Jun 14 AT 11:27 AM Nick Gray 50 Comments

HTC admits defeat; original Desire will not be updated to Gingerbread

HTC Desire owners waiting patiently for their Gingerbread update will be disappointed to learn their handsets will not be updated to Android 2.3. HTC promised they would deliver Gingerbread to the entire Desire family late last year, but their update plans for the original HTC Desire have been foiled by the handset’s memory limitation. Apparently, HTC Sense combined with Android 2.3 is too large to squeeze onto the HTC Desire’s 512 MB ROM chip.

Our engineering teams have been working hard for the past few months to find a way to bring Gingerbread to the HTC Desire without compromising the HTC Sense experience you’ve come to expect from our phones. However, we’re sorry to announce that we’ve been forced to accept there isn’t enough memory to allow us both to bring Gingerbread and keep the HTC Sense experience on the HTC Desire. We’re sincerely sorry for the disappointment that this news may bring to some of you.HTC UK Facebook

The apology from HTC does not make the announcement any more bearable, but we do applaud HTC for doing the right thing. We hope other manufacturers follow in HTC’s path and give their customers legitimate reasons why their phones will not be receiving the latest Android update.

Just because the official Gingerbread update is off the table for the HTC Desire doesn’t mean users will be stuck on Android 2.2. Since the HTC Desire and Nexus One share most of the same DNA, an amazing development community has been enhancing the phone’s capabilities for more than a year. With a fairly easy rooting process and over 20 different active ROMs to choose from, we’re sure HTC Desire owners who want a taste of Gingerbread will be able to easily satisfy their appetite.

Source: HTC UK - Facebook

Nick is a tech enthusiast who has a soft spot for HTC and its devices. Nick joined the Android and Me family in the summer of 2010.

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  • http://Website Lucian Armasu

    If they weren’t so cheap with internal storage, this wouldn’t have happened. They’re still the ones to offer the LEAST internal storage on their devices compared to the other Android manufacturers.

    • http://trueacu.com acupunctrue

      exactly. that’s why I don’t even look at HTC devices now. the memory just isn’t good enough and I don’t really understand why they want to gimp the devices in that way. . . well, of course other than promoting hardware upgrades ;)

    • http://Website joe

      Can this please be the final nail in these stupid custom skins? The Desire is basically a rebadged Nexus One, the Nexus runs Gingerbread fine, and will likely get Ice Cream Sandwich, while the desire is yet another POS left behind. People, quit paying for this shit, insist on unskinned phones, insist on updates.

  • http://Website Mil

    I really don’t understand. You can get a 2GB MicroSD card for less than a few quid. The additional cost to provide 2GB storage compared to 512MB should surely be less than a few tens of pence for HTC. It would probably take up more space than the existing memory so why are some phone manufacturers so short sighted that they can’t think about doubling or quadrupling the memory of phones compared to what they think they need. If the additional cost per handset is a couple of quid then I’m sure no one would make an issue out of it knowing that the phone had 2GB of memory. Surely they should have learnt from the G1 as exactly the same thing happened with that handset.

  • http://Website Cheeto

    Root and install custom rom. This will eliminate these update issues .These companies such as HTC need fire their whole development team and hire developers and hackers from XDA. XDA can do it why cant ‘ t HTC.

    • http://Website LEKO

      They can, what they can’t is to integrate Sense flawlessly (I presume). HTC probably don’t want to offer a “Vanilla Android Phone”. They want their customers to have the “Sense Experience”.

  • http://Website TailsNeon556

    I could have sworn that the Desire had more internal ROM than the Nexus One.. Which it fits just fine.. I guess GB w/ Sense is just too large of a file.. To the Desire users.. Now would be the time to root and flash a custom ROM if you haven’t already

    • http://Website @neidlinger

      The Nexus One doesn’t natively run Sense. it’s a pure AOSP phone.

      • http://Website TailsNeon556

        I know.. I’ve had one since release day.. It will be retired when the N3 drops

    • http://Website Daniel

      It has 64 MB more RAM, but the ROM is the same 512 MB.

