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HTC Hero Out, Firestone Re-leaked & Android Quota Up

Gordon Kelly


HTC Hero Out, Firestone Re-leaked & Android Quota Up

We've a raft of HTC news today people so let's get straight into it...

First up the long awaited, very impressive (but in my mind slightly underpowered) HTC Hero has finally been released by Orange - in an exclusive graphite finish. It is available from free but you'll need a circa £40pm two year contract for that and this provides a hefty 1,200 minutes along with unlimited data and text messages. So I suspect your ideal tariff may be a step or two down from there (and probably shorter).

Next up an allegedly official rendering of the company's Touch HD successor, the Firestone, has slipped out. The weird triangle is an external speaker which it is claimed delivers unparalleled sound output (for a smartphone) but it does make the touch sensitive key layout something of a mess.

Talk is still that the handset will be dubbed the 'Leo' at launch and I'll bet you the usual HTC specs will be there or there abouts. Namely: 4.3in WVGA (480 x 800 pixel) touchscreen display, HSDPA, WiFi, aGPS, 5MP camera with LED flash, minimal onboard memory augmented by a microSD expansion slot, an accelerometer and Windows Mobile (likely 6.5). Talk is rife the Firestone/Leo will be fitted with a capacitive screen but at present Windows Mobile, including 6.5, doesn't natively support capacitive screens (yes, really!) but perhaps HTC has found a hack. After all it's not like the company isn't experienced at chopping into mobile OSes.

With HTC's famously glass walled security expect more on this soon.

Lastly, HTC is apparently set to give Google Android a huge boost by upping its quota of Android/Windows Mobile handsets to 50/50 in 2010. This is a massive (and probably wise) leap of faith given it made just a single handset in 2008 and under 30 per cent so far this year featured the open source platform. Personally speaking, I'd simply like to see every HTC handset available in Windows Mobile and Android flavours. Surely that makes far more sense...?


Orange Monthly Contract Phones

Firestone Image via wmpoweruser.com

Android quota via Digitimes


July 24, 2009, 6:29 pm

I agree, make every handset available with Android on it, but then you have to ask if its worth making any of them run windows mobile at all?


July 24, 2009, 6:57 pm

There's still plenty of life in WM, mostly for business users, but if 6.5 can make it touch friendly then also in the consumer space as well. I'm probably going Android with my next mobile but I can still see plenty of benefits in WM, it's a very mature platform (just a bit senile) so newer and more powerful handsets together with the 6.5 facelift really could give it a new lease of life.

As for Firestone, ditch that speaker it's only kids in buses that use it. I almost got beaten up last week for giving some kid evil looks for playing music on the bus.

simple kid

July 24, 2009, 7:05 pm

The contracts from Orange seem not to be unlimited data as you mention in the article, but are in fact restricted to 500mb per month usage. Is this not the case?


July 24, 2009, 7:08 pm

@simple_kid - 500MB is the 'unlimited data' small print. In all honesty though with mobile browsing you'd be very unlikely to get anywhere near that in a month.


July 24, 2009, 7:15 pm

"@simple_kid - 500MB is the 'unlimited data' small print. In all honesty though with mobile browsing you'd be very unlikely to get anywhere near that in a month."

yes....but, it should be your job to expose (and report accurately) the complete and deliberate misuse of the term 'Unlimited'...not just follow their BS line. If they used the term Unlimited on a home broadband package but in reality it only meant 1GB limit, I'm sure you'd be quickly be up in arms.


July 24, 2009, 7:20 pm

I'm pretty sure there was a report recently about home broadband not really being "unlimited". There's usually small print to the effect of 40GB or so. '3' offer 1GB "unlimited" mobile data, but in all honesty, I've been checking the data counter on my phone and I don't think it's ever gone over 200 or so. That's with youtube etc.

I do agree the whole "unlimited" naming is wrong though, but maybe we should have complained sooner... shall we all do so at once?


July 24, 2009, 7:21 pm

@lifethroughalens - think that's wrong. You aren't comparing like with like - downloads and streaming don't make a dint compared to home broadband use where frequent downloads are mandatory with programme updates, streaming etc. With mobile phone data use you'd be lucky to top 100/150MB per month including downloading apps.

Furthermore, numerous articles have been written on this site about when unlimited data isn't really unlimited data. We'd be endlessly repeating ourselves on every single handset tariff if that were the case.

Trust me, if 'unlimited' suddenly drops substantially to a point where to could be a genuine concern for a mobile phone user we'll be straight onto it.


July 24, 2009, 7:33 pm

i got my hero yesterday and so far am loving it. have been experiencing occasional lag but then with 10+ apps frequently open it's not entirely unexpected. closing off programs solves it though. coming from winmo it's positively brisk!

i normally use 400-500MB of data a month without even trying. and that's without streaming video. just email, twitter, sync, facebook, rss....


