No new text tones in iOS 4.2 for iPhone 3GS -- why?

iPhone 4.2 Text Tones

We mentioned this back during the betas, but it's worth a mention again as many iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS owners out there finished their iOS 4.2 update yesterday only to discover something missing -- the new text tones! Yes, for some reason Apple has chosen to only make those available on iPhone 4. No iPhone 4, no new text tones.

But why, you ask? We're wondering the same thing. We know this can't be performance-related, that's for sure. This makes us curious about what an email response from Steve Jobs would look like on the matter.

(Not that the new text tones are anything to write home about -- check out the video after the break if you want to hear them in action.)

Any iPhone 3G or iPhones 3GS owners out there feel left out in the cold and care to speculate?

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Andrew Wray

Andrew Wray is a Salt Lake City, Utah based writer who focuses on news, how-tos, and jailbreak. Andrew also enjoys running, spending time with his daughter, and jamming out on his guitar. He works in a management position for Unisys Technical Services, a subsidiary of Unisys Corporation.

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No new text tones in iOS 4.2 for iPhone 3GS -- why?


That video is misleading. If you'd just let the tones play all the way though, people would realize how worthless they are as text tones. Trust me 3G/S aren't missing out on anything. I'm sticking to Tri-tone :(

My gf feels left out in the cold because my old 3GS I gave her don't have them. I do have them on my iPhone 4 but don't care to much for them. They sound like something from Tom & Jerry cartoons. We are however grateful to apple for findmyiphone on our iPhones. Thank you Apple.

It must slow down the device one nano second longer and for Apple that is a no go,
I have an iPod Touch 3rd generation and I do not see air play is also not in iOS 4.2 for older devices ?

In my opinion this is just Apple's way of increasing the feature-gap between the latest iPhone and older models.
The more the older models retain new features that are released, the less incentive people have to buy the latest version.
Apple tend to justify these decisions with technical or performance-related explanations, but in this case I think they would have a hard time doing so.
It's a shame as this particular feature is so minor that it is hardly going to make someone choose an iPhone 4 over a 3GS (if indeed this is the reason this feature was excluded)

In this case 3GS users should not feel left out in the cold. You are not missing out. The new tones are all CRAP. The same as most of the old ones.
It's pretty sad that Apple only puts one or two (at most) decent ring tones or text tones on their phones.

3G/S owners have nothing to fret about. The new tones are garbage. All of them. I would have preferred Apple leave them off the update...that way I could replace the 3Mbs of space they use with a crappy song or something.

Sad sad sad...
Now is there any new feature left in iOS 4.2 that can be used on an iPhone 3G (except for the performance improvements)...

I'm only guessing, but I'd imagine that space might be a consideration. A significant number of features have been added to both the 3G & 3Gs since they first came out. At some point, they're bound to run up against a wall or risk pissing customers off by eating up user memory with stuff that can't be deleted if it's not wanted.

As horrible as they are, Jobs believes that if the 3gs doesn't get them, everyone will instantly upgrade to a 4. Bad assumption, Steve.

Seems most do not like them and while I agree they are not great it is something. No where near being able to make them in garage band which is what they should allow us to do.

I have an iPhone 4 and it's a shame for those who desire this new feature not to be able to use it. If Apple is going to update and not allow the updates to be applied to one model older than the curent model then they could at least allow you to perform a full upgrade each year to purchase the iPhone. I love the iPhone and if they allowed it I would purchase one each year. An early upgrade can be done every year and a half, for an iPhone but to get the full discounted price you must wait two years. Give us a break Apple. I think more people would purchase iPhones if they would allow a full upgrade each year.

ugh. that's what I hated about Android. the answer to almost every problem was "just root your phone" (even though that wouldn't actually SOLVE the problem..)

These things are garbage.
First off, who wants a text tone over 1-2 seconds? Most of the new ones are 5-7 seconds, that's slightly ridiculous. Reminds me when everyone got their RAZr's and put whole songs as their text tone.
Second, who would want to use these? The only decent one is "shire," but the only acceptable place to use that one would be at comic-con.

