How to update your Nexus S to Ice Cream Sandwich


Further to our article about the Nexus S price reduction, I finally got my handset yesterday and immediately set about trying to update it to ICS.

To cut a long story short, it’s not as easy as just going through the settings menu and requires a little manual tinkering, The device come with Android 2.3.1 out of the box which is near enough a year old. Despite this, mine was adamant that it was up to date. Google have also stopped sending out the ICS update over the air due to some reported battery life issues.

In order to get your phone updated you need to manually download the ROMs and install them through the phone’s recovery menu. While this may sound quite technical, it’s actually dead easy and I’ve written up a guide to help you on your way.

Now although this should work fine I still have to provide the standard disclaimer that you proceed at your own risk. Although unlikely, you could brick your phone and/or lose your data. That said, let’s proceed.

I actually first updated to 2.3.6 and then again to 4.0.3. I’m not sure if this is strictly necessary but it worked fine for me and only adds a few minutes to the procedure.

  1. You’ll need to first download the ROMs for 2.3.6 and 4.0.3 from here and here respectively and then rename them “update.zip”
  2. Plug your phone into your computer and turn on USB storage
  3. Copy the file to too root of the phone’s internal storage (i.e. don’t place it inside any folder)
  4. Turn your device off
  5. Power on the device be holding down the power and volume up buttons simultaneously
  6. You now need to use the volume buttons to move up and down through the menus and the power button to select options
  7. Select “recovery” from the menu
  8. Once you see an exclamation mark in a triangle press the volume up and power buttons together
  9. select “apply update from /sdcard”
  10. select “update.zip” from the menu (the one without any dots before the “u”
  11. let the ROM flash and then select reboot
  12. repeat the process for the second update
That’s it. It really is pretty straightforward and will leave you with a totally stock, official version of ICS. I’ve been using it for the past day and am extremely impressed with both ICS and its performance on the Nexus S. It’s by far the biggest single leap Android has made since I jumped in back at Cupcake. The Nexus S may not be the latest device, but with ICS it can’t comfortably hold its own against more powerful rivals.

As usual, let us know how you get on in the comments.
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  • Hdjahaja

    Hi, I followed this guide exactly and it worked fine. However, when I rebooted the phone would not turn on and only the back camera light came in when the power button was pressed. What could have caused this as I now have a new phone that is not bricked!

    Thanks.

  • Jeremyqhoward

    Is this for nexus s 4g as well?
     

  • Mannuvpatel

    brilliant post from our PATEL BHAI..thank u very much..updated to ics..no hassle ..thanks again

  • Anonymous

    Stop being so impatient. It’ll come officially soon enough.

  • Anonymous

    Nope. There isn’t an official update for that yet.

  • Anonymous

    But this is the official update!

  • Matt Siviter

    Just updated two phones from CPW UK with this exact procedure.

    Worked like a dream.

    Thanks

    £200!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://irishandrew.myopenid.com/ irishandrew

    You can in fact do a whole ROM update to go directly from 2.3.1 to 4.0.3 without updating to 2.3.6 in the interim. This is what I did on my new Nexus S and it worked a dream first time. The ZD3PyN0t.zip allows this without issue through the built in bootloader. No root required and all stock :-)

  • martin clinton

    I did read here http://www.zdnet.co.uk/blogs/communication-breakdown-10000030/google-stays-quiet-on-nexus-s-ics-android-battery-fix-10025093/ that there were 2 ICS updates available, a 125MB one that seemed to cause a lot of issues, and this was the OTA one, and the 160MB listed here which seemed to be more stable. I’ve applied it to my Carphone Warehouse sale Nexus S without the mid-step, and it seems OK, but i guess only time will tell if there’s any faults that don’t show up in the first day or so.

  • http://twitter.com/Gfen Gary Fenton

    Awesome run through Rav, much love!

  • martin clinton

    In case anyone’s interested, in the week I’ve been running ICS on the nexus S, no problems so far, and far from poor battery, I get very good battery. I tend to only switch on 3g or wifi when needed (as I do on all my phones), but I’m easily getting about 2 to 3 days on average use, so certainly for me, no disadvantages at all.

  • Ian Holton

    Thank you great guide worked exactly as you said

  • Zarrazki

    I have just upgraded to ICS, from 2.3.4…. perfect.
    Thanks a lot!

  • Zarrazki

    I have just upgraded to ICS, from 2.3.4…. perfect.
    Thanks a lot!

  • Billinge

    I bought my Nexus s from Carphonewarehouse on Monday, last one available in store for £199.95.
    Yesterday I updated it to ICS, as above.  Put it on charge last night about 10pm, with 15% battery, left it all night, until this morning about 7.30am, and it had 63% battery.  I used the Samsung charger that came with the phone, so surely it should have fully charged over night.  Is this an ICS issue, or a Nexus S issue, or a stock charger issue?  Any ideas?

  • Billinge

    I bought my Nexus s from Carphonewarehouse on Monday, last one available in store for £199.95.
    Yesterday I updated it to ICS, as above.  Put it on charge last night about 10pm, with 15% battery, left it all night, until this morning about 7.30am, and it had 63% battery.  I used the Samsung charger that came with the phone, so surely it should have fully charged over night.  Is this an ICS issue, or a Nexus S issue, or a stock charger issue?  Any ideas?

  • Anonymous

    I did find that the phone was quite slow to charge but it got quicker after a few days. But if you left it overnight it should have been fully charged. Very strange.

  • Anonymous

    I did find that the phone was quite slow to charge but it got quicker after a few days. But if you left it overnight it should have been fully charged. Very strange.

  • Billinge

     A little bit better laat night, I used my HTC charger (a bit more umph 5V/1A vs 5V 0.7A).  On charge from about 10pm, decided to turn it off this time, this morning 5 bars on the battery display before turning on.  But when I turned it on, the battery status said 83% charge.  Perhaps the phone is training the battery, getting to understand its capacity.  This is the only explanation I have.  We’ll see how it goes over the coming days.

  • Billinge

     A little bit better laat night, I used my HTC charger (a bit more umph 5V/1A vs 5V 0.7A).  On charge from about 10pm, decided to turn it off this time, this morning 5 bars on the battery display before turning on.  But when I turned it on, the battery status said 83% charge.  Perhaps the phone is training the battery, getting to understand its capacity.  This is the only explanation I have.  We’ll see how it goes over the coming days.

  • Natural659

    Excellent run through—-applied it to my nexus s in January but had to revert to gingerbread  last week, but only because, very occasionally, the phone would not ring on an incoming call.I stress this only happened only very occasionally,the battery life was excellent as was everything else about it.but how can you trust a phone that may not ring .very sad really.I shall wait until a newer update comes along.

  • atif

    Is this will work on i9020T variant?

  • Anonymous

    thank you

  • Blah13465

    I tried to upgrade my Nexus S 4g with some download like this and it didnt work. It said mission aborted after i tried to install it. Hopefully this works!

  • Blah13465

    This isnt working for my Nexus S