Should I Upgrade to iPhone 2.1?

With the Apple's release today of the iPhone 2.1 firmware update, that's the exact question many people will be asking. Hey, we at TiPb asked it ourselves -- for all of about 0.1 seconds before diving headlong into iTunes, for the good of our readers, of course.

So what's new in iPhone 2.1, is it compelling enough for you to update, and who should avoid it at all costs?

Answers after the jump!

What's in the 2.1 Update

According to Apple, iPhone version 2.1 contains many bug fixes and improvements, including the following: 

  • decrease in call set-up failures and call drops 
  • significantly improved battery life for most users 
  • dramatically reduced time to backup to iTunes 
  • improved email reliability, notably fetching email from POP and Exchange accounts 
  • faster installation of 3rd party applications 
  • fixed bugs causing hangs and crashes if you have lots of 3rd party applications 
  • improved performance in text messaging 
  • faster loading and searching of contacts 
  • improved accuracy of the 3G signal strength display 
  • repeat alert up to two additional times for incoming text messages 
  • option to wipe data after ten failed passcode attempts 
  • Genius playlist creation 

  In addition, there have been some minor UI tweaks, which can be seen in our iPhone 2.1 Gallery.

Who Should Update?

While some may feel, especially given recent history, that best practices are to wait a few days for the guinea pigs... er... early adopters to kick the tires and discover any deal-breaking bugs, if you're already suffering from any of the problems listed above, especially 3G connection issues, dropped called, frequent crashes, or severely long backups, or if the latest security fixes are a must, then bite the bullet and update asap. There's always a risk something might go wrong, but you're likely suffering immense frustration already, and the benefits in that case clearly outweigh theoretical drawbacks.

Who Shouldn't Update?

First and foremost: those of you who have jailbroken your iPhone 3G or 2G, or unlocked your 2G. While the 133t hax0rs over at iPhone DevTeam are Scotty-class miracle workers, they will always lag behind Apple and it might take them a few days, or even weeks, to crack whatever Apple's cooked into the latest/greatest firmware. (Like the iTunes 8 patch they've already let loose). If you're rolling with a jailbroken or unlocked iPhone, stay clear until you're given the all-clear. We'll always let you know right quick when/if there are any developments in that area.

Likewise, if you're one of the 98% Apple claims already has a rock-solid 2.0.x iPhone, and won't absolutely die if you don't get Genius Playlist functionality, like, immediately, then you have nothing to lose by hanging back and waiting a few days to make sure 2.1 doesn't blow up in anyone's faces. Keep reading TiPb, and in a week or so, when confidence levels are high, you can take the plunge -- if you feel like it.

Also, Vista users who haven't yet fixed their iTunes 8 problems are encouraged to do that first, before chancing even greater BSOD wrath with 2.1.


Bottom line, if you're happy with your 2.x (or even 1.x!) iPhone right now, save yourself the potential pain frustration and wait to update until there's a compelling reason to update.

If, on the other hand, 2.x is giving you nothing but headaches, or the 2.1 features are must-haves, go ahead and update now. Things can't get any worse, can they? And ZOMG! you can has Genius Playlists in ur iPhone like nowz!

Whatever you do, let us know. And if you do run into problems, be sure to head on over to our forums and harness a little crowd-sourced help!


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

Should I Upgrade to iPhone 2.1?


I updated this morning and have had much better performance (reception, address book search, keyboard input, SMS display, apps opening and closing, etc.) all day. I highly recommend this update to anyone.

I just recently updated too and the update is great. I download apps right from my phone now 3x faster then I did with the other update. Also in places that I had one bar I now have five. It's great and I think everyone should update. Only downside is that you have to downlaod iTunes version 8.0 with it

I updated this morning and everything is working great. As others before have stated, my 3G feels more stable, and runs faster. Downloading apps/updating apps was lightning fast compared to what I had experience prior to this update. I haven't lost my 3G all day and that's saying something. No dropped calls, yet, but I haven't been too call-active today. Internet was fast, as was e-mail and sms. Still takes a moment to delete e-mails though I'm not sure if it's because they download before they can be deleted. Anyway, thumbs up on this one!

I was really hoping that 2.1 was going to solve my battery problem, it didn't. I did a restore last week and ever since then I have been getting terrible performance from my battery. I used to be able to go a whole day (14 hours) on one charge with everything except bluetooth turned on (including push for my exchange email). Now my phone dies after 10 hours in standby mode! I've narrowed it down to my push email (which was fine before I did a restore) it seems to be doing about 1 MB of traffic an hour, even if i turn off push. The only way to get the push battery drain to stop is to delete my exchange email account off my phone. Any one else experiencing anything like this?