Careful what you wish for -- the new text tones are terrible, extremely long. Ideally, you could roll-your-own without jailbreaking your device.

Stupidly, Apple has made those tones non-user-changeable. Ideally we could add or subtract tones ourselves instead of being handed them from on high. Same with the wallpaper settings. Why do I have to import my photos into a separate area instead of moving pics that make good wallpaper to the "wallpaper" area of the Settings app?
I'm a long-time Apple user, back to the late 80's, but sometimes every company makes stupid decisions. This is one of them.

The new tones didn't impress me much. Of all features the great iPhone has, the tones are disappointing.

Why are they so freaking long? Man oh man. Most of these are ring tones if anything. I will be pretty embarrassed having one of these cheesy text tones go off in public

I like the noir textone, I use it to differentiate my boyfriends texts for the 100s of others I get, its nice to have that different sound amist the sound of the bell textone I use as the default.

I cannot imagine a good reason, at all. I mean, Apple/ATT are still selling the 3GS. Selling a feature-less device. Why? I think only to get people buying the iPhone 4. But, this has left a very bitter taste in my mouth and I am now, more than ever, really, really thinking about making the jump to VRZN and a Droid. I don't care that the tones are stupid/annoying/too long. The fact of the matter is, I feel slighted.

Having recently acquired a blackberry, it makes me realize how truly neglectful Apple is when it comes to device customization. Imagine my joy when I discovered how stupidly simple it was to add a home made ring tone on my Bold. It didn't make me like RIM more - instead, it just made me like Apple a little less. Such a basic basic feature should not be ignored through 4 generations of devices.

3G / 3GS owners, consider yourselves lucky that you don't have to be exposed to those CR8P-TASTIC tones. Apple has really lost it. This is the best APPLE can come up with?? APPLE?? These guys INVENTED the home computer, and after years in the business, these "tones" are the best they can manage??

Can we say iOS FRAGMENTATION!. Two currently sold devices having different features that are not based on hardware differences ie facetime.

God those new text tones are horrible!!!!! 3GS owners are not missing a thing, believe me.
I want a text TONE that's professional and short. Not a movie sound effect which is clearly what they gave us in 4.2.

The answer is as simple as this:
When a new model comes out, Apple has to decrease the value of the previous model and the only way they can do that is buy reducing the amount of features that the previous model gets in comparison to the newer model. Think of it as a class system.
iPhone 4 is First Class
iPhone 3GS is Business Class
iPhone 3G is Economy Class
Apple must do this to ensure that current model owenrs get the most value of of their product since they upgraded. So while the 3GS can obviously support new ringtones, Apple purposely removed that feature to slightly decrease its market value. Otherwise, it would be too comparable to its current model. Hence the need to upgrade to latest hardware wouldn't be as compelling. Also, Apple removed a fairly useless feature that wouldn't really anger current 3GS owners - potentially turning away future upgrades. You gotta givie it to Apple - they struck a delicate balance perfectly.

I'm using an iPhone 3GS and the new text tones were the only thing that I was looking forward to. I mean other than that, what "major" add-ons were there in iOS 4.2 for 3Gs? Would love to know the reason why. :/

I have a 3GS and was looking forward to the new text tones. Several people in my office now have iPhones and we all have the same text alert tone and it's getting to be like it was back in the early days of cell phones where they all sounded the same and everyone was checking their phone at the same time when a call came in.
Reading the bad reviews here, though, I guess I'm fine without the new tones. Plus, the other iPhone users here have the 4G, so they'll maybe change their tones.
It is curious to me why Apple would leave something minimal like that out of the upgrade, though. I understand big things like FaceTime. But not this. Weird.

First the 'Free "Find My Phone", but not for 3GS BS', now this?
Why are they deliberately diss-ing us 3Gx'rs?
Can this be engineered to be some form of (misplaced) "incentive" to throw out our perfectly good, "death-grip"-challenged phones for new, design-flawed phones?
Forget about it. Bite me.

Why isn't it available for the 3GS? Because they need to upgrade and stop being so cheap! Give me your money, LEMMINGS!
Sent from my iPhone 4

I have no problem upgrading my iPhone if I could do it each year. Unfortunately you have to wait 2 years. It's not right to treat loyal customers like this, there's no reason 3GS couldn't get the tones, whether they're good or not is irrelevant. We should all be treated equal, not based on generation of phone.

