HTC Sensation 4G gains Android 4.0, loses free tethering

As they say, you win some and you lose some. HTC Sensation owners on T-Mobile’s network fall squarely into that maxim now that their handsets are getting a software update to Android 4.0, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich. The update is scheduled to appear for download tomorrow, adding a much improved version of Google’s mobile platform and HTC Sense 3.6. Unfortunately, once updated, customers will need to pay T-Mobile $14.99 monthly to keep using the phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot.

PC Magazine noted this change in T-Mobile’s official release notes for the upgrade and received this statement from a T-Mobile representative:

“T-Mobile began offering a Smartphone Mobile Hotspot plan in November 2010. However, due to technical limitations with software, customers were not being charged for the feature on select T-Mobile products. Customers who choose to upgrade their HTC Sensation 4G to the optional Android 4.0 (ICS) software update will be required to sign up for the $14.99 Smartphone Mobile Hotspot plan.”

I’m sure that some HTC Sensation 4G owners will cry foul over this change, even with the software improvements coming with Android 4.0. And why not, when they may have been using the service at no extra change? In fact, it makes little sense to charge for it when T-Mobile’s data plans are already throttled after a set amount. If a customer wants to use their phone as a hotspot for their allotted mobile broadband, they’re obviously willing to deal with slower speeds if they use the feature too much.

The only good thing about the Smartphone Mobile Hotspot plan — if you’re an optimist, that is — is that the $14.99 per month boosts your monthly broadband capacity at full speeds from 2 GB to 5 GB. I think I’ll stick with my Galaxy Nexus, thank you!