Upgrade Motorola Defy to Android 4.0.3 ICS via CyanogenMod 9

by: Paul NuñalMarch 26, 2012
8 19 31

The Motorola Defy is just one of the many smartphones that is eager to receive the Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich update. If you’re one of the owners of the Motorola Defy, waiting for the official ICS upgrade can be frustrating, especially since Motorola has decided that the Motorola Defy will remain on Android 2.2 Froyo.

Fortunately, you can still update to Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich using non-Motorola way: CyanogenMod 9.  The unofficial upgrade is a super fast custom ROM jampacked with all the neat Ice Cream Sandwich features that you will surely love.

However, this ROM is still in its current beta stages with some minor bugs that you might find annoying. But, this is one of the stable ICS builds that hosts improvements such as better features and stability when it comes to performance. Rest assured that the bugs found on the current version of this ROM is addressed by the developers promising new updates and fixes every now and then in the form of nightly builds.

You might want to try your luck with the CyanogenMod 9 Ice Cream Sandwich ROM.


  • Rooted Motorola Defy with ClockworkMod Recovery installed
  • Fully charged battery or at least 70% battery left
  • Backup of your personal phone data
  • Download the following and save the files to your computer:
    • latest CyanogenMod 9 nightly build for the Motorola Defy — Download
    • GApps (Google Apps) package — Download
    • CM7 (froyo) Kernel — Download


  1. Connect your Motorola Defy to your PC via USB cable.
  2. Copy the downloaded ZIP files to the root of your phone’s internal SD card (i.e., /sdcard).
  3. Disconnect your phone from your PC.
  4. Switch off your phone.
  5. Press the Power button.
  6. Your phone will start up and display the Motorola logo.  Wait until you see the blue LED light up.  When it does, press the Volume Down button to enter bootmenu.
  7. In bootmenu, use the Volume keys the highlight “Recovery”.  Press the Power button to select it.  Then, select “Custom Recovery” to enter ClockworkMod Recovery.
  8. Once inside ClockworkMod Recovery, go to Backup and Restore > Backup and create a Nandroid backup of your current system.
  9. Select “Wipe Data/Factory Reset” and confirm the operation on the next screen.
  10. Select “Install zip from sdcard.”  Browse for and select the CynogenMod 9 package that you copied to the phone earlier.  Confirm that you wan to flash the package.
  11. Repeat step 10, but this time choose the CM7 kernel package.
  12. Repeat step 10, but this time choose the GApps package.
  13. Return to the main menu of ClockworkMod Recovery.
  14. Select “Wipe Cache” and confirm the action on the next screen.
  15. From the Advanced menu, select “Wipe Dalvik cache” and confirm the action on the next screen.
  16. Return to main recovery menu.
  17. Select “Reboot system now.”

Congratulations! You have successfully installed Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich on your Motorola Defy via the latest CyanogenMod 9 custom ROM nightly build.

  • Jd

    I can’t download cm7 froyo kernel! Help please!

  • Arvm20

    same problem with me

  • matt

    same problem with the kernel here…

  • Mamoon Noorestani

    cm7 froyo kernel not downloading. (It says you don’t have permission to access the file)
    Help Please!!!!!

  • George

    do you have to download all of it???? or just 1 file? thats alot of mmemory

  • Thelectrical

    CM7 ( froyo ) kernel —> http://api.viglink.com/api/click?format=go&drKey=1359&loc=http%3A%2F%2Fforum.xda-developers.com%2Fshowthread.php%3Ft%3D1432100&v=1&libid=1335377747045&out=http%3A%2F%2Fm.cfa.aero%2Fmisc%2FCM7_Kernel-signed.zip&ref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com.tr%2Furl%3Fsa%3Dt%26rct%3Dj%26q%3Dcm7%2520(froyo)%2520kernel%26source%3Dweb%26cd%3D1%26ved%3D0CCUQFjAA%26url%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fforum.xda-developers.com%252Fshowthread.php%253Ft%253D1432100%26ei%3DRD-YT4DoGIb-4QTi5unEBg%26usg%3DAFQjCNHw205CJdyrqXY4OU3h0twh2BL9hQ%26cad%3Drja&title=%5BICS%5D%5BCM9%5D%5BFroyo%20%26%20GB%20Kernels%5D16%20Apr%20Epsylon%20–%2008%20Mar%20Quarx%20-%20Defy%20(Android%204.0.4)%20-%20xda-developers&txt=http%3A%2F%2Fm.cfa.aero%2Fmisc%2FCM7_Kernel-signed.zip&jsonp=vglnk_jsonp_13353778332143

