Developer's Dilemma

It appears that recently Verizon has finally released an update to the version of Android my phone uses.  I have an HTC Thunderbolt, which has been using Gingerbread (2.3.3) for as long as I’ve owned it.  Now, I can upgrade to Ice cream Sandwich (4.0.4), which is a pretty big leap.  The question is, should I?

I was an extremely late adopter to the whole cell phone thing.  This phone, which is my first cell phone ever, I bought a little over 2 years ago.  At the time I figured as long as I was finally making the plunge into cell phone ownership, I might as well buy the fanciest one available.  Little did I know that two years later I’d be developing software for these devices myself.  In fact, I’ve become something of the Android technical expert here in the office.

Having older devices to test on is actually a boon.  I regularly test my code on my own phone, knowing that it’s pretty close to our minimum required hardware level.  If I upgrade, it will no longer be that.  Also, I also own a tablet running Ice cream Sandwich, so for development it’s definitely preferable to own two different versions rather than two of the same.

However, as a user, it would be nice to have the latest version.  There are definitely bugs I’m aware of in the old OS that I know have been fixed and would make using the phone nicer.  It’d also be a little like owning a new phone with how big the jump is from Gingerbread to Ice cream Sandwich.  I suppose ultimately that’s an option too — Verizon is already trying to entice me into buying a new phone at discounted prices if I renew my contract.  I could have the best of both worlds by buying a new phone and keeping this one stuck on the old OS.  Of course that’s not free, far from it, and ultimately my current phone really does do everything I need.  It seems kind of wasteful to go purchasing the latest gizmo just because it’s new.

There’s a fair argument to be made that providing old devices is my employer’s problem, not mine, and I should do with my own phone as I like.  Of course having dev tools that I own means I have a better chance at being productive from home when I’m not feeling well or there’s a foot of snow on the ground (coming this Friday I hear.)  Also, that doesn’t help me should I say have some personal project I’m working on in my spare time from home (hint, hint).

So I feel very conflicted.  I want the latest toy, but is it worth it?  I suppose at least for now I will wait.  I have, however, removed the screen protector from my phone.  It feels nicer without it, and looks better as the protector did have a bit of a ding on it (not from protecting my screen, I did that myself when putting the protector on incorrectly at first).  Generally I’m pretty careful, so I doubt the screen will get damaged.  If it does, well, perhaps that’s the excuse I need to get a new one and keep this one just for testing.

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