I made the mistake of letting my 3G iPhone go ahead and automatically upgrade to IOS 4 (the new version of the iPhone operating system) the day it was released.
What a mistake that was! But how could I have known in advance? I always upgrade my iPhone right away, hoping that it will do more and funner things.
More and funner I’m up for, but slower I was not expecting!
Now when the phone rings (if it rings at all), and I go to slide the green button on the screen to answer the call, it’s rare that the button even responds to my touch, let alone react fast enough to actually answer the call. The phone has turned into one little spinning beachball of death with this software upgrade. [The suggested fix is in the last paragraphs of this article, in case you want to jump ahead.]
This video was so close to my own experience I howled with laughter:
Making products obsolete used to be a matter of adding new features to new physical products until you just felt you had to upgrade to the newest phone or computer, but now……but now all it takes is to add enough software features to a device that it slows down and becomes unusable. Makes your customer want to buy another one. Huh?
I have been told that mobile handset makers want their customers buy a new phone every 18 months. And this is driven by new design and new features. I’ve had my iPhone two years now, and don’t really want to want to buy a new phone because of the expense (and poor connectivity), but with the OS slowing down like this I have two feelings. First, I am really steamed at Apple about releasing an OS that slows my phone to the point of being unusable. And second, I would rather go get a Motorola DroidX at this point because it seems like a good match for my needs, but the Droid isn’t offered as a 3G/GSM phone—otherwise I would have switched last weekend.
I went to see the Apple genius at the store. I walked there from home, which takes an hour. The whole time I was trying to open the maps app and have it plot the walking route, so I could estimate my arrival time, and I never did get that estimate because I reached the store before I could open the app and get through all of the steps in the maps app. I reached the genius bar on time, and I explained the slowness of the 3G iPhone to the genius, and his answer was
“you need to restore your phone to factory conditions and reload all of your apps and passwords.”
That was all he would say. He wouldn’t look at the phone, and wouldn’t discuss it further. Just told me to go take care of it myself. Boy did that piss me off!
For me this wasn’t an option because I really didn’t want to lose my passwords and settings, and didn’t want to spend all of the time it takes to go through the restore, the reset and then look up and restore all the passwords and setting (a couple of hours, minimum). It’s like the old canard about Windows machines that get cranky, and you call customer support and they say “just reinstall Windows.” Has Apple really come to this as the first step in fixing a product? And they won’t even discuss other options with you?
A company that insults or ignores its long-term customers is killing off its brand.
The fix, maybe: Here’s a page describing what looks like a real and much faster fix than a full restore—disabling the Spotlight indexing and search on the phone. Indexing is, of course, performed in the background, and does affect and computer’s performance to a degree. It happens on my fast MacBook Pro, and even there it affects performance at times—so it must really be killing the iPhone. Some people feel this has fixed the problem for them, and others don’t.
Cult of Mac also reports that two “hard resets” in a row will cure the slowness. Without a factory restore. And again, some people report that this worked beautifully and some said it didn’t make any difference.
Followup #1—July 30 2010: So I disabled Spotlight indexing, and did several hard resets, combined with a full Restore (factory reset and restore contents from backup). It took me nearly 3 hours (16GB 3G iPhone with 12GB of data in it) and I now have to put most of my passwords in again. I felt that the phone was somewhat faster after the restart, but I can’t really swear that these steps solved the problem. Probably I’d say “it’s not a dog anymore.”
Followup #2—July 31, 2010: It didn’t help much. Still almost impossible to slide the green button to open the phone when it’s ringing. I dumped these apps as a test: Google Earth, Google Mobile, IMDb, AIM (Free), AP Mobile, The Extraordinaries, Facebook, LinkedIn, NYTimes, Yelp!, TweetDeck, Brightkite, WebEx. Let’s see how it goes—I’ll be hiking to day and will try out everything.
So, if you’re experiencing this slowness, you might try one of both of those processes to see if it helps you. My phone was almost useless, so I had to try something.
 On Mac OSX, when the system is waiting for software to catch up with the user, it displays a rainbow-colored spinning pinwheel that we refer to as “the beachball” — kinda like Twitter’s fail whale.