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iPhone 3GS Random Reboots: Where Is The Fix?

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This past month has probably been the worst month I’ve had with my iPhone 3GS since I got the phone nearly three years ago. The reason for that is pretty simple. My iPhone 3GS has decided to start shutting itself off and turning itself back on.

As someone who covers gadgets for a living, I thought I could troubleshoot and figure out exactly what was wrong with my phone. Especially because I know this phone as well as I know the back of my hand.

Problem is, it has happened multiple times, in different use cases and on different operating systems leaving me completely clueless.

Read: iOS 5.1.1 on iPhone 3GS: Final Impressions and Performance.

The first time it happened, I was on iOS 5.1 and I was sending a text message to a friend. I didn’t have anything new or different open. In fact, I am crazy about keeping applications closed. Typically, I only have one application open at a time. All of a sudden, without warning, my phone decided to shut itself off.

The screen went black for a second and then the familiar Apple logo appeared. I started to panic and thought that this might be the end. That I would be forced into using my Samsung Galaxy Nexus. I waited a minute and it appeared to be stuck on the Apple logo.

So, I did a hard reset where you hold down the power button and home button and sure enough, my phone booted up like nothing happened.

Needless to say, I was not amused and hoped that it was just an isolated event.

Wishful thinking.

Two days later, as I was scrolling through my music, my phone decided to repeat the action it took just a couple of days prior. Shut down, Apple logo, reboot.

And then it happened again, and again, and again, and again. And again, even after I installed the iOS 5.1.1 update a few short days ago.

Thus far, in the past month, my iPhone 3GS has decided to randomly reboot itself 12 times. I kept a tally. I can’t say that I am angry about it, this is a nearly three year old phone, but I will say that I am frustrated and that’s mainly because I have absolutely no idea what is going on. My habits haven’t changed. I haven’t installed anything shady. I have never jailbroken my device.

Basically, I feel like I am living the nightmare that HTC ThunderBolt owners lived through back in 2011 where their device kept rebooting for no apparent reason. They then had to wait several months before Verizon decided to roll out a fix.

But see, that was a new device. The iPhone 3GS is old. And that really has me worried because I doubt that it’s a priority for Apple. I am hopeful that an upcoming update takes care of the issue but I am a pessimist at this point.

And so, in my pessimistic state, I am reaching out to you, the reader.

Has anyone else experienced random reboots on the iPhone 3GS and if so, were you able to fix it? Please let me know, my mental health depends on your responses.

13 Comments

  1. Paul Harrigan

    05/11/2012 at 4:16 pm

    Adam,

    I suspect the problem is hardware related (probably a connector to one of the boards or the battery coming a little loose), not just software caused. I say this because my own 3GS, also on 5.1 and now on 5.1.1, does not exhibit the same behavior. Of course, software problems can be a little random, so I could be wrong. However, since it seems to happen only while you are using it — i.e., holding and moving it a little — a mechanical issue is at least a decent suspicion.

    I hope it gets resolved for you.

    Paul Harrigan

  2. Jim

    05/11/2012 at 9:43 pm

    I have had reboot issues with my 3GS daily for a couple of months. At first it was happening when it was in constant use for about 30 minutes, but now it may happen more often with less use. I’ve tried backup/restore, reinstalled everything, reinstalled OS and selected apps and it still happens.

    I have noticed that it never happens when plugged in.

  3. Kt

    05/12/2012 at 11:34 pm

    Have the same problem with the 4s

  4. Larry

    05/14/2012 at 9:22 am

    My 3GS has been random rebooting constantly since I installed 5.1.1. It happens when it’s charging, when I’m syncing, when I listen to a podcast, when it’s just sitting there. Bizarre. Don’t recall having any problem before the update. If I did, it wasn’t enough to cause any concern. Now it’s almost unusable. I haven’t dropped it or immersed it in water. What the heck is going on?

  5. bigfodee

    05/18/2012 at 11:05 am

    I have been having the same issue with my 3gs on 5.0.1, but I am jailbroken, so it could be something with my JB apps.

  6. Haley

    05/18/2012 at 9:24 pm

    I am having similar issues with my 3G…
    I did the 5.1.1 software update and now, when I try to edit an image, my phone will just reboot. It’s VERY frustrating…I don’t want to put it into recovery mode because in order to restore, it will delete all my data from my phone. If anyone could help I would be so greatful!

