Virgin Mobile customers who have been waiting for the Android 4.0 update for their carrier-sold HTC Incredible S phones have been receiving some mixed signals.

HTC originally promised the update for the Incredible S on its Android 4.0 Updates and FAQ page.

For some time now, Virgin Mobile’s Ice Cream Sandwich Update Page has listed an incoming update for the Incredible S, originally due in August 2012. As time passed, the date slipped to September, and then the variable-and-ambiguous “soon”.


Last week, a user on Virgin Mobile’s Facebook page queryed the status of the update, at which point a Virgin Mobile representative finally stated that the update would not be made available:

… we’ve received information from HTC to advise the update isn’t going to be made available for the Incredible S through Virgin Mobile …

When pressed for further information:

When updates are made available they’re tested through the carrier but released through the manufacturer so this isn’t something we’re able to release, sorry.

The HTC Incredible S was originally released in February 2011, putting Ice Cream Sandwich well inside the 18 month update window often associated with Google’s Android Update Alliance. The phone should be receiving this update – it should also receive Jellybean. This is the latest in a string of incidents that have caused many to call the effectiveness of the Update Alliance into question.

Confusingly, the update was released by Optus over a month ago. It appears that the decision to discontinue over-the-air updates for the Incredible S was taken at some point after Optus rolled the update out. We also saw some comments from Virgin Mobile users at the time telling us their devices had received the update.

Download from HTC

We reached out to Virgin Mobile for clarification on the status of the update and why it hasn’t been released. After they spent some time following up with HTC, we received the following statement (from HTC):

For the Incredible S, we believe the current version of Android with HTC Sense provides the best customer experience. However, we also know that some customers want Ice Cream Sandwich for their device. In lieu of providing ICS to customers through their carrier with an over-the-air update, we’ve decided to offer the option to download a developer version of ICS. The download is available on the HTCdev site (

While this doesn’t explain how the update came to be released over-the-air by Optus, it does give users a way forward for updating their device using the developer ROM provided by HTC.

Note that we’re awaiting clarification from HTC on their support for this ROM in terms of security and bugfix updates. If these are important to you (and they should be), you might want to wait a little longer, or investigate other alternatives.

If you want to update your Incredible S, you can download the ROM Upgrade Utility from HTCdev right now. The update appears to be a generic ROM suitable for all Incredible S devices worldwide.

We’ve also confirmed with Virgin Mobile that installing HTC’s developer ROM in this fashion will not void your warranty.

Have you updated your Incredible S with Ice Cream Sandwich? Was HTC right about the “best customer experience”? Let us know how you feel about it in the comments.