iOS 4 performance on older devices (updated)

iOS 4 performance on older devices (updated)

Summary: Apple's iOS 4 is out and while it will work on devices as far back as the iPhone 3G, some users are reporting sub-par performance on older devices.

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Apple's iOS 4 (formerly iPhone OS 4) is out and has a ton of new features including multi-tasking, folders, a richer email client (with a true universal inbox) and iBooks. While it runs great on the iPhone 3GS (and presumably, the iPhone 4) performances issues arise when running the new OS on older devices.

Some readers have emailed me their concerns with running the new OS on the soon to be two-generation old iPhone 3G - released in 2008. One reader expresses his concern that iOS 4 running on the iPhone 3G is a "poor combination:"

It is especially bad when network access is active, where keyboard presentation, tapped key response, or screen updates come to a halt.

The map refreshes are very slow, even the unlock is messed up. Often an unlock will jump to the current screen before the sllider moves across the screen. This is not a faster than expected result, it can 5 seconds or more for the unlock to occur staring at the slider. One will question if the gesture was recognized by the phone.

I've been testing the OS since beta 3, some improvement in speed, definite improvement in reliability, but sluggish is the best description of the performance.

previously blogged that part of the problem could be due to insufficient RAM. The iPhone 4 ships with a whopping 512MB RAM, while the iPhone 3GS with 256MB. The lowly iPhone 3G, on the other hand, comes with only 128MB -- one fourth of what ships with the latest model.

In its compatibility statement, Apple says that iOS 4 works with iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, and iPhone 3G. Adding that "not all features are compatible with all devices. For example, multitasking is available only with iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS."

Translation: it will work on the iPhone 3G but don't have high expectations.

Update: Another comment:

Another note, the iPod Touch 2nd gen device running the same OS is fairing better, I suspect that the lack of phone features trims the OS demand for realtime background processing, allowing that platform to run as fast as before. But I see little benefit to the OS upgrade on that platform for now, until perhaps Skype gets released and iBooks appears on it (also missing from the GM).

Have you installed it yet? What has your experience been?

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  • RE: iOS 4 performance on older devices

    Got it installed, no major issues as yet. It looks like some software will need to be upgraded for the new OS though. I had one unexpected reboot, let's hope that won't be a common issue needing an update to fix. I'm running on a 3GS 16GB. Love folders and the email update.
    gtdworak
  • BWAAHAHAHAAHHA!!!!!!!!!

    In other words multitasking done right was actually hardware done right which everyone else had already done by now. I have been LMAO at all the iFools swearing Jobs created some new form of multitasking by waving his hands. In reality all he did was up the hardware specs to get it done. It also shows that if the earlier iPhones actually tried to do what the Android devices were doing from day one they'd crash.
    storm14k
    • Android came out what a couple years after the original

      @storm14k
      iPhone maybe close to three actually right? So that gives them a few years of tech improvements maybe even memory for such devices prices going down? How much memory did the first Android enabled devices come with? Like any tech it's ALWAYS easier the second time around when shown the way but the likes of Apple:P

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • RE: iOS 4 performance on older devices

        @James Quinn The first Android devices came with about as much memory as the iPhone of the time had. The point is that while the Android devices ran with these features though they were sluggish at times were usable. It looks like the iPhone simply could not have handled the features.

        Now thats fine and all but the other point is that Jobs is claiming they have done some real work with their software when they haven't. They have the same thing now that other platforms have had all along and just upped the hardware specs to handle it. Just call it what it is....thats all I'm saying. Theres nothing magical about catching up in hardware specs.
        storm14k
      • Apple's Careful Match of H/W + S/W; Android's Initial Mix'n'non-Match

