It’s been almost four months since Google posted the first open-source code for Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. A month later the official ICS update began rolling out to owners of the Samsung Nexus S, Google’s developer phone that was less than a year old at the time. Almost immediately Google pulled the update, citing battery and WiFi issues. Three months later, there hasn’t been a peep out of Google on the status of the update – which is small comfort to owners of the Nexus S CDMA variant, who haven’t seen any update at all.

With more and more phones and tablets getting Ice Cream Sandwich updates from their manufacturers, Nexus S owners who bought the phone to get timely updates are seeing red. Sure, advanced users can root the phone and use a custom ROM, but that’s not the point – one of the selling points for the Nexus series is that they’re supposed to get the newest versions of Android first. That doesn’t appear to be the case any more, and user frustration is easy to sympathize with.

Combine that with concerns over Verizon’s control of the new Galaxy Nexus and problems with other CDMA phones, and the Nexus program itself seems to be dropping fast in the eyes of Android fans. Add in A lack of communication from Google, and you’ve got a crisis of confidence among the Nexus faithful. It’s not as if updates are promised in perpetuity, but some sort of indication that the ICS update for the Nexus S is still being worked on (including Nexus S 4G models) would go a long way towards solving the problem.


    • You don’t need to root to get ics 4.0.3. On GSM 9020t. There is an official Google update package over on xda. No root needed at all. Just boot into boot loader and select the update – voila.

      I have been running pics on my nexus s since boxing day and its been great.

  1. I have a nexus S and had the offical ICS update a long time ago, and everything has been
    working perfectly ever since … really zero complaints on my side …
    now am really waiting for ICS for my galaxy tab 7.7 !!

  2. The downward spiral of the Nexus name. Dealer exclusivity? Bad call. That’s not what Nexus is about. Luckily I got ICS on my Nexus S (T-Mobile) because someone posted the .zip. Gotta say, I have ZERO battery and/or wifi issues. Google is really dropping the ball here. 

  3. It stinks and I don’t like it.  I bought the Nexus One and it got Gingerbread relatively soon (a couple months) after the Nexus S was released.  After it was clear the N1 was EOL, I got the Nexus S (GSM variant) but got stuck with this awful voice search bug that made the phone virtually unusable.  I diligently checked the Android forums day after day to see if Google had an update.  Nothing.  I’ve googled/twitter searched i9020a and ICS more than I care to admit.

    Cut to today.  I’ve been using my iPhone 4 for the past few months, with nary a problem.  My Galaxy Nexus arrived two weeks ago and I wonder if this will be the last Nexus I’ll buy.  I’m reluctant to buy another Nexus product due to how poorly Google has communicated how the ICS rollout for the NS would work.  Not everyone has the luxury of buying unlocked phones every X months like I do.  If I were in someone else’s shoes, I would likely turn to iOS.  

    Google should take a page from Apple and be very clear about WHAT hardware get upgrades and WHEN.  Apple’s great about this.  Google has failed in this regard.  

  4. Boo hoo,One of the selling points of the Nexus series is not thst it will recieve updates first,Google never said that but a real selling point is that it’s a developer phone so just flash a rom or manually apply the ota update file,Or buy the Galaxy Nexus because the Nexus One & Nexus S are old devices.I’ve owned all three & the Nexus S was the worst of all three & the Galaxy Nexus is by far the best of all three.

      • Google didn’t just promise, Sprint promised it too. Well, they said as soon as “humanly possible”. 

        The REAL issue here is if the silence surrounding the Nexus updates is an attempt to have all previous users purchase the new Galaxy line.  

        I know my S 4G could handle the ROM, (it’s all over twitter the ones who figured out which kernal works best), but I just purchased the phone in November. If I had done about 5 minutes of research, I would sprung for the Galaxy Nexus…. 

        Either way, the silence is insulting and I encourage ALL users to contact their carriers, and complain. I don’t just want this update cuz “oh, I need the latest thing to be cool.” I have CRAP reception on my phone and some serious flaws in the 2.3 interface that limits my work needs for my cell….. 

        We’re loyal, paying customers. Stop ignoring us! 

