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iOS 5 on iPhone 3GS: Things Have Been Getting Worse



A few weeks back, I wrote about my experiences with iOS 5 on my iPhone 3GS. From my first impressions to my final ones, my experience was phenomenal. Quite a few of you wrote in to agree or disagree or get some more particulars before you decided for or against the upgrade. Thanks for all of those emails. It makes me feel a little less ridiculous about the fact that I still own and use an iPhone 3GS.

Today, I wanted to update you on my situation with my iPhone and see how everyone else out there is doing.

Everything had been going smoothly until I decided to download iOS 5.0.1. And over the past few weeks,  I began to notice some of the problems that many of you wrote in to complain about.

Specifically, the sluggishness and battery life that seems to be getting worse every day.

iOS 5 on iPhone 3GS

81% and dropping quicker then I'd like.

Neither of these issues affected me when I had iOS 5 installed. Occasionally, the software would catch when I tried to use Safari with a bunch of apps open but other then that, everything was golden.

However, over the past two weeks or so, I began to see a very visible, but relatively minor drop in battery life. (Yes, I’ve tried disabling iCloud.) I’ve also started dealing with more and more sluggishness as far as apps and Safari are concerned.

Keep in mind, I have not started to use my phone any different then before and I think I installed maybe one new application over that time period.

In addition, my Music player seems to be locking up on a daily basis. It starts working again when I force close it, but not a day goes by without me going through this process.

Again, all of this is very odd considering how good my experiences were back in October and the beginning of November.

I still recommend installing the software if you own an iPhone 3GS. The pros absolutely outweigh the cons.

I’m just hoping that iOS 5.1 fixes these issues. Remember, owners of other iPhone models are still experiencing poor battery life and it appears that iOS 5.1 will be the update that solves the problem.

How is everyone out there with an iPhone 3GS doing?

I would love to hear from you.



  1. Burtjsharp

    12/12/2011 at 3:58 pm

    I have no proof… But it seems that from 100% to 50 % battery life goes slow. From 49% and lower the battery drop seems to speed up.

    • Frankball3

      12/12/2011 at 4:26 pm

      That’s my experience with battery drop, too.

    • Sarahong83

      03/20/2012 at 11:15 pm

      Me too facing the same problem. Even though I charge full but awhile only the battery will drop. and I’ve notice that even the battery still have 85% it will suddenly off itself, I have to charge it then only can turn on back. I’m very confusing now not sure is bcoz of upgrade to IOS5 or battery prob, who can help me?

  2. Sugarbaby15

    12/12/2011 at 4:04 pm

    I have an iPhone 3GS too. Mines is doing great, it’s about 3 years old, and still holding out. I didn’t download iOS 5 yet from all the reviews, it’s old but good, and I don’t want to mess it up just yet.

    • Anonymous

      12/13/2011 at 6:40 am

      Save your SHSH blobs so you can downgrade back if anything goes wrong.

  3. Ctkr3w22

    12/12/2011 at 6:16 pm

    Old phone like that the battery can only accept so many recharges it prolly just doesnt hold a charge as well as it used to because of age not software

    • Pre0098v

      01/15/2012 at 6:28 am

      I have a new 3GS and I noticed the difference as soon as I upgraded.

  4. fth

    12/13/2011 at 4:51 am

    absolutely battery drops like a rock now.  Also safari has been crashing and messages are screwing up.(when i get a new message in a chat, it makes a sound but to update conversation i have to leave and come back)
    Apps are very slow

  5. ET10

    12/13/2011 at 8:16 am

    I too have an iPhone 3GS and have noticed pretty much the same problems.  For the past few weeks, my phone has been noticeably slower, with a frequent pauses and lags.  Loading times have been increasingly slow for safari, music, and games.

    But, it’s all good.  I can get by with all the problems.  Not a big deal really.

