Sluggishly reacting applications, latency in almost everything you do, crashes, blank screens, long lag to pick up networks, buggy settings. Do you remember any of

What’s your experience of iOS4 on iPhone 3G?

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Sluggishly reacting applications, latency in almost everything you do, crashes, blank screens, long lag to pick up networks, buggy settings. Do you remember any of this? Sounds like some old-fashioned feature phone that was somewhat overloaded by its ambitious maker, doesn’t it? But, alas, no, it is not. This is the user experience with a one-year-old iPhone 3G, 16GB since 24 June 2010. Do you recognise the date? Then luck will have it that you have experienced the same: the grandly titled “iOS4? update that was being pushed down your throat (or rather iTunes) to your iPhone 3G.

Apple has been hailed for poking everyone else making handsets in the eye when it came out with the iPhone: here is a newbie that got it all right and venerable industry leaders found themselves with cartons full of ostrich egg on their faces: here was someone who got it all right: combining great build quality, maybe only OK-ish specs and unsurpassed UI with a vertically integrated publishing and distribution system that made for a leap in usage of mobile devices. It was a bad slap for the Nokias etc of this world and a revelation for millions of users (even if they were not Apple fanboys).

And then it came back to bite them! I am not a techie but iOS4 on the iPhone 3G feels like someone put a little too much luggage onto too frail a porter: the things creaks and aches at every corner. Gone are the days where one could switch from one app to another in seconds, where the iPhone – in good Apple style – did what you wanted it to do without much ado but breathtaking efficiency and speed. Now, it is clunky and, well, very old-fashioned. It could of course all have been avoided: just don’t push iOS4 to the iPhone 3G (or older models). No one would have cried, you should think: if the hardware cannot handle it, it cannot handle it. Users understand such things one should think. Keep iOS4 to the iPhone 4 (even the numbers match, doh!).

I have been throwing this into the faces of Nokia lovers who never fail to point out how technically superior Nokia’s hardware is: users do not give a toss about hardware specs. They care for the overall user experience. The unhappy marriage of the 3G with iOS4 shows what this does when it goes wrong: all the fun of using an iPhone is gone. What good is it when my phone lets me down every 10 minutes? What fun if my e-mail doesn’t open for 20 seconds? How exciting if applications appear to be frozen only to open just seconds after I pressed the home button (that will kill them just in time after I saw that it did, at the end, react)? Utter frustration. Rotten user experience. Complete fail.


The above is the experience of an iPhone 3 running the latest version of iOS (v4). He says that allowing iOS4 to be pushed to the iPhone 3G was one horrendous mistake.

So, if you have an iPhone 3G (not 3GS) and have iOS4 running on it, what has your experience been?

Read Volker’s full take on How Apple Got it All Wrong.

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  1. I actually upgraded to ios4 on my iphone 3g, (disclaimer) i am not a apple fan at all but i will have to admit that the ios4 on the 3g is awesome, smoother and faster, that being said i think iphone 4 is going to backfire on steve jobs, he is just being to cocky and does not seem to understand how bad pr can damage a brand so fast.

  2. Interesting…..
    I am happy that Afewgoodmen hasn’t tried it on his iPhone 3Gs. He tried it first on his ipod touch and the experience, from what i saw, is quite different from what’s given above. The ipod touch actually performed better with the new OS and some new abilities were noted.

  3. Quam,

    I posed this article as a question so as to determine if the writer’s experience is commonplace. We cannot take his word alone. Hopefully, we will hear from others who also upgraded their iPhone 3G to iOS4.


  4. Thanks for bringing this unboard, all news has been on iPhone 4 so much that nobody is paying particular attention to ios4 on older iphones.

  5. Quam,


    Can we have feedback from more iPhone 3G users who have upgraded to iOS4? There are chances that there was a problem with the update of the phone mentionded in the article. More feedback please?

  6. The writer above seemed to have a big war with the ios4. I got very different results with my phone (3g) compared to his experience. Deoladoctor has rightfully mentioned that the ios4 update worked wonderfully with the ipod touch 2nd generation (8GB). The iphone 3G is no different. There is far far greater improvement in the UI and the seamlessness in which the phone worked. Applications that used to drag now works better with the phone, after updating the apps ofcourse.

    I am also surprised that the author refused to mention areas of improvement in the functions of the phone. Like creation of folders that was exquisitely implemented in the ios4. There was also improvement in search features; where any file, apps or anything in the phone can be searched from the improved “Search” menu. You can also search directly to Wikipedia or google directly via this search menu.