    •  Actually, it WAS the selling point that got me to buy this particular phone over all of the others that Sprint offered.

    •  Oh good for you that you can afford a phone every year. Not everyone is that decadent and wealthy though. I want my phone to last me at least 3 years, and I bought Nexus S because I thought it would keep me up to date the most. And yes they promised it.

  5. The international GSM Nexus S still hasn’t received ICS. The very reason why I bought one was to get timely updates. I have decided never to buy another nexus device ever. 

    • Theyre working on something pass 4.0.3 which is obvious but theyve been quite and thats the problem so in the end you waited a bit loger but you will still run the latest version when its all said in done so just relax

  6.  I received the ICS update in January (here in Norway). It’s been working fine except for problems with 3G connection and MMS. 3G is working fine now, but there are still issues with MMS. Otherwise I’m very happy with ICS, works great on my Nexus S. I bought this phone so I would be sure to get updates quickly, so far this this has been the case.

    • Hi Nicolas,
      How have you fixed the 3G connection problem? The 3G icon was not showing right?
      I’ve the same problem with my NEXUS i9250. I’ve ICS 4.0.2
      Should I update to ICS release 4.0.3 in order to fix my problem?

  7. 100% agree. I’ve been waiting for the ICS update since early December. Nexus S are suppose to be the FIRST to get updates – that’s why I bought it. I owned my Nexus S for 6 months, live in UK. I am very very angry. All this hype over ICS and it hasn’t the the light of day on my Nexus S – I’m losing my trust in Android all together. I want the official update, no rooted custom install. How much longer do I still have to wait?? April, May, June??

  8. Thank you so much for writing this article we need the media to make a big fuss about this. 
    If my htc or Motorola breaks i can ring up or email them. 

    Google has no customer support for its nexus s at all. They sent users to Samsung. Samsung then said that they cover the hardware side of the phone and has nothing to do with the software. 

    So I then try again to contact Google but there is no support line or email address. (If there is it is ridiculously hard to find) The only way to moan at them is by writing flamy comments which I hate :(. 

      • Yep, which makes me nervous. The SGs2 users were screaming for the update and then PISSED with the TouchWiz UI. I hope sprint isn’t intending to do the same…  

        I also wonder if the non-4G Nexus’ can handle the ROM, as 4G isn’t enough anymore, LTE is rolling out…. 

        Either way, why are we getting NO answers? And why are developers seeming to figure out the bug fixes, faster than Google? Are they now just focusing on tablets and phablets?! 

        UGH! I pay WAY too much to have a phone that doesn’t consistently work, and live no where near actual 4G coverage…. 

  9. I’m on AT&T and was going to possibly switch to verizon to get the Galaxy Nexus but then said the heck with it and got an AT&T Nexus S because I knew it would soon get Ice Cream Sandwich.  Boy was I wrong and I’m really turned off by the whole experience.  All Google needs to do is communicate _something_.  My guess is that there is a huge cluster **** going on a google with ice cream sandwich and would be bad “PR” if they communciated it to the world (hence the silence)

  10. I’ve been running 4.03 from XDA for a while and it actually runs better than GB ever did.  Battery life picked up substantially.

  11. One of my friends in Greece has Nexus S. The update to his phone is available from November. He uses a version of ICS! My Galaxy Nexus uses 4.0.2! It founds an update when I first connected to wifi network (a month ago)!
    What do you mean when you say about ICS update? Update of minor versions of ICS (for example 4.0.1 to 4.0.2) or update from Gingerbread to ICS?

  12. Google search the net..a flashable ICS update package for Nexus S is available at least few months back…just boot into fast bootloader update vua recovery..and GB is a history…This is what a developer phone is for..Don’t you think so?

    • No, I don’t think so. I think Android is awesome that rooting is “so easy”, but I want an OTA update. If I have to argue with Sprint and try to have them upgrade my phone, I don’t need a billing charge cuz I rooted my phone and violated my contract….. 

      I just want what was the intention of the device, frequent updates and the latest features….

