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Phones

HTC Velocity with Ice Cream Sandwich: hands on

Telstra and HTC announced the delivery of a major firmware update for the HTC Velocity 4G yesterday, an update that will advance the phone's firmware from Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) to Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich).

Telstra and HTC announced the delivery of a major firmware update for the HTC Velocity 4G yesterday, an update that will advance the phone's firmware from Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) to Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich).

We installed the update last night, and have been genuinely impressed with the improvement in overall performance. Web browsing in particular receives a noticeable boost, especially given that you can install Google's new Chrome for Android browser after the update.

Side-by-side comparison

The original Velocity home screen, and as it appears after the update. (Screenshot by CBSi)

The first thing you'll notice after installing the update is a redesigned home screen with a new customisable dock at the bottom of the screen. This is Sense 3.6, and although it maintains quite a bit of 3.5, including the 3D rotating page turns, it does seem to be faster, and it feels more stable. HTC has also added the new folder feature in ICS, so that when you drop a home screen icon onto another icon, it automatically creates a new folder.

The settings menu beside the older layout. (Screenshot by CBSi)

The settings menu also receives a pretty significant facelift, with a new font, new switches and a few new features, too. Google's new data-usage tab is included, where you can set data-usage limits and warnings, and can monitor the data usage of individual apps.

There is a bump in this result, but we don't feel that it properly reflects the improvement in performance. (Screenshot by CBSi)

In this final image, you can see two BrowserMark benchmark results side by side, although we'd argue that you don't see the extent of the improvements in web browsing based on this result alone. The browser is much faster, and, paired with 4G data speeds, some web pages appear to load almost instantaneously. This is the sort of performance that we expected to see from this phone when we first reviewed it back in January.

In some areas, we were disappointed to find old HTC customisations in places where we hoped to find new ICS elements. The contacts list (called People in HTC Sense) is the same as before the update, as is the image gallery and the camera UI. Hopefully, HTC will choose which elements of the Android experience need customisation better in Sense 4, which is due for release with the One series of phones in the next few months.