  • http://Website Simon Justesen

    Lucian: No, I think Sony Ericsson takes that prize.. They couldn’t even fit Android 2.2 (Froyo) onto the X10s Minis, so we’re stuck with 2.1

    • http://Website Daniel

      Sony Ericsson’s problem isn’t storage, it’s they just don’t want to waste any more resources on the X10 Mini. The X10 got a free ride on the Xperia Arc because it’s so similar, but the new Xperia Mini is very different from the old one (different screen resolution and software featureset), so they couldn’t backport the work as easily.

  • http://Website Rosjer

    At least they could have offered a vanilla ROM with 2.3 for those that wants it, its a shame letting customers pay for their own inompetence :( I gave my daughter a rooted Desire in birthdaypresent with CM7 on and its smooooth as h***. I even got CM7 on my old Tatto in my drawer, even that one is better than it was as brand new. HTC promised GB for the Desire family so they should OTA a vanilla ROM for those that want it imo. Its the least they can do. Sense is overrated anyway :/

  • http://Website Chris B

    I have the Desire – Rooted with Cyanogen Mod 7 since release… Running Gingerbread like a dream, usually have around 300mb memory spare when not playing games etc.

    • http://Website Chris B

      Worded that incorrectly… Usually USING around 300mb when not doing anything strenous… Around 200mb free…

      • http://line2designs.co.cc Jukah

        ROM is the problem in this case, not RAM.

        My US HD2 has 1GB of ROM and it’s almost crammed if running GB Sense. Hopefully they can learn from this that the next gen of phones should have 8GB internal as a pre-req, or Google can set that standard.

  • http://Website md

    They didn’t learn anything. HTC Sensation has a 1GB internal storage, shared with system. My SGS, that’s 1 yr old by design and came couple months after the Desire, has 2GB for apps, shared with system. So, basically HTC didn’t learn shit in 1 year.

    • http://Website LEKO

      For the “Internal memory” issue, I would slap Google first, not HTC.

      Android OS should move “App data” not only the “App” when moving to “SDcard/external” memory. Of course, the user should be advised/aware of the risk. And maybe some apps would take longer to load. But this would free a lot of Internal memory.

      Also, there should be a “no move to SD/external” flag on apps that have accounts configured in the account/sync system. It took me long to figure out why my Facebook account (and some others) kept loosing their config and/or credentials… :(

      But HTC should lead the market, they sell High-End smartphones. They should ensure their phones are “future proof” and provide the best experience to users.

    • http://Website Nick

      I wouldn’t say that HTC hasn’t learned anything. The Sensation 4G features 4 GB Internal Storage (1 GB user accessible). This should give HTC plenty of room to add new features and Android updates for quite a long time.

  • http://Website RockinEvo

    Thats funny those wizards at cm ported cm7 on the defy, I know because over haul sense isn’t there but don’t use that as a excuse. End of the day I still rock wit HTC

  • http://Website DROID Sam

    HTC needs to think long and hard about hardware requirements for their phones. They made this same mistake with the G1 over two and a half years ago, so I’m a bit surprised that it’s happening again. I’m honestly confused about that the issue is since the guys from XDA have managed to port Gingerbread Sense ROMs to the Desire without using ext partitions. Obviously there ROMs have been hacked to death, but maybe HTC needs to release a “lite” version of Sense and offer widgets and additional apps as optional downloads.

    Come on HTC, we know you can find a way to make it work!

  • fatspirit

    They should think two steps ahead instead of one! But I have 2.3.4 anyway.

  • http://Website dinos

    So let me get this right. 512MB of RAM are not enough to support Android 2.3 and Sense, but the 768MB of Sensation are…? 256MB is ruining the deal? Strange…

    • http://Website Daniel

      The problem is ROM, not RAM. Also, the Desire actually has 576 MB RAM.

      • http://Website dinos

        According to your saying, the problem isn’t the memory Gingerbread demands from the device to be executed, but the storage footprint of the flash ROM..

