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iOS 4 On iPhone 3G: Much Ado About Nothing

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Don’t panic, your update to iOS 4 most likely worked. You just may have to look a little deeper to realize that all went well.

After restoring and upgrading my iPhone 3G to iOS 4 late last night, I could not help but feel that the upgrade did not even happen. That something went wrong and I did not have iOS 4 installed at all. I knew that multitasking would not be there, but no background images? After a little digging around, I was able to convince myself that the upgrade did complete successfully.

At first it appears as if nothing happened; all looks about the same. There is a subtle update to the dock, but you would have to really know what to look for to see it. If you then go to the About information in the Settings app, it will clearly state that the version is 4.0(8A293). The next thing to look for would logically be setting the background image or wallpaper. Unfortunately you’ll soon discover that feature is clearly missing on the 3G. So multitasking and custom home screen wallpaper is out.

So what is there?

Check out the Mail app. One inbox to unite them all. And the camera, just tap the screen, you now have a digital zoom. And of course Folders. Simply drag one icon on top of another, you now have folders. iTunes playlists have also been enhanced as well as the spotlight search and the built-in photo app. Slowly you will start to discover what new features are available to the 3G, and which ones are not. And according to the popularity of the iPhone 4, and various online polls that have been taken, it appears that most of us will be living with iOS 4 on the 3G for only a little while, as all of us are eligible for the upgrade.

What features are missing that you really wanted? Any that should be there but you can’t find?

103 Responses to “iOS 4 On iPhone 3G: Much Ado About Nothing”

    • There have been mixed reviews on if iOS4 makes the 3g faster or slower. The only way for all accounts to be true is based on some variances, like performing an upgrade vs. a restore and upgrade. Or the number of mail accounts being managed and the syncing of multiple notes and calendar options. Definitely more options to wrangle in, but I am sure that in the end, by the time 4.1 is released, there will be several in depth settings documented for us 3G owners, as well as some tweaks implemented in the first patch that will make things a little better for the outliers. I have two 3G iPhones, and will be comparing them both, one on 3.1.3, and one on 4.0, as soon as my new pair of iPhone 4’s get here. They are in Texas right now. :-)

    • Maybe you’re experiencing unusual results. You could try backing-up the data and wiping the phone entirely to see if there’s something else affecting your iOS 4.0 performance. If it had slowed to a crawl for everyone, I’m sure there would be more complaints here.

      I did an update two days ago and due to some quirk (probably my USB hub) the restore of my notes/sms/contacts failed, but no-one else I know had this issue.

      I certainly haven’t had any issues with the speed of iOS 4.0. And I’ve been testing it quite thoroughly. (I can get the Springboard to crash sometimes though, if I’m closing folders while taking a screenshot.) :)

      • A friend lost all her contacts while upgrading as well. I heard there were lots of gliches that day, probably NOT due to people’s individual hubs, but to the high demand on iTunes itself.

      • Yeah, I’ve heard of a few people on the net had problems with updating the 3G. I’m the only one at my workplace who has had this problem though so (anecdotally) it looks like the majority of people should be okay.

        I was continually getting errors when my iPhone was connected to my PC via a (powered) USB hub. I connected the phone directly to the PC after that and it updated fine from there. But none of the backups contained my lost contacts/notes/sms/etc stuff. Fortunately most of it was backed up elsewhere.

  1. Stef Bishop

    The management of text messages is good, but the management of the phone call lists is unforgivably bad.

    Why can’t I selectively delete calls from my phone lists?
    I can’t even delete just missed calls. They all have to go if I hit the clear button.

    Phones from 15 years ago did better.

  2. @KJ – Yes, you just get a new option in your “root” mail page, where you’d normally select which mailbox to look at there’s now a ‘unified inbox’ option as well, if you want to view your mail separately you just don’t choose that one, but go into each mailbox individually as you do now.

  3. vanessa

    Are you kidding me? All i wanted was the flipping bubbles or pictures on my background screen!!!! My brothers have the iPod touches (not even the newest models!) and they get to set background photos, but me who pays for my service… I don’t get that! Thats all I wanted from this shitty upgrade which took well over 2 hours last night… DX

    This is crap!

    Very unhappy iPhone lover. I spent over two hours upgrading this biotch for nothing pretty much.


  4. The two features I wanted was access to multiple Exchange accounts (Google Sync and corp mail) and folders. I am really happy to have iBooks (although the Kindle app is just as good).

    I would have loved to have the customised home screen but I guess you can’t have everything.

    (Waiting for December for my upgrade)

  5. sklasa

    I’m disappointed with Apple for its step motherly treatment meted out to 3g users, I only see folders, unified in-box and ibooks. I knew multitasking wouldn’t be there but out of 100 I don’t even know 10. Its more like giving a taste and asking 3g users to upgrade to iphone 4.

