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No Real iOS 6 for iPhone 3GS Means I’m Buying iPhone 5



Yesterday, Apple announced that iOS 6 would be coming to the iPhone 3GS, a smartphone that is now three years old. Today, Apple brought iPhone 3GS owners back to reality when it revealed that many of the announced features of iOS 6 would not be coming to the iPhone 3GS including VIP Mail, Share Photo Streams, turn-by-turn navigation, and flyover 3D Maps.

In fact, one look at the specifics reveals that not much of anything is coming to the iPhone 3GS with iOS 6.

As my colleague Shawn Ingram pointed out, it seems that the iPhone 3GS will be getting iOS 6 in name only. Sure, it’ll feature the new Maps application and some user interface changes but the meat and potatoes of iOS 6 will be absent.

Goodbye, iPhone 3GS.

Read: Why the iPhone 3GS Is Still My Favorite Phone.

Many iPhone 3GS owners, especially those that may have just picked up the phone at its deeply discounted price will be frustrated with the new development.

However, as the owner of an iPhone 3GS for three years now, I honestly can’t complain. In fact, I was shocked, and still am a little shocked, that Apple is bringing iOS 6 to the iPhone 3GS at all.

Funny thing is, it’s almost exactly how I felt back at WWDC 2011 when Apple announced that iOS 5 and almost all its features would be coming to the iPhone 3GS.

Even if iOS 6 isn’t coming fully loaded to the iPhone 3GS, it’s still remarkable that Apple has been able to (and has) update the device after all of these years.

Show me an Android phone that has received a major Android update, even a stripped down one, after three years of existence. Scratch that, you can’t, they don’t exist.

Yeah, iOS 5 has its faults on the iPhone 3GS but I have found more positives than negatives. Honestly, I don’t know what I’d do without Notification Center or access to the camera from the lock screen. I probably would have ditched my iPhone 3GS, which, is something I plan to do when the iPhone 5 arrives.

The reason is simple.

iOS 6 has just about everything I want from mobile software. It has video chatting over cellular data. It has Siri which is now able to check sports scores, open apps, make dinner reservations, and more. It also has native turn-by-turn navigation. I’ve used third-party apps before but I am willing to bet that Apple makes them look silly once iOS 6 comes out of Beta.

Many iOS 6 features won't come to the iPhone 3GS.Those are just a few of the things I want access to and none of them are going to be available on the iPhone 3GS. Throw in the fact that the iPhone 5 will likely have a couple of unique iOS features that Apple will use to sell it along with 4G LTE speeds and a 4-inch screen and quite frankly, you have, in my opinion, the best possible combination of iPhone.

That’s not to say that iOS 6 on the iPhone 3GS won’t benefit the many users who still own it and will for the foreseeable future.

Read: iOS 6 Hands On: 10 Killer iOS 6 Features.

The UI will be more polished, the new Maps app will be included and there will likely be some other stuff on board as well. And while that might not sound like a lot, it is for a phone that is three years old.

And hey, maybe iOS 6 will make some new iPhone 3GS users hold onto the device for as long as I did. Something to think about before you get upset with Apple about the lack of iOS 6 features coming to the iPhone 3GS.

As for me, it’s time to call it quits after three long years.

Anyone else finally doing the same?



  1. Frank

    06/12/2012 at 5:16 pm

    Well there is nothing wrong with the iPhone 3GS and actually most of features of ios6 are coming to the iPhone 3GS damn just stop misinforming people. What kind of silly article is this

  2. Wade

    06/12/2012 at 6:17 pm

    It’s an opportunity to give Windows Phone a run.

  3. Andrew

    06/12/2012 at 7:11 pm

    Maybe adam should have a hands on with iOS 6 on iPhone 3GS before deciding if you should give up on it. Maybe the experience will be as fluid as iOS 5?

  4. David Howard

    06/12/2012 at 7:15 pm

    I think you are spot on. I have an iPhone 4, and while it did not make much sense to to move to the iPhone 4S, the 5 should be interesting enough to make me jump. Thanks for the thoughts.

  5. Harvie

    06/12/2012 at 8:09 pm

    I am an iphone 3GS user for 3 years now, agree with you it’s a good phone to use. One thing that I found is that after upgrading my 3GS with IOS5, the phone started lagging and became very slow. My conclusion is the 3GS can’t cope up with this upgrades. For example it takes a whole 12 second to get my camera running, it’s frustrating.
    Mate, I just switched to Samsung Galaxy S3, the phone is so versatile and could be used the way I want it to be, not restricted in any way as iphones. Well that is my opinion at least.

    • Pat

      09/19/2012 at 5:46 am

      You can jailbreak the phone, but with consequences, making the phone laggier. Oh well. Just waiting out my contract to upgrade

  6. DeRoy

    06/13/2012 at 8:19 am

    Well, I just happened to purchase an iPhone 3GS recently from a second hand retailer. I immediately upgraded the software to iOS 5.1.1 and I am pretty much happy with it so far. Ya, I do agree that the phone does lag a bit at times and the camera load up is slow. But I don’t really expect much from a 600Mhz processor. Formerly, I was using Android phones and most of them stop OTA upgrades just after a year perhaps due to the speed of newer handsets being introduced every now and then. Most Android users will just have to throw in their old phones and upgrade to newer ones at a shorter cycle. This is the very reason for the rapid drop in Android phones’ resale value. Comparing this with iPhone 3GS, I guess that I agree with the author that Apple is doing its job pretty well in ensuring that the iPhone owners don’t get ditched too soon and also why iPhones are always of a higher price tag due to its solid software foundation. As for iOS 6 functions not made available for 3GS, I personally don’t think that it is going to affect users who can accept the reality that they are using an older iPhone. Some maybe happy even with just some slight changes as long as they are included in the iOS 6 party. I am one of the happier one, I guess.