        Is the Gingerbread ROM of HTC that bigger than the Froyo one? Cause I really doubt Google created a version of their OS that is so much bigger than the exact previous one..

        • Nick Gray

          Keep in mind that the HTC Desire launched on Eclair, not Froyo.

        • http://Website md

          Owned a Desire until I recently sold it and bought a used SGS for the same cash. Good timing as it seems.

          Google’s AOSP ROM size is much smaller then HTC’s Sense version. For instance, a pure AOSP ROM for Desire called Oxygen is below 90MB.

          That enabled the dev’s that broke the HTC’s locked system access (a.k.a S-ON flag) to manipulate partition sizes of the 512MB ROM, so they could make the /system partition smaller (like 90MB) and still fit a ROM on it. That made the rest of the limited ROM size bigger for applications (340MB, combined with a2sd+ made a whooping phone, I had about 700MB of apps and games installed).

          Stock Desire /system size is 250MB (half of the ROM size!) and older Froyo Sense version fitted on it. But when the Sense version for Desire HD came out, it was much bigger (around 330MB if I remember correctly). The dev’s of xda came to help again and found a way to partition your SD card and mount it as an extension of your system partition, so you’d use a part of your SD card.

          Some other dev’s made a “lite” version of Sense, stripped of some apps, that fit on the 250MB /system partition.

          Even the leaked version of Sense 2.3.* ROM that came in april fitted the partition, however the Sense version on it was old 2.1 like on Froyo.

          HTC couldn’t fit the newer Sense with all the apps and stuff that would be consistent with other devices on the Desire and they can’t make a “hack” like extending a ROM on your SD card.

          They could learn something from this, about limiting the storage, but the story for the Sensation is the same. I guess, they don’t really care. Many devices were left behind without official updates, stating that the HW doesn’t support it, but dev’s were proving them wrong every single time. It’s just the greed for money + their software simply is bloated and un-optimized. We all remember “adjusting” the Sense for the Hero devices and how long it took (more then a year). If you make software and cannot refactor it in a friggin year, then :
          - you don’t want to do it in cause of selling newer products ,
          - your software is plainly badly arhictectured for changes

          So screw you HTC, after owning two devices, Tattoo (which was left behind on 1.6) and the Desire (flagship of 2010 my ass) I’m happy with my Galaxy S and will probably never buy or recommend you again.

          • http://Website dinos

            Agree with the above. And to add something:

            “HTC Desire runs on a 1GHz processor, has 576MB RAM and 512MB ROM. HTC claims the memory is not enough. Well, HTC, the Wildfire S has a 600MHz CPU, 512MB RAM and 512MB ROM and it CAN RUN Gingerbread. Even though, the Desire has a higher resolution screen, it’s still not enough to convince us HTC has done everything in its power.”

            The above sentence was fished by gsmarena.com, but I think we all get the point…

  • http://Website chilo

    Y?? Xperia x10 with 384ram will have 2.3?? Y htc wont pffff

    • http://Website stupid people

      The x10 is getting android 2.3? Thats a bigger story than this is. No… Wait… Sony Ericsson said the x10 is dead in the water a long time ago. Be sure you check your facts!

  • Nick Gray

    Any ROM developers want to weigh in on this one? I know there are hacked up versions of of HTC Sense 3.0 on Gingerbread that run on the HTC Desire. A lot of tweaks have been made to make it happend, but I’m curious to know how big the ROM footprint actually is and if the 512 MB of RAM is really a limitation.

    • http://Website dinos


  • http://Website jamez

    Shame – I thought I’d stick with my Desire for a bit longer with gingerbread. Goodbye HTC, hello Samsung Galaxy Sii for me. I prefer HTC’s interface – but I’ve lost faith in their hardware & aftersales.

  • http://Website The_Omega_Man

    So can someone please tell me why HTC can not offer stock Gingerbread (yes without HTC sense) as a consolation to Desire owners? Anyone? HTC?