  6. Roy Sunstrum

    12/13/2011 at 1:52 pm

    Updated to 5.0.1 last night.  Catastrophic!  I have thousands of songs that have been disconnected from the iTunes player….it’s seeing no content.  worse still, virtually all apps when I try to open them, open the initial screen for a second or two then close immediately.  Phone is only useful for built in functions like mail and calendar.

  7. James Paine

    12/13/2011 at 11:05 pm

    I still love iOS 5.0.1 on my iPhone 3GS. I don’t notice any terrible battery drops unless I leave Location Services on all the time. Still loving iOS 5.0.1 on my 3GS, can’t wait for iPhone 5!

    • Herojig

      12/26/2011 at 6:15 pm

      Do you have a link to the upgrade procedure that you used? ha!

  8. Justin

    12/14/2011 at 2:45 pm

    I’m having the same problem.  I just updated to the new iOS 5.0.1 on my iPhone 3GS yesterday and the battery life has suddenly become worthless.  It is plummeting not just from 49% and downward, but actually from fully charged on down.  I’ve double checked to make sure push notifications are not on, next step will be to delete apps (that have already been backed up) and see what, if any, effect that has.

    • guest

      01/03/2012 at 8:45 am

      its because you own a iphone….get off the band wagon

      • Guest

        01/08/2012 at 2:21 pm

        To Android? The bigger marketshare? Bandwagon?

      • S Ellery

        02/10/2012 at 6:34 am

         Hang on Androids Hold a Charge?? Tell that to the Evo

  9. Narahoskins78

    12/17/2011 at 4:10 am

    Can someone tell me to download it?? I’ve been told you can download it from your phone-don’t have to get on the computer, but I have not been able to. Now, I am scared to download it on my 3GS seeing all the issues below!!

  10. Spkslayer

    12/18/2011 at 2:15 am

    Maybe its just that I just today upgraded to the iphone3gs from the iphone Edge. But 5.0.1 runs perfectly the batterys better than my old iphone also. Keep in mind that mine is brand new also.

  11. H8s19m13

    12/22/2011 at 3:27 am

    iOS 5.1 did’t fix the battery drop problem xD I’m on iOS 4.3.3 iPhone 3GS is doing great I’m Planing on getting the latest update after they bring Siri to other devices ;)

  12. Justice

    12/25/2011 at 9:26 pm

    iOS 5 BROKE my phone!!  I mean, randomly resetting itself, or turning off without being able to turn it back on broken.  Not many apps, 90% free space, not jailbroken, reset, accounts deleted then re-added, hard reset, restore from backup, restore as new phone, turn of iCloud, no push, notifications off…doesn’t matter…still shuts down and won’t turn back on.  Ugh.  I am NOT an Apple detractor, usually a fanboy, but c’mon, I’m having one of those, “you coulda just slapped me and said, buy a new phone dude!” days, rather than going through this crappola.

    • CJ Porno

      12/27/2011 at 8:40 pm

      Same Problem, Crashes, must plug in to reboot, can unplug after and will work for a bit. Seems to be fine untill battery hits less then 65%. When will apple give a credit for upgraded hardware after they effectively made there old hardware unstable?

      • Justice

        12/29/2011 at 4:21 pm

        Fed-up, I went in to the Apple store to buy a 4s, it works great.  BUT, the point of this post is that the salesman said two very interesting things to me:
        1)the thing they do in the store is to put the phone into recovery mode then plug it in to iTunes in order to “re-set the firmware” in case there’s anything buggered from multiple updates and
        2)IF the phone is busted from software that they said was approved, they will do everything they can do resolve the software issue, but the hardware is out of warranty and will not replace it.  
        I tried the recovery mode on the 3GS and it’s working much better.  We’ll see though…

  13. Omrelta

    12/26/2011 at 2:39 am

    How do u download iOS 5.1

  14. Herojig

    12/26/2011 at 6:12 pm

    Adam, thx for the posts! I too still use a 3gs, and call me a tightwad, I don’t really want to get another phone just to run iOS5. But now I really need iCloud now that all my macs are running Lion. My current state is untethered unlocked 6.15 BB running 4.2.1 (8C148). I did this many  months back to get iBooks working (which I really love). The phone performs fine in this state, and battery life is good (after I installed a new bat :)

    My questions are thus:

    1) is there a tut for me out there that I can follow step by step to get me to either iOS5 or 5.1?
    2) as of today (12/27/11) is there an untethered jailbreak?

