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How to Update Your Samsung Galaxy S II to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

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After months of testing and umming and ahhing on Samsung’s behalf, and months of waiting and hoping for millions of Galaxy S II owners across the world, the update to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is now finally seeding, albeit region-by-region in stages.

We’re told that UK S2 owners will be able to get the update starting March 19th, though not everyone will get the update at the same time. Our major networks will need to test and approve the software before customers can download it, but we’re going to get you ready for the update now so you know exactly what to do to get your taste of Ice Cream Sandwich. To find out when the update will be available for your phone, check the latest updates at the bottom of this page.

Make a Backup

First of all we strongly recommend that you backup your phone, just in case anything goes wrong during the update process. Of course, the update should run smoothly without a hitch, but you don’t want to lose your contacts and other data if the update fails.

You can make a backup of your phone using Kies 2.0 or Kies Mini for PC and Mac respectively, but we prefer to avoid Kies and fiddling with USB cables whenever possible. Simply load up Android Market or Play Store on your phone and search for ‘MyBackup’. This is a fantastic free app that will let you easily backup the contents of your phone either to an account stored online, or to a Micro SD card if you have one inserted.

MyBackup will back up your Applications, Photos, Contacts, Call log, Browser Bookmarks, SMS (text messages), MMS, Calendar, System Settings, Home Screens (including shortcut positions), Alarms, Dictionary, and Music Playlists. Once you have MyBackup installed, open it up and follow the steps below to create a backup of either your Apps and Photos or Data (everything else), or both – we recommend doing the latter.

Apps and Photo Backup

Data Backup

The screenshots above show saving the backup to an inserted MicroSD card. However, if you don’t have one of these, MyBackup offers you the option of saving your backups online. The steps are similar, but when you select ‘Online’ on screen 3, you’ll then be prompted to choose a password, confirm it again and then enter an email account. Do this, then tap OK and your backup will take place. Once this is done you’ll be given a PIN number and password. Write these down, as if you need to restore your backup (which will only be necessary if the update goes awry), you’ll be asked to enter these details.

Installing Via Kies 2.0

Kies is currently the only way that Samsung wants you to update your phone to Android 4.0. If you don’t have it yet, both Windows and Mac versions are available to download from Samsung’s site. Simply click download, hit run when prompted and follow the onscreen steps to install.

Kies Download

Once you’ve installed Kies 2.0, open it up and connect your phone using the Micro USB cable provided in the box. Within a minute or two Kies will install and detect your phone, which will then appear in the top right corner as Samsung GT-I9100.

Provided your PC or Mac has a connection to the internet, Kies should automatically look for a firmware update, and once it finds the latest version it will notify you, as below. Note that the version for Android 4.0 will differ to the version shown in our screenshot here.

Once you get this message simply click ‘Update’. You’ll then be prompted to confirm you agree to Samsung’s T’s and C’s, which of course you do. Tick the box next to ‘I have read all of the above information’ and hit the Start Upgrade button.

Kies will now offer you a backup service, which you won’t need to use if you used the MyBackup app that we recommended earlier. Kies will do the job, but we feel it’s neither as straightforward, nor as reliable as MyBackup. Simply click ‘Skip Data Backup’ and the update should start momentarily.

A screen will now show you that the update is in progress. The whole thing should take around 10 minutes tops, so make sure the phone is sat on a flat surface, your laptop has plenty of juice, and go make yourself a cuppa while your update is installed.

Once the update is done Kies will notify you with the screen below. Simply click OK, then disconnect the Micro USB cable from your phone, and you’re done!

Updating Over the Air

Samsung has confirmed that the ICS update will not be available to download over the air yet. It may become available in the future, and when it does we’ll update this guide to include instructions for that process.


That’s all folks; you should now be updated to the very latest in Android software – version 4.0, aka Ice Cream Sandwich. It adds a host of new features including face unlock and improved multitasking, as well as the excellent Ice Cream Sandwich Camera app and overall look.

You’ll notice things look pretty different from before, for instance – when you swipe through the applications list you’ll also find several pages for widgets. These can be added to your homescreens simply by tapping and holding on one, then releasing your finger when the widget is in the desired location.

If you’re looking to learn more about how ICS works on your Galaxy S II, Samsung has released an excellent and extensive guide which you can view and download here.

Let us know your thoughts on our comments below or via our @Gadget_Helpline Twitter page or Official Facebook group.


When Will it be Available?

SIM-Free – SIM free phones are yet to receive the update to Ice Cream Sandwich.

UPDATE: (04/04) Samsung has confirmed to CNET UK that SIM-Free owners will unfortunately be the last to get the update. Simon Stanford, VP of Samsung Telecommunications and Networks for Samsung UK and Ireland confirmed that the update would roll out to SIM-Free phones “once we’ve got all of the operator pieces on board.”

Three – Three is first out of the blocks, with quite a few Three customers reporting this afternoon (20/03) that the Android 4.0 was available to them via Kies. Some Three customers have confirmed to us that they still aren’t getting the update when connecting to Kies, so if you’re in this boat be patient, you should get it shortly.

O2 – O2 has stated that it expects the update to be ready to roll at the end of this month, so users could have a further week or two of waiting.

UPDATE: As of 27/03, O2 UK has confirmed that it is now rolling out the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update to its Galaxy S II users via Samsung Kies 2.0 on PC. Plug in and follow the guide above to update guys!

Orange – Orange has recently confirmed it will release the update in April, though hasn’t confirmed a date.

UPDATE: As of 19/04, Orange has confirmed its customers will get the Android 4.0 update on April 22nd.

T-Mobile – T-Mobile recently issued a statement saying that they are working to get the update out as close to Samsung’s release schedule as possible, which will need to be within the next week if they want to stick to that.

UPDATE: As of 19/04, T-Mobile has confirmed its customers will get the Android 4.0 update on April 22nd.

Vodafone – Vodafone hasn’t yet come forward with its plans for the update, and we’re awaiting a response from them on the matter.

UPDATE: A Vodafone spokesperson has confirmed that the update will begin for Galaxy S II owners on their network on the 12th of April. “The ICS update has passed our testing and will be released Over The Air and via Kies on 12 April.

UPDATE 2: The Android 4.0 update began rolling out for Vodafone customers on April 13th.