Well I love my jailbroken 2.0.2 minus the slow contact loading but hey I have many many use full non app store apps so 2.1 aint worth it to me especially since no cut and paste nuff said.

The upgrade has done wonders to my reception. Only did the upgrade this morning and have not had a chance to see if the battery life is any better. The contacts are still a little slow, but much improved from before.

This update is what 2.0 SHOULD of been. It's much more stable for me. Performance seems much better. And apps install very fast. Backups only take a few minutes now. Hopefully a jailbreak comes out soon!

I update to 2.1 and have had no problems, but I have a question. The Genius Playlists function in this version looks like a great feature. I wonder though if it gives Apple complete access to all the titles in my iTunes. Since I have nothing to hide in my collection of music, etc., it would be no problem for me. And, it then would appear that Apple would someday be able to give us calculated totals on the average number of songs in iTunes among users and the number purchased from the iTunes store.

They claim improved battery life? How are they accomplishing this feat? Disabling something? Anyone have specific details on this?

I am on vacation in Utah and while in the area that I am visiting I only had 1 bar while on 2.0.2. I upgraded this morning to the 2.1 and I now have full bars in that same area. I was really shocked because I had to go stand out in the street to make calls and now can get full bars inside the house.
So far so good...

Backups are still taking FOREVER for me with 2.1. contacts are much faster, apps a little better. haven't had the texting problem yet but we'll see.

It was a great upgrade.
My backups went from taking 2+ hours to 40 seconds...that's right...40 seconds.
I find that to be suspiciously fast, but am not complaining.
I haven't tried to do a restore from one of these backups yet. Previously, I've had no luck using backups to restore my phone and have had to set it up as a new phone each time.
I plug the iPhone directly into a USB port at the back of my computer, rather than my USB hub which slows things down a lot. That sped up my backups also.
App installations via WIFI or the Apps Store take seconds, and so far I haven't seen the white apple screen of death...hopefully never again!
Battery life seems far better than it was, but I've had the phone plugged in a lot since the update and haven't truly tested the battery life yet.

I am having trouble getting the genius playlist working? Anyone have any tips?

Also whats the deal with the new sms alert? I haven't been able to figure that one out either. Please let me know.

I just updated tonight and I must say I'm very pleased! Contacts, text message, app loading is much much faster. I haven't had any dropped Safari sessions yet. My 3G signal went from 1 bar at my house which would drop calls all the time to 3-4-5 bars where I can make a call, it's crystal clear on both ends, and hasn't dropped a single call yet.
Great job Apple!!! Now lets see some content additions. Very very pleased so far with 2.1

My brand new iPhone (10 days old) just got bricked. I tried to install the update and walked away for a good hour. Came back and it was hanging at around 75%. Left for another 45 min or so. Still hanging. So I unplug it and it tries to restore. It hangs again around 75%. 1 hr later, same crap. So I do a system reset using the sleep/home hold trick and now it's restoring again. Thank god I'm within ATT's 30 days. I can't believe this crap is getting bricked. And everything is legit. No jailbreaks or anything. Up until now, the battery was shit. Now I've lost faith in these apple crapgrammers.

2.1 is much better for everything including at least for me much better battery life

If you are in Ireland DO NOT upgrade to 2.1 - the update is a disaster. It stops 3G from working even with a perfect signal. I'm going mental here because I can only get Internet via wifi now. Next time I'm gonna wait a few days before doing any updating.

ok since I posted I found out a fix from a buddy of mine - if you are Irish and have 2.1 installed, go into the Data Connection part of Network Settings. Change the APN from 'internet' to 'open.internet' and delete the username and password.

NOT YET. Downloaded 2.1 on Saturday and the phone has mostly NOT worked, occasionally partially worked, and rarely functions normally.

re: Johnny
Yes I concur. Battery life is horrible with 2.1 and MS Exchange email with Push turned on.
Both the boss and myself have seen this on his 3G and my original - both with 2.1 connecting to our corporate Exchange email server.
Something is going on since there's now a constant GSM buzz eminating from speakers/radios that are put close to the phone indicating that the cellular data stream is churing away all the time.

