Galaxy S II JellyBean 4.1.2 Leaked Firmware XXLSJ Gallery And Hands-On Impressions

Ever since Google I/O when Android Jellybean was let out to the wild the most common thought and question is definately around the update, will it come ? will the Cyanogen team be able to support my device soon ? This wait was especially excruciating for the SGS II owners who have faced an unsure future in Cyanogen Mod due to numerous issues developers faced in working with Samsung’s Exynos Chip.

Good news did however come as Samsung announced the devices it intended to update to Jellybean, the impressive list included not only popular phones like the SGS II but even the low end likes of the Galaxy Chat and Galaxy Music. The next question, and the one most hated by developers in the Android community is ofcourse when?

Numerous Samsung regional pages pointed to a November release for Jellybean for the SGS II and now we have some indication of where Samsung is in trying to achieve that goal with a leaked 4.1.2 firmware. The firmware code XXLSJ was leaked on the XDA forums, and is available for download here.

In terms of  the firmware itself it is still a test phase build, so it wont be perfect for all . Overall the firmware is really good, fast , stable and fresh. Samsung has chosen to include most of the new TouchWiZ Nature UX from recent phones like the S3 Mini and S Duos in the update. This means that most applications from the gallery to the browser have a fresh look, new features and provide a better experience. I for one was really happy to see this, one of the biggest let downs for SGS II users with ICS 4.0 update was that Samsung chose to keep the Interface exactly like in Gingerbread.  The New interface, put together with the enhancements from Google in Jellybean make for a brilliant update, I stated on my twitter account that even if this is the last update to the SGS II users are likely to be happy that this far into the devices life it got such a major update.

If you’ve seen a SGS3 or Note2 recently you’ll already know what TouchWiz Nature UX is about, water sounds and all. One thing is for sure it isn’t for tastes. What I like in particular is that Samsung hasn’t changed the function dramatically, instead they’ve opted to theme more and leave the stock android insides as they were, users of Stock Android will have little or no problems navigating the new interface, something I found wasn’t true with HTC’s Sense 4 where coming from stock Android I found my self lost as some settings were either totally removed or moved to a new category.

Besides for some of the application updates I’ll provide screenshots of below, the biggest improvement has to be in speed, While I’m not a benchmark person, I judge by look and feel, and compared the CyanogenMod 9.1 that I used prior, this is much faster! The change in performance that the ICS update provided by Samsung lacked has been given here, Google’s Project butter together with work by Samsung seems to be working wonders. Animations and Navigation are butter smooth, so much so that I would say it feels easily as smooth as the HTC OneX on ICS with its Tegra 3 Processor .

The other big Jellybean improvement was Google Now, the behind the scenes assistant is present in the update and works along side Samsungs’ own Voice actions app that was always present on the SGSII. Google Now performs as expected, brilliantly. From the accuracy of voice recognition to the appropriateness of the cards it provides , this service is phenomenal and only improving.

Another bonus of this being a Touchwiz Rom, is that you will be gifted 50gb free Dropbox storage for 2years on boot!

In terms of bugs and stability , I have not yet experienced a single force close on this build. That just serves to show how close Samsung is to completing the update. There are a few small bugs , one is that the single finger notification expansion that was introduced in Android 4.1.2 is missing, curiously it is also missing from the leaked rom for the Galaxy Note so this may be a Samsung implementation difference rather than a bug. The other bug is that on occasion the lockscreen is unresponsive, this is fixed by locking and unlocking the device.

The number of interface changes is simply too much to mention, here is a screenshot tour which aims to highlight the biggest changes and give you a feel for what is on its way, subject to change depending on Samsung .

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments or on our Twitter – @androsym and I’ll do my best to answer your questions!