Hands-on with iOS 4 on the Apple iPhone 3GS

Hands-on with iOS 4 on the Apple iPhone 3GS
Today marked the rebirth for a decent amount iPhone owners across the country as Apple unleashed the latest version of their mobile platform, iOS 4, to an awaiting audience that's been eager for a refreshing reboot to jump start the overall experience. We've been fortunate in checking out iOS 4 running for the better portion of the day on an iPhone 3GS to witness the full potential of what it has to offer. After a reasonable wait time of less than 30 minutes, our phone was finally ready as we were first surprised to see our usual wallpaper now donning the background of the main menu – "what a shock" at first sight! As we slowly started to check out the interface, we did notice that the speed was a bit more peppy with even more fluid looking movements between scrolling in the main menu. Additionally, there are some transition effects and new animations littered in almost everything that you do, such as getting back to the home screen, that slightly adds a hint of style to the new platform. 

Now one of the biggest touted features of iOS 4 is its ability to multi-task – sort of for most people who aren't up to speed regarding it. As much as we appreciate the new feature, we find it in its current form to act more like a quick menu than anything else – meaning that double pressing the home button will present you with apps that you've opened recently so you can run them again. Once you've done that, the dock will allow you to switch between any of those apps, while pressing your finger down on any app will enable you to choose which apps to close. Although there is some true multi-tasking functionality that can be seen, like talking on Skype while writing an email, most apps have yet to take advantage of this true feature. You'll have to check out the App Store to see whether or not a specific app has been updated to be implemented with multi-task. Unfortunately for owners of the original iPhone and iPhone 3G, you'll be singing the blues knowing that multi-task will be nowhere in sight and will only be an option to the current iPhone 3GS and the upcoming iPhone 4.

There are additional packed goodies to make this update a worthwhile one – like being able to read an iBook now that the app is available on the App Store. Surely this can be seen as a useful item for those individuals that prefer carrying on something more compact than the iPad. We were able to read Winnie the Pooh and experience all the subtle similarities between it and the iPad. The unification of all inboxes will also come in handy by a myriad of users who prefer everything to come in at a single place. And to add more depth to the iPhone's email system, iOS 4 finally presents your emails in threaded view – which we found to be quite a pleasant treat. In keeping things organized, we adore the addition of  Folders to the platform which will ultimately reduce the amount of flicks required in getting to a specific app and allows for more room overall. Although it's a nice new feature, we didn't care too much for the digital zoom that's now available when taking photos – sadly, it's not yet an option for video. We found the ability to create your own play list on the go is a much wanted feature that'll eliminate the need to rely on your computer. Finally, now that double pressing the home button will no longer bring up the iPod controls, you can simply scroll to the left most panel in the dock to quickly gain access to some common functions and iPod controls as well.

Overall, we'd imagine the new presentation will surely capture the gaze of most people at first – especially on the iPhone 3GS where we noticed some of the most fluid movements when navigating around the platform. Now that multi-tasking is available to an extent, we still adore the fact that we no longer are required to get back to the homescreen to run another app. However, as time goes on when developers of current and future apps are able to tinker around more with iOS 4, we'll truly begin to see its potential take form. Naturally we'd surmise that Apple didn't enable full blown multi-tasking in order to keep the overall performance of the platform stable – so we don't get pissed due to lag or slowdown.

With all these new features in tow with iOS 4, we're still going to see how it affects battery life over the course of the next day to give our final judgment. As a final note for those who tread the path of jailbreaking their phones, there is yet to be one available for iOS 4 and as well as an unlock solution – so it would be wise to wait for one to come out before proceeding to install it.

So did you update already? What do you think? Tell us in the comments! 

UPDATE: Right on time, hacktivating your iPhone 3G with iOS 4.0 is now possible thanks to the redsn0w beta tool from the iPhone Dev-Team. You can check it out here.



1. vzw fanman

Posts: 1977; Member since: Dec 11, 2008

i like that you can finally have a background. but still it's lacking the creativity and personalization that android offers.

2. ilia1986 unregistered

And that is according to the core principles of Apple - and probably why people hate it so much. I, however, prefer to have a device that might not be as nifty or customizable, but nevertheless a device which always - absolutely 100% always - works flawlessly every time in exactly the same way.

3. ilia1986 unregistered

P.S. Someone at PA has clearly thought up one of the most disgusting and convoluted background images for a phone i've ever seen.

4. vzw fanman

Posts: 1977; Member since: Dec 11, 2008

so android doesn't work flawlessly?

5. *HOVA*

Posts: 564; Member since: Dec 11, 2008

I know a few people who have the Droid and it randomly wipes their contacts, shuts off etc. Yea you have mobile backup but it's the fact that it does it at all that's pretty annoying. I'd hafta say it doesn't work flawlessly from what owners tell me.

