Some GSM Galaxy Nexus phones can’t get ICS directly from Google due to custom Samsung firmware

Some GSM Galaxy Nexus phones can’t get ICS directly from Google due to custom Samsung firmware

Update: The latest updates to this conversation on the XDA forums show that the ICS updates, including 4.0.2 are now shipping to some of these devices. The original story dates back to December but users are still reporting that it is spreading slowly.

The Galaxy Nexus is Google’s flagship device, and as with past Nexus devices, it gets priority updates directly from the mother ship. This is because these devices run a stock version of Android and are meant to act as an example of a pure Android experience.

The Verizon edition of the Galaxy Nexus is getting these patches just fine, including the latest 4.0.2 update to Android Ice Cream Sandwich. Unfortunately, as Android and Me reports, some users with the GSM version of the device are having difficulty applying the standard update that comes right from Google.

The version of the Galaxy Nexus that is produced for GSM networks by Samsung is identical aside from the radio that is being used to communicate with cellular network. But only some of the devices that are being shipped out have the ability to apply the bone-stock version of Ice Cream Sandwich, others cannot have the new version installed.

After some digging, it turns out that GSM Nexus devices in some regions have been shipped out with firmware customized by Samsung. This causes a mis-match in the firmware codes for the device and the software. Then, when users go to update their devices manually, the upgrade fails.

The problem with this is that these users are now stuck waiting for Samsung to issue editions of ICS 4.0.2 that match up with the custom software codes that the company saddled the devices with.

Devices that carry Google’s standard software code of ‘yakju’ will update just fine. Some users have flashed their devices with Google’s standard software code, allowing their devices to act as a ‘regular’ Galaxy Nexus device, but this is an unofficial workaround.

One XDA forum member posits that Samsung pushed out a fix to the ICS volume bug early in some batches of the device, tired of waiting for a fix to come from Google, causing it to carry a different software code.

The issue here is that Google has always touted the Galaxy Nexus devices a pure Android experience that always gets the latest updates as soon as they are available. Many of Samsung’s other devices get customized with its TouchWiz interface, including pretty much all of the rest of its Galaxy lineup. The Galaxy S II, in fact, won’t be getting the stock Ice Cream Sandwich. Instead, it will end up with a half-breed version of the OS, likely because Samsung can’t change the entire user interface of those devices on the fly.

Now, users of the GSM Galaxy Nexus are left wondering when Samsung will issue an update for these devices with custom software codes. If it does come, it will likely be flying stock ICS colors, as Google wouldn’t want to split the model’s software versions, but the timing is a mystery.

We have reached out to Samsung and will update this post if we receive a reply.


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