    CM9 (GB ) kernel –> http://api.viglink.com/api/click?format=go&drKey=1359&loc=http%3A%2F%2Fforum.xda-developers.com%2Fshowthread.php%3Ft%3D1432100&v=1&libid=1335377747045&out=http%3A%2F%2Fm.cfa.aero%2Fmisc%2FCM9_Kernel-signed.zip&ref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com.tr%2Furl%3Fsa%3Dt%26rct%3Dj%26q%3Dcm7%2520(froyo)%2520kernel%26source%3Dweb%26cd%3D1%26ved%3D0CCUQFjAA%26url%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fforum.xda-developers.com%252Fshowthread.php%253Ft%253D1432100%26ei%3DRD-YT4DoGIb-4QTi5unEBg%26usg%3DAFQjCNHw205CJdyrqXY4OU3h0twh2BL9hQ%26cad%3Drja&title=%5BICS%5D%5BCM9%5D%5BFroyo%20%26%20GB%20Kernels%5D16%20Apr%20Epsylon%20–%2008%20Mar%20Quarx%20-%20Defy%20(Android%204.0.4)%20-%20xda-developers&txt=http%3A%2F%2Fm.cfa.aero%2Fmisc%2FCM9_Kernel-signed.zip&jsonp=vglnk_jsonp_13353778979464

  • Jodabodanon

    I had various force close issues doing it as instructed above. so I rebooted to recovery, then:

    + wipe data
    + clean cache
    + install cyanogenmod zip only
    + reboot
    *THAT’s IT! *
    DO NOT install Gapps zip or old android kernel!

    • Gregório Kuhn

      Man, you are THE MAN!
      Simple like that. Thanks a lot!
      Finally I got CM9!!!

    • Diego Venancio

      Sorry. It didn’t work with me. I had kernel 2.6… I installed CM9 and gapps only. Everything looked fine, but calls kept dropping. It was an error on the proximity sensor. I flashed the right kernel as indicated and it all worked. Follow all instructions!

    • Diego Venancio

      Also have a problem with 3g dropping frequently. Let’s see if updating the kernel has something to do with it.

    • Diego Venancio

      Oh, and besides that. FANTASTIC update! It’s like having a completely new phone. And much faster!

  • Mrms1988
  • Raina Gagangd

    I Have installed ICS in defy moto but my network signal are not working.
    My service provider is Airtel

    • Suresh

      download baseband version and install it will work

      • sharan

        why i can’t download cm7 ..help me out!

    • kuljeet

      hi can you please let me know your phone number , send me ur number at kuljeetklf@gmail.com or 9818339924

  • Unosettecinque

    Is it reversible?

  • Mobi Techin

    Do You Know You can Convert Your Motorola Defy MB252 to Defy with Moto Blur for all Motorola Defy User 100 % Working with Official ROM


  • http://twitter.com/helizonaldo Helizonaldo A.M.

    its work with motorola defy mini xt321?

  • kenshineo

    Otima ROM, ta rodando file no meu defy. Bateria parece estar durando ate mais! Unica falta foi a foto panorama.

  • BGA

    all installed OK as directed, but now stuck on the “M” loading screen :(

  • http://www.facebook.com/sunishar Sunil Sharma

    I was also getting the same error: 403 – Permission Denied i got a simple solution… dont click on the link… right click on the link and select save target as… so simple ;-)

    • Jai

      Gud, Sharma ji

  • Gregório Kuhn

    My step by step. What I doing wrong?

