[How To] Root Nexus S on Jelly Bean or Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.x)

You have updated your Nexus S to Jelly Bean or Ice Cream Sandwich and now you want root access. Who do you call? No one. Just follow this guide and you should have root back on your Android 4.x Nexus S (any variant) in no time.

Disclaimer: This guide is intended as a helpful “how to”. Ashraf and dotTech are not responsible for any gain or loss (including but not limited to bricked devices) incurred as a result of following this guide. Root your device at your own risk. Rooting may void your warranty.

Before We Begin

Before we begin rooting you must have an unlocked bootloader. To unlock your bootloader, do the following:

Note: Unlocking your bootloader will wipe all data on your Nexus S and it may void your warranty. Proceed further at your own risk.

  • Make sure Nexus S drivers are installed on your computer.
  • Install Fastboot and ADB on your computer, if you haven’t already.
  • Shutdown your phone.
  • While the Nexus S is turned off hold the Volume Up and Power buttons simultaneously until the Nexus S turns on and is in Fastboot Mode. You will know your device is in Fastboot Mode when it says FASTBOOT MODE in red text at the top. Also the screen will list a bunch of information such as HW VERSION, BOOTLOADER VERSION, BASEBAND VERSION, etc.
  • Connect your Nexus S to your computer.
  • Open command prompt on your computer and type “fastboot oem unlock” without the quotes.
  • Accept the caution on your Nexus S’s screen.
  • Let the device work.
  • When it is done boot back into Nexus S until you see the home screen.

Root Nexus S on Jelly Bean or Ice Cream Sandwich

The following root method should work with all Nexus S variants (i9020T, i9020, i9023, i9020A, etc.). This method is specifically for Android 4.x versions, which includes Jelly Bean or Ice Cream Sandwich.

To root your Nexus S do the following:

Note: Rooting may void your warranty. Proceed further at your own risk.

  • Make sure Nexus S drivers are installed on your computer.
  • Install Fastboot and ADB on your computer, if you haven’t already.
  • Download SuperUser app and binary and place it on your Nexus S’ internal storage.
  • Download custom recovery img on your computer and place it in the same C:\Android folder you placed Fastboot and ADB in.
  • Shutdown your phone.
  • While the Nexus S is turned off hold the Volume Up and Power buttons simultaneously until the Nexus S turns on and is in Fastboot Mode. You will know your device is in Fastboot Mode when it says FASTBOOT MODE in red text at the top. Also the screen will list a bunch of information such as HW VERSION, BOOTLOADER VERSION, BASEBAND VERSION, etc.
  • Connect your Nexus S to your computer.
  • Open command prompt on your computer and type “fastboot flash recovery C:\Android\recovery-clockwork-6.0.0.6-crespo.img” without the quotes.
  • Wait for it to do its thing.
  • Unplug your Nexus S from your computer.
  • Now turn off your Nexus S (select “Power Off” from Fastboot Mode screen).
  • Hold the Volume Up and Power buttons to boot into Fastboot Mode.
  • Scroll to RECOVERY and press the Power button to select it.
  • At the next screen scroll to install zip from sdcard and press the Power button.
  • At the next screen scroll to choose zip from sdcard and press the Power button.
  • Find the Superuser-3.2-arm-signed.zip file you placed in your Nexus S internal storage. Make sure it is highlighted and press the Power button.
  • Confirm you want to do it.
  • Let the Nexus S do its thing.
  • Once it is done reboot the device and you will be back at your homescreen.
  • Done.

Conclusion

Enjoy Jelly Bean or Ice Cream Sandwich with root access.

Share this post

  • Ritz

    Its a good tutorial for rooting any nexus s device…I have been searching this kind of tutorial for last 2 or 3 days. is there any other post of how to unroot nexus s properly!!

  • Azher

    Is this post still on ???
    I need help..

  • vaibhav

    Hello Dear
    thanx for posting such a nice tutorial,i already completed all steps successfully but i face a problem my superuser app is not working and by using rom manager i m unable to update my ROM. it shows me the mes that superuser denied your request.

  • Rafael

    Like some of the people in this thread, I spent several hours trying to figure out how to get the correct drivers for Android 1.0 to work on my PC (Windows Vista)
    I found this link to even out the kink: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?p=9861928#post9861928
    Drivers from Samsung’s website, Google and the Android SDK did not work for me. But drivers from this PDAnet worked out.
    Anyway, once I was able to unlock the bootloader, everything else worked out smoothly.

    Thanks for the guide. I’m excited to use my newly rooted phone.

  • Sarah

    Command prompt doesn’t recognize anything….I have no idea what to do and an Android phone that’s forever in boot mode…can someone help me please? smh.

  • Ashraf
  • thank you, i tried your way and it worked perfectly
    thank you again

  • Naveen

    I have been facing some problem. mt system says that “fastboot is not recognised as external or internal command. help please!!!