  6. Teslanaut

    I really REALLY REALLY wished they could trickle this update down to the iPod touch 1G & iPhone 2G. It’s completely possible for them to do so. The iPod touch & iPhone 2G has almost the same basic hardware as the iPhone 3G. Hardware being RAM, CPU, GPU, Screen. Only specialty hardware like the GPS, Camera and some others are different.

  7. A surprise addition that I’d not heard about, you can now change the volume of the audio from the handset when using a Bluetooth head set.

    This means you now have two levels of volume control. Not a show stopper or anything, but a welcome feature.

  8. iamspoonbender...

    The amount of ram that the ‘wallpaper’ takes up is 1MB, nothing more. The problem is all the shadows, and other visual effects added to the wallpaper, and icons. Yes, the new ‘os’ does slow down the 3G. I have one, and performed the ‘jailbreak’, it was easy. Funny thing is, even with custom wallpaper there really isn’t any noticeable difference. It really is the software slowing the phone down.

  9. oracularman

    There should be an Orientation lock setting for each app so that 3G (not 3GS ) users can lock their safari and most important iBooks screens.

  10. Tethering works great with my iPhone 3G! We changed some things around with our data plan etc so it only is about $20 more per month (after corporate discount rate) for BOTH of our iPhones. Came home, plugged it in and works great. Just a little on the slow side but no issues.

  11. My most-wanted feature for the 2-G iPhone was Bluetooth keyboard support and that, I’m told, is lacking. There’s no technical reason for the omission, just that Apple was too cheap to budget a few man hours to creating the appropriate driver. And don’t forget that Apple is still selling a 2-G touch.

    100 new features? Perhaps 25 for all but Apple’s most recent customers, This is more like a iOS 3.3 upgrade than a 4.0. The bigger Apple gets, the more it acts like Microsoft in its zeal to hold back features and force people into pricey upgrades.

    • Sarah Bellum

      I agree that’s it’s disappointing to NOT get all those features, but to be fair, Apple has let us know that was to be the case all along with the older devices. Maybe the motivation is to “force us into pricey upgrades” at some future point, but for the time being, you can’t get a better deal than FREE!

      • So what do 3G owners get? Free folders?? Thank you Apple!
        I, for my part, am seriously reconsidering my love for Apple and it’s product and I agree with the poster above.. Apple is turning into Microsoft a little more every day… which sucks…

  12. Orientation lock exists in 4.0. You double click on the home button, go to the farthest left screen with the ipod icon and play buttons and then the orientation lock button is on the far left. Look before posting!

  13. 2nd gen iPod Touch – Everything feels faster and smoother, however, I agree also about screen lock…badly needed.

    Anyone else had problems with iBooks?

  14. The custom background does slow the springboard by a considerable amount on the 3G. In a wicked twist of irony, I can’t figure out how to disable it.

    • Orientation lock exists in 4.0. You double click on the home button, go to the farthest left screen with the ipod icon and play buttons and then the orientation lock button is on the far left.

      • Dude. You’re not understanding the point of this post. We’re talking about 3G iPhones that are incapable of multitasking without jailbreaking. 3G owners do not have the multitask shelf by double clicking the home button and do not have orientation lock.

    • oracularman

      I agree. There should be an Orientation lock setting for each app so that 3G (not 3GS ) users can lock their safari and most important iBooks screens.

  15. Definitely slowed my 3G down – I think the problem is the lack of RAM in the 3G relative to other models. With only 128 MB of RAM, whenever I run FreeMemory it only shows 3 or 4 MB free at best – and never seems to free any more. Ultimately, the OS itself is just too resource-intensive to get by easily.

    That said, I do have a warranty-replacement 3G which was a factory refurb, so there’s always the possibility of a hardware issue making things worse for me…

  16. I like a lot that it can stay connected to the network when sleeping. It means Remote can be used as a real remote. Before, by the time I’d woken the iPhone, waited for it to connect to the network and waited for it to reconnect to iTunes I could have run upstairs and operated the iMac manually.

  17. @Joe – 3G speed seems down all around. There’s a video on flickr comparing things like camera taking a picture, opening the settings app, etc. I’m not sure if it’s some of the visual chrome given to make things look better or what, but overall I’m fairly disappointed :( Nice to have folders and unified inbox, but as much as a fanboy as I am even I’m thinking of downgrading until the new phone arrives here in Canada. Sounds like the 3GS owners were the real winners here :(

    If there’s a trick to speed up a 3G (maybe a full wipe and rebuild?) I’d love to hear it.

    • I agree with you, ever since the upgrade, my 3G has been moving slow, the camera, the iPod, everything. I wonder if it’s Apple’s way of getting us to buy the new one. Which, I probably will soon. Is it possible to downgrade?

  18. Moverbeck

    I have a 3G – the only truly notable change I found are the folders – but that said, I do actually think they make a big difference. In general things seem a little bit snappier? That may just be because my iPhone was wiped and reinstalled with the iOS4 upgrade, though.
    The mail update is neat enough, the introduction of threads is quite cool.
    Other than that, not much going on.