      • nah youdont have to be rooted, i would never root my phone and i was able to do the flashable mod, just check the XDA page for the official update, and I don’t seem to have horrible battery life, no issues so far, just reduced life, but not a problem

    • don’t go evil, go galaxy s2 or something then! It seems HTC, Samsung and other care more about their customers than Google.
      The Nexus S is the first and last Google phone i’ll buy for sure. But I’ll stick to Android for daily use and development. I might buy an old gen iPhone/pad for development.

  13. I am disappointed about the lack of official OTA ICS on my AT&T Nexus S.  So I eventually did go the root/flash route, and I have been very happy with the results.  Not only does it look better, but it is faster & smoother than Gingerbread, both on the launcher and within applications.  I’ve found no problems with any of the features, and I use a lot of em, including bluetooth streaming, text-to-speech, Wallet, GPS, MMS, data, wifi, camera, notifications, widgets, … etc.  Problems I had before like broken voice search, loss of comms with Exchange, and occasional freezes are GONE. 

    All that said, it is sad that hobbyists can make this stuff work while the corporate organizations don’t care enough to complete this project in a timely fashion.  Note the use of “don’t care” – it is clearly technically feasible.

    As a professional software engineer, I’d be curious to know how many hours the xda guys put into their ROMs – but I bet it’s under a thousand – which would translate to a low 6 figure investment.  Considering the overall sales figures, and the (lack of) goodwill that results, you’d think that would be a reasonable level of investment for the manufacturers.  I’ve seen suggestions that the upgrade be paid, and the upgrade is certainly worth $10-20 or so… although releasing a paid upgrade would be a dirty deed for a phone that was promised (as others have shown) timely upgrades as a selling point.

    • That’s part of the problem, you have to practicly be a software engineer to get through the always missing info instructions. Otherwise, everyone would root. Just installing the drivers in order to root is a hit and miss endevour. Pathetic anyway, why should I have to root. I might as well stay with Iphone and jailbreak.

  14. At least some sites have the guts to run an article on this issue. I have been asking Android Central to run an article about this for months. Head editor Phil Nickinson even went so far as to reply to one of my e-mails telling me that this is not news. Google failing to update their own hardware with their own software is not news on an Android News blog? Now he is even deleting my comments asking the site as to why they are not reporting this. AC is a joke for Android news. Thank god some place still have some integrity.

    •  make change then

      please sign, so the rest of the Nexus S users can receive ICS as well please, and thank you !

      Make Google aware that we Nexus S users are unhappy! and want the Update they promised!

  15. I bought my nexus s used on eBay and use it with a prepaid plan from T-Mobile. I guess I was lucky–I got the ICS update right after it was announced. I really like it except for the battery drain. The OS uses 50% of the battery

    • No, it doesn’t. The bug reports the battery usage incorrectly. That’s the bug, not excessive drain. Been running stock ICS for a couple of months and battery life is more or less the same as GB. A day’s normal use, with about 3 – 4 hrs screen time.

  16. As a long time Nexus owner (N1, NS, NS4G) I have to say that Google has really disappointed me with my 4G variant. I have rooted every phone I have owned to experiment with the different versions of the newest operating systems. While most of them are fun to tinker with, there are more issues with non-stock roms that turn me, and Im sure quite a few others from using them as daily drivers. I have had every variant of the new ICS Roms on my 4g and every one has its own quirks. That said, I always find myself heading back to stock (GPS, 4G, and other issues). Google has disappointed me in letting Sprint (AKA SATAN) let them dictate what software is installed on the phone. For example, why do I not have WIFI tethering on my phone anymore? Oh, because Sprint wants to chare $30 a month for what is supposed to be a free service. There have been too many issues with this update and Google should be ashamed of themselves for the delay, bugs, and lack of communication regarding their once hailed flagship.

  17. Google, You’ve made a Windows Phone user out of me. I’ve used it and love it!
    I have the Nexus S 4G with Sprint and can’t wait to get the ICS update just so I can sell it. You’re company’s reputation is going the way of Buzz, Wave, Google+ and my money. Nowhere.

  18. I had the original Nexus One and still have the Nexus S. I bought the Galaxy Nexus too but it had a fault so i sent it back. I’m not going to wait and get the HTC OneX. With no early update the Nexus phones are pointless! 