7. JeffdaBeat unregistered

Here's one thing I think all of us would benefit from learning...Apple isn't so much about customization more than they are about absolute performance and having complete control over the user experience. I was quite shocked to see the low processor behind the iPhone 3GS because the user experience is so peppy...even a year later. I've played around with the EVO which has four times the process speed, yet lags at times. The iPhone doesn't need that much power because iOS doesn't demand it. That being said, some of the hardcore customizations people are looking for needs that processing power and the 3GS probably doesn't have the backing behind it. Customization is great...but I've dealt with Windows Mobile...which was often fully customizable...still a horrible experience.

8. vzw fanman

Posts: 1977; Member since: Dec 11, 2008

your basing your opinion on one phone model. wait till the droid x comes out with a texas instruments OMAP 1 ghz processor. :-)

9. teamblackdroid

Posts: 4; Member since: Jun 22, 2010

I had a g1 for a long time and none of that ever happened, maybe the people you know put their phone in the microwave or something lol and no it's not flawless, on android sometimes the apps freeze or force close and the battery life isn't the greatest, but what phone doesnt have problem. I've owned a blackberry before and when it freezes it takes like twenty minutes to come back to life and don't even get me started on restarting the phone. Then iPhones have their issues which I don't really know much about because I've never owned one. I would like to own one but not with AT&T foolish new data plans

13. deago78

Posts: 170; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

I like it personally

14. tbacba

Posts: 134; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

...a device which always - absolutely 100% always - works flawlessly every time .... Wait, I thought you were talking about the iPhone???

18. BlackSirius16

Posts: 84; Member since: May 21, 2010

no we're talking about android because its specifically better than iOS

6. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

concidering i just saw an iphone with the blue screen of death, i would refute that "100% all the time, flawlessly" claim pretty easily. nothing is 100%, not even fanboy eyeglasses.

10. sinfulta

Posts: 279; Member since: Dec 11, 2008

I agree. When I had my 3GS, I barely had any apps on the phone and it would freeze, A call would come in and you couldn't slide the unlock/answer slide and it would go to voice mail. Randomly it would just default to the homescreen in an app (not always 3rd party), or the phone would reset itself completely. It by all means did not work flawlessly, I would say it was actually slightly worse than my incredible. But the 3GS did work a little better than my Eris. Ever since I got rid of my 3GS for my Incredible it has worked so much better. This new phone is a beast, Extremely fast, and I don't loose calls or run out of 3G anymore. I have actually had the phone a month and not one dropped call or area that did not have 3G. My 3GS, was literally 4-5 times a week having some kind of connection issue. (Probably ATT)

12. ilia1986 unregistered

Well, what you describe matches those problems experienced by people who have jailbroken or otherwise hacked their iPhone. It is common knowledge that doing these things to the iphone might cause damage and\or performance issues. And when I was referring to the Android problems I wasn't actually refering to technical ones - but to the common fact that if you load too much stuff to it - your overall experience will degrade, and will become choppy and laggy etc. This cannot happen in the iPhone since Apple have already thought about everything beforehand - since they control everything. Regarding technical problems : if you notice, there are a lot of phone descriptions on Wikipedia. Now please search the "Nexus one" There. You will notice a section called "Criticism". That means that a significant portion of it's users have generally disliked the phone. The same section can be found on the Samsung Galaxy, and on many many other phone. Not a single iPhone model contains such a section. This may not be an accurate estimation of the amount of problems each phone has over another - but it's the only one I know that is actually as unbiased as possible. There HAS to be a reason people are buying the iPhone and iPad like crazy, and no fanboysm doesn't count when we talk about millions of people here.

11. phone333

Posts: 331; Member since: Feb 04, 2009

No such thing as a Flawless smartphone. It's very easy for Apple to make sure their device has the least possible amount of issue since they only have to deal with 1 device, 1 platform 1 user experience and of course 1 network. I'd be surprise if the iphone isn't they most stable. However on the other hand by buying an iphone you either love it or hate it....or live in denial. There's not tweaking it to fit your taste... well...now you can change the background so kudos to that progress

15. ilia1986 unregistered

Well, you can most certainly disagree with it's core philosophy, but I seriously do not understand from a completely objective point of view - how can you actually hate an iPhone. I'll tell you about hate. I HATE my current device. Its a Nokia 5800, and it has frustrated me over and over again to such an extent that I'd gladly drop it off from a 100 feet tall building, run it over several times with a car, step on it 40 times, burn it and throw the ashes to the see. Thats hate. I cannot imagine anyone ever feeling anything close to that to an iPhone. It may not be the best device for you, it may not be that customizable, etc etc, but theres no denying that it's still Awesome. Same goes for Android devices in general. As long as a device provides it's user with a steady, comfortable and fluid user experience - that user won't really hate the device.

24. jslantabo

Posts: 3; Member since: Jul 14, 2010

ilia1986, talk about unfair! I am very, very sure that it i possible to hate an iPhone or Android phone (I don't hate them personally, but I know several people who do). Sure you're entitled to your own opinion (that the iPhone is awesome) but come on. You may like it, but not everyone else does! Oh and on your comment on the Nokia XpressMusic 5800, I have the exact same phone, and I could not disagree more! The phone is wonderful - no, i don't think it's the best phone in existance, but it is pretty good. It basically does all the iPhone does, only looks different and has a different OS. And it has REAL multitasking! And I have at least one review to back it up: http://www.cnet.com.au/nokia-5800-xpressmusic-339292465.htm Also, I have a few questions: 1. Why do you hate your phone so much? 2. If you don't like it, why did you buy it? 3. Would you buy another Nokia phone, since they all either run on the 5800's OS or a linux-based one called Meego?

