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iOS 5.1.1 on iPhone 3GS: First Impressions and Performance



After installing iOS 5.1 when it was released back in March, I was thoroughly impressed with how it performed on my iPhone 3GS, a phone that was released all the way back in 2010. However, in the last couple of weeks, I have been dealing with some headaches. Apps have been crashing. My iPhone has restarted itself without provocation. Push notifications haven’t been popping up. It has also been sluggish. So, I’ve been hoping for an update to iOS 5.1.1 for my iPhone 3GS.

That update arrived today and I promptly installed it on my iPhone 3GS hoping that it would make the bugs disperse and offer a better experience on my iPhone 3GS as a whole.

Unfortunately, the process started off slow.

Read: iOS 5.1 on iPhone 3GS: First Impressions and Performance.

iOS 5.1.1 on iPhone 3GS: First Impressions and PerformanceWhile trying to install the iOS 5.1.1 update, my phone somehow, mysteriously, drained 10% within, oh I’d say around three minutes. This, along with the aforementioned bugs, has happened to be numerous times recently. My phone will say something like 65% one minute and then I look down and I’m at 45% or some other random number.

I was then prompted with the nice little message that you can see off to the right there.

After charging back up, I once again installed the update and this time, it worked. The 40MB or so update took just a few minutes to unpack and install and there I was with an iPhone 3GS with iOS 5.1.1, hoping for the best.

For the last several hours, I have put my phone through the paces. I have been texting like mad, trying to recreate the push notification issue. Before, some texts hadn’t been showing up in my Notification Center and they weren’t popping up when my phone was locked. Instead, I had to look at the Message icon to see if there was anything new.

Now, after the update, that seems to have been fixed as new messages have been popping up left and right.

I have tested out all of the apps that have been having issues including Facebook, ESPN ScoreCenter, Yammer. Often, they would just close on their own and once in awhile, my iPhone would just shut off. I’m serious, this happened early this morning when I opened the ESPN app.

That hasn’t happened yet with the iOS 5.1.1 update so I’m feeling good.

As for the overall performance of the phone, it seems to be a lot faster. At times, the software would be a bit sluggish. This did not happen in the first couple of the weeks that I had the update. It was only in the last few weeks where I started seeing the entire OS slow down. Switching between apps was slow, getting into my texts was a hassle because it took so long to load.

Read: iOS 5.1 for iPhone 3GS: Final Impressions and Performance.

So far though, that sluggishness appears to have been dealt with. Opening folders is smooth. Opening apps works out fine. I can navigate in and out of menus and applications without any sort of a pause.

Right now, I’m impressed. Sure, the fixes weren’t listed in the change log, but I can definitely notice a difference between iOS 5.1 on my iPhone 3GS and iOS 5.1.1 on my iPhone 3GS.

If you’ve been having issues with iOS 5.1, and many of you have commented and written in to say that you have (I am trying to answer as many of those emails as I can, by the way), you certainly want to update your iPhone to the latest version of the software.

Before I go, I’ll leave you with this. As glad as I am that Apple has updated the iPhone 3GS with iOS 5, I can sense that the end of the rope is near in that I doubt that Apple updates the 3GS with iOS 6. Nothing confirmed obviously, but this is beginning to become a trend.

Read: How to Jailbreak iOS 5.1.1 for iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad, and iPod touch.

Apple releases update for iPhone 3GS and I fall in love with it. Problems start happening a month to a month and a half in and then Apple releases a new update that takes care of the issues. The process then repeats itself.

I can’t be mad though. I’ve almost had this phone for three years.

How have your experiences with iOS 5.1 and now, iOS 5.1.1, been thus far?



  1. voluminous

    05/07/2012 at 3:59 pm

    I have had the exact same experience the last few weeks – random crashing; auto-restarting, etc. It’s been a headache eased slightly by realizing I’m not alone and that this update may sort things out…thanks!

  2. F Scheltens

    05/08/2012 at 1:43 am

    Thanks for taking the time to write this. I have a 3GS myself and am always a little aprehensive about updating.

