How's your iPhone 3G on iOS 4 working?


It's been a little while now since iOS 4 was released so we thought we'd check back and see how it's working (or not) for those of you with the 2008 iPhone 3G?

My iPhone 3G (above, yeah, cracked perhaps a tad poetically) really chugged away at first, but after a clean install (not restored from backup) and turning off Spotlight Search, it's working much better now. Of course, if you've gotten used to an iPhone 4 or iPhone 3GS, it's obviously slower but if its your one and only -- or newly acquired hand-me-down, it's almost as fast as it was under iOS 3.x.

Let us know your experience, and if you've come across any other speed tips we'd love to hear them.

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

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

How's your iPhone 3G on iOS 4 working?


My boyfriend's 3G is really slow and dragging since I installed iOS 4 on his phone...apps take awhile to load..safari is slow..he gets so mad at his phone he wants to throw it off the balcony.

My 3G was so awful after installing iOS4 that it basically forced my hand into getting the iPhone 4 I would have purchased anyway. Just made me get it on launch day instead of September/October timeframe when (hopefully) the kinks would have been worked out.
It would take 8 seconds to load the Messages app every, single, time.

My 3G is still at 3.1 but got experience with 2 (unhappy) ppl with 3G incredibly slow.
Disabling Spotlight and restoring didn't change their experience.
Hope for em that 4.1 update will bring some fixes, hurry up Apple! :)

It was a nightmare installing it on my moms phone. I lost all her contacts and it made he phone super slow. So slow she complained to me about it and the ended up going to at&t and ordering an iPhone 4. iOS 4 kills the iPhone 3G thats why my wifes 3G is still on 3.1.3

It's pretty slow, but running better than after first updating. I've done resets, had to turn off all Spotlight searching and been diligent about closing out Safari windows. Even with those things there's definitely a "sticky" factor where typing will seize occasionally, screens won't swipe cleanly or quickly, and apps will sometimes load slowly. What I've done is really a kluge to get this to function. A real software update to cure the woes is definitely necessary.

I appear to be in the minority from what I've read, but I have to say it's running great. Right from the start - never full-restored, haven't disabled spotlight - no lag, screen swiping is smooth, app opening animation is smooth. After about two weeks, I jailbroke to enable multi-tasking and it still works perfectly smooth.
I hope to get an iPhone 4 on Friday when it releases here in Canada, but I'll have no qualms about handing my 3G down to someone.

Mine 3G is perfectly fine on ios4.. No lag whatsoever.. Just waiting for iphone4 to be available here in India... Will keep my 3G too :)

My iPhone 3G is painfully slow, despite the numerous things I've tried to relieve the obviously overburdened device. Unfortunately, staying with AT&T is not an option for me in the long run, since I can't get reception in the places I need it the most, and I'm not entirely positive that upgrading to the 4G will solve those problems. Did I mention that I'm left handed? There's another problem exacerbating my decision.
I'm tempted to jump ship entirely to a different device, but nothing on the market really meets the "all in one" capabilities I'm looking for.

I have an office full of iphone 3g that I manage. It has made them almost unusable. The apps crash all the time now they are so slow to type and email on. I have to keep deleting their exchange account and re-adding it to get it to speed up a little. I would have been mad but apple should have kept the 3g from the ios4 update.

I updated right after 4.0 came out and for the first few hours it was excellent. Better than ever. Then my phone started freezing on nearly every app and messaging would take a good 8-10 seconds just to show anything. I downgraded back to 3.1.3, but gave it another shot after 4.0.1 was released. Much to my dismay, the problems returned but this time tenfold. I could type a 300-500 character text and not have any of it show up until I reached the ending period. I could hear my phone struggling to keep up. I never actually did a clean install of 4.0 and wasn't aware you could turn off spotlight, but I doubt it will fix anything. The major thing I use my phone for is texting and the phone. If those things barely work, why update? It's nice to have categories but I've dealt without them this whole time, why be bothered?
I won't be updating to a 3gs or in iPhone 4 anytime soon since I am on a family plan and my parents don't want to extend the contract. They want to go month to month now and screw what I want. Enjoy all your iPhone 4s, I won't be getting one for a while.