        @James Quinn: From Wikipedia: "The first phone to run the Android operating system was the HTC Dream, released on 22 October 2008." It had comparable RAM and CPU speed to the 3GS that bowed a bit later.<br><br>I didn't find other Android devices of that era.<br><br>Wikipedia says that T-Mo -- the Dream's primary seller -- celebrated the sale of a million units about a year ago. It also rolled out in Europe & Canada, then seems to have been succeeded later in 2009.<br><br>A million units is not inconsiderable, but it's also nowhere near the acceptance that Apple enjoyed at the time. Not having paid attention to the rather ugly, slow devices that competed back then (the Dream is both), I have no idea whether slow and fussy multi-tasking contributed to the tepid user reaction, or it was an awful software stack, or inexperience working with carriers. (I was a T-Mo user about then and found their voice+data package pretty good.)<br><br>So I endorse your argument: initial Android devices were pretty thin soup, even compared to iPhones of 16 months earlier, and their OS was ill-fitted to the available hardware, being more of a demo of what was to come. (Android's a nice fit for today's devices, IMHO.)<br><br>In contrast, storm14k is blowing smoke by saying that Apple's HUGE amount of work with their very polished iOS didn't help contribute to its capturing half of today's smartphone usage (ultraportables' page hits). <br><br>Further, he/she is just dead wrong in saying that Apple needs a half GB of RAM to multitask, as the 3GS, even with its slower CPU, proves. (The Fall release of iOS4 for iPad will also show how nicely you can work in 256MB.) <br><br>Finally, in ignoring the careful user-experience tuning that Apple does -- say, the detail disclosed today that the 3G isn't fast enough to slide icons *with visually-helpful drop shadows* over wallpaper, so that feature is reserved for the 3GS and faster -- he/she is proving how much the Android people don't understand why regular people find their iPhones fun, and see their friends' Crackberries and WinMos as dinosaurs, their Palm and Android phones more like technology demos.
        WaltFrench
    • Even more pathetic when you look at what was done on WM

      @storm14k
      Multi-tasking worked great on 2003 era hardware with Windows Mobile. That Apple couldn't do it on 2009 era hardware is just downright embarrassing.

      I also liked the apology from the Apple zealots that tech is easier when someone else does it first and then the suggestion that Apple was somehow "first" with smartphones. The suggestion that Android was a copy of iPhone is just hilarious. Apple hasn't been first with anything. They had to copy the tablet, the smartphone, and the MP3 player from the true innovators who came first.
      NonZealot
      • My point was that others did it wrong. It took Apple

        @NonZealot
        To blaze the correct trail and then others began to follow. Yup there were smartphones like WM but not impressive. Then came the iPhone without multitasking and impressive it was indeed. I can say that because well WM went nowhere fast and the iPhone moved from Zero market share to well it is increasing still so who knows. I can also say this because after the iPhone made it's impression others like RIM and such began to bring their iPhone wanna be's out. However the first batch were much less impressive than Google and it's Android I must admit. The BB Storm? More like the BB Drizzle but it did have very obviously shades of the iPhone:P

        Same with the other deices you mentioned you are correct they were around before Apple but seriously nobody cared and for good reason they were not very good or from another view when Apple entered the market they came out with a device that WAS interesting as apposed to those who just did not do it right.

        Pagan jim

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
    • My iPhone isn't crashing

      @storm14k

      Nor is it coming apart like some other smart phones.

      It's all a matter of preferences, like some people still swear how great Vista was.
      Ken_z
      • Congratulations!!

        @Ken_z
        [i]My iPhone isn't crashing[/i]

        You are one of the lucky few! Unfortunately, not everyone has your luck. :(
        NonZealot
      • RE: iOS 4 performance on older devices

        @Ken_z The response I have seen to these iPhone problems brings into question just how many problems have these other smartphones actually had. When you see a site like Engadget talk about it what do you see? You see them claim that they have been getting hammered with reports of problems but if you look at the comments you see hardly anyone with the actual problem. Now go over there and see this iPhone problem. Theres barely a comment where someone isn't confirming that the issues are true....the same for other iPhone sites I've seen. It seems to me like some sites are hunting for problems in other platforms and running with them. Ironically they can't run FROM the problems the iPhone is facing now.
        storm14k
    • Foolish Assertions

