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.