This latest decision by Apple not to include 3G/3GS community only strengthens the reason to jailbreak the phone. They (Apple) obviously don't seem to be that concerned about the jailbreakers or people who bought their phones. Apple continues to show how good it is in releasing just enough crumbs to keep everyone interested in their products.

For me it's not the exclusion of the tones themselves that irritates the 'ell outta me, but rather the fact that something so minor was excluded in an effort to no longer support a product that Apple's still selling to the public and actively. This is the straw that's led me to no longer support the company in terms of purchasing any future products from them.

My girlfriend got the tones on her iPhone 4. They are pretty sucky... I think the biggest reason for this update was for the iPad and to give you a reason to buy an apple tv with AirPrint

I admit it, I'm a cell phone junkie! Switching phones every few weeks until I got the iPhone 4. I fell in love with the retina screen, I was sold. Learning the iPhone IOS was a breeze, learning to live with a handicapped phone was something I just wasn't going to do, so hence the jailbreak.
I wonder what features the iPhone 5 will have that they won't officially offer the 4? It doesn't really matter because the following to Apple
products is unreal and the consumers keep
Apple is going to ride this wave for a while, just keep your eye over your shoulder Jobs, the competition isn't sleeping at the wheel any more.

Monique-- I agree it would be nice to get a yearly upgrade for the iPhone. However, I'm wondering if this AT&T is more to blame for that than Apple. AT&T has to subsidize every iPhone they sell so they are going to ensure they recoup their losses by getting 1 1/2 to 2 years of payments from you/us. I wish they would at least offer full upgrades yearly for the main line, like vzw does. I would definately upgrade every year.

I'm so confused why people are saying they don't have text tones. I literally bought an 8gb 3GS three days ago and updated yesterday and I have text tones. all I do is go into my contacts, edit a person and it gives me a text tone option :(

People are referring to the new text tones that came out in yesterday's update. They are only on the iPhone 4 and they aren't any good.

Make your own tones which is what I did.Get a media converter,find a cool tone,convert it to correct format and then ssh and replace those awful stock tones.

I have both a 3G and 3GS and the blatant disregard that Apple has been showing this last year for anyone for 2010 product owners has me more than halfway convinced that it may be time to drop Apple and their products altogether.

Seriously!!! I am really starting to hate Apple and regret buying an iPhone. I'm over it. Jobs can suck my balls!!!

Appalled 3GS user myself.
Can't understand how this is supposed to motivate us to buy iPhone 4s. It's just aggrevated me more than anything else.
To me this seems like an invitation to jailbreak. But maybe that's just me.

Jailbreak, get ToneFXs, create tone using toneFX creator, it will then import it into your iPhone, voila custom SMS tones

I'm pissed!! And I'm a huge Apple Fanboy, very disappointed. It now pushes everyone with a 3GS to Jailbreak, well done Apple!!!

Geeze, that's a little immature, isn't it? Here's a tip: Don't by the damn phone until it has a feature set you can live with.
Consider any free upgrades you may or not be getting down the road as a bonus. Because you didn't pay for them; and you were never promised them.

I think your response is Immature AND it would be counterproductive if it was the way u ran your business. I am the customer, the one whos money you want. If you don't please me, I spend my money elsewhere where it is appreciated. Elitists who believe you will eat what they feed you, eventually find themselves with nothing. If you told me this about your product, I'd tell you to kiss my a** which is what i'm going to tell Apple for their neglect of my needs.

@gquaglia that's funny since you're on The iPhone Blog right now, indicating that yes, you are looking back.
But it's ok bro. We can still drink High Life and high five right? chest bumps gquaglia but you are weaker than me and failed to absorb said chest bump Oh dear!

First off apple would like to boost their iphone4 sales by forcing people to upgrade if they care for this feature in the real world that is called apple being one shady motherfu**er. I concur with others that this is going to dramatically increase the jailbreaking game or even better switching to other phones such as the android. I am disappointed in apple. I told myself I wouldn't switch or jailbreak but this slap in the face by such a money hungry company surely changes ones mind.