    Defy MB525 Red lenses.
    rooted and 2ndInit ok
    Custom Recovery (Cyanogen Recovery v5.0.3.1-jordan)

    Wipe data/factory reset
    install zip from sdcard
    Tryed already (in diferent moments)
    “defy+ mb526 Rom 4.0.4 By: QUARX 08/07”
    “defy+ plus mb526 Rom 4.0.4 QUARX 09/07 Stable”
    “defy mb525 Rom 4.0.4 By: Epsylon 11/07”

    choose zip from sdcard (again)
    CM9 (gb) Kernel kernel (to defy+) already tryed the CM7 kernel too.
    choose zip from sdcard (over again)
    google aps
    Go Back
    Wipe Cache Partition
    Wipe dalvik cache

    So comes the error

    OK, I can have my phone back using RSD Lite. At this moment I used to install
    Maybe this last item is the problem?

  • retna

    Hi. I have researching extensively onhow to upgrade my defy and your article has the simplest explanation. However why do I need to flash the CM7 kernel too? As I understand it, CM9 is the Android 4 kernel and CM7 is the 2.3 kernel, if I flash the CM7 after the CM9 wouldn’t that flash the phone to gingerbread

  • Vincenzo

    I did everything according to plan but apparently my phone still has the same Android (Froyo). What did I do wrong?

  • pissedoffharrison


  • Retna

    Easiest and best guide for defy. However when I installed the CM9, CM7 and gapp i found that I had installed android 2.3. So reinstalled CM9 and GAPP and now had 4.03. No issues with the install and the phone works great. Now to download all my apps AGAIN!!

  • souijiro

    Thank you sooooo much..
    It’s working!!!! It’s ALIIIIIIVEEEEE

    • jai

      how did you root your defy. Could you please explain.

  • ajay

    hey my network is not working. I’m from India and I use Vodafone. could any one help me. please.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001388394576 Rane Abhishek

      heh frnd im also facing the same querry….
      what to do now????
      what had u do after that
      plzz reply yar……….

    • http://twitter.com/elsum Nelson Mejía

      I have this problem too. Help us!

      • Neha

        Hey, change the baseband to china. u’ll find it in settings-> advanced settings->baseband

    • harry

      same problem when using net no network

  • http://www.facebook.com/loveatnewyork Babu Duraisamy

    Any 1 Guide me … I ordered Defy Mini XT321 at Snap Deal … This Defy mini Possible to Upgrade ICS 4.0.1 ???

  • Sunil

    the latest build released on 15th august is working really good…there are no cyanogenmod settings or the ui settings…but other wise pretty functional ROM. Initial glitches with the capacitive touch buttons, but can fix them…waiting for the stable ROM.

  • Jason

    Hi, I’m having a problem with my SD card not being recognised in the boot menu. This doesn’t allow the .zip files to be installed (step 10) any help would be good. Thanks

  • Jai

    how to perform the first step i.e “Rooted Motorola Defy with ClockworkMod Recovery installed”


  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001388394576 Rane Abhishek

    heh I have installed ICS properly but ,,my mobile network has not working ,,plzzz reply me if any one knows about it…im in need …
    Abhishek Rane

  • arjan

    update froyo kernel link cm7 please;)!!!!

  • Cozmoz

    CM7 (froyo) Kernel link isn’t working, please help.

  • Avi

    Not able to download cm 7 froyo kernel …

  • sharan

    why i can’t download cm7 …i tried many times,but failed.help me out guys!

  • Motomodder

    Dial *#*#4636#*#* this will get you into other hidden settings…click phone information and change your network type to whatever your needs are.

  • Ricardo

    This is working in Defy mini XT320 ?

  • Thomaz


    I’ll try to install this ics on my defy phone, but I don’t understand much of this. Your instructions are very simple but I have a few questions:

    – this link for CM7 is not available. I’ve found tons of cm7 on defy-cm.net but I don’t know if any of this would work. My defy is currently running android version 2.2.1. I have no idea of what a kernel is… sorry….

    – how do I root my cell phone? is there any app that would do that?
    – Is there an alternative for the clockwork mod? Because I’ve only found a version that I have to buy and I don’t know which one to choose.

    Sorry for all this noob questions…


  • Eman Ym

    None of the link is working to download CM9 for Motorola Defy Mini XT321. Can anyone please help me in this regard ?