Thursday, July 8, 2010

Rolling Back iPhone iOS4 to iPhone iOS3

Installing iPhone iOS4 on my iPhone 3G and it was a big mistake for me. My iPhone instantly changed from a lovely, responsive device, to one that was taking 15-20 seconds to start up the SMS or Mail applications.

The list of issues I had with iOS4 was long and uncomfortable enough to force me into deciding to rollback to iOS3.

  • Slow to start applications
  • Applications are generally slow and unresponsive
  • Camera app was slow to start, and slow to take a picture
  • 3G network access became unreliable
  • Lockups and freezing requiring restarts

It was slow and buggy enough that I hated using my phone at all. I didn't get this phone to become the owner of a useless brick.

Waiting for the first update to iOS4 seemed like a lame idea. Who knows how many of the issues would be addressed anyway?

iTunes won't directly allow you to rollback to a previous OS just by choosing a backup that was on that OS version. It doesn't downgrade the operating system, it only restores the data.

Trying to restore an earlier firmware explicitly in iTunes got close, but also failed.

It turns out there is one more step needed to make the rollback work... RecBoot. @pjammer sent me a link to a YouTube video showing how to rollback to iOS3, which worked a treat.

After restoring the earlier firmware you will receive an error message telling you the OS could not be restored and you should choose one of your backups to restore from. Running RecBoot at this point in time allows you to take you phone out of recovery mode.... to find the firmware of your choice running.

You can then restore your data or setup for a new phone.


Guess what? My iPhone 3G is fast again. I'll be researching very cautiously before attempting another upgrade to iOS4.


Roger Stout said...

Thanks for the link to my youtube video.

Scott Barr said...

Hi Roger

Many thanks for sharing your video! :)


Gordon_Stuck said...

I too have experienced a significant slowdown with my iPhone 3G running iOS 4.0.1. I remember it being a lot faster. I really get frustrated when I hit the SMS (messaging) app and it gives me a useless white screen ususally for up to 15 seconds. Just UNACCEPTABLE! Other apps have similar delays. It makes me want to take the iPhone and hurl it into a brick wall.

In addition, I get frequent app crashes...they just revert back to the home screen. I don't recall this ever happening before I went to iOS4.

My phone has about 1/2 of it's Flash memory free. I've tried very hard to keep it more or less "clean" of any wierd apps or excess data. Rebooting it does not help.

I've read quite a few posts on the Apple forums about this problem. I completely disagree with some folks who have said, essentially "iOS 4 has many new features so you should expect the older, slower device to be slower", becuase 1) the new features that iOS4 gives the iPhone 3G are not very significant and 2) Apple *could* have created a new iOS4 that senses what kind of iPhone its was on so it kept the same user speed/experience. All this leads me to believe that Apple either has been somewhat lazy and letting iOS4 become way to bloated (which means that the iPhone 3G will run slower and even the newer phones - 3GS and 4 - run slower than they could) *or* worse, Apple has somehome purposfully made it so iOS4 runs extra slow on the iPhone 3G to frustrate people and make they want to buy a new phone.

I also disagree with the ocassional post that says their iPhone 3G is running faster with iOS4. I think they lie, or there is something very fishy.

In any event it is way to slow right now.

I am thinking VERY SERIOUSLY about trying your process to revert back to version 3.1.3.

Thanks a lot for posting this blog on "Wandering Coder"

One last comment...I think Apple can still make good sales of their newer phones without (possibly) playing games or alientating their older phones customers. They have good new features, processor speed, etc with their newer phones. That should be enough. Allowing their older phones to stop working well (slow, crashing) for customers who are loyal and keep the device proplerly updated in iTunes is unethical.

It's like bait and switch: for the first year or so of having the phone I was baited into loving it, but now they've switched it on me to a significantly crappier product.

Scott Barr said...

Thanks for your great comments Gordon. I agree with every point you've made and I can see you're experiencing the same frustration I was. I had become so frustrated with my 3G under iOS4 that attempting to bury it at high velocity into solid objects had flashed through my mind... more than once :)

I also felt the exact same way about the "bait and switch". Apple had taken my phone and given me a sub-standard device.

The rollback is *very* simple, and if it doesn't work for you for some reason you can always allow iTunes to restore iOS4 again. I haven't heard of the rollback failing at all.

The only feature of iOS4 I would have missed if the speed and stability didn't degrade so badly is the new Inbox in which is fantastic when using multiple Mail accounts. But it was so slow to get to an Inbox.... or start composing a new message... or edit, save, send... that was entirely unusable anyway.

My single regret with rolling back is not doing it sooner! The 3G doesn't receive the full benefit from the OS upgrade anyway, and speed and stability go out the window. It is simply not worth it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! iOS 4 turned my iPhone 3G into a total POS. Now it's back.

mark said...

thanks for the great post..
i've been cracking ma head to downgrade my iPhone 3G..
ur post was as if i was writting it.. :)