When I got the email about the update I thought: "MY PRAYERS HAVE BEEN ANSWERED." This is one think I hated about my iPhone. This device is supposed to be one step removed from curing cancer but I can't set custom text tones for different people. This was a simple thing on the Motorola Razr, Slvr etc. But now I cant do this on the BEST phone in the world. What a crock.
So when I read this and installed the update I thought my life was gonna change. It didn't.
Now I think I'm even madder!!!! arghhhhhh
How to jailbreak this thing again ....

I'm a 3G owner n I like the increase in performance compared to say iOs 4.0 but that's still like comparing a turtle and a turtle with a broken leg....
n steve jobs is on a salary that most of us could only dream of, if u wer on that kind of money would you have any shame about not puttin sh**ty ringtones in for SMS tones?

I have the 3GS and seriously it just makes me feel that it's more and more left out compared to the iPhone 4 and even the new iPod touch...I mean, asking for more text tones is just a simple request, right? I like variety and most phones (even those cheapie ones) can be customized to have hundreds of sms alerts without having to be jailbroken or something... and honestly I'm tired of using the tri-tone as my sms alert!

Im just feel like iphone 4 owners are apple'customers and 3g, 3gs are not anymore, im not jailbreak my iphone because i wanna use it as official, like if u jailbreak your ip you can get 1000 text tone if u want, im just so sad now, just wanna go to apple store and swear to them :/

I cant believe these things aren't for the 3GS. I understand they want you to buy the 4 and I'm sorta into that but ATT won't let me. So I guess I am just OUT OF LUCK!

They have already left out enough features on the new update and the iPhone 4 does have its advantages over the 3GS but of all things to short us on, its the text tones? I see absolutely no reason why they would do that. You think I want to buy an iPhone 4 for the text tones now? Total nonsense. Apple is creating unhappy phone users, not influencing us to upgrade. How about you fix that call drop problem now?

THE reason I updated was for the new text tones... I hate the old ones. If it's not performance (and it most certainly is not), why? It really makes me angry. They still sell 3Gs iPhones, they should support them where possible.

I have iPhone 3G & updated to 4.2...the Phone still lags in some areas. Like going to Setting and photos: they still need to fix the performance issues with iPhone 3G

According to the Apple website, the new text tones were supposed to be for the iPhone. At the bottom of the page, it says the update is compatible with iPhone 3G, 3GS and 4. No where on the website does it say that the new tones are only for iPhone 4.

When will they stop with this crap they call "break-through" when will the add the voice navigation to the Maps application?

I'm the head of the technology dept. For a large tele-communications company in Utah. For the last 14 months I have been lobbying to switch or sales dept. From p.c. Based laptops to macs and IPhones. I was able to get three board members to buy the 3Gs and see how much better things would go. I updated my personal iPhone yesterday and seen that not all updated items are for my phone or our 3 test phones, that are still under contract. So this Wednesday at our weekly board meeting I'm going to start pushing for the androids and HP laptops. Apple I have lost faith in you and you have lost 60+ laptop sales and at least 200 iPhone sales. You will still sell the 3Gs but once that money is in your hand it's "sorry you are stuck with the product we are rapidly terminating" those at the top of apple making poor decisions like this must not be getting any news from the real world. Things are tight for the rest of us. I know I can't just pay me att contract off and upgrade or just go by the new iPhone 4 and if I had that kind of money to waste I would be using an android right now.

The thing that really pisses me off is that the iPhone could have the best features ever if apple wasn't holding it back. Go on and keep pushing people to buy the iPhone 4, and eventually we'll all get androids. Happy, Jobs?

I think everything should be customizable in the iPhone & that's when it will be the best cell phone on the market, but untill then it isn't.

It was one that Jobs seemed to be the antithesis of the power and money hungry side of the technological explosion in the eighties and nineties. The way that apple is now run would be unethical to say the least. Manipulating customers or using the stick and carrot in front of the "donkey" ie us, will only take you so far and will then leave you with far fewer customers... Pull your finger out Jobs and start looking after the customers you have.

