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Galaxy S2 SIM-free owners last to get ICS, Samsung admits

Shelled out for an S2 SIM-free? You're last in the queue for Ice Cream Sandwich, Samsung has admitted.

Natasha Lomas Mobile Phones Editor, CNET UK
Natasha Lomas is the Mobile Phones Editor for CNET UK, where she writes reviews, news and features. Previously she was Senior Reporter at Silicon.com, covering mobile technology in the business sphere. She's been covering tech online since 2005.
Natasha Lomas
4 min read
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Samsung Galaxy S2 owners who bought their device SIM-free are at the back of the UK Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade queue, Samsung has confirmed to CNET UK.

And the reason you've been kept waiting? It's because Samsung is waiting for some mobile networks to finish testing the update, so it can be sure the software will work whatever network you're on.

SIM-free S2 owners will get the ICS update "once we've got all of the operator pieces on board", said Simon Stanford, VP of Samsung Telecommunications and Networks for Samsung UK and Ireland, speaking exclusively to CNET UK today.

The upgrade process Samsung has used to push out ICS to S2 owners means SIM-free devices can't be updated until all mobile networks have tested and approved ICS -- and since some operators are still testing and approving the update, some SIM-free S2 owners are still waiting to get Ice Cream Sandwich.

'It's got to work'

"We work in conjunction with our partners to bring ICS to the existing base -- that's primarily what needs to happen, whatever network operator that may be," said Stanford. "In this particular instance, the open market variant [ie SIM-free] you would expect to come out first."

Stanford confirmed, however, SIM-free S2 owners have been left twisting in the wind. "As an open-market customer you will be on a variety of networks, so it's got to work on whichever network you have chosen," he said.

SIM-free S2 owners -- many of whom shelled out extra upfront for an unlocked handset in the hopes of being at the front of the upgrade queue -- have in fact trailed operators such as Three, which was the first operator to release the ICS update. O2 has also now pushed out the ICS update.

"We were working with our operators to make sure that we brought it out to as many people as we can," Stanford added. "Vodafone we're expecting imminently [to release ICS]. Open market will be once we've got all of the operator pieces on board... It'll come at very much the same time."

'We don't want to disadvantage anyone'

Stanford would not confirm exactly how many SIM-free S2 owners have received the ICS update so far, nor give a completion date for the ICS update rollout -- he would only say: "We're really pushing it hard over the next coming weeks."

"It's always very tight, in terms of the testing processes and all the rest of it," he said. "It's not a switch in Korea and then the whole thing just activates every device that is out there... We work very closely with the networks to help them get ICS out.

"Everyone holds their hands up and says, 'Well, we need to do more in these instances.'"

Asked whether consumers would be better off buying a device from a network rather than SIM-free if they want to ensure they get future Android updates promptly, Stanford said: "In this instance [they would have been better off on a network]. Moving forward, I anticipate the upgrades will come a lot faster, at once, with everybody."

He added that it's not Samsung's intention to prioritise SIM-free device buyers in future, rather it wants to level the playing field so everyone gets the update around the same time.

"We don't want to disadvantage anyone, we don't want to say that they have to buy it from anywhere, we want everyone to have the same experience, whether or not it's open-market, network, to us they're exactly the same," he said.

'Communication can be managed better next time'

Stanford conceded that communications is an area where Samsung can make its own improvements. And he apologised to any SIM-free S2 owners who have been disappointed by how long it's taken to get ICS.

"The communication itself can be managed a bit better next time," he said. "It's just an ongoing process piece that we work very closely on to try and make sure we get it absolutely bang on so we apologise to anyone -- we really apologise to anyone -- who has been disappointed by this.

"We're always desperate to get [updates] out as fast as we can, there's no reason for us not to. We don't like to have unhappy customers, it goes against everything that we do. We do take it very seriously. It's communication sometimes we need to work on -- I accept that. That there needs to be perhaps more overall communication with the partners involved as well," he said.

"We are happy now that ICS is rolling out and those people that we've spoken to are very happy with it," Stanford added. "We're always looking for ways to speed it up -- with regards to Galaxy Note... the upgrade on that will be a lot quicker."

Are you still waiting for your SIM-free S2 to be upgraded to ICS? Let us know in the comments, or post your own update over on our Facebook page, and watch my video below to see what you're missing.

Watch this: Galaxy S2 Ice Cream Sandwich vs Gingerbread