Apple claims the iPhone 3G S is much faster than the iPhone 3G, but is it? Keep reading for our impromptu, unscientific speed tests. Upgrading The iPhone 3G S may be a faster device, but the upgrade process is slow. Be prepared when you hook up […]


Apple claims the iPhone 3G S is much faster than the iPhone 3G, but is it? Keep reading for our impromptu, unscientific speed tests.


The iPhone 3G S may be a faster device, but the upgrade process is slow. Be prepared when you hook up the new iPhone (to the machine you previously synced your old phone with) to be asked to accept a new license agreement. You will then be asked to enter your Apple ID. Thus, you’ll need an active Internet connection. You’ll likely want to restore from your old iPhone backup and then you’ll have to wait…a very long time. My restore took about 40 minutes.

After the phone data is restored, iTunes will start restoring applications and other content you specify. Unlike previous restores, this one actually kept the icon positions on the iPhone (this may be a new 3.0 feature), but for some reason, it didn’t remember saved passwords for Wi-Fi networks.

One test I recommend running before going any further is a pixel test to confirm there are no stuck pixels on your new phone.

App Speeds

Now comes the fun part: app speed testing. I still had my old iPhone (now a glorified iPod touch!) so I could easily compare how my apps ran on the old phone with the new one. The iPhone 3G was already upgraded to 3.0 (which I recommend before switching to the 3G S), and they were both on the same network.

These are averages after three separate tests. Human error does slightly figure in, as I pressed the stopwatch on one iPhone while my assistant simultaneous pressed the icons on the new iPhone 3G S and the iPhone 3G.

  • Scrabble was one of the slowest apps for us. It loaded in 14.5 seconds on the 3G S and 21.4 on the 3G.
  • Next test was Rolando: 13.8 seconds on the 3G S and 21.5 on the 3G.
  • Trism 3.5 seconds on 3G S and 6.3 on 3G.
  • Calendar: 1.6 on 3G S and 2.1 on 3G.
  • Weather Underground on Safari: 5.9 and 9.6.
  • And finally TwitterFon: 1.6 on 3G S and 3.0 on 3G.

Overall impression after owing it for two hours: The iPhone 3G S is one-third to twice as fast in this blogger’s real-world test. Share your test results in the comments!

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  1. Not eough reason to shell out extra $

    1. I second that. Waiting till next year and some bigger changes…

    2. i third that motion.

    3. Same here….

      But if I never had an i-Phone now would be a good time to go for one….

    4. Dave Greenbaum Eric Friday, June 19, 2009

      I agree. If I wasn’t in the computing field and needed at least one of those phones for review, I would not have shelled out the money. I did it all for you!

      It’s a classic Apple speedbump or like Homer would say “Oh, Sprinkles”. It’s the Malibu Stacy model with a hat. Nice, but NOT worth replacing an existing model.

  2. How about a more “scientific” test – do an “erase and restore” on the old 3G phone and repeat the speed comparison? I believe the “restore” on the old 3G will speed it up….

    1. I thought of the best way to do the test, and with a typical 3G phone that had typical use would be the best test bed. Of course a new iPhone 3G with OS 3.0 would have been the best test bed.
      I chose my slowest and quickest loading apps so we could do a fair comparison. Scrabble is sooo slow on the iPhone and Facebook

  3. I set mine up the same way as above, and everything works but the phone sevice. Im still waiting after 4 hours for the “your phone has been activated.” Until then its just a bulkey ipod touch. Has anyone else had a delay in activation?

    1. People seemed to be having problems in the store like that, but my observation was these are people who didn’t upgrade to 3.0 at first. Also, and this isn’t so obvious due to the error messages, but make sure you have a working Internet connection. One guy at the store was using an Internet connection that required a login, so he thought he was online, but had to do one of those stupid website logins before TCP/IP traffic would be passed.

    2. I had the same problem until I did a reboot and then it was activated!

    3. I think that whats the big deal shelling out more money just to speed your wait time to a couple seconds less than the older version i think that it’s a waist of money.

  4. Wait until nxt year where apple will probably add flash player on the iPhone. Who cares about a couple seconds?! Just wait until nxt year. Ull be glad u did

    1. Yeah, maybe flash player, but more likely a front-side camera for ichat? Probably a new design too.

    2. my two cents is that every time a newer version of a product came out, ppl would say ill wait tell the next one its going to be worth it , u will say that every single time that new product comes out . i think what makes this easy for ppl to say that is that the new 3g s has the same outside case which was a bad mistake on apple, but when the 1st gen iphone went to the 3g, the only real upgrade or add on was the gps n 3g but they change the case so everyone got all wet over it, and they even change or up the processor , video, camera , or etc. . and yes when that came out there where prob. still ppl saying “ill just wait for the next one” there will always be a next one , it will always be better then the prev. it just comes down to if you can afford to keep up with the latest one, i personally have had all the iphones from the beginning of the 1st but thats just cuz thats my fetish and wat gets me all wet , cuz i got a better phone :)

  5. My experiences have been about the same as Dave Greenbaum’s. The phone is just overall snappier. What it feels like is the change when I went from my first generation intel iMac to the newest 24-inch iMac…everything was just….faster….felt faster….hard to quantify, and the OS was the same (Leopard on both) but the new Mac felt quicker…and so does the new iPhone.

    1. Dave Greenbaum Neil Friday, June 19, 2009

      I hope I was able to quantify some of it for you! We took some video of us doing the tests.My finger on the stopwatch of one iPhone, Mike’s on the iPhone 3G and 3GS


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  8. Brad – BeerInBaltimore.com Friday, June 19, 2009

    No brainer for me.

    Video recording/editing, 3 MP autofocus camera, Voice Commands, double the RAM, much faster processor.

    Combined, well worth $199 for me.

  9. I think Iphones are cool, but they, in general, with all the apps and cool little videos and and the internet-capability, are still not worth 200-500 well earned dollars. a normal phone is good enough for me.

  10. I don’t think I agree (Eric, Dave, etc.) that it’s a minor update. The camera is _much_ better, 3 MPX autofocus, macro; it does decent video; the graphics system is significantly better, meaning better graphics apps and games in the future. And extra speed is not insignificant.

    I want one.


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