Got unlocked Xperia? Get Ice Cream Sandwich beta ROM

Handset manufacturers aren't exactly rushing Android 4.0 out the door for recent smartphones. At least Sony has something for the cheery fan set who can't wait but might not want to install a rogue ROM. Today the consumer electronics giant posted an Ice Cream Sandwich beta ROM for 2011 Xperia phones.

The software can be applied to Xperia arc S, neo V and ray running Xperia software 4.0.2.A.0.42. However, the beta ROM isn't recommended for everyone. "Even though a lot of the basic functionality of this ICS beta ROM is working, you should only download and install the beta version if you are an advanced developer", according to Sony's mobile developer blog.

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Today's beta follows an alpha build released in December. New features include user interface improvements, enablement of lockscreen and Face Unlock, updated email client and quick call availability. Strangely, most Google mobile apps aren't available in the beta.

"You must unlock your phone using our Unlock boot loader service, and agree to all the legal and warranty conditions that apply", Sony says. That is, if you haven't already, eh?

Sony's installation instructions:

1. Make sure your phone is running the latest software release, which is build number 4.0.2.A.0.42.  If you can’t upgrade to this build number, it is not possible to try the Ice Cream Sandwich beta ROM for Xperia™ phones.

2. Go to unlockbootloader.sonymobile.com and unlock the boot loader of your phone. To do this, you must read through and agree to all the legal and warranty conditions that apply.

3. Download the Ice Cream Sandwich beta ROM for Xperia™ arc S, the Ice Cream Sandwich beta ROM for Xperia™ neo V or the Ice Cream Sandwich beta ROM for Xperia™ ray depending on your phone model.

4. Extract the downloaded zip file to your Android Fastboot directory. For example: ..\android-sdk\fastboot\Xperia_arcS_ICS_beta.

5. Open a command prompt and go to your Fastboot directory: ..\android-sdk\fastboot\

6. Flash the three beta ROM files one at a time using Fastboot. Use these three commands (replace the folder name if you are using Xperia™ neo V or Xperia™ ray):

  • fastboot flash boot ..\Fastboot\Xperia_arcS_ICS_beta\boot.img
  • fastboot flash userdata ..\Fastboot\Xperia_arcS_ICS_beta\userdata.img
  • fastboot flash system ..\Fastboot\Xperia_arcS_ICS_beta\system.img

7. Once done, please reboot your phone.

But wait, before you rush to download the ROM, Sony has has a gotcha: "If you unlock the boot loader, you will not be able to download and install the final Ice Cream Sandwich software upgrade for Xperia phones". Huh?

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