For the last eight years, my mobile phone usage has followed a simple, predictable routine. Every year in June or July, I get tired of my current phone and pester Orange into giving me a new one.
This is triggered by two things. First, I’ll be bored with the old phone. By now it’ll seem annoying, clunky and over-familiar, even though a year ago it looked really exciting and futuristic a year ago.
Second, a new crop of phones will typically be catching my eye. These new phones and the life-transforming features they offer will seem – you guessed it – really exciting and futuristic.
This routine saw me move from one Windows Mobile phone to the next – I’d been a WinMo user since 2003′s Motorola MPx200 proto-smartphone. But last year I took a more dramatic step, abandoning Windows Mobile in favour of my first Android device: the HTC Hero.
Fast forward to today, and my HTC Hero is approaching its first birthday. As expected, I’m getting the urge to upgrade. But I’m trying to fight that urge. And helping me fight it has been the promise of Android 2.1.
In the modern world of smartphones, and especially Android, the idea is that you don’t have to upgrade your hardware to get a better experience. Occasionally, a new release of your OS or firmware will come out which pretty much gives you a new device.
I like that idea, because although I switch phones often it’s because of features rather than simple “gear-lust”. My main motivation behind each switch has been to ‘get more internet’ on my phone. This is why I was happy to put up with unsexy Windows Mobile devices for so long.
So when HTC announced that Android 2.1 would be released for the HTC Hero, I was pretty happy. My phone would get better and I wouldn’t have to pester Orange.
I was even happier when HTC announced that the update would be released in February. I didn’t mind when this was subsequently changed to March. When it slipped to April, I was philosophical: better late than ever, and in the old days stuff like this didn’t happen at all.
But other HTC Hero owners were far less patient. Lots of anger and annoyance erupted each time the release date slipped, and many pledged never to buy an HTC product – or even an Android phone – again. I thought this was all a bit over the top (after all, a HTC Hero running Android 1.5 isn’t exactly a hunk of junk). Then the April release date slipped, and this time it was worse: it slipped back to June! So I removed my blue UN peacekeeper helmet, took up a pitchfork, and joined the baying mob of enraged HTC Hero owners.
When June finally came round, I started checking the HTC and Orange websites frequently in the hope of seeing a freshly posted upgrade before anyone else. I became gradually more hostile towards my phone. And then disaster struck – the Yammer application, which had become essential for keeping in touch with my office, stopped working in Android 1.5!
At that point I stopped simply wanting Android 2.1 and started needing it. Since then I’ve been searching Google and checking websites every single day for the upgrade. In fact I’ve become something of an expert in the workings of the Android 2.1 rumour mill, which has been churning away like mad for the last couple of weeks.
So now we’re in the second half of June and the signs are encouraging – at least Android 2.1 has now appeared in America and east Asia. But in Europe there’s still nothing. Some people have triggered an update by shifting the phone’s calendar several months into the future. Sadly enough, I tried this, but it failed.
The HTC Hero is now in “endgame” as far as I’m concerned. If the Android 2.1 upgrade hits before June 30th, its tenure will be extended. But my yearly urge to switch is hard to suppress. If Android 2.1 doesn’t turn up, that Hero is headed for ebay and I’ll be in the market for yet another exciting and futuristic new device.
EDIT: Shortly after posting the above my impatience got the better of me, so I took Tristan’s advice and installed an unsupported Android 2.1 ROM. Android 1.5 is already a distant memory. In case you’re interested, I installed VillainROM 10.3 and these instructions came in very handy.