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Samsung Galaxy s2 Icecream sandwich update

O yea I got my Samsung Galaxy S2 updated with the ICS release today morning. This was a long awaited firmware/OS upgrade to the Samsung’s flagship Android smart phone – the GS2.

I’d several questions in my mind for the procedure I’d have to go through to get this upgrade. However, it turned out to be rather too simple.

How to Update

  1. Navigate to the Home Screen – Settings – About Phone – Software update – Update. My phone reported a 217MB firmware/OS update this morning.
  2. Make sure you are connected to a Wi-fi net.Though the 4G nets should be able to download this at a decent speed, I’d recommend a Wi-fi connection for more reliability.
  3. Click on the download. My phone showed a 20min remaining time just as it started to download the update over my home wi-fi.
  4. Click on install. The alert shows that while the install is in progress all the phones radios will go offline and the phone will reboot.

The phone rebooted a few seconds later and I guess this is exactly when it started the update.

It returned to life in about 2-3 minutes. Soon as that happened, she said it was optimizing apps for the update. And there it was, simple and straight!

I could not wait to browse through and see what was changed.

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What’s new?

  1. πŸ™‚ First things first, the colors seemed to be a little softer (call it less dynamic). There were complaints about the S2’s over saturated Amoled+ screen. Though I did not experience this on my S2, I believe there has been a effort to work around the issue.
  2. πŸ™‚ The font appears to be a combination of white and blue, which is kinda soothing to the eye.
  3. The lock screen:
    • The slide image to unlock is replaced with a lock symbol. It feels easier to unlock that the previous one which would need you to slide the image all the way to a corner to unlock the screen.Β Β Β 
    • The graphics for the pattern unlock have changed a bit. No comments there.
    • πŸ™‚ What’s new is the face unlock!Β  While it appeared to be a vanity option initially, it seemed to be working great. Set it up and its fun watch it recognize your face and unlock it. It works!
  4. πŸ™ The upgrade reset all my home screens. I mean, I lost all of the shortcuts and the folders that I’d arranged my apps into.Other than that its still the same 7 home screens that you can add and browse through them similarly. ButI did not really understand why just 7. And why 7? Is there a real reason behind the number?
  5. πŸ™ The Home Screen Menu: the menu is a list now replacing the grid that it was. I don’t see the point.
  6. 😐 Settings: The settings menu changed in terms of look and feel (a blue colored theme).
    • πŸ™‚ A new data usage app in the wireless & network section. The feature shows data usage per app.
    • πŸ™‚ A new Developer Options settings in the system section. App developers could set a lot of debugging/testing options like screen update flashes, show touches, pointer location etc.
  7. 😐 Notification Area: The icons seem to have been replaced with a newer set of sharper looking ones. Wifi and HSPA+ were shown at two different locations. Now they replace each other depending on which data mode is on.
  8. πŸ™ Text Input: I was at loss when I saw no Swype initially. The only options I saw were the new 3×4 and handwriting boxes. Little did I know that I’d to long press the settings button on the keyboard to turn Swype on.
    • πŸ™‚ New Swype settings menu: long press the Swype key in the keyboard to reach there. You see a new Swype settings menu. Whats interesting is the Personal dictionary. You could enter words that the dictionary did not already know. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ For a starter, the dictionary already has your contact names (obviously most these nouns wont be in the standard dictionary)
    • πŸ™‚ The type ahead also suggests numbers now!
    • πŸ™‚ As a minor observation, the key board has changed colors, and so did the Swype trail. Its orange now!
  9. The apps have had a make over:
    1. πŸ™‚ Social Hub:Β  I almost never used it when on gingerbread because it always failed to connect to my google account. Now it works. So I can see my Facebook, Twitter, Gmail and my work mail all together!
    2. πŸ™‚ Google Maps: The menu now appears at the bottom and the screen looks more like the kindle, i.e. subtler in contrast and colors.
    3. πŸ™ Contacts and Phone App are separatedΒ  . Why at all. If I were to open contacts and did not find what I was looking for, I could simply move to the left from the top and use the key pad and enter number to dial.
      • Now with the ICS, I’ve to exit, launch phone app. Did not like it.
      • Both these apps show tabs on top. The graphics on the tabs seem pixelized πŸ™ kinda primitive for this brilliant a display.
    4. πŸ™‚ Search: The color theme changed. You could still search phone for apps or search web. All is well.
    5. 😐 Email: Color theme changed.
    6. πŸ™‚ Gmail: looks lot better than it was on gingerbread. Again subtler colors as on the Maps.
    7. πŸ™‚ GTalk is now Talk:Β  It appears clean and more colorful.
    8. πŸ™ IM: It never worked before, doesn’t work now either!
  10. Well most of the apps forgot my credentials. I’d have to remember all my UIDs/pwds . Its okay!
  11. Battery: The S2’s battery life has been a concern and most of us have been waiting to see if the ICS update betters it. I’ve just charged the phone to 100% and I’ve been fiddling around for about 2hours. I shall update this space after a couple of days. [17-Mar-12] 2days hence. I’m very disappointed with the battery. It lasts only 8hrs of normal usage, 100% to a buggy 5%. It alerts only twice and shuts down dumb. πŸ™ that’s no smart phone.Β  It used to go to around 12-15hrs previously. And mine is a month old phone. [18-Mar-12] Battery is still as terrible, no fix available.

