How to update your Nexus S to Ice Cream Sandwich

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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