    Another area of improvement is the Playlist and Music app. Before now, you are jailed to itunes if you wished to edit your playlists and songs in the music apps/menu. Now, it is different. You could do all that on your phone. Then there is the unified inbox for mails and Microsoft exchange is fully supported. I am now able to get Yahoo mail to work in the in built mail apps. I also have gmail configured. You can do that for more accounts/email or multiple yahoo or gmail if you so wished. There are still other tweaks here and there which would be too extensive to mention now. But the hard and feel of it is that ios4 is a refreshing improvement.

    Don’t get me all wrong. The new OS is not all bread and butter. In a few scenarios, like accessing the settings menu there is some lag. Although imperceptible, but still a breath second slower than the original ios 2.2 OS. Also some applications were hanging and crashing until I found the cure which was simple. You just needed to update the apps from the itunes store and it then worked like breeze. Even better than before.

    Video, google maps, the password on the home screen, notes, calculator, UI-wide cut and paste functions and inbuilt Dictionary (a new one) has been markedly improved on.

    Overall the merits overwhelms the disadvantages. The ios4 is a welcomed software by own summation. And by Quam’s above, I guess.

    Features that is still missing, in which the iphone 3gs and iphone 4 has which was denied me by Apple are multi-tasking and personal screen saver for all my homescreens!

  7. Afewgoodmen,

    The writer above seemed to have a big war with the ios4.

    No; it seems more like he is having problems with iOS4 on his iPhone 3G. I don’t read anything in his write-up that suggests that he has a beef with iOS4.

    I am also surprised that the author refused to mention areas of improvement in the functions of the phone.

    Why are you surprised? He wasn’t writing a review. He was complaining about how the iOS4 update screwed up his hitherto loved iPhone 3G. As you have always said (and as he alluded to), of what use are features or additional functions if the user experience is a pain?

    So far as I can see, it seems that his iPhone 3G is either faulty or the update procedure went awry somewhere. He probably needs to attempt a fresh install or have his device replaced.

    He has written about his experience – and even if he’s the only one who has been so bitten, his complaints are valid. Don’t be too quick to bite him. He spent money on that device.

    At least now, we have evidence from comparing his experience with that of others that iOS4 is not by default problematic on the iPhone 3G. By providing this comparison here, iPhone 3G owners who have been thinking of upgrading can feel better about doing it.

  8. “UK Sees ‘Tiny’ Amount of iPhone 4 Returns”. This is the head line in one of the news item yesterday on mobile-review and pocketlint. Despite all the troubles propergated by Tech users of the iphone 4, ordinary users who bought the iphone are not returning it back to Apple for refund. WHy? The iphone4 return is not more than what you’ll get from any other handsets in the UK. Reason, may be because the issues were overhyped because it is Apple. Or there is no problem in ordinary users or the problem was not big enough to distort ordinary use of the phone by the users on the street.

    What the hands-on-experience of the Author shows is that the ios4 is a very bad OS. Barely use-able. But I beg to say that he was melodramatic. And was too critical. My iphone 3g never gave me those problems. Sometimes there was some lag. Barely. But overall the user experience actually improved. And the added features only endeared me more to ios4.

    Iphone 3 has 128 Mbyte of RAM and iphone 3gs has about 256 Mbyte of RAM. Each has their CPU clocked at 600 megahertz. And I am sure that was why Apple disabled multi-tasking on the iphone 3g. Only the iphone 3gs and iphone 4 can multi-task. I can’t whine much because the added UI and features on the ios4 is enough to keep me glued to my phone for a couple of more months before I upgrade.

    Perhaps the author expected 2x faster speed after the install. Then the 3gs would have fitted him more. Or perhaps the iphone 4. Or maybe he is a Tech guy. Whatever, I do not agree with him!!

  9. @Yomi. Thanks for pointing those salient areas to me. My advise to him is that all hope isn’t lost. He doesn’t need to have his device replaced. he should simply restore his device via itunes to the original software that came with the phone. ios 2.2 I think. The process is long, so he shouldn’t be in a hurry and touch any thing before the restore. I think I spent almost 45 minutes, or about an hour during my upgrade to ios 4 and system back-up with re-syncing.

  10. @Bayoabu. To add to your statement about all these iphone 4 brouhaha and ios 4, APple is scheduling a conference tomorrow (Friday). All the iphone 4 issues would be addressed. I should stream it life. ANd by the way ios 4.1 beta is out already to the developers world. Maybe the authors problem may be addressed when the final version of ios 4.1 is out on itunes! A little patience, my dear.

  11. ios 4.01 is out already. it corrects the bar signal display issues. And correctly displays the correct bar according to the new algorithm by Apple to correctly display the signal bar.

    ios 4.1 would be out soon. Let’s wait till 4 or 5 to hear what Apple has to say to all the issues on the iphone 4 in their press conference.