I'm gonna sell my 3gs and go with the droid. Apple is pushing customers away by aggravating them. If they still sell the damn 3gs why can't they have the same "upgrades"? eff them!

This is very disappointing . =| I was really looking forward 2 some new text tones 2 set 4 my contacts with this new upgraded version but unfortunetly not...that sucks @$$ !

This is absolutely ridiculous. What kind of business ethic is this? I was only marginally angry when I realized that they were making some Mobile Me features free for the iPhone 4, but... sound files? What's next, -disabling- features on the iPhone 4 to make you buy an iPhone 5 this time next year? Absolutely ridiculous.

Would really making the new SMS tones exclusive to iphone 4 increase its sales? Just make the current 3G and 3GS customers happy so they will continue with iphone in the future...

Yes I think jobs wants to keep the profit margins high by making older iPhone models useless, I hope he gets sued by a lot of unhappy & betrayed customers so he learns his lesson the hard way

Thats it!!! Android here i come!!These over selective bias updates are BS,The Apple has gone Sour!
Steve Jobs can take his Apple and stuff it right up his @ss,insecure control freak geek!
Thank GOD for Verizon.
Leaving Apple in 2 weeks and never looking back.

Since when have we become so "entitled" that we have to nit pick over picking text tones? i still love my iphone, it does so much. So what if i cant have more text tones, yes i looked for them and was disapointed, but i am still able to choose text tones for important people. I still have a phone that does so much more than the average phone. It still has apps that cover my needs as a wife, mother, and person. I am still connected in every way. When I think back to my nokia from 10 years ago, this phone is just absoultly amazing!!!

I love my iPhone 3GS too but I understand where evetone is coming from. It's not about more text tones, it's about not being ignored after we have invested in this product. We would like updates as well as iPhone 4 users

It's a phone. How is it an investment unless you are expecting it to somehow appreciate in value? And no, new text tones won't do that. Of you want to be treated like you have an iPhone4, get am iPhone4.

Like what they say "customer is always right", even these little things will make faithful customers very upset & let's not compare 10 yrs ago's technology with today' wouldn't make any sense.

that's NOT fair.
i'm so sick of the same dang text tones ALL THE TIME.
i've heard them for two years.
and then my friend (who has an iphone 4) said that there were new text tones.
so i plugged in my phone to itunes & it didn't work... because i have an iphone 3gs.

Apple and ATT just plain Suck, I cant wait for my contract to end with these money hungry bastards.

Apple products are known for their superiority in performance, quality, reliability, aesthetics and for never cutting corners. That is why I was surprised to learn that my iPhone 3GS, despite having updated software, does not have the new text tones. I hope that this was an oversight on Apple's part, and not an intentional and misguided attempt to incent the purchase of a new iphone 4, as the iphone 4 is already superior to the 3GS in other capacities. This feels like a cheap ploy that one of Apple's competitors would engage in. Apple is better than this.

My iPhone 3G is still slow & sluggish eventhough I have the iOS Apple is really responsible for this

As an iOS app developer of course I own an iPhone, 3GS specifically. Others on my team have 4's. I love the functionality it provides; that being the main reason I was drawn to this platform. Yes, I was a little disappointed when I discovered that the new (still unchangeable) text tones were only available for iPhone 4, and yes it somewhat irks me that text tones aren't customizable like ringtones but wow, I've heard few people whine this much about such frivolous things. I mean really?
Any company can make a bad decision, including Apple, but they've consistently made great decisions on key points. Is it really prudent to dismiss the major benefits iPhone offers because of something small it falls short on?
@OldManHoover While I'm in a small company rather than a large corporation, I completely understand the business aspect and the fact that money doesn't grow on trees. Did you try contacting Apple about their Corporate EPP discounts? That would help offset the cost somewhat and apply at least an additional year of future-proofing to your hardware. What other updates did the iPhone 4 receive that the 3GS didn't other than text tones and Find My iPhone? Find My iPhone has always been a premium service of mobileme and the fact they now offer it free of charge to customers who pay more for the latest phone makes perfect sense. Several companies give freebies for higher-end purchases, Apple shouldn't be knocked for that. Did you seriously change platforms just because of some missing text tones?