It was PAINFUL under 4.0 but is vastly improved under 4.0.1. For which I am grateful as we were waiting for the white iPhone 4 and now will just be waiting for the iPhone 5. No point in purchasing a 4 when the 5 is six months away.

My 3G was slow after the iOS4 upgrade, but after 2 hard resets (press and hold lock/menu button for 20-30 secs) it started running fine, and actually felt faster than before the iOS4 upgrade.

It is painful how slow the 3g is. I wish I had a developer account to find out if 4.1 is any better.
Rene, You should do a poll to see how many people have the issue.

Apps load slow, battery life is about half of what it use to be. Even more glad I switched to Android in November and only use it as an iPod Touch.

Hey Rene, I know that using your old broken 3G might be imperative for articles sometimes, but in case it isn't, if you go to we'll pay you at least $43 for it, and pick up the shipping whatever state you may live in!

iOS 4 ruined my 3G. I wasn't planning to pick up an iPhone 4 until maybe sometime this fall, but after about a month I could barely stand to use my 3G w/iOS 4, so snagged an iPhone 4 at Best Buy.
Admittedly I didn't do a clean install or take any measures like that to try & improve it, but I with plans to upgrade to an iPhone 4 anyway, I decided to just pull the trigger a little early instead of mess w/my 3G.

My 3G has been awful under 4.0. It actually feels like a different, vastly inferior phone. The 'trick' of doing 2 hard resets works for a few hours but it gradually slows down to a crawl over time. Other 'fixes' like shutting down Safari tabs when you stop browsing the internet are also just temporary fixes.
It just seems to me that the 3G simply does NOT have the hardware required to run 4.0 (which makes sense, given how old that model is).
All this would be fine if:
a) We were warned that 4.0 might have a devastating impact on the usability of the 3G before we were pushed into installing it.
b) We were given the option to downgrade to 3.1 again after installation.
As none of these have happened, the whole experience has tarnished my opinion of Apple, especially since they have been completely silent on the issue. And it IS an issue, if you take a quick glance at the 3G forums on the Apple site.
I'm fortunate that I only have a month left on my contract but as they only phased the 3G out a month or so ago, there will be a LOT of unhappy 3G customers out there suffering with an OS that is simply not suited to their model of iPhone.

I did a clean install too. It was much faster. But, after a couple of weeks the old lame, slow iPhone was back.
Actually there is a simple solution: Apple (Steve) should stop beeing stubborn and allow us to disable Spotlight and background processes of Mail (as soon as you turn on Push-Services Mail does work im the back!).
Both would make the iPhone 3G and iOS4 a great solution. Now, it's ..annoying.

My 3G was dreadfully sluggish long before iOS4. Little has changed with the upgrades. I wonder if it is because I retain many years of calendar and contact data - my mobile memory..... My new iPad shows me what iOS performance should be.
Reluctant to turn off Spotlight as this is a feature I use many times a day

Impossibly slow, I had to downgrade... Backgrounder and Circuitous make up for my backgrounding needs.
Folders would be nice to have, but the slowness is a deal breaker... Pretty poor programming if you ask me... Backgrounder makes the whole app run in the background, and it's still not as slow as having just the Twitter app in the background on 4.0.
I doubt I'll ever upgrade it again... Good to know jailbreaking is now 100% legal... Blow me Apple

I've never experienced such a slow phone as my 3G is now. It started of with it just being slow starting apps, but it has begun not being able to open apps. And im not talking about 3. Party apps, but native iPhone apps such as Phone and iPod.
Now im just waiting for friday when the iPhone 4 is released in Denmark (where I live) so i can experience the snappiness again.