    • Orientation lock exists in 4.0. You double click on the home button, go to the farthest left screen with the ipod icon and play buttons and then the orientation lock button is on the far left. Look before posting!

      • 3G and second gen iPods do NOT get orientation lock because double click does not bring up that bar with the previous apps and controls. It does not have the UI that they tossed the lock onto, so it’s missing. They didn’t want to come up with a new UI for older hardware. You could look before posting, too…

        The fancy zoom animation and shadows for the background made the background too slow on older hardware, that’s why it’s missing. And I agree, I’d prefer speed.

        I’ve got friends with the older hardware, actually I have the 32GB iPod and have those things. :)

      • Sarah Bellum

        Agree with Henry. Those who live in glass houses, shouldn’t throw stones….(and we all live in glass houses)!

        Translation: If you’re an impatient poster, quick to criticize others, you better be sure you know what you’re talking about.

  19. I got folders and I’m happy. My 2nd gen Touch doesn’t get multitasking, but I don’t care about that. I like the hidden features like spellcheck and movies playing right in safari. New photo features are nice too.

    • I’ve the 2G touch as well, and folders were my most anticpated feature. Love them. Was able to easily re-organize down from 11 overflowing screens, bring many more apps from iTunes over, and still have plenty of room to grow. But also disappointed that there’s no wallpaper since the jailbroken versions on same devices work without a hitch.

      Some of the other features that I find really useful that are not as readily apparent are: ipod controls/edit/playlists, spell-checker, birthday calendar, landscape keyboard in notes/email/etc, photo edits, secure lock code, homebutton options, etc. New Mail features could be really useful to some, but I have seperate email accounts for a reason: To seperate good stuff from junk, so don’t want them merged.

    • I’ve the 2G Touch as well. Folders are GREAT… I’ve got myself neatly organised onto a single page instead of 8 (“Hello; I’m Jeff, and I’m an app addict. HI, JEFF“)

      But the one couldn’t-they-have-squeezed-it-in feature for me is vertical orientation lock. I use the Touch in all sorts of odd places and angles, and the move-it-three-degrees-and-it-shifts behaviour drives me up the proverbial wall. Please, Apple, get this in 4.1.

  20. So how’s the speed on the 3G? That seems to be the major point of contention among upgraders. I have a 3GS and it feels a bit zippier so far…

    • speed is slow on the 3G. I’ve noticed since the upgrade, everything is slower, as if it wants to freeze up. Not very happy about upgrading, the new features are nice, but the speed has become a problem…on my wife’s phone, too.

  21. John K

    Thanks for the helpful post.

    If you double-click on the launch button yous should see the multi-task menu on the lower portion of the screen.

    The photo zoom is nice!

    • Wow thx for that! I recently updated my iPhone 3GS and couldn’t figure out how the multi-tasking worked. Numerous internet searches failed to tell me how to do this. Even Apple don’t have it on their site – not anywhere I could find it anyway. They need a link that says “How to access the new features on your iPhone”. And multi-tasking is sooo cooool. Love it.

  22. “it appears that most of us will be living with iOS 4 on the 3G for only a little while, as all of us are eligible for the upgrade”

    No, we are not all eligible for the upgrade. My wife is the primary name on our account (was easier when we merged our accounts when we got married) and she got her upgrade date moved up from October 2010 to immediately just before iPhone 4 came out. However, my upgrade date is stuck at January 2011 with no sign AT&T is going to move it. So I guess Apple and AT&T lose out on two iPhone sales/contract extensions until at least January since they didn’t move up both of our upgrade dates. Stupid AT&T anyway…

    • I think he was saying the majority of the general public. My contract renewal/upgrade is available August 2nd. I spoke to a representative at ATT about 2 weeks ago, and he said they allow for you to upgrade a month early. So, I suppose I’m lucky considering I’ll be available for an upgrade on the 2nd of July. A Week and two days from now. I’m sorry to hear about your luck though mate. I wish you the best!

  23. David Pedersen

    My most wanted feature was custom backgrounds! Multitasking would also have been nice, but again it would’ve sucked if it was really laggy…

    • I wasn’t planning to upgrade to IOS4 because of the lack of multitasking and no backgrounds and since my 3G had been jailbroken and unlock for T-mobile, I was fine to be running 3.1.2. But yesterday while syncing with Itunes it rebooted to the white apple logo but wouldn’t turn on. I ended up having to put it in recovery mode to try to get it back on. So I did the restore and it installed IOS4, I went ahead and use RedSn0w to jailbreak again and behold there was an option to add multitasking, I used UltraSn0w to unlock for my T-mobile sim. Everything works!!! I get all the function of IOS4, I can change the background, multitasking,ect. best of all it is NOT laggy to my surprise. Hope that helps.