Manually update your Nexus S 4G to Ice Cream Sandwich [How To]


Sprint’s Android 4.0.4 update for the Samsung Nexus S 4G should be making its way to handsets any day now, but for the impatient out there Ice Cream Sandwich can be yours now. Google has posted the update’s factory image to their code bank and uploaded the official update file to go along with it. The file has been tracked down and can be installed to the stock Nexus S 4G without root or other modifications. Here’s how:

  1. Download the update file
  2. Rename the file to ‘update.zip’ (make sure the file extension isn’t doubled [E.g. ‘update.zip.zip’])
  3. Power down the handset
  4. Hold down the up position on the volume rocker while powering up the phone to enter the phone’s bootloader mode
  5. Use the volume rocker to navigate to ‘RECOVERY’ and select with the ‘power on/off/standby’ key to enter recovery mode
  6. Select ‘install update.zip’
  7. Wait for installation to complete and the phone to reboot then enjoy Ice Cream Sandwich

It’s worth nothing that updating via this method will afford you the same results as those that wait for the file to be pushed by Sprint. This is the official software release all users will receive. If you have any apprehensions it may be best to wait until Sprint officially launches the rollout of ICS.

[via AndroidCentral]


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  1. Wish this worked for my Gnex…stil waiting on the OTA to hit my phone….cba to root just for an update

  2. “It’s worth nothing that updating via this method will afford you the same results as those that wait for the file to be pushed by Sprint.”lol

  3. I just learned a way to force the OTA update, i read it somewhere , i didnt really think it would work, but it did at the first try. (this was for the Nexus S gsm, but i think the same procedure goes for all nexuses.)

    Go to settings->apps slide to “all” section
    Scroll down to “Google Services Framework”, click it
    Then select “clear data”
    You get a warning saying something about files get lost, but dont worry, its just a standard message. This resets the updatedate to 1970.

    Now try and go to settings->about phone->system updates – check for updates, it should pop right up, if not try to do it 1 more time

    1.  OMG this so worked!!!!!!! Thank You! Thank You!

      Oh, I have the nexus s 4g cdma.

    2. You are the man. This works without doing any of the “root” stuff… Thank you, Thank you. I got Ice Cream Sam-mich…I got Ice Cream Sam-mich….I got Ice Cream Sam-mich!!!

    3.  I had to use an extra step to get the phone to checkin to see the update on my Sprint Nexus S 4G.

      Go to settings->Manage Apps

      Select “all” section
      Select “Google Services Framework
      Select “clear data”

      Click OK at warning

      Dial *#*#checkin#*#*

      Go to settings->About phone->System updates and you
      should see the OTA update downloading


      2. ok that worked for me too. but my phone is stuck at the green android with the ! above his head. trying to reboot into recovery is not working. should i pull the battery and try again? this is the same thing that happened this morning but i didnt try power + volume…

      3. this is the one that worked perfectly!!! thanx keith i got ice cream sandwich yay!!! thank you, thank you, thank you, ketih!!! i’ve downloaded that stupid update no joke 20 times and it failed every time… much luv

  4. After step 5 you’ll see the little green android with an exclamation mark over his head. Nothing happens here, to access the recovery menu you have to hold power and press volume up AGAIN. That steps seems to be missing and took me a minute and some googling to figure out.

  5. You forgot a couple steps. First put the file on the root of your SD card  and secondly, when you select RECOVERY from the bootloader screen. You will then get a screen with a yellow warning triangle. Press and hold (Volume Up + Power) and you will then be booted into stock recovery.

    1. If I might pipe in a suggestion, I used your suggestion and would like to clear something up. To get to the boot menu HOLD up and Press power..

      When you get the andriod with the ! HOLD power and quickly tap UP

      complete reverse!

  6. Girlfriend got her OTA update randomly this afternoon, did not force it. Her phone is stock/not rooted

  7. So any difference to this and the leaked image from Jan 31st?

  8. Just updated my handset! So legit! thank you

  9. Pretty nice.  Glad I can stop holding my breath.

  10. sprint has started pushing. It is installing for me now

  11. Want to say thank u for all the steps.it worked perfectly. It is as advertised

  12. Thanks to all for sharing!  I wish I would have read this last week (when it was first announced) so I could have tricked it into giving me the OTA update then.  Can’t wait to get home for work and load ICS.

    1. Not surprising, by the time I got home from work I’d gotten the OTA update.  Still, thanks again to everyone for your posts.

  13. Does it work with rooted phones?

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