Older devices such as the Google Nexus S were popular phones that Google and Samsung worked on together. Source code for ICS was released officially into the AOSP in late 2011, and Google Nexus S users got a taste of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on their devices quite shortly after that.

The upgrade proved to be a smashing success, offering new UI elements and an awesome set of features. However, there is one thing that the upgrade missed out–Face Unlock, arguably one of the interesting highlights of Ice Cream Sandwich.

The reason behind the missing feature was the Google Nexus S’s front-facing VGA camera. High-end phones such as the Galaxy Nexus sport a secondary camera of at least 1.3 MP that is also capable of 720p video recording.

While some people consider the Face Unlock feature an overhyped marketing scheme to lure consumers into purchasing the Galaxy Nexus, others find it one of the coolest, innovative features found in Ice Cream Sandwich.

If you think that Ice Cream Sandwich isn’t complete without Face Unlock, then you’re just one of the many users out there dying to try out this new feature. However, in the case of the Nexus S, it requires flashing your phone, which unfortunately voids your warranty and may affect your phone’s normal functionality. If you are still eager to install it on your device, do so at your own risk and do not hold us liable for any damage to your phone arising from your use of this guide.


You need the following to be able to use the instructions in this guide:

  • A rooted Nexus S (GSM variant) with bootloader unlocked and with custom recovery installed on the device.
  • The device must be running an ICS build. You can check your phone’s current firmware by heading to “Settings > About Phone > Firmware Version”.


Follow these steps to install Face Unlock on your Nexus S:

  1. Download the latest Face Unlock package from here and save it to your computer.
  2. Connect your phone to your computer using a USB cable.
  3. Copy the downloaded ZIP file to your phone’s SD card. Be sure not to place the file deep in the subfolders.
  4. Reboot your phone into recovery mode. You can do this by pressing and holding down the Volume Up key and then pressing the Power button.
  5. Once inside recovery mode, select the option “install zip from sdcard”.
  6. Select “choose zip from sd card”.
  7. Select the downloaded file which you have saved in your SD card.
  8. Wait for a few moments for the installation to finish.
  9. Reboot your phone after the installation process.

Congratulations! You have successfully installed Face Unlock feature on your Google Nexus S (GSM).

Paul Nuñal
Paul and I.T. are synonyms. If you need help with I.T.-related stuff, call on Paul. His experience with Android phones goes way back to the ancient single-core-phone days. But, he keeps himself up to date, so now he has a dual-core beast in his pocket, and is looking forward to getting his first quad-core monster, and when it comes, his first eight-core phone. Perhaps he should be called Mr. X-Core, where "X" equals the number of CPU cores.
  • Hiary

    i have a nexus s i 9020 from T mobile, i follow your steps but at the end the feature does not work !!!

    when i open the face lock this message appears:

    “settings has stopped”
    plz advice in this regards

    best wishes all

  • gillanger

    i hold down the volume and press power button.. itdidnt work..

    • BreakingAwesome

      Hi this is pretty old post but, its Volume Up and Power Button for those who do not know.

  • Jayant bhagtani

    hi, i did same as you said, but when i reboot my phone in recovery mode than nothing happen, it seems that it’s crushed & just blank screen, and i just remove battery and again restart normal,
    so tell me how to solve this prob.

    thanks in advance

  • Martytess

    I got it installed, rooted the phone (youtube search root nexus s) and then installed the zip file. It is all there, it saves my face but gives me the message “face not found” when I try to unlock.

    Any suggestions?

    • Facing the same problem. Done with installation, and everything. Now the face is save but doesnt work for unlocking.

  • Hi, in my Nexus S don’t work!! In recovery mode, i selected the FaceLock.zip file, but the “signature verification failed” in installation. Can you help me?

  • blondieboy

    i get to recovery go to install update from sd card and then it aborts the update helpp

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