back to article Apple iOS 4 update frustrates iPhone 3G owners

Unsurprisingly, there are reports of woes among iPhone users when upgrading to iOS 4 and we even have first hand experience of this here at Reg Hardware. On a 3GS, the upgrade was the "easiest yet" for our esteemed leader, yet in the foothills, there’s a rather sickly 16GB iPhone 3G that won’t run any of third party apps or sync …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh dear ...

    You get these kind of equally extensive firmware updates on Symbian every six months or so and they go off without a hitch. It looks like the shine is coming off Apple's infallibility.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not entirely true...

      Having used a few Nokias, including touchscreens, I'd suggest always doing an entire wipe of the phone before upgrading. The newer phones with 'data preservation' can still have application issues after a firmware upgrade.

      I'd touch an apple upgrade before a Nokia Symbian upgrade. I don't own an iphone and have no intention of getting one, but have had enough problems with Nokia firmware upgrades to know that issues can very easily present themselves, and usually new strange bugs of some sort.

    2. Test Man

      Except they don't...

      SymbianLOL - they don't go off without a hitch. You sir are a LIAR.

      In other news, it worked fine on my 2nd gen iPod Touch (same gen as the iPhone 3G).

    3. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Symbian is perfect?

      Except that it isn't. I only did one upgrade of my E90. Afterwards it wouldn't allow any of my paid-for apps to install, because the certificates allowing them to be installed were out of date. Even trying to force it failed.

      It then re-synced my phone book and created a separate entry for each telephone number that anyone had, instead of having single entries with multiple numbers.

      Also, afterwards, the phone silently decided it needed to talk to the network if you opened the maps application; cost 54cents each time it was started, plus 54 cents every half-hour that the application was left in the background - there was no mention that it would do this, and the option to turn it off is not even in the maps application!

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Serves you right

    For being an early adopter! I always wait for a day or two to see if there are any hickups, as there inevitably will be, just as every Apple product ever released shows faults in its first run.

    I am glad though to see 'trailblazers' like you pointing me to all the pitfalls. A colleague of mine hadn;t backed up his iPhone for over a year, and the installer borked his phone, so now he has a year-out-of-date phone.

    1. Paul M 1


      Not that I am a big Apple fan but my installation put up a message box recomending that I sync my iPhone prior to upgrading. Did your friend ignore this advice by any chance?

      1. PC1512

        User error

        You'd have to ignore a warning not to sync, and if you didn't sync (and don't have it set up to sync and backup on each connection) then it's pretty much a given that you're going to lose your stuff. I doubt the installer "borked" anything, it just did what it said it would do.

    2. Mark Sourbutts


      "A colleague of mine hadn;t backed up his iPhone for over a year, and the installer borked his phone, so now he has a year-out-of-date phone."

      Eh, I don't get this. The first thing that iTunes does, before updating the phone is create a backup.

      I call shenannigans on this...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I have an 8Gb 3G and it updated perfectly well - my only issue so far is that Skype complains it is only certified to work on release 3 of the OS - other than that no problem.

  4. Paul M 1


    My 3G upgraded eventually.. although it took a very long time and I must admit to getting a little anxious.

    Having done it though, I am seriously wondering why I bothered. I understand that his Jobsness has decided that I'm not old enough to decide for myself what to use my battery power on so no multi-tasking (sic) - fair enough. But no wallpaper on menu screens? I mean, WTF?!? And I'm supposed to be thankful for menu screen folders?

    The arbitrariness of all this is making me seriously look at jailbreaking. Especially since this is probably the last update for the 3G if the original iPhone is anything to go by.

    And to all of the Apple apologists claiming that we should be grateful to get updates 2 years after the phone was released remember that Apple are mostly only providing the functions that should have been there in the first place.

    1. Matt 13


      no wallpaper for the 3g?? thats a bit crap! why on earth would that not work? i can sort of see why the multitasking is a no-no (although having read into it a little it looks like the multitasking is stretching the definition a little! needing the apps rewritten for the task, etc...) but surely the little 3G can display a jpg under some static icons!!!

  5. Tom 15

    Upgraded fine...

    I updated fine last night on my 3G but probably shouldn't have bothered... can't really see anything new for those with 3Gs!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Sounds about right

      I suspect you are in the vast majority, in fact a huge majority.

      Most people should be asking, "Will it do anything so dramatically different that I need this update now? Will I do anything different today that I did not do yesterday?"

      Why not wait a week for the update release x.1 to be released with the patches, then simply update it to ensure you stay within support, safe in the knowledge that almost all the major show-stoppers have been ironed out.

      You can tell the ones who don't work on servers, they upgrade everything 2 secs after an update comes out! The seasoned ones (re: sad old gits! ) wait for everyone else to find the bugs, then patch their servers after a few days or weeks to ensure they don't get hit too badly by upgrades!

  6. D@v3
    Thumb Up

    no problems here

    The update on my 3G went off last night without a hitch. 5 mins downloading update. about 30 mins of installing, (back-up, install, restore, synch)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Wow, I've got the same phone (mine's a 16GB 3G) and the download went quickly, but the install itself took 3 hours! I kept thinking something went wrong, but I left it and when I was ready for bed, it finished and works fine.

      The thing I'm most upset about (I knew about no multi-tasking) is no home screen wallpaper - I was looking forward to having something other than boring black in back of my apps. Oh well, iPhone 4 I hope I get one soon!

    2. Stuart Elliott
      Jobs Halo


      Yep, upgraded the wifes 3G, without problem, will do my 3GS when the apps start catching up with v4 compatibility.

  7. Ebaneezer Wanktrollop
    Thumb Up

    I had the error -34

    On an 8Gb 3G I had the error this morning. Not to worry, I followed it up with Redsn0ws jailbreak using a downloaded IOS4 and it is now working wonderfully - and I have multi-tasking to boot!

