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HTC Amaze 4G ICS (Android 4.0.3) hands-on review

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Back in the end of April, first Ice Cream Sandwich leak for HTC Amaze 4G became available. During same week, a team of Android devs / hackers from XDA, came up with a working (albeit very difficult to implement) S-OFF method for this great phone – that was a great week for Amaze 4G community, and since I just switched to T-mo that week* I got full benefit of both ICS and S-OFF immediately, why so many people have been waiting for both, for many months :)

* On April 26 I got a T-mobile $50/mo unlimited small business plan which I reviewed back in April – check back for my review of this plan and mini review of the Amaze 4G and why I got it, instead of HTC One S.

ICS for Amaze 4G – first impressions:

So, just as I got my sparkling new Amaze 4G, I went to HTC website Dev section and unlocked my phone. I then rooted it, installed custom recovery and (not sure in which order) I did S-OFF wire trick and installed Ice Cream Sandwich leaked rom with Sense 3.6 – and guys, WOW – it made the phone SO MUCH BETTER, compared to Gingerbread! I will provide links to S-OFF method and the roms / dev info at the end of this article.

Note: I actually used the phone with stock T-mo GB rom for a day or two as I was busy with life things, but rooted it as soon as I had time. This day or two gave me a decent enough impression of GB and something to compare against, when I installed ICS.

Custom ICS Android 4.0.3 rom for Amaze 4G: Since I can’t stand manufacturer and carrier bloatware, I went with a custom rom, where ALL T-mobile crapware and some Sense 3.6 apps were deleted.

I first installed a SpeedRom, but it continuously gave me Force Closes of Dialer app, so I immediately removed it and installed One Good Roof v3.7 – and let me tell you – it is one good rom! I have no glitches with it. I had only one reboot the entire month that I’ve been using it as my daily driver, and I think it is related to a buggy app. I also further cleaned up my phone by removing other unnecessary apps with Root Uninstaller, so I might have deleted something “important” :)

Get the 4

Major differences between ICS and GB on Amaze 4G:

1) ICS rom is running Sense v3.6 vs 3.0 on GB. I don’t really know what are the major differences, as I never really got to use GB stock rom, but I can tell you – 3.6 is much better than 2.5 which I had on my old HTC Desire HD / Inspire 4G.

Unfortunately, it is still not Sense 4.0, which is available on a VERY low end HTC One V, but not on HTC’s “best” phone of 2011 – very weird.

2) 2G Hardware Acceleration: Amaze 4G is running on a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm S3 chipset, with Adreno 220 GPU – I fill that it is a very powerful processor, but in GB, all two-dimensional (2D) graphics did not take advantage of extra power the processor had to offer. Instead they used main cpu to do all the work. In ICS, you can use a 3D processor to speed up the 2D graphics, and let main cpu run the actual OS and apps. As a result, this improve your battery life and speed of the phone!

3) Speaking of battery life – phone comes with 1700 mAh battery which is not the best, but pretty good for it’s screen size (to compare – HTC Desire HD has only 1230 mAh battery). However with all the HTC / T-mobile crapware installed on the phone, my battery life on GB was less than half a day. After I installed ICS, it lasts me almost a full day.

Keep in mind though – I attribute some of the battery drain to T-mobile’s “4G” network, and some to the 100% brightness that I usually have. You can always extend your battery live with external battery / solar charger, but they are bulky, and not always convenient.

4) Built in 3G/4G traffic monitor. This is a great feature, and I highly recommend everyone uses it, especially now, with tiered data plans from most carriers. I mad a mistake of not setting it up right away, and the stupid Google + app was syncing my 30+ GB of pictures with Picasa albums – this quickly took me over my 5GB of full-speed traffic and I was stuck with 2G service for 20+ days :(

Lesson learned – disable ALL unneeded syncing / delete Google+ app and more crapware :)

BTW guys – question for you – in Accounts and Sync, when I go to any Google Account, it also offers me to sync not just Google+ but also Picasa. What I want to know is which app is responsible for this??? I don’t have Picasa installed. Pleas let me know in the comments

I really don’t know what else to include here :) … the ICS feels great and VERY fast / fluid, with no lag at all (except for buggy apps – but that is not ICS problem). I highly recommend you install ICS on your phone.

However you may choose to get official OTA update, if you don’t feel like doing voodoo magic with your phone ( I mean to get S-OFF you actually need to use a wire to short-circuit some connectors, while your phone is on and connected to ADB – you can easily kill your phone this way 😀 ). Just make sure you back up all your data before you update, as I know some OTA updates are full-wipe, and will delete all your apps and settings.

PS – While writing this review, I realized that I had to jump through so many hoops, risking to completely brick my phone, just to get it working the way I want – this is even without installing my apps and settings. While I feel comfortable doing this, most users will never root their phone – never mind doing S-OFF wire tricks.

As a result – most Android phone users will be stuck with manufacturer and carrier installed crapware and suffer, waiting for months if not years to get updates, and live with phone lags and bad battery life. No wonder so many people say iPhone just works, and abandon Android, even given all its “greatness”.

So I will put together why I think Android phone makers kill their own sales, help promote iPhone, and how Apple told ALL carriers to “screw” and they did :), and why iPhone is still the best selling smartphone and will remain #1 for years to come ( as “sad” as that is :( ).

Amaze 4G ICS References: – note: most of the methods linked below can make your device completely unusable, and will void your warranty. Perform all actions at your own risk!

Follow ALL installation details – and you will have great success! Note – links below are placed in order of events that you must perform to install custom ICS room on your Amaze 4G. I will post my own rooting and S-OFF guide soon, as some instructions were poorly written and are difficult to understand. I will try to do a better job.

Amaze 4G Unlock – HTC.
Amaze 4G Root – XDA.
Amaze 4G S-OFF – XDA.
Amaze 4G Super CID (requires S-OFF) – XDA.
Amaze 4G OneGoodRom ICS 4.0.3 – XDA.

Roms I will be trying soon:

I will update my OneGooRom to current version 3.8 and will also try RMS Quick Sense v6 as well as “Sense-less” RMS rom, which is themed as Sense 4.0.

If you are already rocking ICS – congrats. If you plan to install it – be careful and do not rush, and have fun!

One last thing – check out my post on how to install screen protector on Amaze 4G.

Written by admin

May 29th, 2012 at 2:53 pm