listen everyone, Im not sure if I can feel bad for anyone, in my opinion and in my little brain why arent you all trying to uprgade every year,
I purchased iphone 3g at realase for $318 in 08- Sold 3g when i got the 3gs on release date for $325- the 3gs cost me 525- loss:$200
this year I bought iphone 4 at release for $525- then sold 3gs for $350-loss:$175
so thats a total cost of $375 pretty much...I PAY $74 a month with att becuase i dont have the wasteful untlimited texting(beejivve to text) plus a %15 discount w my work... so i save about $30 a month compared to others... $30X12months=$360
Im not sure why people are not doing things this way, its hard for me to feel sorry for you all, stop wasting your money on unlimted texting

Yes, the 3G is blowing it a bit under iOS4, but it still gets the job done.
I am taking an online class at UC Berkeley and I am able to listen to the lectures on my iPhone, and also view the class handouts in iBooks at the same time.
So the iPhone 3G doesn't totally suck.

My wife's 3G is slow and laggy with IOS 4. Does anyone have a link to recover or go back to 3.0 or 3.1? Maybe know where I could go to get it? She's getting the iPhone 4 but the 3G will be handed down to my son..thanks for any response.

My 3G is done, and iOS4 pushed it over the edge. Everything literally takes 7-10 seconds to open and close. Start up times are brutal, and it's always crashing. I may have thrown it a few times out of frustration. But I had my last FML moment w/my 3G last weekend. I ordered the iPhone 4 32Gb. Hopefully it'll get here next week. My 3G is so bad that I'm giving up my jailbreak to get the new iPhone. Just can't take the crap performance anymore.

Hey Rene,
What exactly happened to your 3G?
Mine is just a backup device (glorified iPod Touch), but doesn't seem to run any slower than it did under iOS 3 (which is to say, sluggish when compared to 3GS and 4).

iOS4 was horrible on my 3G after first installing. Did a full restore and things improved for a day, but then it was back to sluggish. I ended up downgrading to 3.1.3. Since I was messing with it (and was out of warranty anyway) I decided to Jailbreak for the first time - been very happy now. Jailbroke 3.1.3 with Backgrounder and a few apps up runs better than 4 with no apps running!

My iPhone3G is chugging along pretty fine with iOS4 It is not noticeably slower than it was with 3.0. Not bad actually for the few added features that come with 4.0. I like it.

With clean install and restore from backup (clean phone is of little use...), it's just fine. Some animations are even smoother than before. Maps are slower and some apps (Splinter Cell, which is horrible anyway) hang a bit.
Just fine. Do you remember the sorry state 3.0 was in on launch? I reviewed my tweets from a year ago and I complained exactly about the same things people whine about now on 4.0.

I updated when the 4.0GM came out. It was absolutely horribly slow (I did a restore). When I got my iP4 on launch day, I did a clean install of my 3G in prep for selling it. I have to say the with the clean install and nothing else loaded I ran great. I ended up selling it to a trend so I will monitor it to see if it starts to slow. If it does I'll help him downgrade to 3.1.3. Or hopefully 4.1 cleans it up a little.

Typing on my 3G with iOS 4 reminds me of the days when using PCAnywhere for DOS on a 14.4k modem! Painfully slow, type, wait, repeat... Regret doing it, still contemplating going back. Have done all the usual things to try to speed it up, disable all elements in Spotlight and make sure all pages are closed in Safari. None of that really did anything. Can you imagine how horrifyingly slow the 3G would be if they enabled wallpapers and multi-tasking?? GOOD LORD! Would be a nightmare.

I upgraded right away, and shortly after it seemed my phone was having significant problems with memory; the phone didn't always ring, and when it did, the screen didn't respond to my sliding to answer. Apps that were "iOS4 tested" crashed frequently. All in all, it was a terrible experience for the two days, until I downgraded back to 3.1.2. I think the baseband update is killing the battery though - operating on Edge with no use, battery went from 81% to 12% in just over two hours. I'm already set on an iPhone 4 when it launches here (in less than 24 hours now!), pretty much covers the need to jailbreak anyway.

