I am a long time user of both HTC and Verizon but I've decided that as long as either company continue the path they are currently on, I will never purchase a single device or service plan from them again. This blog post is basically just me ranting about both companies and why I think no one should use either and of course alternatives to both.
HTC: the Good, the Bad and the Pretty
HTC has some very good qualities and sadly some very bad qualities that in my opinion completely overshadow all of the good. They do make pretty devices though.
I have been a long time user of HTC devices, my first HTC was the Droid Eris and my current device being the HTC Thunderbolt. Nexus phones have been around for a long time but they were always too expensive for me so I elected to go HTC. The hardware of the devices have always been well made quality hardware and the design of the phones have always been quite pretty actually. The problem comes in with the software.
HTC Thunderbolt came with great hardware, in fact it was a Verizon's LTE Flagship device. The software at the time was the best you could get, Android 2.3 "Gingerbread". I couldn't afford a Nexus at the time so I decided that the Thunderbolt would "probably" be a good choice as it was the Verizon HTC Launch Flagship so being a flagship maybe it would get updated at a decent rate. Sadly though, I could not have been more incorrect.
Ice Cream Sandwich, Android 4.0, was released mid October of 2011. HTC announced that Thunderbolt users would get the upgrade to 4.0 in August of this year (2012) so 10 Months would have been on par to the 10 Month wait that I had with the Droid Eris to go from 1.5 to 2.1. (They skipped 1.6 & 2.0 completely).
August has come and gone along with Android 4.0 & 4.1 but sadly, not very surprisingly, the update never came. It is now December of 2012, well over 4 months later, Android is now on version 4.2, Jelly Bean, and Thunderbolt users are still stuck on 2.3, Gingerbread.
This is not an issue exclusive to HTC, every manufacturer of Android devices has to put on their useless garbage that no one wants and their stupid bloatware that slows down the device they are so "proud of". The average update time for new versions from any manufacturer is between 3 - 9 Months, HTC has just decided to break the record and are at 14 Months and counting.
Verizon: Better Than AT&T but Not By Much
HTC is not the only one to blame with this though, Verizon takes a pretty big piece of the blame cake. Verizon holds back progress to verify the updates for LTE or any other crap they can make up to give themselves time install their bloatware, lock down various aspects of the core system and other things. An argument could be made that Verizon is simply holding it back to piss off the users enough at HTC in order to make them upgrade their phones to in turn force a departure from their Unlimited Data plans. I am not sure if there is any merit to this argument or not but it really would not surprise me.
Verizon has publicly demonstrated their desire to hold back progress via the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. The Galaxy Nexus was the flagship device for Android 4.0 but the important part is that it was a NEXUS device. For more details about the Nexus line of devices and the Nexus 4, read my Nexus article. The quick way to explain this is Google creates Android, provides it to manufacturers and then the manufacturers build their crap on top of it to include in their devices. The Nexus brand is a Google specific brand that means any device with the Nexus branding is controlled entirely by Google as far as hardware and software. Google does not manufacture these devices but they do have final say over them.
Google's promise of Nexus devices is no bloatware, quick updates and a vanilla Android experience. Verizon does not seem to understand this concept and has refused to abide by it. Verizon offered an LTE version of the Galaxy Nexus, upon release of Android Jelly Bean all Galaxy Nexus devices were updated with in a week of the system release...except for the Verizon version, this took over 3 Months thanks to Verizon not understanding or caring about the purpose of "Nexus".
Due to Verizon's ignoring of Google's promise to its user, Google is no longer offering Nexus devices on Verizon starting with the Nexus 4. As a Verizon customer, I completely understand Google's position and completely agree.
With this track record of delaying devices, even a Nexus device, the likelihood of them being involved with the absurdly long wait for an update on the Thunderbolt is very VERY high.
Nexus: The Saviour from Smartphone Hell
The solution to my frustration of HTC & Verizon is to abandon them just like they've abandoned me. This is where Google's Nexus comes into play. Google releases updates to Android quite often and in some cases too often but thanks to Nexus devices the wait for updates is very VERY low...some Nexus users get the updates within a matter of hours, that's right HOURS!
The only problem with the Nexus 4 would be that it does not work on Sprint or Verizon and only works on T-Mobile & AT&T, or 3rd party GSM carriers. So will I move back to AT&T? LOL That is a resounding "Hell No" that echos the halls of even the most dense structure. Will I move to T-Mobile? Possibly, but they have not treated my family members very well in the past so more than likely not. So ok let's say I want a Nexus phone, where do I go for the service? The answer is actually quite simple, Straight Talk.
Straight Talk: Feeling Richer Effect, now supporting Nexus!
The commercials for Straight Talk Wireless are actually quite good and make you want to abandon your mobile service carrier every single time you see them but then you think "yea but all of their phones suck or the ones that don't are just too expensive." Thanks to Google's Nexus 4 and Straight Talk's Bring Your Own Phone program that is no longer the case. You can now get an awesome phone and awesome service plan with equally awesome pricing.
Straight Talk's Bring Your Own Phone program available from http://straighttalksim.com/ allows you to bring any GSM compatible phone and use it on their service...and it just so happens that the Nexus 4 is one of those phones. :) The amusing part about this is that neither Google nor Straight Talk planned on this and if you go to Walmart to look at their selection you won't find the Nexus 4...parallel to that if you go to the Google Play Store for the Nexus 4, you won't see any mention of Straight Talk. Though neither company mention their compatibility, the fact is they do work together and that has been tested by quite a few people.
To learn more about getting a Nexus 4 on Straight Talk, take a look at this other blog post I made.
Google's Nexus combined with Straight Talk is the Phoenix rising from the flames of Smartphone Hell.
What do you think of this blog post, are you interested in trying this awesome combination or are you happy with your phone or carrier? Let me know in the comments section below.