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[How To] Update Nexus S to Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.x)

[1]You may have heard Google is rolling out Ice Cream Sandwich to GSM/UMTS Nexus S devices over the next month. If you are impatient and don’t want to or cannot wait for ICS to hit your Nexus S, there is way to manually update/install Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.x) right now. This guide tells you how.

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. Manually update Nexus S to Ice Cream Sandwich at your own risk.

Before we begin

At this moment ICS has only been released for the GSM/UMTS version of Nexus S. It has not been released for the CDMA version of Nexus S (i.e. Nexus S 4G on Sprint). If you try to update your CDMA Nexus S to ICS you will brick it.

Also take note the manual update package is for Nexus S i9020T — the T-Mobile USA version of Nexus S. There are unofficial reports that the update works for i9023 (the Super LCD version of Nexus S); and can work for i9020A (the AT&T/Telus/Koodo Nexus S) by flashing compatible radio files. If you are a brazen fellow you can attempt to update your i9023/i9020A with the T-Mobile ICS package but be warned: You might get a brick.

Note: To flash radio files you need to have an unlocked bootloader. If you don’t have an unlocked bootloader and you don’t want to unlock your bootloader, then don’t flash this update if you have a i9020A. Unlocking your bootloader wipes all data on your phone and may void your warranty.

This guide uses the i9020T manual update package. If you have a i9023 the process is the exact same as the i9020T. If you have a i9020A there is an extra step you need to take which will be mentioned at the end of the guide.

You Might Lose Root

Installing Android updates sometimes leads to loss of root access. This holds true with the ICS update.

Typically root access can be re-gained after Android update. However, the Nexus S ICS update is very new. There isn’t a concrete method to root (yet). So expect to lose root access by manually updating to ICS; and don’t expect to get it back for a few days until Android hackers can figure out a way to reliably get root access for Android 4.x on Nexus S.

I will post a guide on rooting when there is a reliable way to gain root on ICS Nexus S.

Update: Click here [2] to learn how to root Nexus S on Ice Cream Sandwich!

Be Sure You Are On Stock

If you have been modding or installing custom ROMs on your phone, you need to ensure you are on stock Android 2.3.6 before attempting to update to Android 4.x. (Having a rooted Android 2.3.6 is okay.)

If you are unsure, you can check by tapping the Menu button on your homescreen, going to Settings -> About phone, and looking at the “Android version”. If it says 2.3.6 you are most likely on stock and you can skip to the next section of this guide. If it doesn’t say 2.3.6 then you may or may not be on stock. For this latter situation I suggest you flash stock just to avoid issues. Also if you are unsure if you are on stock you should flash stock anyway to avoid issues.

To flash your Nexus S to stock, do the following:

Update: Anyone that has “signature not verified” issue should read comment #12 [3] for directions on how to get around that issue.

How To Install Ice Cream Sandwich On Nexus S

Update: Anyone that has “signature not verified” issue should read comment #12 [3] for directions on how to get around that issue.

At the time of this writing Google has released Android 4.0.3 for Nexus S. To install Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.x) on your Nexus S, do the following:

Extra Steps For i9020A (AT&T/Telus/Koodo Nexus S)

As mentioned earlier i9020A Nexus S devices need to flash radio files after updating to Ice Cream Sandwich using i9020T’s package because i9020A uses different network frequencies.

If you own a i9020A (AT&T/Telus/Koodo Nexus S), after you have updated to ICS using the directions listed above, do the following:

Unlocking Bootloader

Flashing ICS

If You Have Issues

If you have issues while or after updating to ICS, one of the easiest way to solve issues is to wipe your device clean then try applying the update again. (That means deleting all your data.)

To wipe your device do the following:


Enjoy Ice Cream Sandwich! There are advantages of owning a Nexus device. :-)

[via XDA-Developers [11]]