I find it interesting how so many people with the same exact hardware in their hand can have such different experiences. Not saying I don't believe it by any means I just really find it interesting.

My 3g is as slow as snot. Really hate need an iPhone 4. But what sped it up was updating to ios 4.0.1 sped it up better. And try not to download the ios 4 apps

I have to say that i didn't had any problems with 4.0 i think is a little faster, i did the JB with the the multitasking and all turned very slow so i decided to disable that and i still like it then i jumped to the 4.0.1 and i think is even a little more faster but for some reason i can't do the JB with redsn0w is just don't work for me it doesn't start process, but in general i like the 4.0.1, obviously you can't compare the 3G with the 3GS and 4 they are faster devices

My 3G is fine with iOS 4 - No real difference for me. I did kill all the Spotlight search functions though.....

my iphone 3g is very slow and i have cold booted and done all the memory enhancements required. Still no luck. I can't believe apple would release and update that slows down a good piece of equipment. I am at the point that i have no choice but to upgrade. Does anyone have any other suggestions on how to speed the iphone 3g up? Maybe a jailbreak would help. Who know?????

A clean install as a new phone still left mine very slow. I am inclined to jailbreak it back to 3.1.2, but that is time consuming, so I need to set aside the time. It is so slow as to be almost unusable at times. Most things on 3.1.2 were at least twice as fast!

Utter garbage. Often times I can't even use the iPhone as a PHONE. I could get a call, press answer, and I can hear the caller in my headset but the phone is still ringing asking me to answer/decline.
Yes, I have done clean install, hard booted, and even avoided safari all together.

This is not only a problem for the 3G. My 3GS is slow too!! Did a restore as new too! Safari is horrible now!! Page rendering is so much slower. What a POS!

Fairly quick after a clean install of ios 4 jailbroke and set my clock speed at 600MHz the speed is in the middle of a 3G and a 3GS.

No need to jailbreak, you can easily downgrade. Find the 3.1.2 or 3.1.3 firmware for your phone (use google), and while in itunes press shift+restore and you will be able to choose that firmware to downgrade. Viola!

My 3G is choppy slow and crashes alot exp if I'm listening to pandora and I get a phone call

Have updated my 3G to iOS 4.0.1 and for some reason the Safari,Messages and iPod applications on my iPhone automatically view as landscape - I have tried a clean restore but still experiencing this problem with these three applications.Any suggestions/help would be greatly appreciated.

I hate it! My gps doesn't work anymore and everything is so slow. I've considered downgrading but I do like the folders. If I could keep the folders and get rid of the performance issues it would be great.
I want an iphone 4 but I'm holding out for the mythical white one. I really don't use my iPhone 3G for much else besides phone calls at the moment. Thank to my iPad.
Like Lance's wife my birthday is next month maybe my husband will get me a new phone too. Even if it is a black one, anything would be beet than my iphone 3G.

Couldn't stand it. I went through
the support forums until I found something covered by Applecare that would get me a replacement phone. Dust behind the glass
qualified and the genius gave me a new one that had not yet been upgraded to iOs 4. I'm much happier now.

I kept my 3G at 3.1.3 and Jailbroken + Unlocked. Now on TMobile with a crap load of Apps. So not worth putting 4.X on it!

My 3Gs is a bit slow on some apps.
When I have my bluetooth headphones on and try to activate the camera, the whole things stutters and freezes up.

3G running iOS4 without multitasking or background images and it is working fine. A little slow sometimes but NO slower than my 3.1.2 device.