  8. Peter Storm

    No problems here either

    I did mine and my wife's at the same time. No problems at all

    Operator error maybe?

  9. myob

    32 GB 3Gs problem

    My 3Gs threw up an error message of "30", and then I had to reinstall from the backup made just before updating. That worked fine, but copying across the 30 odd gig of data took an hour or so, making it a long process. FWIW its PAYG and syncs with a mac.

  10. Paul Naylor

    Bit of a pain in the arse

    The download was fine on my 3G but the "Backing up your iPhone" was glacial. I kept quitting it and restarting, thinking it had bombed, but no change. Checked out the Apple discussion forums and other people were having the same problems. In the end I just stopped fiddling about and left it to it. Had I done that in the first place then I reckon an hour or so in total for backup, installation and restoration wouldn't have been far off the mark. The whole experience though did piss me off a bit (for the first time in 20 years as an Apple user) but I'd had a crap day anyway!

    No problems running iOS 4, no apparent slow downs and no hangs yet.

  11. Graham Anderson
    Jobs Horns

    Mine borked too

    After a number of attempts to restore, I now have my stuff back. Deffo not as smooth as previous upgrades.

  12. Pavlovs well trained dog

    mine went just fine

    My venerable ol' 16GB 3G worked hundreds. No problems at all except it took aeons to do the initial backup - and the whole thing took about 2 hours

    The folders are nice and the unified mailbox is helpful. And I like the reworked maps app.

    Its a bit slow, but to be honest, it's not slower than before. I suspect my phone is suffering from Flash rot and needs a total reformat.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Might be lack of space

    I notice the problem reported on the Apple discussions board has a possible answer - they noted that the option to "downsample music to 128k AAC" had previously been selected, but was turned off after installation. This means the total file size for music transferred back to the phone is greater, and this may be exceeding its total capacity. If this is the case, the error message is a bit obtuse.

  14. David Shaw
    Thumb Up

    iPod Touch 32GB OK

    I rooted this ipod for Cydia sourced Apps (so I could demo the BT for controlling a Lego robot!) just on Sunday, I'd done hard resets and cleaning ready for the jailbreak, so the iOS4 went thru smoothly at 6am today.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      ^^^ Sense

      I don't dare suggest that this should be a requirement for your average Apple user, but it does pay to use a bit of common sense every now and again.

      I suspect a lot of these issues could be mitigated by doing a backup, a restore to clean 3.1.3 and then the upgrade to iOS4.

      PARTICULARLY if you're running a jailbreak.

  15. vic 4

    ipod users?

    Anyone have any success with a first gen ipod touch 16Gb?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No problems here. Yet...

    My trusty 2 year old 16GB 3G updated without problems.

    Well, I say without problems. It took 20 trillion to the power 94 hours to complete, which meant I had to invent a time machine in order to send my phone and the Mac far enough back in time so the update would complete in my life time, but other than that, no problem.

    Sadly the only really useful stuff 'allowed' on the old model by Saint Steve that I want are app folders and a unified mail box. Really, really stupid that I'm not permitted by his-Jobsiness to put a background on my home screen. The lack of 'multitasking' I can understand seeing as the iPod app falls to its knees if you so much as think about the possibility of considering the option of running another app at the same time.

    I'm sure my smugness will haunt me. 3.728 second after hitting 'submit' I predict my trusty old 3G will explode and die in a mass of iOS4 error nightmares, in the process creating a black hole which will suck in more money from my bank account into his-Jobsiness's pocket.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I've got the same phone as you. Do you think the no multi-tasking and no home screen background is hardware (lack of memory or speed of processor?) or it's more a, "you have an old phone 2 generations or more old, upgrade, upgrade, upgrade, and now you've got a real reason?!"

      Real reason not to support those features or does the cynic in me win this one?

  17. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

    Can I just say:

    "It just works"?

    Thank you, I feel better for that.


  18. ed2020

    One solution is... put the device into DFU mode and reinstall the OS. DFU mode has worked flawlessly for me everytime. I once tried pulling the plug on a partially complete OS installation and DFU mode still allowed me to fix the problem.

    1. Neoc


      "Don't F__k Up"?

  19. Anonymous Coward

    IOS starter edition?

    All this nonsense of not being able to change wallpaper.

    Is this Cisco IOS "starter edition" by any chance?

  20. Psycho Flump


    The lack of background images on the 3G is a repeat of the lack of MMS on the original iPhone. It seems completely arbitrary. I used to run a jailbroken first gen iPhone with a wallpaper on it with no noticeable problems. I'd say stick with OS3 and jailbreak, it's a piece of piss to do and will give you more new bits to play with than you'll get with the official upgrade.

  21. Michael Wright

    Error -34

    Apparently, from posts in the thread linked in the article, Error -34 is an insufficient disk space message. And a poster there has identified what I think was my problem. I use the Transcode to 128 Kbps option when I sync music to my 3G iPhone. This option seems to get deselected during the upgrade process, and hence you can run out of storage space on the iPhone. I finally seem to be winning after Restoring the device, and telling iTunes (running on a Mac, BTW) to treat it as a new phone. Now I'm in the processing of doing a manually controlled sync of music, which is taking a l o o o ng time with the transcode, but seems to be going OK.

    This is not quite a Toyota Moment for Apple, but they really didn't catch up with all the details this time, and we buy Apple stuff because they normally do get the details right.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fix for third party apps

    Download an app from the App Store on the phone. Anything that's free. It will resync your account on your phone and all the third party apps will stop quitting on startup.

  23. Jean-Paul

    Slow but no problems

    It was very slow on both iPhones, but went very smoothly and no problems at all. Yes we have stock iPhones with about 5Gb free.

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