New Android 4.0 running on Google’s old Nexus One

Now that I have a new Galaxy Nexus on the way from the U.K., you’d think my faithful Nexus One(s goog) smartphone would be sent out to pasture after 23-months of service. Based on a video I saw today, however, I think there’s still some life left in the original Nexus smartphone: A new custom ROM is in the works that installs Ice Cream Sandwich, or Android 4.0, on the Nexus One.

The software is still rough around the edges, but has made good progress over the past few days as broken features are being researched and fixed. Based on the limited hardware — cutting edge when the Nexus debuted in January, 2010 — I wouldn’t expect Android 4.0 to run extremely fast, but this first video shows that early versions are certainly usable. And based on my experience of flashing ROMs on the Nexus dozens of times in the past, I’ve often seen improvements as the software is tweaked and optimized.

I haven’t yet flashed Ice Cream Sandwich on my old Nexus, but will be doing so soon. While the Nexus One had a limited audience, custom ROMs such as this one continue to extend the original device; Google has said that the phone won’t officially see an update to Android 4.0, so this is the only way to upgrade the software to Google’s newest mobile operating system.

Projects such as this reaffirm my personal belief that for some, a Nexus-branded Android phone is a solid investment. Instead of buying and switching phones a few times a year, the Nexus One lasted me nearly two full years because of its ability to easily morph into a “new phone” within five minutes: Once you have the process down pat, that’s all it takes to flash a new ROM on the device. Nexus devices also see Android updates first, directly from Google, too. That’s why I don’t mind paying $672.24 for my new unlocked Galaxy Nexus, which shipped today: I know I’ll get plenty of use out of it.