Does iOS 4.1 fix slow iPhone 3G units? Yes.

Does iOS 4.1 fix slow iPhone 3G units? Yes.

Finally there’s a piece of good news for iPhone 3G users: an iOS4 fix appears to be on the way.

While iOS4 promised many new features for iPhone 3G users, the OS was more trouble than it was worth for most. Users saw their iPhones grind to a halt, to the degree that they were nearly unusable.

Users had held out hope that Apple’s hasty iOS4.0.1 patch would rectify the problem. Unfortunately for the affected users, the problems were not fixed and running iOS4 remained an unpopular option among iPhone 3G owners.

The problem may end soon, though.

In our tests, it appears that the massive slow-downs that iPhone 3G users experienced with iOS4 could become a thing of the past with Apple’s next software update. Tests with a beta version of Apple’s iOS 4.1 on a well-used 3G suggest that the new OS has increased the phone’s responsiveness. Indeed, apps load much more quickly, text entry is much smoother and the phone no longer slows down beyond the point of usability when more than one browser window is open.

The fix is very welcome, but it brings up an interesting question. Why didn’t Apple catch this issue? It seems like they barely even tested iOS4 on the iPhone3G.

Apple did limit the functionality that iOS4 provides on the iPhone3G, probably for this reason. Yet, even with this reduced functionality, the OS runs so slowly on the device that it verges on unusable. It’s almost as if Apple wanted 3G users to see in vivid detail exactly what they were missing out on because they didn’t upgrade to a newer device: a smooth operating system.

The video below is a parody, but it paints a painfully accurate portrait of what grappling with iOS4.0 on the iPhone3G is like. Before upgrading to iOS4, most apps ran smoothly and crashes were a rare experience. With iOS4, the user experience is much closer to the way this video portrays it.

While iOS4.1 does fix the issue, it forces us to consider when the beta OS will become available for widespread use. While you can download the beta today, it will essentially brick your phone unless it is registered as a developer’s device.

Apple needs to push this update out as quickly as possible. While not as desperate a problem as the iPhone4’s signal reporting problem, this issue still affects tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of users.

The issue probably won’t become the PR nightmare that the deathgrip disaster was, but it’s certainly not looking good. Many users are so sick of the problem that they have downgraded to iOS3.1.3 to make their phones useful again. These users are mad, and the only way to placate them is to fix the issue by releasing this new update.

Thanks to Mahmood Andishmand for helping with the iOS beta.

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