  19. i wish rooters and modders would stay the hell off of these discussios, they add nothing and their opnines are completely irrelevant

  20. The following is a list of faults I have received while using Android ICS to date and others as well such as my friends and also if you do your research on the internet (Phone Samsung Galaxy Nexus):
    ·         Volume fault.  Too low.
    ·         Accelerometer pulls to the left.  Not alignment.  Another fault.
    ·         False advertising by Google.  The phone is not business ready.   Android does not support S/MIME.
    ·         Android on occasions reboots for no known reason.  Even during a call whilst the phone rings.
    ·         Multi touch does not work properly.
    ·         Screen sometimes does not rotate with ease.
    ·         Phone’s battery life is pathetic and no way near what is advertised by Samsung.  False advertising.
    ·         Data connectivity is very poor and in some cases no internet connection at all while in the middle of the city with a mobile tower above me.
    The following is the poor conduct Google has towards its customers:
    ·         No support on your online store Google Play (previously Google market).  Why we need this, seel below.
    ·         No support on Google Wallet.  I had to search the internet on how to delete a credit card entry.  Google, we are dealing with customer’s credit card details here and you provide no support.
    ·         If incorrectly billed you force customers to contact the developer.  This is illegal conduct as the product was purchased from Google Play i.e. Google invoiced me not the Developer.  I have checked my bank statements and it is Google.  The bank will ask first to contact the merchant store, i.e. Google in this case.  All you provide is a physical address, where I have to write you a letter and post it.  I suggest you move to the technology world of emails for your customers. Have you considered opening a Gmail account so we can contact you?
    ·         Google Play has an option to select AMEX for payment, yet once you have stored my details I am unable to make an AMEX payment.  Why provide this option?
    ·         As mentioned above, how do I contact you?  When I say contact I mean a phone number to talk to someone (a human being and not voice message) or an email contact where a response will be received.
    ·         Your Google support forum is a joke allowing customers to speak to other customers where in fact Google only knows when a release is to occur and whether the fault will be rectified.
    ·         I and others have paid money for the phone which Google received a profit share on our purchase.  Thus, we have purchased the Android OS that doesn’t seem to work properly and with updates making it even worse.
    ·         Google (not to mention Samsung) have failed to alert consumers of the fault that currently stand with the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.  You are selling a faulty product which is illegal. See link no mention on the current faults.  False advertising.
    ·         You are too busy to reply to any comments on your new privacy policy.
    SAMUMG and GOOGLE have been pathetic in communication to its customers and fixing the problems with ICS.  Pathetic OS and full of false advertising.

  21. Well, an official ICS OTA is now underway for certain Nexus S variants, but guess what, not for the i9020a.

    So I guess we continue to wait, a few more weeks, months, a year…

    I should have stayed with IOS/ Apple and hung on to my iPhone.

  22. Do iphones on CDMA carriers have the same issues that andriod is suffering.  I’m a little disgusted with Sprint and Google at this point (current Nexus S 4G owner).  Seriously thinking about switching teams.

  23. I’m confused. I have a nexus s i9020a and I received thr ics update ota 3 days ago. Loving it – no problems. But what is confusing me is that both my children have nexus s i9020a phones too but they didn’t get the update. Anybody have a theory why

  24. The new version is absolutely terrible, and it seems there’s no way to undo it without wiping my whole phone. I want my vertically scrolling menus back, and I want to be able to type “:p” without my phone deciding I want it to appear like this: P and not make any sense.

  25. Oh, never mind.. My phone is now getting old and me and the other 2 nexus s owners that have not rooted our phones are just tooooo tired to care any more. We all just lost interest. It would appear that your ‘plan’ has “come together” as they say.

  26. Be happy you don’t have it. My Droid is slower. I am constantly having to shut it f because it’s locked up or just to get rid of uploaded photo notices. (No, the swipe doesn’t work for that.). Its not easier to unlock. Jacked up how I get to my apps. And put the power button where the sound icon was. I loved my Droid4 before this, now I am so angry at such a stupid pointless update I will never get this brand again. Who completely changes a clients entire operating system without warning or even allowing them to do more that delay the update for 24 hours?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.