake lock and other issues, and you now have a a fully working HTC Sense ICS ROM. Three right now actually. There are some small bugs, which are being worked out, but these related mainly to integrated apps (FM Radio, Dolby Sound, Beats Audio and the like) which will be fixed shortly. Remember that not all HTC Desire HDs' have the same components inside. For example, some have a Samsung camera sensor, others have an Omnivision camera sensor.

How do you get Ice Cream Sandwich on you HTC Desire HD.

1. Root your phone.
2. Install a custom ROM.

Root your phone.

The best, easiest and safest way to root your phone is using the Advance Ace Hack Kit. This tool will do everything you need to root your phone, and even unlock a carrier locked version. It will leave you with a fully functional HTC Desire HD running Android 2.2. 

Remember, these is some risk in rooting your phone. So if you decide to do this, don't blame me if you phone gets bricked. Blame HTC for not giving an official update instead.

Pick a ROM

Once you phone is rooted pick a ROM and flash it. You have a lot of good choice right now. You can wait a few weeks so final issue can be ironed out. But all these ROM's are good enough to be a daily driver.

1. Android 4.04/Sense 3.6 - Blackout ICS Incredible v3.0.0. This ROM is ported  from HTC Incredible S.
2. Android 4.04/Sense 4.0 - Virtuous Infinity v.1.33.0 Alpha 3. This ROM is ported  from HTC One X.
3. Android 4.04/Sense 4.0A. This ROM is ported  from HTC One V.

So it can be done.

Why did HTC say it cannot be done? The HTC Desire HD has a 575 MB partition for the operating system. With Blackout ICS Incredible installed I have 60 MB of space left, and that includes a lot of HTC apps which I consider bloat like HTC Locations, Like, Reader, Notes, Tasks, Teeter and Watch. That also includes a lot of HTC apps I find useful, like Peep, FriendStream, Clock and the complete set of beautiful HTC widgets.

So why did HTC not do it. Simple. The remaining 60 MB is not enough to add the apps that the carriers add on to your HTC phones. Basically, HTC prioritized the interest of carriers over users.

Need help?

A blog is not a good venue to provide help. Need help, visit the HTC Desire HD Phandroid Forums. I, and several person much more knowledgeable will be there to help.

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