  12. I have been watching Apple’s Steve Jobs live on CNN and on engadget live blog. Explanation makes lots of sense. Free bumper for all iphone 4 users. ” ….we want to make all of our users happy. If you don’t know that about Apple, you don’t know Apple. We love making our users happy.”

    “In the early days of the iPhone 3GS return rates were 6%… below the average, we were happy with that… so for the iPhone 4? You think half the people must be returning their phones with what you read online… well it’s 1.7% — less than a third of the 3GS returns.”

    As I said before, the iphone 4 related problems have been overblown and over hyped just because it is APPLE!

  13. In my opinion I feel the reception issue is more of AT&T.

    I noticed on Engadget blog that Steve used AT&T for the test and when i saw him test BB 9700 i quickly collected one from a friend and griped it the same way but nothing happened.

    I have decided to wait till I see an iPhone 4 tested with a Nigeria sim.

    To be candid, Apple has tried.

  14. Some of you guys are just impossible. When the iPhone gets inordinate hype, it isn’t that the iPhone has “been overblown and over hyped just because it is Apple”. But when the same media that gave it good coverage now take a critical look at the iPhone 4’s widely acknowledged reception issues, its a case of the issue having “been overblown and over hyped just because it is APPLE!”

    People hate being lied to, except when its Apple doing the lying. Enjoy your iPhones, guys. I’m not hating. Just my two cents.

  15. @bosun99uk. Yes, I agree with you., APple has tried.

    @FE. “People hate being lied to..” Just to remind you that Apple didn’t tell any lie. They did not deny that there was a problem with the iphone 4. If there was no problem, then why deliver Bumpers free of charge (FOC) to iphone 4 buyers? Or requesting a return of the phones with full refund?

    If the phone was so bad and the antenna issue was so bad, people who bought the iphone 4 would be returning it in droves. Which has never been the case.

    A research done in the UK by pocket lint goes essentially; “UK Sees ‘Tiny’ Amount of iPhone 4 Returns” To elucidate, the return of iphone 4s by buyers in the UK was not different from returns of other phones by other manufacturers.

    If you followed Apple’s news conference yesterday then this figure would mean something to you; In the US, only 1.7% of iphone 4 buyers returned their phone for refund. To quote Steve Jobs; 10:22AM yesterday, “In the early days of the iPhone 3GS return rates were 6%… below the average, we were happy with that… so for the iPhone 4? You think half the people must be returning their phones with what you read online… well it’s 1.7% — less than a third of the 3GS returns.”

    So, my dear, what I really think on the iphone 4 reception issue is that it has been over blown by the media because of Apple being invoved. Yes, Apple being involved. Motorolla, HTC and even Nokia has poked fun at Apple on account of the issue. The man in the streets that bought the iphone 4 are still using it and everyday use of the phone has never been compromised. Only 0.55% of buyers complained to Apple stores or AT&T in the US. Only 1.7% returned the phones. Except you want to tell me that 98.7% of the 3 million people that bought the iphone 4 in 3 weeks have been hypnotized by Apple, then you make no point. I think they love their device. Not all iphone 4s have the antenna problem. And those that do, A free bumper settles the problem!

  16. mobilitynigeriaN members can look at this Youtube video on the iphone 4; It is very instructive. If you bought it, you don’t like it, just return it. Otherwise the media should just stop over hyping it. I am actually sick of all these talk and talk about the iphone 4. Giving Steve Jobs and Apple more publicity. And mind you, Steve Jobs/APPLE strives on this kind of cheap publicity. CNN was full of announcement and breaking news on the iphone 4 yesterday. BBCworld were not left out. They interviewed people in London after the Steve Jobs’ conference. Two out of three interviewed claim that they have no issues with their phone but that they would still collect the free bumper. Of course, it is free! Awoof no dey run belly!!

    The ordinary everyday users are not complaining. Even if you hold an iphone 4 in a certain way to induce the “death grip” in a lab or in press, Does it neccesarily diminish its everyday usability? To make calls? to browse the internet? To play/work with apps? To watch video, listen to music and podcast? To twitter, facebook, y! messenger, Epicurious (Recipe) and so on. The users seem not to mind. 98.3% of 3 million is a large number of people that have stuck with their iphone 4s. Please just let them be!

  17. Heads up! Volker’s experience with iOS4 on his iPhone 3G may not be a rare occurence afterall. If you have similar experience with iOS4 on your iPhone 3G, here’s help for you.

    From DailyMobile:

    Its well known that iOS4 slows down the iPhone 3G a lot and almost makes the phone useless. To remedy the sluggish performance (or at least one cause of it) go to “Settings – General – Home Button – Spotlight Search – deselect every option” and this will stop background indexing on the phone. Several users reported that the fix showed immediate results on the iPhone 3G. Its worth a try!

    Source: Guide: Make iPhone 3G faster on iOS4

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