All I’d expected of the ICS was Battery management, otherwise s2 ran so well with gingerbread. πŸ™ πŸ™ wish I could go back.

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To conclude, the upgrade process has been real smooth, just ask it to update and it does it for you!

Please share your experience with ICS in the comments section below.

[18-Mar-12] One of my friends in India said they got a Gingerbread 2.3.7 update today. I clearly see that Samsung would release the best suit s2 version of ICS in India, but we’d have to wait. Keep hitting the Update button folks!

[8-Apr-12] Just for the fun of it, I tried update again ( About Phone – Software update – Update) and this time there was a 8MB update. Did not see what the content was though. I see the android version as 4.0.3 and the Baseband version i9100XXLPS. Does any one know what this meant?

PS: This post only outlines my initial impressions/observations. I’ve not done an extensive research as to what the improvements have been. So I might have overlooked a few things.

34 Responses to “Samsung Galaxy s2 Icecream sandwich update”

  1. Antas Mishra says:

    Hey Bharath,

    That was really helpful. Now, I just need to get a S2.

  2. Rhys says:

    Nice write up, waiting for the update!

  3. jasper says:

    my sgs2 showing no update available on phone

    even when connected to kies it says its the latest firmware :((

    • I did not use kies. it’s the sloppiest desktop app for a phone ever. Follow the steps on my blog, you’ll be through in less than half hour

      • jasper says:

        even through the ph itself it shows no update available
        i’m waiting since yesterday for ics update πŸ™ πŸ˜€

  4. Raj K says:

    Its nice informative article
    I own Samsung Galaxy note and it seems ICS update over FOTA still not available in India.
    Can you suggest any way to update?

  5. James says:

    Eagerly awaiting the update due Monday (UK unbranded GT-i9100). Can u confirm ICS support adobe flash video and other web features as was available on gingerbread?

    • yea flash and video are just as good. I’ve no issues with that so far.

      • James says:

        Thank you fo this info … it has taken me from the announced release of the update til now to obtain this info … it was the only thing that would have stopped me upgrading. As long as flash works im happy. thanks

  6. Chandrakant says:

    Bro. I’ve been constantly checking for the ICS update.. but it says the phone is updated to the latest version…when is it expected to be released waiting for the update.
    suggest me plz

    • Chandrakant,

      None of my friends in India got the update either on kies or over the air.

      Wait on bro, I sure the update requires fixes (battery management for one). Guess you guys will get a better update than I did.

  7. dan says:

    Hi all,I work for Orange UK and cant wait for for the update for my s 11 to be tested and released. Im in tech so as soon as i get word on the OUK branded release I will leave a message on here. peace


    Hey bharat,

    Is ICS for galaxy s2 avaliable in india?

    • Oh! Vijay I did not know the update is yet to be released in India. Well it seems here in the US too some folks did not receive it. It looks to me like the update is currently limited. Anyways I suggest you wait, my ICS update has not been too exciting, the battery does far sooner than it used to.