A lot of my apps crash and are unplayable now. Photos have a huge chunk of just black and no thumbnails. Everything is a lot slower. It's almost unusable. Still waiting for white iPhone 4

The ONLY solution I could come up with was to downgrade my 3G back to 3.1.2. It was a pain in the neck and took hours. I'm still putting Humpty Dumpty back together again. Stay away from 4.0 unless you have a new iPhone 4.

My wife's 3G ran horribly slow on 4.0. When we asked one of the guys at the Apple store about our trouble, we were told that downgrading voids the warranty and Apple doesn't recommend it. The guy also said to remove some music and free up some disk space. This all sounded like bull, so I found some instructions by googling "downgrade 3G from 4.0 to 3.1.3" and followed them. The steps were very simple and the phone is running great again. I highly recommend this to anyone with a 3G. You will only miss out on the folders feature and your phone will perform much better. Regardless of what the software engineers at Apple have decided, the hardware limitations of the 3G just don't allow for a good user experience with 4.0.

@Paul- I am living that nightmare with a little program called redsnow. Anyways, it is very slow. Exiting out of a simple app like Settings or Safari (or even Weather) takes 5 secs. Sure multitasking and background wallpapers take a toll on it, but even then my 3G is slow. Many apps crash when loading, Safari speeds are down to mere kilobits, and the OS is laggy. When the phone is locked and some one is calling, I swipe to answer and the screen freezes. I can hear the person, burin still stuck at the screen. The worst part? I still have a year left on my contract. Desperately waiting for iPhone 5 (or whatever it's called.) BTW, have any of you been experiencing problems with Angry Birds? Whenever it's at the splash screen, the screen goes black and reboots for 5 mins. Very annoying.

I jailbroke iPhone 3G 4.0.1 and enabled multitasking and wallpaper and its the same speed as usual maybe a bit snappier if i turn off the spotlight search but it won't beat the speed of my iPhone 3GS & iPhone 4 :P

Mine was slow until I got rid of applications that have a large local file cache ... I essentially kept three or four essential apps. Since then, backups are snappy and the phone isn't quick, but it is acceptable.

Phone goes from way too slow, to so slow that I want to throw it up against a wall. Power down, power up - sometimes makes it better. Oh, and did I mention that it sucks up power from the battery like there's no tomorrow. And if you don't charge it every day, there IS no tomorrow.

Mine is slow as well!
I've tried to downgrade and get to the step where you kick the phone out of DFU...only I can't kick it out. I've tried multiple times with no luck.
What did you guys use to get your phone out of DFU? Any info is appreciated!!

I still have my old 3G and turning off most of spotlight search has helped to improve the performance. Here's how: Settings -> General -> Home Button -> Spotlight Search ... I unchecked all options except contacts. Turn the phone off to reset it. My 3G is working better. Give it a try.

I have the jb version with multitasking on. Battery life is surprisingly good but speed-wise it is incredibly slow.

I believe that once your in DFU mode you have to do a restore through iTunes. iTunes should notice that the iPhone is in DFU mode and put up a message.

Advice on web: Don't keep any tabs open in Safari. Always close any windows before closing safari.
Advice on web: Do reboot v2. Dunno what this is called, but ppl suggested holding power+home until 'slide to power off' appears. keep holding power+home until reboot. boot will take longer than normal. I have verbose boot on and this looks to be forcing a checkdisk of the the filesystem
Things I've been doing: using a very small black graphic for my lock screen bg, reboot freq'ly, using MemTool(for jailbroken phones) to free memory
@dantv - to get out of DFU, hold power and home button for a while, like 15s

Advice on web: keep at least 500mb free space
Ppl on twitter have said that iOS 4.1b (avail for devs only) runs better on 3G, so I am waiting to try that before taking my sluggish jailbroken 3G back to 3.1.3.
Thx for spotlight suggestion. I hadn't thought of that.

Very slow on mine. Tried a hard reboot and disabling Spoiltlight and while it improved things somewhat, it is still more sluggish than iOS 3.1.3. Maybe I'll downgrade when I get back from work.