July 24, 2009, 7:41 pm

Yes, I get your point and sympathise with it. I feel it is more a matter of principle than practicality and I can't stand for the slow erosion and dilution of the language. 'Unlimited' is a very easy concept to grasp and define and I see it as nothing more than at attempt to deliberately mislead customers. It's irrelevant weather or not you or I think that most customers will never reach such a level of usage, hence making it a moot point - It's mis-advertising.

It's a bit like some talk tariffs that offer 1200-2000+ mins per month; to me that practically means 'unlimited' talk time - but to others it will not.

I don't see the problem with printing the objective truth, ie 500MB p/m. Sounds good to me. And if you turn a blind eye to this now, it'll only get worse. Nip it in the bud and start pulling them up over it, is what I say. :)


July 24, 2009, 7:45 pm

Good grief. What size are your emails?


July 24, 2009, 8:02 pm

@ravmania - wow, you finally left Windows Mobile. Didn't expect that, you've long been one of its greatest defenders.

PS - be amazed if you get anywhere close to that data usage.


July 24, 2009, 8:05 pm

@lifethroughalens - agreed. Sadly there has already been an Ofcom investigation into the 'unlimited' debate and it didn't go far enough. The conclusion was that 'Unlimited' could still be used as long as the actual data amounts were also listed in the small print. In truth the phrase itself should have been scrapped altogether.


July 24, 2009, 9:09 pm

Ive been reading up ob this leak the last few days and I really really hope it isnt 4.3 Inch. Seriously the touch HD is the MAX size I will use and its a great phone. Update TouchFlo to 2.5, tinker with a few of its shortcomings (Hardware button for task switching?)and put in a much faster processor and you have a great phone.

After seeing how laggy the Onima 2 is I think HTC's next flagship device is last chance saloon for me and WM


July 24, 2009, 9:23 pm

I was really looking forward to getting a Hero. I'm a big gmail and google fan, so I've been looking forward to my first smart phone being and Android one. However, I've read so many reviews of the Hero saying that its nearly, nearly great, that I'm now inclined to wait until later in the year. If HTC really are getting behind Android in a big way, surely it won't be too long before they release another handset with better hardware.


July 24, 2009, 9:25 pm


Indeed I have but I'm still on the HTC bandwagon. The Hero's my 7th HTC.

WinMO has just stood still for too long. Unless 7 is something like it's desktop namesake I won't be moving back in a hurry.

A lot of the WinMo commnity seems to be making the shift. Android's generating quite a following on WinMo sites like XDA, Modaco, Coolsmartphone. With their support it can only get better and better.

PS - Re the data, that's what is says on my bill each month.

PPS - I was hoping to see you ditch the iPhone for the Pre but looks likeI'll have to settle for your unexpectedly positive Touch Pro 2 review.


July 24, 2009, 9:59 pm

@ravmania - sadly both the Hero and Pre have turned out to be 'nearly phones' for me. The Hero is just a little too slow and the Pre hardware hasn't moved on from the production samples I saw at CES. Palm's webOS is also frustrating in that it blows iPhone OS away in many respects but it also horribly undercooked in a few fundamentals.

iPhone 4th gen and Pre and Hero second gens next year could be absolutely mind blowing.


July 24, 2009, 11:43 pm

I've been running a cooked ROM with the leaked OS from the Firestone (WiMo 6.5 and Manilla V2.5) on my Touch HD for about a week now, and I can definitely say that it's very finger friendly in that combination.

WiMo6.5 has stylus requiring idiosyncracies left from 6.1 (like tiny check-boxes in alarm/clock) but Manila 2.5 (which is supposed to debut properly and stably(!!!) with the Firestone) skins things VERY deeply (even nearly all the settings menus!) and I've yet to see an original 6.5 menu unless I specifically force it by turning off Manila 2.5!

Also, an XDA-Developers user called Tuxhero is making some good early progress on getting Android on the Touch HD. I've tried an early Cupcake build in a Haret emulator and it's already pretty darn smooth and fast, if horrifically limited and unstable due to incomplete emulation...


July 25, 2009, 12:53 am

@ChaosDefinesOrder - I am running 6.5 and the touch Diamond 2 rom on my HD and its very good but just to slow at times. I have yet to try TF2.5 as i hear is buggy as hell but it def looks impressive. I curious on your opinion with the physical size of this rumoured Firestone. Would you go bigger than the HD?

Some people have mentioned how hardcore follows of WM are leaving in their droves and its true. If it wasn't for the fact the hero was butt ugly and (really) old tech I would buy one. WebOS looks amazing but I just don't like the Pre enough, why oh why didn't they include an SD slot!? When HTC decides to really back Android with a high end model they will truly do damage, same with Palm when they start to spread WebOS to different models

Oliver Levett

July 25, 2009, 2:04 am

HTC Leo will come with WM6.5 at launch (I'm not sure if the Leo and Firestone are the same device though...) It may well upgrade to 6.5.1 (see my post on MoDaCo about that: http://www.modaco.com/conte... ) when that branch is complete, or the WM6.5 and WM6.5.1 branches may well merge before release. WM6.5.1 has lots of enhancements for all the default controls and is finger freindly.

