Blog/20130823 Samsung Galaxy S2 on Jelly Bean

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Some older entries are here.

1 Upgrading the Samsung Galaxy S2 to Jelly Bean (4.2.1)

Returning to non-literary topics, I have upgraded my Samsung Galaxy S2 from Android 2.3.4 to 4.2.1, using Samsung's Kies application. "Kies" is also German for gravel, and the process of upgrading the phone was about as pleasant as walking barefoot on sharp gravel. Using the latest version of Kies available (on OS X):

  • The suggestion for new firmware only came up half of the time the phone was connected. The other half Kies claimed that the phone was up to date. That's if the phone was recognised at all.
  • The update process terminated a few times with a message in Korean, and an ok button. Strangely, the need to be able to speak Korean in order to upgrade the phone wasn't mentioned in the list of requirements.
  • Kies somehow downloaded and ran a "Galaxy S2 updater", as a separate application. The application could not be put into the background, or minimised: I.e. it stayed right ontop of the screen, making the use of other programs during the upgrade process impossible.

Samsung - really?

I have to say that while I am a great fan of the Android platform in general, this process was far from smooth. The SGS2 was smartphone of the year when it came out. I have had more problems with it that I care to count, including replacing the USB connector due to corrosion! This is really not good. Let's hope other device manufacturers have got this in hand.

2 The good and the bad

One of the main reasons that I upgraded was the broken home button. My home button causing double taps when a single tap was intended, launching voice search with a "What would you like to do?" That had truly started to drive me insane (and causing unwelcome attention at the back of seminars), but in stock 2.3.4 it was impossible to re-configure. Now, in 4.2.1, the voice search can be removed from the double press, so no more unexpected "What would you like to do?".

Some other good things after the upgrade:

  • Most of the data seems to have stayed intact (although you do need to re-do your home screens, and re-enter wifi settings,
    • (edit) ... and default browser bookmarks were also lost).
  • The latest version of gmail can be installed, arranging email in tabs as the browser version does.
  • GPS took ages to get a fix before the upgrade (sometimes not getting a fix at all). Now this works much better.

Some things to note after upgrade:

  • Using the device as a USB storage still works, but the process is slightly different from 2.3.4, c.f. e.g. [1]. Basically you go to "Settings > More > USB utilities > Connect storage to PC", then connect cable when asked to connect. This will mount internal storage and external sd card as you were able to previously. (Beware of changes to this in 4.2.2 though.)
  • The camera shutter sound cannot be removed. Previously a particular volume could be turned down (system or notification), which effectively eliminated the shutter sound. I was happy with that, as I am happy for my phone to be mostly quiet. Now the phone needs to be in silent mode for the camera shutter to be quiet to. I just don't get this sort of stupidity. Apparently the only way to solve this is to root the device.
  • No Screenshots: The advertised key combinations don't work (home + power as for 2.3.4, or volume down + home), which is a regression, as this sort of worked in 2.3.4 (except that my home button was broken, which made it painful). Most applications that offer screenshots seem to require root, so this is tricky to do non-root. To get this to work, you have to press home + power button exactly at the same time, and hold. It's a different motion from the way it was on 2.3.4, but it works.
  • With 4.1.2 it's possible to tether via USB as well. A solution for achieving this on OS X is using [2].

2013-08-23 | Leave a comment | Back to blog