Ice Cream Sandwich on the Nexus S is Great…Except for one Thing

Nexus S with Ice Cream SandwichI couldn’t stand waiting for the Android 4.0 OTA update for my Nexus S any longer so I updated manually. It’s a fairly easy process and honestly, I can’t see what the delay is at this point. I get that the December roll-out was stopped because it was problematic. I get that. But still waiting for my phone to be updated  “some time in March” just isn’t accurate enough for me.

So. If you want to manually update your Nexus S, first download it by getting it directly from google.

(Before you update, remember that you may need the correct Nexus S variant. This worked on Baseband version I9020XXKI1, so update at your own risk. However, the update will simply not work if your phone is not the correct variant. It simply will not follow through, without doing any harm. Make a backup just in case.)

Next, follow these steps to update your phone:

1) First I renamed the downloaded file to for the sake of clarity.
2) Copy to your memory card/internal storage. Then turn off your phone.
3) Power it on while holding the volume button up. This will bring you to the bootloader.
4)  Navigate with the power button and select recovery by pressing the power button.<
5) At the warning page (triangle), hold the power button and press up volume.
6) Select apply update from /sdcard and choose (or whatever you called the file).
7) The update process will take 5-10 minutes. When it’s done (you’ll know when). Reboot the phone.

And that’s it!

First off, ICS is slick. They put a lot of thought into this redesign. The main thing I noticed is that a lot of redundant steps have been removed, so it takes less clicks to get where you want to go. Obviously, this means less time touching the screen and more time actually interacting with your phone (in a totally non-obsessive way of course).

Battery life seems to have improved, but so far it seems that it mostly depends on which apps are more battery intensive. Overall, battery life is good, but not stellar and considering my phone is already over 8 months old, I don’t suspect that the battery is in its rime anymore.

With any new OS it’ll take you some time to get familiar with it, but it’s truly a much more intuitive interface. Like I said, it’s faster, more efficient and very snappy. Makes me very curious about the rumored summer release of Android 5.0 aka Jelly Bean, although I can’t see such a major version jump happening so fast. At least for the Nexus S.

Now for the bad thing

USB connectivity no longer works in the car!

This is a very bad thing unless you love local radio. What I used to do, was plug my Nexus S into the car’s (Nissan Sentra) usb jack, mount the device, and then listen to music through the car’s stereo. Bonus was that I could skip tracks by using the controls on the steering wheel. This was an awesome convenience which simply doesn’t work anymore.

I’m lying. It worked once and doesn’t work anymore. The device is recognized, but the car stereo’s software fails when trying to read the contents of the USB device (aka Nexus S). I thought maybe that the phone had remained mounted, so I rebooted the phone and yes, I even “rebooted” the car. No luck and I still have no idea what the problem is.

I’ll do some research and try to find a solution because no longer being able to use my phone as an automotive mp3 player is a major failure.

UPDATE: I figured out how to get USB connectivity to work in the car. It’s a timing issue, so you need to plug in your Nexus S into the car’s USB jack, an press Turn on USB storage. You basically need to do this a whle bunch of times until the timing is right. On the Sentra’s on screen display, it’s going to say “Reading media files” or something like that. If the timing is right, it’ll read them. If not, it’ll error out and fail. This is all more a flaw with how the two systems talk to each other and I don’t know if this post will actually help anyone. It’s really an interoperability failure.


14 thoughts on “Ice Cream Sandwich on the Nexus S is Great…Except for one Thing

  1. who is your carrier, and do you know if your phone is i9020T? Plus is this an official update or a custom rom? And will we need to root our phones? Thanks!

  2. Hey Naveen, my phone baseband version is I9020XXKI1. This is the official update and not a custom ROM, so no rooting is required. If it’s not the right update for your phone, the update should simply fail. I don’t think the update is carrier specific.

  3. Thanks Sir, I tried the update and it didnt work. My baseband is xxxD i think, not the same as yours is all I know, so i guess thats why. Upsetting but if you learn of any information for other base versions, please let me know!

  4. I have also manually updated my Nexus S, its been trouble free & everything I have tried works.

    I bought the Nexus S in part because it was the ‘Google phone’, the Nexus phones are supposed to be THE phones that get new Android versions quickly, I’d had other Android phones before and moved away from those manufacturers because their update schedules were lousy.

    Clearly even at Google there’s no priority given to updates for ‘old’ phones, it was all a lie to get us to buy it. When deciding what to buy I suggest people assume the OS that ships with your phone is the OS you’ll be stuck with, Nexus or not. That way you won’t be disappointed.

  5. Thanks so much. Looked up on XDA and found the correct update. Many people said it was successful and after I tried, i have to agree. Although battery life is poor so Im not sure if it was an older version of ICS. Hope not and that I was just playing with the phone too much. Please let me know on whether you have noticed a decreased battery life. Also, have you noticed that you are unable to play music, saying that it is not reconized file. And I am unable to forcefully alter the network on which my phone wll enter by default. If you have any idea on what ot do for any of these issues, please let me know. Thanks again!

  6. @John A Fish
    Thanks for your input, John. Yeah I think a lot of the lax updating is due to the view that the big companies don’t expect (or want) us to hold onto our phones for too long. They want us to rotate our phones pretty much once a year, so why bother updating when you can get a new phone?

  7. @naveen
    You’re welcome, Naveen. Glad it worked out! Yeah, so far battery life seems to be about the same for me after about a week of solid use. Overall, I’m pretty happy with the overall feel.

  8. Hi! The file on this page is different from the official one on the XDA page that you linked to. Which file is newer? Is this for the T-Mobile (USA) variant of the Nexus S? Thanks in advance!


  9. @alex

    Hey Alex, I suspect that the XDA forums links to the newer file. The forum page that I linked to is for the I9020T, so you need to use the right forum page for your variant.

  10. Thank you! I had been scared to try this after reading about other peoples’ bad experiences – but in the end I was fed up with waiting for the official notification, so I followed your instructions: it worked perfectly and I’m loving ICS. My phone is an I9020XXKI1 too.

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