  3. Andrew

    05/08/2012 at 6:29 am

    Yeah, same here for me, last few weeks have been more sluggish than usual, hope this update fixes it. Also, great thanks to Adam, for probably being the last tech writer to be constantly updating us on the performance on the 3GS on newer firmware. Hard to find this kind of articles like this nowdadays cos everyone is too concerned about the 4S to be bothered by the 3GS. Hope Adam can continue to publish this kind of informative articles for all the 3GS users out there! Long live the iPhone 3GS!

    • Adam Mills

      05/08/2012 at 11:36 am

      Thanks for the kind words, people. I hope iOS 6 comes to the iPhone 3GS but at this point, I am weary.

      • Bloodwork

        07/12/2012 at 9:31 am

        iOS will come to 3GS, this fall.

        • Bloodwork

          07/12/2012 at 9:33 am

          I mean, iOS 6 will come to 3GS, this fall.

        • kyzo

          11/04/2012 at 6:29 am

          zasto si siguran da ce doci ove jeseni IOS za 3gs

  4. Dave

    05/08/2012 at 12:28 pm

    Chaps try turning off your spotlight search in settings. I never use it and found my 3GS much speedier afterwards.

  5. chris

    05/08/2012 at 4:44 pm

    I updated to 5.1.1 last night. Today out of nowhere my phone shuts off. I can’t turn it on, plugged it into computer and wall. In addition it is not showing the dead battery sign. I have a 4 but it did fall into the water so the cause of my issues may not be the update but it has been working since the water spill for about 4 months with no issues. All I know is that I need it fixed, I’m planning on going to the apple store to see if they can help but will probably turn me away once the water issues is discovered.

  6. Brandon

    05/08/2012 at 6:06 pm

    Lots of apps crash now with ios 5.1.1 although its on their side and an update for the app will fix it. Draw Something crasjes on start up and im uber sad :P hopefully theyll update it but overall ios5.1.1 has just caused a bit more trouble until updates come :( i only updated for the security updates

  7. alice

    05/09/2012 at 1:07 am

    hi i updated my ysesterday biut can’t get my imessage to work unless i am using wifi. any ideas how to get it work with my mobile network.

  8. shayrikh

    05/09/2012 at 6:06 am

    Upgraded 3gs to 5.1.1 . Could notice a huge improvement in performance. Everything is so smooth, just like the good old 4.1 . Lag experienced in earlier versions when moving to spotlight search is gone. Keyboard typing does not lag anymore. Considerable improvement in batter life . Changed till 97% today 8:00 AM . Have 83% left at 6:30 PM. Worth upgrading to this version .

  9. Carlos Escobar

    05/10/2012 at 4:28 am

    I have iPhone 4. Everything was working great on iOS 5.1 but on 5.1.1 push notificationa are not working on the whatsapp, beejive Im with push, and sometimes on the mail. I only get the msgs if I go inside the app or after 15-20 min of being locked, it’s like, push is only checking the whatsapp, etc only every certain time, any suggestions?

  10. cuhulin

    05/10/2012 at 12:38 pm

    My 3GS does seem better — unless something turns up, it may be good enough to last until the next phone, which has been my plan. At that point, my 3GS will be more than three years old, which I would be very happy with.

  11. Mike

    05/11/2012 at 8:54 am

    Perhaps a dumb question, but will our 3GSs still run normally when iOS6 is released, assuming that you’re correct in that we won’t get the update? I tend to agree with you, and don’t think we’ll get iOS6 either. My 3GS still works fine, and I don’t want to be forced to ditch it. It wasn’t cheap and I want to get as much use out of it as possible.

    Thanks (and thanks for this website!)

  12. Gumboz1953

    05/13/2012 at 6:22 am

    Have a 3GS, upgraded to 5.1.1., now most of my songs won’t play. If I have a bunch of songs by, say, the Beatles, it will scroll through all the songs until the end, and not play any of them.

    Even more annoying — my Audible books won’t play. They open, then immediately close.

    I should have known better than to upgrade. I have an iPad (which I have never found a use case for, except to read books, which it is a very nice platform for), and I will not upgrade it.

    I am less and less in love with Apple. This phone is only 2 1/2 years old. That is NOT old for a device this expensive. A device this expensive should last longer, and be supported longer, than that. Of course I know these bugs are deliberate, designed to make the 3GS owners buy a new, expensive phone. I was in fact going to upgrade when the “5” was released, but now I am just pissed off at them.