  7. Joe

    05/24/2012 at 1:41 pm

    3GS as well- someone said to take out sim card- switch 3G and data off or on, then put sim
    Back in. All while phone is on

  8. Laiq Atiq

    10/05/2012 at 6:06 am

    100% working Solution here,

    1st simply takeout ur sim outta ur device & switch on 3g & data from your network settings. In case they are on already simply toggle them & plug ur sim card back in n voila its done, seriously !!!!

    2nd (in case if 1st trick didnt worked somehow) ssh ur device or get ifile & goto your launch daemons directory which probably be System/Library/LaunchDaemons & simply remove 5 files [like com.apple.report.samplexx] for safe side just rename with ifile wid extension like i did [_bkup] or watever u want & simply reboot ur device after deleting these 5 files & ur good to go. No annoying restarts no apple logo stucks. no need for battery replacement or restoring ur device. give it a try and do tell me if it work. i expericnced it totally worked fine wid no issues )) best of luck ya all

    [email protected]

    • omerwaseem

      04/07/2013 at 2:10 pm

      if u remove ur sim card….3g or celluar button is grey(not clickable) wat should i do no?

      • Laiq Atiq

        04/08/2013 at 12:28 am

        u Have to turn Data & 3G on from ur settings before u taking ur sim card out, just in case they were already turned on just toggle dem of n den back on & take ur sim card out n then put it back it, u r done :) Best of luck

  9. Jeffery Skikes

    10/21/2012 at 5:30 am

    I had this identical issue after rebuilding my iPhone 3GS.
    Thinking it was software related:
    1) First I restored the software via itunes and that seemed to slow down the failure mode, however the failure continued (not a fix).
    2) I performed a factory restore, that again appeared to help initially but after a while I started experiencing random reboot again.

    Time to use PDCA to discover the issue

    Using trouble shooting tools, I was able to determine that my iPhone experienced the issue specifically during three events. Messaging, Phone Calls, and Charging (110 outlet charging only). From this I was able to determine that the issue was related to Hardware and since it was always related to charging and the supply of power. The three functions which most logically related to the Charging and Power were; the charging controller, Logic board, or the new battery.
    I disassembled the phone and discovered an issue with one of the terminals of the new battery (aluminum strip on one of the terminals). I exchanged the battery with my original Apple battery (it was still working when I rebuilt the phone) and ta-da… the problem is now fixed. No more reboots during calls or charging or messaging, and the battery is now lasting longer than 5 – 6 hours.

    Lesson here, always attempt to isolate and keep track of when failure issues occur, they will generally point you in a direction. Many people I know have tossed their 3GS in the corner or sold it for scrap, because they became so frustrated at its continuing failure that they simply gave up.

    iPhones are not built to fail, they are built to work. However, like any other sophisticated electronic device they are prone to damage, i.e. impact damage, environmental damage (ingestion of contaminates, exposure to extreme heat – cold, etc.), Once you discover an activity which causes the failure to continue to occur, then attempt to analyze what function of the phone is being effected, be specific when identifying the phone functions, don’t continue to focus on the symptom but focus on what could cause the symptom to occur. Here is a logic path to use when assessing your iPhones failure mode.

    1) Symptom: (what is specifically occurring (going wonky)?)
    2) This condition occurs when: (when specifically does the symptom occur?)
    3) Phone functions most likely to cause the failure: (requires some understanding of how the phone works as Hardware and Software)
    Software – (iOS operating system or aftermarket apps)
    Hardware – (what hardware functions are effected?)

  10. c.f.

    01/28/2013 at 5:57 pm

    i am having the same problem… (3gs) it is happening every 2-3 minutes, regardless if it is charging, being used, or just sitting there. i have version 5.0.1

  11. Hoopy

    01/02/2014 at 11:36 am

    I had this problem with my old 3GS and here is how I solved it (sadly, I cannot say which action solve the problem).
    First, I was getting random resets WITH a new battery… but it was one of those cheap ones that I bought on Amazon for $3.99. That solved the problem for about 1 month and then it started resetting again.
    At the same time, I was having issues with my headphone jack cutting in and out if the plug was wiggled even slightly. Also, the mute button wasn’t always functioning. I started to suspect that the resetting could be due to an issue with the jack or the buttons. So, I finally went all-in and purchased both an OEM battery for ~$15 along with a replacement headphone jack / interface buttons cable for ~$5. After that, the iPhone is like new again. So, my advice is if you decide to change the battery, you might as well change out the audio jack cable. Also, buy the best quality stuff you can find.

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