  • Ashraf

    @ivor: No.
    @vlad: The procedure should be the same — rooting itself doesn’t wipe data, unlocking bootloader does. If you already rooted that means your bootloader is already unlocked so you shouldn’t wipe your data.
    @numaan: No.

  • numaan

    wen i root my phone n finish will my usb data be cleared??????????????

  • vlad

    hi Ashraf, I followed the procedure and got my phone rooted with 4.1.1 few days ago. But, there is now 4.1.2 out. How can I upgrade it and remain root and not erase data again?

    My boot loader is unlocked, will the installation of the 4.1.2 image from https://developers.google.com/android/nexus/images erase and un-root my phone?

  • Edward

    Make sure Nexus S drivers are installed on your computer.
    Install Fastboot and ADB on your computer, if you haven’t already.
    Download SuperUser app and binary and place it on your Nexus S’ internal storage.
    Download custom recovery img on your computer and place it in the same C:\Android folder you placed Fastboot and ADB in.
    Shutdown your phone.
    While the Nexus S is turned off hold the Volume Up and Power buttons simultaneously until the Nexus S turns on and is in Fastboot Mode. You will know your device is in Fastboot Mode when it says FASTBOOT MODE in red text at the top. Also the screen will list a bunch of information such as HW VERSION, BOOTLOADER VERSION, BASEBAND VERSION, etc.
    Connect your Nexus S to your computer.
    Open command prompt on your computer and type “fastboot flash recovery C:\Android\recovery-clockwork-6.0.0.6-crespo.img” without the quotes.
    Wait for it to do its thing.
    Unplug your Nexus S from your computer.
    Now turn off your Nexus S (select “Power Off” from Fastboot Mode screen……………….

    after i did all these steps over and tried to go forward by restarting in Tastboot mode, nothing happened, my phone was DEAD……..
    Solution pls…??

  • ivor

    @Ashraf:

    My bootloader is already unlocked. Will the rooting process itself wipe data?

  • vlad

    it worked for me, only I had to install the pdanet from http://junefabrics.com/android/index.php b/c the nexus driver didn’t work

    Thanks you so much!

  • andres

    @greenism3:
    flash it again, i mean do from the first step of rooting again ( only root process ) it happen to me and i flaash it again, it work!

  • andres

    guy, my comp not recognize my nexus as at the fastboot screen but it recognize my phone at normal screen, is it normal?

  • Mbah Jerangkong

    my phone stuck at “waiting for device”
    I have enabled USB debug mode, what is wrong ?

  • greenism3

    I put the SuperUser zip into DCIM folder and when I selected “RECOVERY” in Fastboot mode, I got a droid lying down with a red triangle with an exclamation mark.

    Can anyone help me with this?

  • greenism3

    How can I save the superuser zip into the internal storage?

  • Éric P

    @jf: Thanks a lot to jf for the drivers link!!
    @Dylon: I had the same issue… just follow these steps: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=875580
    Solved my “Waiting for device” problem and unlocked bootloader succesfully!!

  • flattop

    @Firas:

    Yep..same here…Root doesnt survive a reboot

  • Ashraf

    @Vardhan: You are welcome!

  • Ashraf

    @foxluthor: You need to unlock your bootloader. I’ve provided directions above under the “Before You Begin” category on how to unlock your bootloader.

  • foxluthor

    I’m getting an error when trying to do the “fastboot flash recovery C:Androidrecovery-clockwork-6.0.0.6-crespo.img” (no quotes, of course)… it’s telling me to use fastboot oem unlock since it cannot write on my phone (I can see my phone using “fastboot devices”) and on the screen of my phone it reads FASTBOOT STATUS – FAILBootloader Locked. Mine is a I9020 from T-mobile. I’m using Jelly Bean.

  • Vardhan

    Thanks a lot for giving great steps and file download locations. These worked fantastically without losing any data. Now I’m enjoying JellyBean with root access.

  • vishal

    from the time i have upgraded my nexus s from ice-cream sandwich to jelly bean software my phone has started to black out on me.. it suddenly hangs up in the middle of a call and the reboots itself… can any one help??

  • binny

    Plz tell me what is the meaning of rooting our android and what are its uses ? I have come across this term for the first time

  • binny

    Plz tell me what is the meaning of rooting our android and what are its use ?

  • Marcelo Damasceno

    @Ashraf: Sorry man! I forgot the meaning of wipe. I’m not a english speaker.

    Do you know if there is a way to recover it?

  • Ashraf

    @Marcelo Damasceno: Come on man, learn to read. I clearly stated in the article: “Note: Unlocking your bootloader will wipe all data on your Nexus S and it may void your warranty. Proceed further at your own risk.”

  • Marcelo Damasceno

    Anyone knows how to recover files erased with “fastboot oem unlock”? I tried pandora recover, recuva and didn’t work.

    Are Sdcard files impossible to recover?