Irish lads can change the APN back to 'internet', O2 IRL finally got round to opening the correct APN

I agree that the reception is much better, but the battery life is now atrocious. I upgraded last night and took the phone off the charger at 6:30 A.M. I spoke on the phone for about 25 minutes and used the push for mail a few times throughout the morning. I don't leave the push on because I know my Microsoft Exchange email account drains the battery. However, by 11:30 A.M., I had 10 percent of battery remaining. I need some way to get more battery life

IPhone 2.1 Brick i have the same problem i updated my firmware to 2.1 and my Iphone has bricked it self
is there any cure any one, BTW is this because i live in AUS
,GXR Reaper

HELP!! my son uploaded 2.1 on his unlocked + jpailbroken 2G and now he has a brick! Any help on downgrading the firmware or unlocking the 2G witht 2.1??
Jay Pr

I just did the 2.1 update and it seems to be working great! I just checked the speed of my 3g on DSLREPORTS.COM and I get 615kpbs! The signal seems to be consistent as far as the bars on the top left corner. Before I upgraded my signal would go down to 1 bar then go up 4 bars all the time. I'm going to really test the 3g when I go to work tomorrow because I can barely get a 3g signal at work. I'll post my results soon. This is a must update if you're iphone isn't Jailbroken already.

i am not happy.. i updated my phone on thursday and the internet has not worked since.. signed pissed off in rancho cucamonga

2.1 breaks scheduled fetch and push email. Anytime the screen is off the phone will not attempt to check for new mail. This is well known. It is on the Apple iPhone discussion board and Apple is aware of the problem.
This affects all types of email. IMAP, Yahoo, MobileMe, everything. To reproduce, set your scheduled fetch to 15 minutes and leave you phone with the screen off. 30 minutes later send yourself an email from some other account and within 15 minutes the iPhone "should" let you know new mail has arrived. It doesn't.
If manually checking email is alright with you, go ahead and upgrade.

I updated to 2.1, and now Safari crashes WAYYYY more often!!! Ahhhh, please help!!!! It seems to crash when i'm surfing a forum, and someone has posted a gif in thier post. Does this have anything to do with it?!?

iphone users
can somebody wit da knowledge guide me
i got da 16gig iphone 3G ver 2.0..i live in dubai,uae..i plan 2 unlock and use by turbosim wat if i upgrade to 2.1 before i insert any sim of any sort frm my itune account..will i hv any future complicationa..will my phone get bricked???
please anyone..reply asap

the update is soooooooooo much better. i had a jailbroken 2.0.1 iphone 3G and it was good, but i still had a really bad connection. if you have a jailbroken iphone update and then re-jailbreak thats what i did.

dear docsuraj,
update to 2.1 but use a sim called the rebel sim card it supports version 2.1
hope this help:)

I have a 3g Jailbroken with a 2.0.1 firmware and i want to update it with a 2.1 firmware. How would i update my phone? would i have to restore it and then update it then jailbreak it again??? any info would be helpful, Thank You!!

I can confirm email push/fetch is broken in 2.1. It's driving me nuts as I depend on it for work. Oh yeah - and i paid a shedload for the privilege.
Sort it out Apple for goodness sake. I'm fed up with yet another round of lameness.

Didn't realize you had allow for 2 hours to update! Come on already!! Mine is taking forever to complete.

tnx 4 da know how..but hey..i already got a turbosim frm uk called smartphone sim unlock card(no sim cut turbosim) wats ur take on tht..should i battery life is lousy..pretty sad actually..only 3hrs on standby..any suggestions..ive switched off all functions like 3G,push.bluetooth,,,etc...

Is there a SIM Unlock for 2.1 yet that anyone knows about???????? And Is there ANY way to go back to 2.0.1 IF you have updated to 2.1?

I have got a new version of 2.1 without any problem , I faced many problems for version 1.1.4 but now my iphone is perfectly good .

I tried to update my unlock iphone from 1.1.4 to 2.1 and now it does not work, it says is in recovered mode, and I can not do nothing with it__
What should I do ? please helpppp

should a user with unlocked 2.0.2 turbosim upgrade to 2.1? If the turbosim will still work with 2.1?

I had a jailbroken 3G running on version 2.2.
After a few attempts to upgrade to 2.2.1 using the Pwnage tool and even QuickPwn, I finally managed to upgrade, except I had no signal and basically my iPhone had turned into an iPod.
At this point I decided to do the upgrade via iTunes risking not being able to jailbreak my phone afterward.
This got me my cell signal back.
Now, using QuickPwn, I once again tried to jailbreak, but w/o success.
The upgrade stalled in the DFU mode.
Finally I used a powered USB hub to connect the phone to my Mac Air and guess what?!
I jailbroke my phone (even after having installed 2.2.1 via iTunes!!!!).

I have an original iPhone and don't know if I should update... anyone have some ideas? :/

I think people tend to forget that social media is really just an extension of our face-to-face relationships. We expect more from it because the potential reach and opportunities for expression are enhanced (like someone's vision is enhanced looking through binoculars or a microscope). But behind the profiles, followers, friends, tweets, likes, etc there are people after all, and the basic rules of communication, relationship building, and doing business with these people still apply. IMO, it's the best "social media" strategy there is.