It’s time to come clean – I have officially given up on HTC, the HTC EVO/HTC One line, and Sprint. It was a long time coming, and many of you have recognized my frustration with both HTC and Sprint for quite a while (you’ve let me know in the comments!). But rather than feel conflicted or sad, I’m more relieved, and I don’t have an ounce of regret.
When the original HTC EVO 4G was released, it was the most powerful smartphone around.
The EVO 4G was the first phone to be updated to Froyo, and it also received the Gingerbread update fairly quickly. Sense was unobtrusive and truly did add value to the overall Android experience on the phone. Additionally, a strong developer community emerged that easily unlocked the bootloader and crafted awesome AOSP ROMs, as well.
When I first started writing for Good and EVO back in 2011 – just one year after the original EVO 4G had been released – I was one of the biggest advocates for Sprint and for the idea of the EVO. Sprint continued to offer unlimited data for a fair price, my employer discount was good, the Sprint Premier program would allow me to update every year, and the 4G WiMAX rollout was chugging along. 3G data was a little slow at times, but I could still use it to stream YouTube videos or Pandora, and it was generally usable most places I went.
Fast forward another year, and it’s clear that things weren’t as rosy as before.
HTC decided to lock down its bootloaders even more, and masquerade as a company that was dev-friendly by opening HTCdev.com. All this accomplished was making users angry, since it was so much harder to truly unlock HTC phones. Software updates no longer came in a timely manner, as seen by the utter fiasco that was the Ice Cream Sandwich update for the EVO 3D. As a result of these and many other blunders, HTC’s stock prices began to fall, as sales declined and end users expressed discontent.
Things weren’t much better for Sprint, either. The nation’s third largest carrier changed the way it calculated discounts, which resulted in what was effectively a rate increase for many people who received employer discounts. Sprint also did away with yearly upgrades, and eventually cancelled the entire Premier program. WiMAX upgrades stopped indefinitely, and then were cancelled as Sprint decided to march forward with LTE. Unfortunately, the LTE rollout slowed and eventually got behind schedule, as Sprint opted to announce the service in more small towns and rural areas, rather than larger populated areas. The 3G network didn’t fare much better, with speeds decreasing, dropped calls increasing, and text messages getting delayed left and right.
My patience started to wear thin.
I personally experienced a period of approximately three months, during which time it was impossible to make phone calls during peak hours; instead, I would always receive a busy signal. Data was unusable; I couldn’t even load a single Facebook page most of the time. The Airave I was sent was defective, and Sprint refused to acknowledge any problems in my area.
After several Sprint reps started getting increasingly rude, talking over me, and not following through on promises to call back, my patience wore thin. All I wanted was phone service that worked – after all, I was throwing over $150 toward Sprint every single month. After fighting the latest round of contract changes, I was eventually released from my contract without having to pay an early termination fee, as long as I agreed to send my two phones back. I was happy to finally be rid of Sprint, so I agreed – even though I still think I should have been able to keep my phones.
I know I will get some angry comments below, and I know that many long time readers will be disappointed in the news that I’ve left Sprint, and I’ve abandoned HTC. I know that my articles have become increasingly biased against Sprint, and to a lesser extent against HTC. I am trying my best to balance my coverage, and I’m still celebrating Sprint’s and HTC’s small victories. But at the same time, Sprint and HTC just weren’t working out for me anymore – and although the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, it is for me this time.
Things have gotten a lot better since I left Sprint and HTC.
For instance, I’m happily enjoying data speeds that approach 20Mbps down and 3Mbps up on T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network – that’s not even LTE! I haven’t had a single dropped call yet, and I’m saving $50/month for two lines. Overall, I’m very satisfied with my decision to leave Sprint.
I’m also very excited about the prospect of being guaranteed timely updates on my LG Nexus 4, which is something HTC is simply not delivering – not to mention the fact that unlocking the bootloader on my Nexus is extremely easy, and doesn’t require that I register anywhere. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll switch my phone out for the new Moto X or the rumored Nexus 5, but I’m definitely sticking with the unsubsidized/no contract option from now on.
Don’t worry; I’ll still follow Sprint and HTC news, and the coverage you’ve come to expect from the new Pocketables isn’t going anywhere, rest assured. In fact, coverage will expand to include even more Android and T-Mobile news, too. I just thought now was time to come clean, and explain more fully my position (along with the reasons why my tone has been slowly changing). Transparency is important – even on tech blogs, which definitely aren’t known for unbiased reporting!