By now you've probably read numerous reviews on Samsung's Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) firmware for the Samsung Galaxy S II or read over the manual. So I won't cover the big changes here but look at the minor changes from version 2.3.4.
*UPDATE - ICS 4.0.4 fixes many of the issues listed below*
Source: Samsung Official Kies
Android version: 4.0.3
Build Number: IML72K.XWLP7
Here's the high level of what you get:
- Faster web browser with added features
- Slightly better graphics performance
- Stereo sound video recording
- SNS integration into phonebook
- Better UI for switching apps and killing them
- Face unlock
- Built-in data usage monitor
- Brighter Screen
- Ability to run Google Chrome
Here's Samsung's Guide to ICS for the Galaxy S II:
Now for the subtle differences:
- WiFi connection drains battery faster
- Auto Display brightness is brighter in dark rooms
- Laggy response - clicking on less frequently used apps on the homescreen takes a while to start
- Laggy transitions - certain closing animations are slow but changing the "Transition animation scale" in the Developer options helps reduce the transition length
- Less responsive touchscreen - the lock screen takes a split second before registering pin input
- ICS Email app loses calendar invite "When" and "Where"
- ICS calendar sync defaults "In case of sync conflict" to "Update to phone". You should switch that to "Update to server", otherwise you may accidently send everyone "odd" meeting changes
- More confirmation prompts - turning on silent mode from the power button prompts the user, turning on "Airplane mode" as well
- Font changes - Default (roboto), Choco cooky, Helvetica S
- Ability to add Weather to the lock screen
- Adds the alarm and, if charging or low, the battery
- Adds following games: Archipelago, Bubble Defense 2, Parachute Panic
- Adds Google apps: Google +, Messenger, Play Books, Play Movies
- Adds AllShare (Sharing content via WiFi)
- More Developer Options like Force GPU rendering (doesn't help the UI too much), Window/Transition animation scale, etc.
- Notifies the user when roaming and data roaming is disabled and WiFI network requires login
- Adds WiFi Direct
- Adds "Back up and reset"
- As with 2.3.5, scrolling to the end of pages no longer have the "bounce" effort but use a blue highlight
- Faster status notification animation
- Copy and paste implementation has changed to standard Android
- Screen capture changed to standard Android which is hold volume key down and Power button at the same time
- Scrolling in the native browser is no longer prefers scrolling left, right, down, up but scrolls based on your exact finger swipe motion - makes scrolling straight down a zoomed in page more difficult unless you have steady hands
- Infrequently, WiFi doesn't turn on when toggled on at notification bar. The WiFi icon will show up at green but the bar will appear grey. Occasionally hitting the power button to turn off the screen will cause the phone screen to turn off but it's not possible to turn the screen back on with the home key or power button. Toggling airplane mode On then back to Off will re-enable WiFi but you'll need to do this every time until the next time the phone is restarted
- Native mail client crashes when viewing attached HTML
- Native mail client stops syncing with Exchange 2010 via 3G - it'll work for a while then suddenly stop
*UPDATE - ICS 4.0.4 fixes many of the issues listed above*
Right after I upgraded, I did run into the Exchange and Active Sync e-mail read flag issue where reading it on my computer didn't update my phone but switching the "In case of sync conflict" option to "Update to phone" in Accounts seemed to solve that issue.
Although the homescreen remains the same on the Samsung Galaxy S II with the TouchWiz layer, the settings and Google apps have all been updated. Samsung had added a lot of custom elements to Gingerbread to improve Android usability and Google has now added it Ice Cream Sandwich so you won't lose much functionality but see a difference to how it's implement (i.e. taking screenshots with volume key and power key). You'll also notice subtle differences such as better screen color rendering but also shorter battery life. Samsung Galaxy S II gets about 20% less battery life than Gingerbread.
In the first day I had Ice Cream Sandwich, I wish I had an option to downgrade back to Gingerbread but after a few days of use, I'm liking Ice Cream Sandwich for the faster browser and the screen does look a little better. Is it worth upgrading? You won't notice that much differences from Gingerbread but if you're on the fench it's worth a try if you can live with the few bugs. If you haven't thought about upgrading, I don't recommend bothering.