Oh, iOS 4. I upgraded my iPhone 3G to you and what did I get after waiting six long hours for the upgrade? Folders. And a lagging iPhone 3G which felt like it'd transformed from a rabbit into an turtle overnight.
Sure, my 3G wasn't as snappy as the 3GS or even comparable to the fast new iPhone 4. But it was at least usable. After the upgrade to iOS 4 however, it lagged all the time - so much so that using it was painful. I hadn't considered upgrading to an iPhone 4 because I like to get some good mileage out of my devices, and my 3G was not even 2 years old. But after the upgrade, I had to seriously consider giving Apple more of my cash for bricking my device.
I wasn't the only one feeling the speed hit, so were other friends carrying the 3G, and it was widely documented online, aptly summed up in this video demo between an iPhone 3G running iOS 3 and iOS 4:
So does the iOS 4.1 upgrade fix the speed hit as promised by Jobs? I eagerly installed it this morning (making me a little late to work cough cough), and in the last couple of hours using it, it feels l have my iPhone 3G back again. Apps feel like they launch faster - not super fast like the iPhone 4 but as fast as they used to launch pre-iOS 4.
Using the video above to do a quick comparison, I discovered that while the camera still launches in about the same time (5 seconds), the Settings app now launches faster at 3 seconds compared to iOS 4's 8 seconds. Although I don't have anything to measure it against, the most pleasant improvement feels like the Messaging app. I had a real SMS conversation again this morning, after avoiding the Messaging app for the longest time because of the long, long lags under iOS 4. After the iOS 4.1 update however, it feels a lot more responsive now.
While the iOS 4.1 has brought my iPhone back, the whole episode has underscored the point that the iPhone 3G is on its last legs. Unlike other Apple products which you can possibly use for years (two of my colleagues still have the old iPod classics with monochrome screens, and I have a 2nd-generation Nano still serving me well), the constant upgrades to iOS place more and more demands on the iPhone's hardware. Already the 3G is missing out on iOS 4 features like wallpapers and iOS 4.1 features like Game Center. And it's looking pretty certain that come iOS 5, the 3G is going to be completely left out. So if you're looking to buy a new iPhone, always go for the latest to make sure you get a few good years out of it.
Unfortunately, the one thing the update still hasn't fixed are the black thumbnails found in the camera roll (which also feels snappier):
So, iOS 4.1.1 Apple?
Alvin Soon / Associate Features Editor
I like coffee and cameras, but not together.