The Leo also has HTC Settings Enhancement which is an XML based UI for replacing the settings, and the HTC Application Framework which is a native (C++) framework for all the HTC controls (Comm Manager, Settings, you name it) which I'm currently disassembling and documenting (might be a week or so). WM and HTC are getting more finger friendly, although the Topaz and Rhodium are pretty damn good already (especially with the Leo ROM).

Oliver Levett

July 25, 2009, 2:16 am

Also, to the "you're unlikely to download more than 500mb in a month". Seriously? I've gone over 2GB on my phone with HSDPA/HSUPA (yes, Diamonds have had that for some time) quite regularly. 500mb isn't unlimited and never should be said as so. (BTW, I'm on T-Mobile :))


July 25, 2009, 4:01 am

@Oliver: it says in the article that Firestone is going to be released as "Leo" in the same way Blackstone got released as "Touch HD" (see what HTC did there with the naming?!) 6.5.1 sounds interesting, had never heard of it until just now! The Settings Enhancement is probably what I'm seeing for the settings menus in my HD's Leo ROM. Is pretty slick and looks great on the high resolution! My only complaint is that HTC appears to have forgotten that people might want to use COPY AND PASTE! Is probably a limitation of the PointUI backend (read somewhere that Manilla/TouchFLO 3D is a heavily customised PointUI) but there's next to no "tap and hold" context menu support. BIG NO NO!

@Runadumb: Yes, it's buggy, but surprisingly not as much as I was expecting it to be! I don't like the way Manilla takes COMPLETE control of text messages, it's too slow to open (opens EVERY text from that contact in turn before letting you reply...) and you can't use it landscape full stop (SMS composer that is, just get a black screen when you force it with AE Button Plus) The ROM I'm using atm is Dutty 6.5 V7. He's just released a V8, but there's only so many times a week I'll put up with flashing to try out new features! Considering flashing Miri V25 as I actually really like Titanium (have I lost everyone that doesn't know about ROMs and 6.5 yet? ;-)) but the stocks tab of Manilla works a lot better than the MSN Money widget (graph view significantly better!)

I would actually welcome a larger screen personally, mainly because I use a leather belt clip slip case, so size isn't much of an issue. Also, a larger screen would mean that the portrait keyboard would be significantly more usable as the "keys" would be larger!

There is the small problem that contract still has a year to go! I'm not bothered, I love my HD and by the looks of things, software wise there's a lot of things set to happen! Stable final Manilla 2.5, full final WiMo 6.5, potentially a fully working Android port. Plus, Dutty does a good job of making the ROMs run fast, so my HD doesn't usually feel lagging. Opens programs like RSS Hub instantly from scratch and panning web pages feels smooth to me.

simple kid

July 25, 2009, 3:28 pm

So if Orange has 500mb as their 'unlimited' limit, does anyone know what the other networks deem as unlimited?

Also I am a little surprised t-mobile doesn't even have the phone listed on it's website yet when they are going to be the only other network with the phone. Has there been any information released on how their pricing structure will compare for the phone?

Overall would it not actually work out cheaper to buy the phone outright (£400 or there abouts??) and then use a sim only tariff, such as O2 simplicity? I know a lot of people ended up doing this with the iphone.


July 25, 2009, 7:45 pm

O2's data plan (which I'm on/have) is actually "please just don't take the piss" for contracts, however is limited to 200mb for PAYG only. In the words of the guy at customer services, if you use mobile web as web on your mobile, then you'll never hit a limit (on contract). If you use your mobile web with your phone as a USB 3G modem, then you'll hit the limit quickly, but they have a specific bolt-on for that.

Short summary: PAYG limit = hard 200MB. Contract limit = unofficially non-existant as long as you don't start downloading huge files!

simple kid

July 25, 2009, 9:00 pm

To add to my previous comment, I have since found out that 'unlimited web' for t-mobile is 3GB a month and for Vodafone is 5GB. That's six and ten times more than Orange respectively but still not exactly unlimited.

O2 and 3 anyone?

Oliver Levett

July 26, 2009, 3:01 am

@ChaosDefinesOrder: with the Blackstone, the ROM was RUU_Blackstone... with packages named PACKAGE_Blackstone... With the Leo, it's RUU_Leo, and PACKAGE_Leo. If it were the Firestone, being released as the Leo, you'd get PACKAGE_Firestone wouldn't you?

Manila is nothing to do with Point UI. It's written entirely by HTC. If it were PointUI, I'm sure you'd see something in the "about" link on the settings page. At what point haven't you had Copy and Paste? I still see it everywhere! :p

@simple_kid: what iPhone was that? The current gen ones are coming in at like £700, which makes it cheaper to get a contract! With the Hero, it's not too bad on an Orange contract (will be picking one up my self I think).

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