    I am stuck with the iPhone infrastructure because of so many iTunes purchases, but all of my next devices will be Windows.

    • Gumboz1953

      05/13/2012 at 6:40 am

      I plugged the phone in to sync it, and after that, I had the same problem.

      I then decided to bite the bullet and do a “factory restore.” That is such an extreme option, I decided to try one more time. I unplugged the phone, plugged it back in again, and it went through another sync. I tried the songs/Audible/ podcasts one last time….

      The problem has mysteriously disappeared. I have no idea why. Everything plays normally.

      The phone has been annoyingly laggy since iOS4. Still not happy, but the problem described above has mysteriously vanished. Won’t do any more upgrades, and won’t upgrade the iPad. Jury is still out on Apple.

  13. Rob

    05/14/2012 at 6:44 am

    Had similar problem like Gumboz1953 when upgrading from iOS 4. Thankfully I did a full backup before and was upgrading manually.
    I am impressed how everything is so smooth. The only thing I noticed is battery life, its a bit worse than on iOS 4.

  14. Gary Michalick

    05/16/2012 at 4:34 pm

    Have a 3GS just upgraded to 5.1.1. When I did this I had a Outlook Note displaying. When I go back into Notes my heading line is overwritten by
    Phone Provider Date and Battery Usage display

    Can’t close any Notes back to full display?

    Any fix out there?

  15. Sasha

    05/29/2012 at 8:46 am

    I upgraded my 3GS to ios5.1.1 and it just won’t charge anymore. It’s not the fault of the charger cos it was charging fine right up till the upgrade ended. Now it won’t charge with the wall socket or my Mac. Did the whole reset as new phone thing and let the battery drain completely as adviced on apple support but nothing. And worse I can’t downgrade cos my phone is completely dead. Tho when connected to wall socket or Mac, it does show the battery with the lightning symbol instead of the battery with 2 pin plug and lightning symbol. This should mean it’s charging but it doesn’t and I can’t turn it back on. So now I just have a chunk of useless metal. I did a google search and found I wasn’t the only person with this problem. Loads of 3Gs users are facing this after upgrading. I wish apple would do something to fix it. It’s not fair to release an ‘update’ from them that breaks your phone. And have folks tell you, you need to buy a new one. can’t help feeling like the wimpy kid in the playground who just got kicked in the gonads by the big kid.

  16. Junaid

    05/31/2012 at 8:11 am

    in my iphone 3gs there is no option of software update why plz tell me…..

  17. Eason47

    06/03/2012 at 1:36 am

    Upgraded my 3gs to 5.1.1 about a week ago…
    Running smooth, fine and fast…
    Battery life, I didn’t notice any much difference compare to ios4…

    This is a very stable version of os…(worth to upgrade)
    Now I can run all the latest apps that require ios5…and enjoy the ios5 features, with my phone running smoothly!

    • tushar

      07/27/2012 at 11:13 pm

      bro tell me how can i do it pls i also want to enjoy latest apps of ios 5.1 on 3gs

  18. Baquer

    06/06/2012 at 9:07 am

    I want to upgrade my iphone 3gs to ios 5.1.1 but I am not pretty sure because everyone I know says running iphone 3GS 0n IOS 5.1.1 will slow down your devise and also frequent power off and hanging of device will take place.
    I am need of some help!!
    and some advice too

  19. Allabaksh Dhavaleshwar

    06/12/2012 at 1:33 am

    iOS 6 announced for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Beta version has been released for the developers. Hope it works fine on iPhone 3GS too.

  20. Lucifer

    06/15/2012 at 10:16 am

    kan man jailbreak´a en iphone 4s ios 5.1 (9B179) ?

    om inte, kan ja uppdatera till 5.1.1 sen jailbreak´a?

    • Lucifer

      06/15/2012 at 10:19 am

      can i jailbreak my iphone 4s ios 5.1 (9B179) ?

      ore upgrade it to ios 5.1.1 then jailbreak it ?