      Could be that Samsung would fix some bugs and then release the update everywhere.

  9. Ethan says:

    what about the browser?
    anything related to the Chrome?

    • The stock browser seems to have one improvement with a thumb gesture – it shows a few buttons when you move your thumb across the edges. However, I feel its a vanity feature. What I do not personally like about the browser is that it never actually closes the tabs that you opened. And its difficult to move between tabs. Was it the same before too?

      Chrome – honestly I did not use it on my S2 before the ICS. I’ve installed it today, and I see that its far cleaner than most of the browsers out there. However, the first thing I tried was YouTube, and the browser stopped responding in a few seconds. It never came back and I’d to use Task manager to kill it. I tried the same YouTube link again, this time it worked.

      The two apps that kind of completely stalled the phone were Google Earth and Google Chrome. So much for a Google OS πŸ˜€

  10. iammt says:

    This is an excellent article. However for context i’d like to know what country you are based in. Us poor Uk users still have no sight of ICS yet…

  11. jΓΈrgen WΓΈhlk says:

    I confirm that battery life is reduced to about the half after upgrading to ICS πŸ™‚

  12. DannyKimToronto says:

    I’m in Toronto, Canada and have not seen or heard anyone here get the update yet, either from Kies, OTA or they method you mentioned. I have the Galaxy S2 model GT-i9100M which is exactly the same as original S2 from Korea/Europe, BUT it does not display “software update” option under “About Phone” menu. Is this a permanent menu item under About Phone or just temporary to inform the user that an update is available?

    • Yea I see it as a permanent option in settings > About Phone > Software Update > Update. Cant guess why yours doesn’t have it.

      • DannyKimToronto says:

        Not sure, it could be provider related since it is still locked? Also it is still running the stock 2.3.3 from factory and unrooted. I will search the net on why mine is different. Thanks.

  13. Kinshuk says:

    the update has ruined my SGS2’s battery life πŸ™

    • Hmm yea, that was my initial reaction too. But after the i9100XXLPS update I got on 8-Apr-12, the battery performance seems pretty good. In fact I get around 15+ hours with WiFi & GPS always on! That’s not bad.

  14. rahul says:

    Hey bro. Reallyyy helpful info…
    I purchased my s2 a month ago and m happy with the way it works but it gets very hot while surfing…
    Can u suggest me the best browser?.
    I’m using opera mobile and dolphin hd..

  15. Ed says:

    Completely unimpressed with this update.Had my SGS2 for about 12m and absolutely love it, with little or no complaints at all…( poor-ish battery life doesn’t bother me, you can’t expect such high performance to run on thin air now can you!)
    After the update the phone has bugs everywhere!! Whilst typing this the whole screen is jumping around, also now does the same on whatsapp.
    I can’t deposition the cursor to correct a mistake, home screen often jumps one screen to left when i try to select an app, unlock pattern is more difficult, browser never startup at selected home screen, gallery has become more skittish and honestly……..etc,etc and etc.
    I would return to gingerbread in an instant if i knew how!!

  16. Ed says:

    Screen grab has stopped working, pop up menu in browser has lost its symbols which mean you need to spend longer selecting an option, i have seen the symbol G instead of 3G which i have never seen before , ebay app stopped working for first time in about 9 months, honestly, i love my phone but this update is causing so many anomilies i can’t list them all, its almost ruined the phone.?? Anybody know how to roll back?

    • bro, you seem to hate the update! Honestly, I’ve used the phone for less than a month before the update. so I could not be specific in as much. But i have to agree, it seemed unstable and inconsistent. I some times have to wait for it to restart at random. That’s completely unacceptable. Guess Samsung released the update in a hurry. I too would like to know how to rollback without having to root.

  17. Cazmiqa says:

    Thank you soooooo much for this info which I found trying to see why I had lost Swype and you answered my question … what’s more you explained everything so well, all my other worries and concerns have been resolved now πŸ™‚ … I really thought I had broken it at first, when my ‘random’ move from Gingerbread to ICS seemed too easy …. THANK YOU

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