    Well, thx for any response!

  15. Renaldhache

    12/29/2011 at 8:29 am

    the ios 5.0.1 on my Iphone 3GS is a nightmare….everything so slow cannot use it. I have to double tap every thing. Maybe it come from the Multitasking Gestures for original iPad.
    If anyone can help me……..

  16. Booneag

    01/08/2012 at 3:55 pm

    ios 5.0.1 killed my wifi and my gps.  ios 5 gave me the battery drain.  5.0.1 fixed that but killed my wifi.  If I get within 5 ft of my router wifi works great but I can watch it disappear as I walk farther away.  I cannot even find wifi networks in public now. 
    I’ve tried to revert to 4.3.3 following the directions I can get from google but cannot get it to work.
    Glad this is my work phone because it’s using mostly 3G now. 

    • Onegr8fmly

      04/17/2012 at 11:27 pm

      Mine lost wifi, bluetooth, battery, even my 3G seems to be less receptive, my horrible, would love to hear if things improved for you recently or if you discover a solution.

  17. Ken Harkness

    01/10/2012 at 3:43 am

    I had the same problems after downgrading to OS5.01. All was fine at first, some apps were slow to open but I thought it was due to the older processor. Then just before Xmas battery life started to shorten, next the phone switched off, first at 38% gradually working up to switching off at 70%.
    Shortly after that it switched off if I used the camera, even fully charged.
    The local Apple shop told me to switch off location services and reinstall the OS to cure my problems, no luck.
    I have now installed a new battery my self, and so far it’s behaving okay.

    • Ken Harkness

      01/24/2012 at 6:52 am

      As my phone is coming up to 2 years old I thought that if I had my iPhone apart I might as well change the battery. eBay provided a battery with twice the mAh of the original for just over a Tenner so that went in.
      Two weeks on everything is still working fine, some days I only have to charge it the once, result.

  18. Angeleana947

    01/10/2012 at 9:05 pm

    My battery life is doing poorly as well. And im not even using it. Whats MORE worse is that when i unplugged my device from the charger wall charger or laptop doesnt matter, i let it go for 5 min and it DIES instantly. Ive tested this out especially going on it with 100% i own an iphone 3GS and Im having BAD experinces with it!

  19. Android99

    01/12/2012 at 1:06 am

    ios 5.0.1 has bricked my one year old 3GS. Have now got Samsung Galaxy, all good so far. Won’t be buying another iphone.

    • Guest

      01/14/2012 at 9:52 pm

      Surprised there’s only one post like this so far. I too have a 3GS and it’s stuck on the “cannot activate” screen. Already have an iphone4 so I haven’t been in too much of a hurry to try and fix it yet

      • S Ellery

        02/10/2012 at 6:37 am

         It is Impossible to Brick an Iphone, Unless the hardware is faulty!

  20. shambolic

    01/16/2012 at 6:40 am

    It got so slow and sluggish it’s hard to bear. Didn’t notice decreased battery life yet, but it’s horrible performance outweights almost all the pros. If Apple continuous to ignore this problem and keeps not addressing this issue (that obviously many users expericence), I won’t be in for a new iPhone for sure and will be switching to Android. It almost feels as if they’re trying to force us into buying a new phone. Fix it Apple, stop being so greedy — it’s about time!

