Featured: HTC Desire C – Is This the First Low-End Smartphone with ICS?

May 15, 2012 - Written By Lucian Armasu

When ICS was launched, I was worried that ICS might never arrive on the low-end phones with ARM11 processors. In a way, I was even hoping that doesn’t happen, because I am really tired of seeing this slow and ancient processor on the market. The biggest problem might not even be that it’s slow, but that it’s not on the ARMv7 architecture, but on ARMv6.

This is why Adobe never ported Flash to ARMv6, Chrome still doesn’t work on ARMv6, and never will, and even Canonical doesn’t want to port Ubuntu to ARMv6 to support the Raspberry Pi chip. And for good reason. It’s a decade old chip that should’ve been canned a long time ago. Cortex A5  (ARMv7) was supposed to replace it, but I think manufacturers stuck with ARM11 because Cortex A5 didn’t offer that much of a performance improvement or cost savings for them to switch from ARM11, which they already knew very well. So they decided to skip it.

I really hope they are going to use Cortex A7 as soon as it comes out next year, though. It should be about as powerful as a Cortex A8, but 5x more energy efficient, and hopefully cheaper or close enough to ARM11’s price that manufacturers can finally say “ok, this is the end of the road for ARM11”.

Back to the story, the HTC Desire C seems to be the first ICS phone using an ARM11 processor, even though manufacturers were crying foul last year when they said that older phones such as Galaxy S or Desire can’t support ICS, even though they have significantly more powerful hardware than this phone. They never went into specifics why exactly they can’t support ICS, so most people thought it was because of the CPU or the GPU. But in fact the truth was that in HTC’s case their phones there had way too low internal storage for the OS and apps, and in Samsung’s case they made too small of a partition for the OS, so now they couldn’t upgrade it to ICS. Of course, it also served as a mighty convenient excuse for them to not actually do the work to upgrade those phones to ICS.

The HTC Desire C specs are as follows:

  • 600 Mhz CPU
  • Adreno 200 GPU
  • 5 MP camera
  • 3.5″ display
  • 480×320 resolution
  • 4 GB storage
  • microSD
  • Android 4.0/Sense 4.0

I do hope that we’ll see more low-end phones with ICS because they help with increasing ICS’s market share, but hopefully manufacturers will move to Cortex A7 as soon as possible. The Desire C should replace the Wildfire S in most countries, and it will launch in UK on all 5 major carriers for £169.99 unlocked or free on a £15-£20 contract, depending on the carrier.