Of all the things to complain about, you decided this because of text tones..? I have a 3G, but I understood what I was buying beforehand. I am really confused about how people are so angry about this.

I looked forward to having extra ringtones for the simple reason that I work in an open plan office and we ALL have iphones and exactly the same text tones. I was just hoping that we could customise our text tones and then I would know when its a text on my phone! Im still waiting, wishing, hoping, waiting ...

You bought the same phone as everyone else, and yet you want to be different. Think about that.

Hey, FYI if you want I've uploaded some of my custom Iphone text tones to my site for fun. It's a bitch jailbreaking the phone, but I figured I'd share the files I have with yal'.
Just started the site so it's pretty barren.

Well, who cares! With any luck at all, Jobs will be dead and in Hölle soon. Perhaps Apple will get a new über thinker to replace his worthless, mangy hide.

I have no idea why they cannot let you customize your SMS ringtones. First of all, the ringtones provided are the worst ones I ever heard. My grandmother has better ringtones on her Jitterbug phone. Secondly, the SMS text notification also needs to be improved. If you toggle between texts you hardly notice someone replying back to your text messages,

what a complete disgrace that you cannot assign your own sms Tone in the iphone. yes the 3GS iphone did not get their extra few lousy sms tones that Apple so generously dished out but seriously, we did not miss out on much they are still sounds that are only good for you if you wear a clown suit in the circus.
what we all need is complete SMS custom tones, just like the phone call sounds are customisable with our own. Come on we can send a man to the moon but its apparently "too hard" to do this?

I can't wait for my current contract to run out, I have a 3GS, first Apple product I have bought. I find their attitude has made me wish I had never gone with it. Apple want to much control, well I won't be going down the Apple path from now on.

Same here wish my 3GS had more text message tones hurry up apple as otherwise not be upgrading to ur phones no more

ugh! my contract isn't up for quite a while, and i have the iphone 3gs. i'm SICK of the old text tones for the iphone.. they're so annoying! my friend has an iphone 4 and she got the new tones. i want them soo badly. but i heard the iphone 4 isn't all that great... hard decision..!

Oh boo hoo, I'm sure the starving people of the world, not to mention the rebels fighting for their lives in Libya could sympathize with your agony of having so few text alerts to choose from.

Hey Jason, do you know how much that hurts us that you commented in an Apple blog that anyone who cares about their text ring tones must be shallow and uneducated? It's ok. We know you're just as frustrated as we are about this blatant slap in the face from Apple. And that you get more pleasure from a Steve Jobs podcast then from videos of rebels fighting in Libya. We're all addicted to the sweet nectar of Apple but at the same time we hate ourselves for it since we feel like those dumb abused girlfriends "sticking it out" when things like this text tones situation happen. But we musn't attack each other Jason. Dumb abused girlfriends stick together Jason. Together.

I just got the new iphone 4 and am still working out how to use everything. Came across the fact that you can't get different message tones and think that is rather LAME. You can get your own personal ring tones but not message tones :S makes no sense to me. Although I do like everything else about the phone so far. People get text messages more often then they get phone calls so I would think it only wise to give texting tones the same options as calling tones. Apple should let their consumers have more freedom, the iphone seems like a phone that can set out peoples different personalities with the many case options, backgrounds and what not...why not do the same with the sounds?? Bit silly if you ask me. But as I said other than that I am fairly happy with the iphone ^_^

this is ridiculous. the update should allow the new text tones. the same noises get annoying after a while. i like to change up what im hearing. other phones not created by apple you can make your own text tones without jailbreaking your phone. i don't want to jailbreak my iphone. i just wont be upgrading to more apple products if they don't treat all of their customers equally and failrly. they shouldn't deny 3gs users the ability to have more text tones.

It's quite sad. I just noticed that iPhone 4 has the new tones today. Funny because everyone else I know with an iPhone 4 still uses tri-tone anyway.

I have to say that for the past few of hours i have been hooked by the impressive articles on this site. Keep up the great work.