  21. Zell

    01/17/2012 at 7:21 pm

    Jailbreak it, and get rid of things like multitasking and Spotlight Search…

  22. Ian Halder

    01/20/2012 at 1:57 pm


  23. Tan

    01/23/2012 at 5:17 am

    just upgraded iphone 3gs to ios5. regret plenty. battery life now 50%

  24. Angeleana947

    01/27/2012 at 5:21 pm

    I’m going to warn you guys ANYONE with iphone 3GS RUNNING WITH 5.0 OR 5.0.1 I swear to you my problem was worse than your guys. MY battery doesnt drop.. its charged to 100% right? I pull off my charger… 5 min later, BOOM! dead. And its not my port, I just downgrade last night to 4.3.3 and it IS stabled. 3GS cannot handle it because inside that thing is a higher advance core. Idk why people says it works for ipod 4G assuming its almost like an iphone 4 but not really. Im just giving you a heads up..

  25. SilentReign -

    01/28/2012 at 5:46 pm

    I have iOS 5.0.1 on my 3GS, and while I like v5’s features, I get really annoyed with all the delays and pauses.

    Applications can take several seconds to start.The first few page turns in iBooks are slow (to the point where you try again, only to end up with 2 page changes instead of one).Sometimes an onscreen button will take a couple of seconds to register my tap, leading me to tap again at just the wrong moment (ie. the next screen comes up just as my finger is making contact with where the button used to be, causing me to tap some other element).

    The keyboard sometimes is slow to start registering taps.

    So, overall, I really like iOS5, but it pisses me off all the time.

  26. Mussen101

    02/01/2012 at 3:38 pm

    Yes this last few days have been a nightmare battery running out faster and phone freezing and playing up I’m ready to bin it!!!

  27. Princessgirl101

    02/06/2012 at 1:13 am

    my home and power button stoped working when upgraded to ios 5.0.1 it was all fine befor

  28. Nmiller5

    02/15/2012 at 8:24 am

    This is just Apple’s way of forcing people in buying the iPhone 4 & 4S. So skeevy!!!

  29. Watson Jamez

    02/19/2012 at 1:52 am

    Hi there.

    I am getting very frustrated with my 3GS.
    I am booked in at a genius bar this afternoon but feel they won’t be able to help.
    Phone out of warranty and all that.

    Problems are
    Sluggish / slow response
    Lock ups.
    Phone crash and reboot.

  30. Mario Sergio Demarchi

    02/20/2012 at 6:39 am

    Stick to 4.3.3 and save money for a Galaxy SII.

  31. Dan

    02/29/2012 at 4:11 pm

    All of a sudden I can no longer save videos sent to me in imessage. Up until a couple of weeks ago I could save videos. Now I can save them at all. I can still save pictures but not videos.

    • Dennis Regus

      05/18/2012 at 7:21 am

      Did you ever resolve this problem? I got an iPhone 3GS for my moaned she is having the same issue, can’t save videos I message to her.

  32. Clark12

    03/09/2012 at 10:45 am

    My phone takes a long time to slide to unlock, switch between the home screen and a text and my music player makes everything like molasses. This phone is so frustrating I usually want to chuck over a cliff- or smash the screen

    • Test

      04/08/2012 at 2:14 pm

      me too

  33. Sledgehkg

    04/13/2012 at 5:20 pm

    My battery life drops from 100% to 85% in under an hour. The phone not being used at all!
    3gs, ios 5.0.1

  34. Abraham Levy

    04/26/2012 at 2:48 pm

    I have iPhone 3GS 2years old. Upgraded all possible SW, now use ios 5.1. The  iphone is sluggish…no problem with battery…Yesterday while trying to dial the iphone get stuck, couldn’t get out from it for 10 minutes, after 10 minutes it came back ti life and could dial…will try now cold restart which may help, I hope
    Abraham Levy
    email: [email protected]

  35. ℳⒶℛ†¡₦ (@M4RT1N_J)

    09/07/2012 at 2:58 pm

    I have a 3GS and mine is doing ok. I have noticed ever since the latest update the battery drains a lot faster. And it takes longer to ‘boot up’ when I turn it on. Now and again it freezes even when I’m in the home menu. I received this phone on the 1st October 2009 as my birthday present so I have had it almost 3 years. I’m now thinking of getting a blackberry curve 9360 as I have never had a bb before and want to find out what the differences between the two phones are.

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