  7. Nikhil ram

    06/13/2012 at 12:40 pm

    As I am typing this on my 3GS (3 years old on t mobile) I feel the same way. The 3GS is done because of the lack of updates but I have to say I was impressed with how fluently it ran ios 5. I’m thinking of upgrading to the iPhone 4s in a bit to experience all of these new features. Great article and I agree, it’s time to call it quits with the most impressive smartphone. Ever

  8. Chris

    06/13/2012 at 5:00 pm

    WOW I really don’t get why people are saying ios5 is slow on a 3GS because that’s simply Not true it’s basically as fast as a iPhone 4 I don’t really get why so many people like talking down the 3GS I guess it’s part of the apple brainwashing also the camera app on the iPhone 3GS on iso5 launches in about 3 seconds where the heck are people getting 12 seconds from sure your not using an iPhone 2g Also make sure you upgrade to ios 5.1.1 on your 3gs

  9. Catalin

    06/14/2012 at 8:20 am

    Actually the HTC HD2 which is a Windows 6.5 Phone, has been getting Android updates since over a year and a half now on NAND, and almost 2 years on SD, and it’s been running Android 2.2, 2.3, 3.0, and now 4.0. So to answer this:
    “Show me an Android phone that has received a major Android update, even a stripped down one, after three years of existence. Scratch that, you can’t, they don’t exist.”

    HTC HD2 is the one!

  10. Patrick

    07/10/2012 at 7:27 am

    I only got my used iPhone 3gs yesterday for £149.99 like new infact only made this year.

    I find it seems to run faster than the wife and kids iPod touch 4 gen at most things
    Yes the screen is only low res but after going and buying many many android phones I was getting sick and tried of the makers not doing the upgrades.

    Again this Phone is not that slow My camera app starts and i can take my first phone within 5 seconds of pressing its app. so god knows how come it takes someones 12 seconds.

    So for £149.99 its a good buy and its factory unlocked too..

    I did own the 3g and 3gs when they first came out, but moved over to android, but after getting sick of lack of updates on phones higher spec than the old 3gs, it was time to go back.

    At least unlike Samsung Apple don’t try making around 300 android phones a year. well it seems like that to me.

  11. Hannelore

    07/24/2012 at 8:56 am

    I’ve still got an iPhone 3GS but it has become really slow. My needs for a phone have changed (f.i. I take way more pictures with my phone now than I did when I got this phone) so I’m gonna switch to a new device. I’ve ordered myself an HTC Sensation, I can’t afford an iPhone. I’m from Belgium and it’s customary to buy a loose phone here instead of one with a dataplan. I’ve cherished it, it’s been an amazing phone, but I’m giving it to my mum, who is a low-end user. I’m excited to try out Android, since I’m a bit of a techie myself.

    Greetings from Belgium!

  12. Peter

    08/08/2012 at 8:27 am

    I work at Apple. And for me, the Iphone 3GS it’s the most reliable yet. It works pretty fast on all apps, including the cam. And it’s still my iPhone. That’s my 2cents.

  13. bob

    09/12/2012 at 2:16 pm

    can you get a discount if you upgrade your 3gs to and iphone 5? like you do when you upgrade from 3gs to 4gs.

  14. Carl

    09/13/2012 at 2:13 pm

    iphone 3gs is a warrior, it was build so well, that it will support the new iOS, is incredible, I have one and I am so greatfull by its design

  15. Neil

    09/15/2012 at 10:01 pm

    Is there any substantial proof if Siri, 3d maps , turn-by-turn, and other nation dependant stuff will run full-out in Canada (Vancouver)?
    With earlier versions, even with latest hardware a lot of these were either very limited or non-existent. It very hard to get a real solid feedback even at AppleStore. But after getting my 3gs just before 2010 Olympics, it might be time to upgrade.
    BTW, I think I read that the SIM chip is not the same – so that tell me a lot of hours to transfer info from one to the other.

  16. Vahid Ebrahimi

    09/17/2012 at 7:32 am

    Hello, I have an iPhone 3Gs, jailbroken, iOS 4.3.2…I’ve heard it’s the fastest because it was actually made when the 3Gs WAS the latest ApplePhone. I don’t trust to update because…my cam takes…4 seconds to Camera Ready, 2 more seconds to switch to film…so I can film poorly lit videos that unless in broad daylight or under studio lit environments you can’t see shit…even while shinning a flashlight, a bright one on what you’re filming…terrible…even under a streetlight when you can clearly see what is 5 ft away from you…through the iphone 3GS, the screen is black…other than that, oh and I can only run EDGE cuz I can’t afford no AT&T BS, I have unlimited everything $40/month, 3-4G but since it’s off of T Mobiles satelites, different frequency, EDGE SUCKS…but not as bad as ATT’s prices suck. Overall, I love the phone, I hate the camera, and I hate EDGE network. My service provider is called Simple Mobile…I love them. No contracts either…Android guys…

  17. Alisha

    09/18/2012 at 1:13 pm

    I have my 3gs for three years and it has been the best phone. I think it is time for me to upgrade since my 3gs has also been getting quite slow with every update. It is a great phone!

    • Bmccubbins

      09/20/2012 at 4:43 am

      Me too. I’ve really enjoyed the 3GS but I’m due an upgrade. My family has upgraded at least two or three times since I’ve had this. It’s my turn:)

  18. lars

    02/18/2013 at 8:15 am

    yeah, doing the same now. not really because of what it lacks in iOS, but because the software is becoming too demanding for its processor. facebook takes forever to load, same goes for taking photos, etc.

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