As you all may have suspected in the past: I’m a fan of HTC’s phones. I’ve been using a SPVm3100 (TyTn) for the last few years now, though it’s old, battered and obviously big.
Recently I bought a HTC Hero, an Android powered device that has Built in GPS, Wifi, Digital Compass, Camera allsorts. On paper it is brilliant.
Currently, it’s running Android 1.5, quite an antiquated version, but when I bought the phone in February HTC had promised an imminent update (as they had since December 2009). They had previously treated owners of their “G1” phone (one of the first Android Phones) to an update to Android 1.6 (a later version than the Hero is currently running), so it seemed reasonable that they would soon fulfil their promise of a firmware update.
I’m sad to say that 6 months later I am still waiting for my Firmware update (25/08/2010).
Why is this such a big deal?
One of the big selling points of Android Phones is the fact that Google announced a free Turn-by-Turn Sat Nav program on compatible phones, quite a powerful selling point. This is only available on compatible phones. GPS and a Good processor are required, both of which the HTC Hero has. The other Requirement for Google SatNav is to have a Android Firmware of 1.6 or later. The HTC Hero has been hamstrung by HTC’s failure to release a Android version update, and comically a HTC phone over a year older than the Hero (the “G1”) can use software that the Hero cannot.
Last Month HTC finally released a Android 2.1 ROM for certain networks, but alas my supplier isn’t one of these.
To add insult to injury, even before HTC released the Android 2.1 ROM to the networks who have it, they announced that the Hero will never have a ROM update after the Android 2.1 is released.
To be truthful, I liked my phone and I loved it. Until I realised something: the poor reception I’ve been having is not due to the Network Coverage in this area, it’s due to the HTC Hero’s aerial.
The Hero’s aerial is in the “Chin” of the phone, which isn’t the best position, but the problem seems to be a little more deep-set than that.
My first signs that the handset was the problem came when a co-worker bought a lovely new Samsung Galaxy S Phone. He was on the same network as me, and managed to stream Video to his phone when I was on the desk next to his and couldn’t even perform a Facebook status update. This showed me something was wrong, I then realised that if the network was good enough to stream live video then it should be good enough to send text messages: something the Hero failed to do (5 repeat sends are often required to successfully send a message).
I tried the Sim in the other 3G phone I had: the SPV M3100, a phone manufactured by HTC about 5 years ago. Using the exact same Sim card, network everything I found internet dropped out on me far less and text messages sent correct first time all the time. The only conclusion I could make was the Hero Handset was at fault.
I reported this to the customer services at the network, who recommended I updated firmware (already at latest release, they had no news of when HTC would release 2.1).
I was gutted. I’ve recommended HTC Hero and Desire to at least 10 people, now I’d lumbered them with poor quality handsets.
To cut a long story into a slightly less long story, the phone went to 3UK customers services who spent 18 days reflashing the ROM to the release it was on before, told me the phone worked perfectly and sent it back for me to realise it was just as bad as when it was sent away (only without my Contacts or Apps on it).
HTC swore blind they could fix it, failed to log the pick up once, failed to send the paperwork through twice, and UPS refused to pick it up twice because they “Didn’t have anything with a barcode on it.”
Meanwhile I’ve spent 4 hours waiting for the package to be picked up, been on the phone to HTC for about 3 hours, and had managers promise to give me a call back and never return a phone call.
When I finally got in touch with a manager (not easy) he promised me my phone would be turned around in 2 days after they received it, but still couldn’t issue me with a UPS bar code, so I suggested I’d pay for Royal Mail delivery and they could refund it. I apparently was supposed to pay for it myself and HTC “have no mechanism to refund 3rd party shipping expenses”. I thought it would be fine though, in return for the phone being fixed in under 2 days.
They have had the phone for over a week. Royal Mail delivered it the day after posting, and it wasn’t acknowledged by HTC as being received until the day after that. I’m still waiting. I’ve been told it will take at least another 10 working days before it can be repaired.
So all this and they finally decide to release Android 2.1 for 3UK today! what an annoying company. I honestly won’t be using their products again (unless the only alternatives are Philips or Apple – Don’t get me started on those two!).
How do HTC think they can get a good reputation when they ship products that don’t work, fail to keep promises of software upgrades, treat customers like poop and then break all promises they make of returned phone calls and quick return times.
HTC! GO AND STAND IN THE NAUGHTY CORNER, BY APPLE!
Edit: three days after this blog entry 3uk released android2.1 on the Hero. It was well worth waiting for. Though maybe not 6 months.
It’s out there now, and anyone with a Hero should install it.
My hero was finally returned – problem fixed – 17 days after being sent to HTC. It came back on Android 1.5 but I upgraded almost immediately. The new imei number hints to their repair involving a modern unit replacement. It is now the phone I was promised in February.
HTC may not be the pneumatic blonde they once were, but certainly they aren’t the swap donkey they were when I first wrote this blog entry.