Samsung has finally released the long awaited Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich update for the Galaxy S II. Hometown fans who use SK Telecom’s services started seeing the update yesterday, but eager developers have already repackaged the latest firmware so that it can be flashed to any Galaxy S II GT-I9100.
Although the update is currently being pushed specific regions (Poland, Hungary, Sweden, Korea), if you have a Galaxy S II, you can use Odin to flash yourself Samsung’s official ICS ROM. I won’t get into the details about that here, but head over to eh XDA thread to find out how to do it yourself. I will however show you some of the reasons why you should take the leap to Android 4.0!
1. Compatibility with Apex and Nova Launcher (Stock ICS Themes)
There has been plenty of moaning and groaning regarding TouchWiz’s existence on the latest software update. But lets be honest, was Samsung really going to slap on a totally new UI for 20 million users? Aboslutely not. Continuity and brand image are integral factors to the success of any device so it’s no surprise to see a similar TouchWiz offering on this update.
Now just because Samsung has given us TouchWiz does not mean that we have to use it. Apex and Nova are two launchers that are exclusive to the Android 4.0 platform, and bring users that stock ICS Holo Theme feel. Now after using both, I decided to stick with Apex because it provides all the same features are Nova Launcher, but doesn’t come with a $4.00 price tag. Note that there is a free version of Nova Launcher but it has some functionality limited.
2. Compatibility with Chrome Beta
Stock Browser on 2.3.4 [3475.9ms] vs Chrome Beta on 4.0.3 [1763.6ms]
Another perk of having Android 4.0 running is that you get to install Google’s Chrome Beta. Which aside from being much faster and a intuitive UI, allows you to sync your browsing experience from computer (or other Chrome device) to your phone.
3. Data Usage Monitor
Staying within our data caps used to by a mystical science before applications that could track this were invented but what a hassle to download and research which one works the best. Now ICS has a built in data usage monitor that not only shows how much data you have used over time, but also itemizes data use by application!
4. Toggle Lock Screen & Lock Options
The addition of the “no-lock” option to the screen lock selection is very useful for me as I used to have an app that disabled the lock screen. Now I can get rid of the app and simply use the default options to change this. In addition to this option, the low security Face Unlock and high security Password lock have both been added as new options. The face lock worked as promised, but proved to be a bit too slow to be very useful. You will also notice that the traditional horizontal-linear swipe to unlock has been replaced by the 360 degree outward swipe-to-unlock found on Samsung’s honeycomb devices.
Scores of 3368 on 2.3.4 and 4005 on 4.0.3
Although we can’t swear by benchmarks, reviews across the board confirm that Android 4.0 has definitely improved UI fluidity via some sort of hardware acceleration. This was actually quite apparent when I first upgraded to Android 4.0.3 as the notable lagginess when entering spotlight search in Espier launcher was completely absent. We already know the Exynos SoC is the best in the biz, but I further tested the performance playing DGunners for an hour straight and there were zero hiccups or crashes–magnificent.
If you liked these new updates regarding ICS for the Galaxy S II, follow us closely for more tips and tricks–and if you are still on Gingerbread, don’t forget to check out our Galaxy S II Gingerbread Tips Collection.