Does this really come as any surprise? You think Apple cares about it's two-year old phone? In fact, it does this on purpose to get people to upgrade. Make it significantly slower, yet leave out any long-awaited features that only the newer phones have.

Disabling of Spotlight searching for Mail did it for me. I have two very large IMAP Gmail accounts. Safari was sluggish to open, now iit is almost snappy. I don't notice much change with anything else but then Safari was the only one which was noticeably slower after the upgrade.

SOOOO SLOOOOW! Everyday apps keep closing or won't even open. Letters stick while typing, swiping page to page jumpy at best. It takes forever to swipe for opening. However! My battery life seems to have doubled. Go figure. Turning off Spotlight now. Fingers are crossed...

My 3G became so unusable I bought an unlocked Blackberry Bold 9000 and a copy of Mac Sync.

My 3G works better today....reboot a few times and turned off Spotlight Search. I agree runs as fast as when I had OS3.1.
Waiting on my iPhone 4!

I am so happy that this is my final ever day of using an iPhone 3G as I will have a new iPhone 4 in my hands at midnight tonight! It is just so damn slow now for doing anything. With 2.0 it was at least decently fast but now the iOS is too advanced for the device. No wonder the original iPhone wasn't supported!

this new formware is very slow and not cute.. i have to wait for like 1 minute or 2 in order to text back my love ones. and dont get me started with the email and maps and camera and pictures and the slide open screen!! can we say HORRIBLE!!! i think i need a drink everytime i use this phone!!! to deal with the wait and pain in vain! :( APPLE FIX IT!!! or ill go DROID!!!

This phone became the most horrible phone on the market. The update makes the phone unusable. Wake up guys apple does this on purpose to force you to upgrade the sick thing is they were stillselling the iPhone 3G the day the iPhone 4 came out causing people to endure total insAnity with this piece of garbage

Acceptable for me, bit slow but number of crash reduce a lot, wish we can disable place in photos, that make photo app slow.

Yes..compared to my iphone 4 it is slow. But i updated my 3G to iOS 4 way before i got my iPhone 4 and it was slow ever since. It was annoying me. I dont worry too much now that i have that new iPhone.

Unlike a lot of people here, my iPhone 3G seems to be running fine. I wish I would have multi-tasking, but oh well. The longest part of the upgrade to iOS4 was the back-up...which took at least 8.5 hours...maybe longer. What nonsense. Make sure to keep your apps updated so that the software developers get any bugs fixed that cause crashes.

IOS4 on Iphone 3G, if you can get it to install properly (it took me 2 days to finally get my phone working again) it stalls, crashes regularly, and slows all applications.
What a disaster!

It works good. At first, it was awfully slow. I guess it was related to the fact I enabled native multitasking and it was killing it's speed and overall performance. I restored from backup and hell my iPhone wasn't being enjoyable at first. I found that killing all the apps running in the native multitasking helps a hell of a lot. It makes sense too.

I think all of you with problems need to chill a bit and think a whole lot more. My son's 3G works just fine on iOS4. No difference what-so-ever.
What did we do: waited for the early adopters to start complaining, focused on the obvious, a back-up, a dfu restore from a downloaded iOS4 file, installation of only those apps that are iOS4 compatible, resync everything else and re-set settings. Yes, a bit of a pain. However, if instead of rushing in and updating to an OS you had no understanding of, on a phone you've probably owned for a year or more and have no understanding of, you had poked around the web a bit and learned from others, you would probably not be so upset.

Mine works just fine. The update was flawless, no perceptible loss of speed, and no conflicts with my apps.

After waiting and waiting today I decided to update my 3GS to the ios4. Everything seems to work fine EXCEPT my ipod. If I open the ipod and then close it to move to something else and then return, the ipod is stuck, will do nothing. Please help if anyone else has this experience and knows of a fix.