Impressions of Ice Cream Sandwich on the Galaxy Note

Posted on February 17, 2012

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The Ice Cream Sandwich firmware  for the Galaxy Note was first released about 2 days ago on a Chinese website which required Odin on PC to flash it. Doing so will result in an increase in the flash counter and yellow triangle during bootup. Kernel developer Chainfire has on the next day, repackaged the whole firmware with it pre-rooted and with ClockworkMod recovery built in. Flashing his repackaged using Mobile Odin will not have such issues

I upgraded to this  ICS firmware from my previous LA6 rom with FM kernel 2.0  from developer  substancer

Download the Chainfire version : HERE  or from a faster mirror  HERE . It is a single tar file size 828.8m MB ( I9220LP1-N7000-ICS-REPACK.tar )

Just use Mobile Odin Pro to flash it :

The whole flash process just takes about 6 minutes to complete including rebooting into the final rom. The phone will be wipe clean ; I have earlier make a backup of my apps/data with Titanium Backup Pro. After successful reset of phone, boot back to recovery mode ( press vol up+home+power button simultaneously ) and flash the GAPPS v 7.1 zip file which can be downloaded from HERE

Restoring all my apps/data from Titanium Backup was a breeze with no force closures faced

New firmware after flash :

FEATURES of the ICS firmware :

1. The CPU maximum speed is now limited to only 1.2 GHz instead of default 1.4 GHz
2. Bootup of this firmware after restoring all my apps is much longer taking about 3 minutes versus about 25 secs on the Gingerbread rom. At every reboot, the apps are reoptimized to the system :

3. The user interface is slightly faster and moving among homescreens is slicker. However putting on widgets in TouchWiz UI seems to have some problems with the display going black  and I decided to use ADW EX launcher as a replacement. This launcher was perfect and there was NO  lag at all on ICS unlike on the earlier Gingerbread build. I also tested Go Launcher and it was equally good with no lag at all. The vast improvement in 3rd party launchers applications in this ICS build is amazing. I tested also ICS based launcher Apex Nova – see screenshot below. The only negative aspect of this launcher is the inability to use the space of the Google Search bar even after I have chosen to hide it. Creating folders on this launcher is easy – just need to slide any apps on top of any app and a folder with the first app icon is displayed within a circle boundary. This Apex Nova launcher gives one the original ICS look as in the Galaxy Nexus

4. WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, Camera all works well with no issues. The camera is now much snappier and shutter lag in between shots is greatly reduced and I would say is very similar to the Galaxy Nexus camera’s speed.

5. The firmware comes with a lot of bloatware from China : these are the standard apps that comes with the firmware. You need to flash the Gapps.zip to have the common Google apps – Market, Calendar, Gallery, GMail, Youtube, Talk, Voice Search etc etc. I used Titanium Backup to freeze all the China apps

6. Pressing the power button on the new ICS build : 2 additional options of Airplane mode and Restart mode

7. SETCPU can work on this ICS build – one can set CPU speeds, various profiles but not voltage values due to limitation by the kernel. However I noted the phone was unable to go to deep sleep mode . It stays on at lowest cpu speed 200 Mhz overnight. This could be due to the kernel’s constraints. On the Gingerbread build on any of the cook roms , deep sleep mode overnight was averaging 95 %

I don’t know what happen on day one , but on day 2 the battery usage is back to normal. Overnight over 7 hours with 3G always on and data Facebook and Tweeter refresh every hour – battery drop 4 % . This is close to my previous LA6 build. The phone now can go to deep sleep mode – so it is not a kernel issue

8. Face UNLOCK works very well and you can set a pattern or number unlock if it fails to unlock

9. Connection to iMAC ( Mac OSX) unsuccessful – though detected but unable to view the phone internal SD and ext SD card. It could be detected on Windows 7 PC

10. Default Video Player unable to play any videos at all. 3rd party video players – Vital Player, VPlayer, Mobo player, MVideo player, MX Video players can play all my mp4, avi, mkv, etc without any problems

11. Unable to change lockscreen wallpaper – phone freezes slightly when I tried to do it

12. Contacts name not shown when a call is received – only the caller number

Comparisons with Gingerbread build :

Performance benchmarks on the ICS build is lower due to the CPU speed being limited to only 1.2 Ghz. The benchmarks taken from the best of 3 readings. However my usual usage of browser, email, facebook, tweeter, RSS, newsfeed I do not see any significant slow down of using the apps. Battery usage is quite similar too with the ICS build seems to have a slight edge over the Gingerbread build  . However I would need more time to evaluate this further

LEFT : Gingerbread LA6 , RIGHT – ICS

AnTuTu Benchmarks :

Quadrant scores :

Vellamo browsing benchmarks : The test failed at the 8/11 mark on the ICS build and cannot be continue. I could successfully done it on my Galaxy Nexus. So it is probably due to the ICS build for the Note is still in beta stage

Banding issues : The much talk about banding issues in the Galaxy Note is often discussed  by looking at the PHONE app and XDA apps

In the phone app, I don’t see any significant difference. However the phone app in ICS has only 3 tabs ( keypad, call log and favorites ) versus the 5 tabs in the Gingerbread build

XDA app : The banding seems improved in the ICS build

UPDATE as on 22 feb : on its fifth  day – I finally faced the dreaded SOD ( screen of death ) on this rom. It occur 3 times – the screen just went dead. And phone cannot be switched on. I have to take out battery and put it back to switch it on back to life. Strange that it happens only on the fifth day. I have read some users faced this problem since day one. Anyway, I have decided to take off this rom and go back to Substancer LA6 – this rom was easily restored back from ClockworkMod recovery

Forum XDA discussion on this ICS build : http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1500186