A week with iOS4 on a 3G phone, not worth it

I was pretty skeptical about installing iOS4 on my 3G phone, but I thought I’d take one for the team, and try to figure out if there was an added value to the update.

I’m as guilty as everyone else when it comes to craving after the latest Apple product, it usually lasts a couple of months, but eventually I get over it. I almost pulled the trigger on a 3GS iPhone, but managed to talk myself out of it at the last second. There just wasn’t enough new there for me to justify a new contract with Rogers. iPhone 4 on the other hand is a huge update, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to forgo an upgrade.

But, before upgrading to the new phone, I figured that I’d spend some time with iOS on an iPhone 3G, just to see if I could do without the upgrade. Turns out, if you’re wanting to run iOS, you’re gonna want to update. We all balked at Steve Jobs’ comments about the 3G iPhone not being able to handle multitasking, but after a week of iOS use, I can see his point. My 3G phone is starting to become pretty useless to me. I fear for the super early adopters who picked up the iPhone 2G model, it really sucks, but your’e gonna have to update your phones.

Outside of carrying the new iOS tag, and folders, there’s not much you’re going to be getting on the 3G iPhone, or the 2G version, except a giant headache.

What’s not coming to iOS on the 3G?

iBooks, it’s no where to be seen. Sure, Apple could change their mind, but at the time of writing, 3GS phones have been getting access to the iBooks application in the AppStore. If you’re on a 3G phone, you’re out of luck. No iBooks for you! Next!

Fast App Switching is also missing from the 3G model. We expected that though, since Steve Jobs himself said the device wouldn’t be able to handle the software to run multitasking. I know a lot of jailbreakers who would disagree with that statement, but I digress.

Bluetooth Keyboard Support (White KB + 3G). We’re not 100% sure about this one. We tested with one of those White Keyboard models, and the iPhone wouldn’t find the bluetooth pairing. So, it could be the keyboard, or iOS. If anyone can provide further information, we’d appreciate it.

What you will get on the 3G

Most of the little things coming to iOS will be present on the 3G iPhone. Digital zoom, unified inbox, folders, and the ability to turn on/off cellular data are all present. The game centre application is also on the device, but we’re not sure how that’s going to play out until games start implementing the service.

So, what’s the story, morning glory?

I wish I never upgraded to iOS 4, and I’ll be reverting my phone back as soon as possible. I may upgrade to an iPhone 4, but until then, I’ll be forgoing the software update on my iPhone 3G. The phone has become unresponsive and lags a lot more than 3.1.3 ever did. Something as simple as unlocking the phone from sleep mode now has a couple of second delay attached to the usual timeframe. Something that is just not acceptable when it comes to a phone. Having a lag when answering your phone could be the difference between answering a call in time or having to recall your caller. That can get annoying in a hurry.

I’m grateful that Apple’s giving us the ability to upgrade our “legacy” phones to new versions of the OS, and more importantly, that they’re trying to maintain the software in a way that won’t completely hobble the device, but at some point the cost of progress is going to mean leaving behind a version or two of the device. It seems like that time is now, and the 3G iPhone has officially gone the same route as PowerPC. I hate it as much as you do, but until my iPhone 3G actually dies on me, I’m going to have a hard time justifying an upgrade.

What would be awesome is if companies, including Apple, took a moment and optimized their code to run on some of these legacy devices. If they’re truly embracing a “green” movement, it would certainly mean less iPhones in a landfill, then Apple would make sure that their devices remained functional for their shelf-life.

Update: With the official release of iOS 4 yesterday (June 21, 2010) Apple released iBooks to all iPhone users in the App Store.  So, if you want iBooks on your iPhone, hit up the App Store.
Joshua is the Content Marketing Manager at BuySellAds. He’s also the founder of Macgasm.net. And since all that doesn’t quite give him enough content to wrangle, he’s also a technology journalist in his spare time, with bylines at PCWorld, Macworld… Full Bio