16. android#1

Posts: 74; Member since: Jan 12, 2010

i thought of something, i know a lot of iphone fanboys would say that the EVO is better than all iphones up till the iphone 4, but since all iphones have ios 4 and the only thing that sets the iphone 4 apart from the others is a front VGA camera and a single LED flash, then i guess that makes the EVO better than the iphone 4 as well cause it out does those features as well. (a little bit higher resolution doesnt cut it for me either)

17. ilia1986 unregistered

Geez I say this once again - there is no such thing as "Android is better than iPhone" or "iPhone is better than Android". Both platforms are awesome. Both have distinct and very clear advantages and disadvantages. It's about personal preference, nothing more. You all know the numbers. Make your call. And stop with all this "Steve Jobs is evil, Android is teh suxx0rz" stuff.

19. ayephoner

Posts: 858; Member since: Jun 09, 2009

There are quite a few more difference than what you've listed. And it's a difference in philosophy. Apple provides you a bare bones approach to many things while sacrificing as little as possible. Android uses more of a big, big, big approach. Their devices allow you a ton of customization, but use a bunch of power (processor and battery). There are plenty of people that would rather have a 3GS than any android device.

20. mcmkone

Posts: 54; Member since: Mar 24, 2009

I think the iPhone 4 is a good piece of hardware it's just a shame about the software... there's no dramatic difference and multitasking is not true multitasking... When you start to look at the calibre of firmware’s with handsets being launched for a lower price also the economical struggle, which still exists, Apple may have had their time for this one… I’ve always said the iPhone doesn’t become competitive with the other present and future smart phones until you jailbreak it… sad to say but this is the only reason why I have an iPhone and potentially will consider buying the new one based on the fact I can jailbreak it…! Other than that my HTC Desire, right now stays warm in my pocket because of the features and the standard things we’ve been able to do with our mobiles for years since the SE P900 like bluetooth sharing, real multi-tasking not a stop and start process, access to files management, create, view, edit and send Word/excel documents..etc Yes the iPhone is easy to use.. call it the smartphone for dummies, I’m sure they have a book too, but unless they seriously up their game in the firmware and change the look and feel of the iPhone properly, next year will be the end of the iPhone and by GSMA 2011, we’ll know why too….!!

21. ilia1986 unregistered

Ummm and what will happen in 2011? I seriously doubt that the iPhone's position will decline any time soon, as the 600k units pre-sold in the first 24 hours of the iPhone 4 kinda point in a completely opposite direction. I'd however definitely call it not competitive - it just blows away the competition in terms of units sold compared to any other single device! As I said earlier - the iPhone may not do all the things other devices do - bur first of all - what it does - it does best, and second of all - not everyone needs the stuff it can't do. I for one still don't think that you need 3rd party multi-tasking on a phone anyway - as you were already able to multi-task between SMS, mail, safari and phone calls ever since iPhone 2G iirc. And if Apple made Multi-tasking on the iPhone 4 possible - without draining the battery - thats even better for me. Yes, its going to take awhile for every single app to support it - but I prefer to wait for a bit for that - and not have my phone slow down or die from lack of power due to multitasking as it's handled on other phones out there. Oh - and you can edit and send Word\excel docs with the appropriate apps. In the end of the day - as I've said before (just 2 posts above you, mcmkone - if you bothered to look up) - its a matter of taste and personal preferences. iPhone has not catching-up to do, and its on the same level - if not above the best Android handsets there. Android itself is too a great platform - and like the iPhone - it too has its advantages and disadvantages. The fact that some people prefer one over the other - doesn't mean that X rox0rz and Y sux0rz. When it comes to iPhone and Android - you cant say that one is better than another as a whole. Its what you prefer. When it comes to anything else - feel free to bash away. I myself constantly do this to my Nokia 5800.

25. jslantabo

Posts: 3; Member since: Jul 14, 2010

"second of all - not everyone needs the stuff it can't do." That argument can be made for any feature-lacking phone.

22. richk

Posts: 32; Member since: Jun 23, 2010

I CANT WAIT FOR THIS :) Hello richard Thanks for registering your interest in the iPhone 4 with T-Mobile. We just wanted to reassure you that you'll be able to order your iPhone 4 soon! It's hard to wait for such a tasty piece of kit, but bear with us, it'll be worth the wait. And remember, you'll be part of the UK's best smartphone network. It's official - we were voted Best Network at the Smartphone Essentials Readers Awards 2009. Thanks again - you'll be having fun with your iPhone 4 soon. Bye for now The T-Mobile team

23. ilia1986 unregistered

Plus 1 to you sir - for just being happy for ya that you're getting this.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.