Among the iPhone 4 hubbub there appears to be little discussion about the performance of iOS4 on older hardware. Apple has noted that iOS4 runs in a limited fashion on the iPhone 3G, and removed many features to ensure adequate performance, but it’s not clear that goal has been met.
Last week we posted an article about using a double hard reset to improve performance after upgrading (see: Speed Up iPhone 3G + iOS4 with a Hard Reset?) The problem appears to be a widespread issue: it’s been discussed (among other places) on the Apple Support Forums, MacInTouch and AppleToolbox, and during this past week has become one of the most viewed topics on Cult of Mac.
Cupertino, I think we have a problem. Another one.
Some of the feedback we’ve received describes the nature of the angst:
“Downloading OS4 made me hate my iPhone for the first time ever…”
” I was getting angry with it’s performance: I was losing calls, could not get maps to work faster when I needed it, etc.”
“…this worked for me too after tearing my hair out for the last week or so!!”
The iPhone 3G is an older device with a slower processor and less RAM than its successors. Owners don’t expect high end performance – and glitches with any new OS are to be expected – but with iOS4 on a 3G apps take noticeably longer to load, Mail messages open slower and the whole system feels more sluggish. In some cases not just sluggish, but near unusable.
Apple is now pushing iOS4 adoption. The 3G is a supported device under iOS4. Apple doesn’t provide any official way to downgrade your iPhone to an older firmware version once you’ve upgraded, so unless you jailbreak your phone* to circumvent this you’re stuck with the newest version.
A Double Hard Reset appears to be helpful in improving performance. Performing a Backup and Restore has also helped some people, as has Closing Extra Safari Windows open in the background. However, these are likely only temporary workarounds. My iPhone 3G has slowed again after its double reset speed boost, though still runs better than after the initial install. Long term behavior is not yet clear.
Apple, please don’t forget about iPhone 3G users with iOS4! This model will be around for many years, and these performance issues are impacting many people.
*UPDATE: There is a way to downgrade without jailbreaking, as noted by Jujolone in the comments.