      @storm14k said, "if the earlier iPhones actually tried to do what the Android devices were doing from day one they'd crash."<br><br>That's probably correct: the 2007 iPhone had 128MB of RAM -- twice the 64MB that the market-defining Blackberries had, and part of the iPhone's problem image of being a high-priced device. Of course, Android devices in 2007 had ZERO MB of RAM stock. Android Inc had only been bought by Google in 2005, too early to have gotten anything shipped.<br><br>In the 2009 3GS, RAM is up to 256MB. Those machines, as of yesterday, do the very kind of restricted multi-tasking that Android encourages for better performance, but does not enforce. But Apple doesn't attempt to multitask on my 3G, a slower, 2008 vintage device. Again, the 2008 vintage Androids don't multi-task AT ALL because there aren't any.<br><br>I'm all impressed by the many real innovations at Android but amazed that so many fools think newer, costlier devices somehow represent superior engineering. The 2010 Cadillac Esplanade has lots of neat cupholders and other convenience that the original Porsche 911 lacks, but it's the 911 that makes the Car of the Century list, while nobody even nominated any Cadillac. Android has lots of neat features, too, but about 3 people in total would've bought them if introduced in the time frame that you're laughing about.<br><br>"In reality all [Jobs] did was up the hardware specs to get [multitasking] done." Just plain FALSE. Apple has a history, going back to the Apple ][, of not throwing a ton of hardware at problems in an effort to get something out the door. While more hardware is obviously better, iOS4 really does multi-task well, with protection from excess battery drain, on real-world 256MB RAM machines.<br><br>We'll see reports on the 3GS, and this fall we'll see reports on how well multitasking works with the current iPad, also a 256MB device but with a faster CPU. From my modest experience as a developer, I expect nobody to complain.<br><br>Good to see people in such high spirits, but in trying to show how clever you are, you just make it seem like Android-boosting is all a way of bragging, "I'm more clever than you Apple sheep," the most offensive way to prove how totally wrong you are.
      WaltFrench
  • Other improvements...

    3GS 16gb here - can anyone else confirm for me that the text, especially on the home screens, looks clearer? I'm presuming this is partly because of the background imagery now, but I'm wondering if the iPhone equivalent of ClearType has been upgraded - it definitely looks sharper!
    Ben_E
    • That is the RDF hard at work

      @Ben_E
      RDF will make 480*320 look clear and sharp for you... as long as it is an Apple device at 480*320. Now that the iPhone has 960*640, all other smartphones with a measly 480*320 will be made fun of by Apple zealots everywhere, forgetting that it used to be Apple trailing the resolution wars.
      NonZealot
      • Or not....

        @NonZealot
        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • Ever Seen Them Together?

        @NonZealot & storm 14k Come you "two," admit it. Youse guys is the same dude.
        godsfault
  • Just go it installed a few minutes ago.

    I have an 8GB 3G. Seemed to be a little slow at first as things were resetting themselves, but now it seems at least as fast as it was before. Nice!
    CowLauncher
  • RE: iOS 4 performance on older devices

    I just found a link to new "hidden" features in iPhone OS4!
    http://www.mypixplace.info/iphone.htm
    preston2190
  • RE: iOS 4 performance on older devices

    So far I have installed it on two older 3G models and 1 iTough 3rdGen.

    Performance on the 3G so far is hard to get a good handle on due to the number of bugs.
    see http://forum.tipb.com/iphone-forum/192085-ios-4-issues-bugs.html for a good bug blog.
    You run into issue and start asking youself is this a performance problem or a bug?

    so far: very buggy
    rhonin
    • RE: iOS 4 performance on older devices

      @zenwalker
      One quick update: the longer you run after updating the quicker the 3G seems to get - still slow though
      rhonin
    • Of course it is buggy!!

      @zenwalker
      Apple doesn't want you upgrading for free, they want you to buy a new iPhone!

      None of these issues will be fixed.
      NonZealot