  21. Daniel

    07/07/2012 at 11:01 pm

    Well for me ios 5.1.1 on my 3gs iphone runs a bit slow. Everytime i open an app it takes a while, if i want to type like real fast, the keyboard gets stuck sometimes, when i try to unlock it takes like 3 seconds, and so on, but it’s manageble i guess, but for me this late update haven’t help me that much i probly just downgrade…

  22. Harry

    07/08/2012 at 10:42 pm

    Hey my 3GS also has being randomly turning off sometimes when I unlock it or when I open a app :(

    • WaSTeD

      08/05/2012 at 1:52 pm

      same for me weirdly the iphone turns off when opening an app for some time , this never happened to me before :(
      any solutions any suggestions ?

  23. tushar

    07/27/2012 at 11:10 pm

    hey brothers help me how can i upgrade my iphone 3gs to ios 5.1 please help me . I didnt do anythng like upgrading please help i dont knw anythng abt upgrading
    i shall be very thankful to u.

  24. bellini

    08/07/2012 at 7:08 am

    upgraded 3GS from 4.0.1 to 5.1 and it 100% did NOT work.. the phone had the arrow graphic pointing up the an icon of iTunes and wouldn’t do anything else. iTunes said it detected a corrupt device. Somehow I got it to restore and now I am back to where I started.

    • Kelly Proctor

      10/04/2012 at 9:39 am

      The exact same thing happened to me. My apps icon indicated I had an upgrade so without thinking, that’s what I did. Ever since then my phone had the arrow graphic pointing up at the the icon of iTunes and that’s it. Please tell me how you got it to restore. I tried that but said restore was only intended for 64 bit. I’m not a comnputer whiz whatsoever and am at a loss now. Why would we have to go to iTunes for an internal download anyway. Now at this point my screen is just blank. 2 days after i bought an apple phone I regretted it. It doesnt do a fraction of the thngs an android does (in my belief). I Was an android owner before and got pressured into buying this, but after, will go back to androids.

      Desperately seeking help

  25. Alex

    08/07/2012 at 9:26 pm

    I was enamored of the 3GS when it first came out, but ever since OS 4 it’s been in a descending spiral. Now, with the 5.1.1 update, it seems as if things are pushing the envelope — basically my 3GS is a brick since it takes too long for it to do anything, undermining its utility to me as a mobile productivity center. Lots of crashing, and extended downtime while opening apps. Lots of crashes in the iPod app — if I try selecting “Genre,” I pop out of the program. Trying to take a picture is usually a 5-10 minute experience when it happens at all. Bringing back painful memories of the early 90s when you were really smug if you had 512MB of RAM in your box.

    It was a fun run while it lasted. In its hey day, possibly the best gadget I’ve ever owned. That being said, iTunes is and always was a massive pile of rubbish. It’s so annoying, in fact, that it may be the thing that makes me migrate to Android. We’ll see.

  26. Aplegate

    08/21/2012 at 3:24 am

    After reading so many negative comments about the update i am very glad to read yours.. i think i will not to do anymore research and just leave it at that!
    i am greatful! :D

  27. Zak

    09/02/2012 at 7:36 pm

    Ever since the upgrade part of my keyboard does not work. Imagine texting without the letter “p” working and backspace randomly working in potrait mode….hmm fun times..trying to downgrade but need DFU mode which would not go into since my power button is non working most of the time….oh apple soon will be replaced once my contract is up.

  28. Umair

    09/11/2012 at 11:09 pm

    I have upgraded my iphone 3GS to version 5.1.1 but I face network problems. Very frequently it keeps searching for network. Apart from that my GPS feature has stopped working, I have NAVIGON installed and it used to work perfectly when I was on version 4.0.1 but now it fails to connect to GPS satellite and mobile netowrk falls the moment GPS app i son. I really wanna downgrade the version now. So will it be any issue if I downgrade the version. I am comfortable with older version, atleast I can stay connected and use GPS coz I travel alot and need GPS frequently.

  29. Ashfaq Ali

    09/22/2012 at 12:04 pm

    brothers if any one of u have the backoff or copy of ios 5.1.1 plz send me on following
    [email protected]

  30. leolaura7

    11/09/2012 at 11:54 am

    How do I download ios5 on my iPad?

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