    • http://Website md

      HTC doesn’t just sell phones, it offers the “Sense experience”. It even says on the phone “powered by HTC Sense”. So putting a stock Android would be against their philosophy (but still better for the users!).

      Hopefully this will be a step forward for companies making their “skins” more lighter (TouchWiz, Blur, Sense, Rachael) or even optional, with removable parts and downloadable off Market. But this might just be another wet dream.

  • http://Website Ragflan

    HTC is incompetent. They claim Desire is unable to handle Gingerbread due to memory constraints. But, Desire has had Gingerbread running incredibly well (much better than HTC’s Froyo+Sense) through CyanogenMod7 for the past 4 months. You suck, HTC. Why don’t you just admit you want people to buy another phone if they want new updates?

    HTC did this previously. With Dream first. Then Magic. Then Hero. Now Desire. All their great phones have been abandoned.

    People love to side with HTC and say Samsung doesn’t update their phones. Well Desire and Galaxy S were both very successful devices. The former only has 2.2 and the latter now already has 2.3.4. The whole Samsung doesn’t update their phones is bullcrap.

  • http://www.hell.com xaml

    Dear Mr. Chou, does this sound like a satisfactory explanation to you by what is said to be and aimed to be presented as a High Tech Corporation? Throw out sense (with or without capital s), give your customers, who may have paid 500 dollars for the device, the benefit of the doubt and offer them Gingerbread with pure Google on the HTC Desire instead of practically dropping support one lousy year after the device YOU DESIGNED was introduced. Thanking you, your customers.

  • http://Website Dave

    Funny, I could have sworn I was running gingerbread, along with Sense 3.0 on my HTC Desire. Myself and this developer must have been mistaken then as there is clearly not enough room for it.


    Poor excuse HTC.

  • http://Website Alan

    Oh well – time to Root the phone and install a custom ROM. I have held off for the OTA update from HTC but its time to try somehting else – who knows it may be better and I’ll be more willing to customise my next phone too.

    At least there are plenty of option s out there thanks to the likes of CyanogenMod

    Now which ROM to get???

    • http://Website md

      My recommendation : Oxygen – http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=971904

      It AOSP based, not CM7 as a base, but built for itself, the philosophy of the ROM is that it wants to be kept near stock as per Nexus series software. So no crazy addons, hacks, themes. It runs really fast and fluid and with the combo of S-OFFing the device and loading a custom HBOOT which repartitions the devices ROM, gets you more space for applications.

  • http://Website Flo

    Silly HTC… They didn’t learn anything from their G1 mistake.

    The G1 had almost the exact same problem without sense, it was stuck on android 1.6 forever because the internal storage could not handle 2.0

    For me this means clearly no more htc devices…

  • http://Website LEKO

    If I were HTC, I would tell customers to use alternate ROMS like CyanogenMOD to get the latest Android platform (without Sense experience).

    That would be awesome for users if manufacters would be more open-minded. But, marketing wants to sell phones… Not upgrade phones… :(

  • http://Website desmotes

    Htc today made U turn saying that finaly gingerbread will be coming on our htc desires,funny people they are.but no specifics on when….

  • http://htcsource.com Nick Gray

    HTC has given a little more clarification on what they are doing and when the Gingerbread update will roll out for the HTC Desire “To make upgrade to Gingerbread, we will cut select apps. Updates starting next week. Apologize for any confusion.”

    Anyone want to guess which apps will not make the cut? I’m thinking they will simply unbundle Google Maps and Adobe Reader.

  • http://Website sammy D

    Has htc given an update as to which apps are gonna be cut from the Rom to make it work?

  • http://Website my nexus

    This is why people should stick to vanilla android. Updates come right away and you have Google’s guarantee that your phone will always be up to date

  • http://www.thumbnailseries.com tommy hilfiger

    oh boo hoo.. a bunch of babies who thinks they’re hackers. just get a new phone and get a life losers.

  • http://gadpedia.com riz

    Gingerbread upgrade works only with Rooted Phones.?

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  • Matt

    Running Desire with Oxygen ROM. Fantastic. No need for Sense and bloatware.