Apple Looking Into iOS 4 Performance Problems on 3G Phones

Apple has reportedly begun looking into complaints of poor performance by iOS 4 operating system on its iPhone 3G phone, a move that comes in response to weeks of criticism on Apple's forums and numerous blog posts advising people who own the older phone not to upgrade.

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) confirmed it is investigating the problem to the Wall Street Journal, but did not elaborate.

The iPhone 3G, which debuted in 2008, and is a fairly dated smartphone by technical standards. It had a 620MHz ARM processor made by Samsung that was down-clocked to 412MHz to preserve power and reduce heat, compared to the 833Mhz processor down-clocked to 600MHz in the 3GS, released in 2009. The iPhone 3G has 128MB of application memory, while the 3GS has 256MB.

The newest phone, the iPhone 4, has the 1GHz A4 processor (reportedly down-clocked to 800MHz), and 512MB of application memory.

Apple issued the iOS for existing iPhones days before the release of the iPhone 4, and according to market researcher Chitika, it has already achieved 50 percent share of the iPhone market.

Apple apparently already knew that the 3G was not up to snuff with the new iOS operating system because the device did not support multitasking, a feature only included in the 3GS and 4 models. But performance has also been a problem, and almost from day one.

A 41-page thread on Apple's support forums, starting just days after the release of iOS in late June, is replete with complaints by iPhone 3G owners who say their phone's performance turned sluggish with the new operating system. They also complained that the battery drained faster and that the phone runs very hot.

A number of blogs, including dedicated Apple blogs like The Unofficial Apple Weblog, have advised 3G owners not to upgrade to iOS 4.

Apple did not return requests for comment.

Making the problem worse is that Apple does not make it easy to downgrade back to 3.1.3, the last version prior to 4.0. There are blog tips on how to do it, but those aren't supported by the company.

Ben Bajarin, analyst with Creative Technologies, said he noticed the problem from the outset. "I definitely noticed that it slows down quite drastically the performance of the 3G. There are tips and tricks around the Net on how to better your performance on the 3G. The question is what led to that," he told InternetNews.com.

He figures that it's due to the older CPU and memory, since there is precedent. iOS 3.0 did not run well on the first-generation iPhone. And then there was Vista.

"That was a CPU and discrete hardware problem that made it run so slow. My gut would be that it has something to do with the processor and memory allocation," Bajarin said.

He noted that a similar situation could well happen with Android OS 3.0, a.k.a. "Gingerbread." It likely won't run very well on older devices, either, Bajarin said.

Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


operating system, Android, iPhone, Apple, IOS