    Thanks!

  • Marcelo Damasceno

    Come man. You don’t warned that erased all the data. A lot of important files are lost, because you!

  • jf

    @Dylon: I had the same issue… just follow these steps: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=875580

  • kevin

    nevermind, i figured it out. I didn’t properly install drivers for android 1.0 that’s why it didn’t prompt me to unlock the bootloader.

  • kevin

    i did everything as followed. when i try to unlock the bootloader by typing fastboot oem unlock, it just sits at “waiting for device”. im running jellybean 4.1.1, please can someone help me?! i really want to root my device..

  • egbert

    Use one click root—-rooted my nexus s in about 30 seconds

  • Ashraf

    Article has been updated for Jelly Bean.

  • Dylon

    Will not work for some reason…..when i try to download and install something in the SDK manager it wont do anything it fails and dont install anything…..plus….the fastboot oem unlock just sits and says waiting for device…..everytime i try to do it…..i have followed everything i was supposed to do to root my phone before i even started……this is fail

  • Cristhian

    @Jaime: This was very useful to me because I did the same!

  • Keoni

    @Firas:
    The recovery clockwork only installs the recovery software.

    Basically rooting is a 3 step process:

    1) Unlock bootloader (all information is lost in the process so make sure you backup)
    2) install clockworkmod recovery (after a successful install you can make nandroid backups and restore data – this is probably the most useful “side effect” of rooting)
    3) install superuser

    Follow the step by step guide above and hopefully you’ll succeed.
    If it fails please make sure you’re doing it for the right phone model: Samsung Nexus S (mine is a i9023).

  • Firas

    @Keoni:

    I used ur reovery clockwork…..they said it worked, when i rebooted my phone and checked it nothing is new (normall , still no root)

  • Keoni

    I had trouble with the custom recovery image whose link is provided.
    First, when rebooting in recovery, the option to “install zip from sdcard” didn’t show. Only “install recovery from SDCard”. Then After flashing the file “recovery-clockwork-5.0.2.0-crespo.img” and rebooting the phone would halt in the white Google letters.

    So, I then installed the recovery-clockwork-5.0.2.0-crespo.img when I first rooted gingerbread (a couple of months ago) and it worked perfectly! The file size is 4.136 Kb instead of 1.662 Kb… all options available now.

    Then installing the superuser (root) was a breeze!

    I upladed the file here: http://tinyurl.com/c7lrl5h for all those who have trouble with the above.
    Good luck!

  • fagafa

    I Did everything exactly and everything is done….but my phone stayed the same normal , no root :( (i was rooted on gingerbread before)

  • Rebooting the device makes the procedure successful. The only thing is rooters should have some amount of patience. This will only pay in the longer term.

  • Ashraf

    @Everyone: You are welcome!

    @Dwayne Fernandes: Less than 5 minutes.

    @Derp: Then something went wrong. It doesn’t take long at all.

  • Derp

    How long should the “Wait for it to do its thing” take? It really takes a long time and it still says “waiting for device”…

  • Sreenivas

    Thanks for the article. Very useful.
    @Jaime, i did the same mistake and your comment was useful in restoring things back. Thanks.

  • Sweb

    @Vincent: It should connect to telus or try changing the network manually.

  • Scott

    :) thanks for the guide. Worked great.

  • Dwayne Fernandes

    @ashraf how long does the whole procedure take?(without considering time for downloading the drivers n stuff)
    i have a nexus s i9023 n i recently upgraded to android 4.0

  • Koodo radio doesn’t work out here in Quebec City suburbs but works downtown. It must be an old config because it worked fine with GB
    Where could I get a better radio.img?

  • Paul Joslin

    Thanks for the guide, it works like a charm – even on Linux. You just need to be root or use sudo to run the fastboot command, with your local recovery image location (such as ~/Downloads/recovery-clockwork-5.0.2.0-crespo.img) instead of C:\Android\recovery-clockwork-5.0.2.0-crespo.img

  • Jaime

    Nice, thanks for the post.

    This might be useful: I forgot to copy the Superuser zip before entering recovery so I rebooted, copied it and tried again. When selecting recovery from the menu the phone showed an image of an Android with its guts exposed and a big red exclamation mark. Let me tell you, the word “brick” was bouncing in my head for a few seconds.

    I removed the battery, powered it on again and worked just as normal as before so I powered it off, flashed the recovery again and next time it worked like a charm.

  • David

    Very nice article. Just rooted my Nexus S i9020T for the first time. Went smoothly. Thanks

  • Simon

    One more thing – to prevent recovery from being overwritten, you have to rename /system/recovery-from-boot.p to recovery-from-boot.p.bak
    This stops the file restoring the stock recovery.

    per http://androidforums.com/galaxy-nexus-all-things-root/465309-clockworkmod-recovery-error.html

  • Oonie

    rooted nicely thnx for your article… :)