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Samsung Galaxy S II punters get a lick of Ice Cream Sarnie

Older models fed Gingerbread+

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Samsung has started upgrading its handsets, with the Galaxy S II getting Ice Cream Sandwich. The aging Galaxy S, meanwhile, will be upgraded to Gingerbread with extra bits.

They include face-unlocking and a photo editor, but it's the Galaxy S II and the Samsung tablets – including the Note – that will get a full upgrade to Android 4.

Lucky users in Poland, Hungary, Sweden and Korea are already starting to see the update being offered. Here in the UK we've got another week or so to wait before we get to unlock our phones with a smile.

Samsung's tablets will be leapfrogging Honeycomb to run Ice Cream Sandwich, bringing the excitement of a new font (Roboto) and snappier UI as well as the aforementioned unlock-by-face functionality.

Ice Cream Sandwich follows on from the tablet-specific Honeycomb, Android 3. ICS is supposed to unify the tablet and phone versions of Android, but given that many Android tablets are running Gingerbread or Froyo - both Android 2 - Honeycomb is perhaps best viewed as an experimental version which never took off.

Motorola was one of the few tablet manufacturers to embrace Honeycomb, making it slightly ironic that its own plans for ICE migration are so lacklustre. Americans who bought the 3G-capable Xoom tablet don't even have a timetable yet, but with Google spitting out a new Android version every six months it's not easy for handset manufacturers to keep up.

Nor is it clear how long other manufacturers can afford to chase Google's lead. Porting each new version of Android is expensive, but handset buyers expect manufacturers to provide free OS upgrades, at least until their network operator is prepared to subsidise them for the latest hardware. ®

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