How to update your Samsung Galaxy S2 to Android 4
Heard about the delicious Ice Cream Sandwich that all the cool Android owners have been enjoying, while your shiny handset is still living off stale Gingerbread? Well fear not, because Red Gamer is here to guide you through the process of updating your mobile with the latest official firmware, and even how to install a rooted kernel for extra Google points.
Obviously, this tutorial is for Galaxy S2 owners only, and I’ll be giving instructions mainly for UK users, although most of the information is also good for most regions. Remember though that Samsung releases different firmwares for different countries, so you’ll have to search out a compatible download for wherever you call home. XDA Developer forum members are curating an excellent thread with all the latest official firmwares available, so you’ll more than likely find what you’re looking for over there.
So, let’s get straight into the first section: what you’ll need for the job.
What you need
- A Samsung Galaxy S II I9100 phone
- USB to micro-USB cable to connect to your computer
- Windows PC
- Odin 3-v1.85 - a firmware flashing tool
- The official firmware update for Europe
- Optional – Pre-rooted CF-Root kernel
Okay, the first few items might be obvious to the astute reader, but you never know who’s going to try this for the first time. Make sure that your phone is the I9100 model, rather than the 9103 model released in some countries. The instructions I’m giving are are for the base model, NOT for the Tegra 2 variant. If you brick your device, your own stupidity is to blame, not me.
Once you’ve got all that downloaded, unzip the various folders to get at the files. Make sure your phone is not plugged in, and start up the Odin tool. Now, plug in your phone. What you’re looking for is a yellow patch to pop up in the second row of boxes, and a message at left of the screened informing you that a COM device has been attached.
Done? Good chap, on with the show.
Flashing for fun and profit
Step 1 – Remove the USB cable from your phone. Turn off the phone.
Step 2 – Reboot into download mode by holding down the Volume Down, Home and Power buttons.
Step 3 – You should see a screen warning you about the dangers of installing a custom ROM. Brrrrr, scary! Since we’re installing an official piece of Samsung software, we can safely press the Volume Up key to skip forward.
Step 4 – Open Odin. Attach the USB cable to your phone.
Step 5 – Click the PDA option on the right, browse to the directory you unzipped the firmware update into, and select the package.
Step 6 – Click Start.
And that’s it. After successfully flashing the update, your phone should restart and present you with the new options from the ICS Android update. Give yourself a pat on the back, you technical stallion.
Optional: Getting to the root
Rooting your Android phone is a must for anyone who’s fond of tinkering with the software’s internals, doing things that Google and Samsung may not approve of, or just running the full range of apps available for advanced users.
Getting root on the S2 requires swapping out the kernel, but that’s a snap after you’ve mastered the flashing process.
Step 1 – Boot into download mode, open Odin and attach the phone.
Step 2 – Click PDA, find the folder you extracted the CF-Root files into, and select the package. Click Start.
Step 3 – Remove, reboot and enjoy.
Chainfire’s rooted kernel will add superuser access, which you may see some apps ask for when you open them. This lets them monkey around with parts of the OS that are normally off-limits, so make sure you trust the developer before allowing them access.