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How Does iOS 6 Run on iPhone 3GS? 

So how is iOS 6 on the 3GS? Not bad, according to Andrew Cunningham of Ars Technica, who subjected his own plastic-backed smartphone to Apple’s latest and greatest version of iOS (now that’s hardcore journalism). The iPhone 3G was notoriously slow running iOS 4, so it’s interesting to see that the 3GS actually fares pretty well on iOS 6, and can still benefit from quite a number of the 200 new features Apple has just released. 

I won’t spoil any of the article details, but it seems like it’s probably worth tapping that “upgrade” button if you were on the fence…

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  • Ben

    Disagree. I’ve been using iOS 6 steadily on my 3GS from beta 1 thru the formal release. It has consistently run poorly in many areas that are critical to the iPhone as a convenience device. App updates are much slower even to the point of appearing to be “hung” many times (even on good wi-fi). The native music app reacts poorly to controls – changing modes from play to pause or vice versa often takes seconds or minutes to take effect (I thought i was just my remote control on my headphones, but then I tried it on the phone itself and it did exactly the same thing (button updates graphically but music continues to play (or not depending on the start state). Lots of other little issues as well… if I’ve noticed then they are annoying. I believe that iOS 6 is too much for the poor 3GS and that Apple is fine with that because the 3GS is now officially “old” (and you can sell it back for some decent money despite that – so Apple must want these off the market now).


    • Michael

      it sounds like it would be more of a hardware issue. I as well as my friends updated to ios using a 3GS and we have no issues.

  • Scott

    Thanks, BH. I have a 3GS and I’m skeptical about updating. I had similar issues when I owned an iPhone 2. Apple knew there were performance issues but released the new, “upgraded” os anyhow. Since then, I’ve never update my phone’s os. That does limit some apps I can use. However, I’d prefer to keep using the apps that work rather than update and render the phone nearly useless!

    • I upgraded my old 3GS to iOS 6 the other day. It’s not speedy by any means, but it doesn’t seem any slower so far than it was on iOS 5. We’ll see how it performs in the long term.

  • Carlos

    It works quite fine, except for the facebook integration, it stood in “verifying” the whole night and it didn’t connect with my fb

  • joey

    I have to disagree with Ben. All his issues with the 3GS was prevalent before iOS 6. I had those same problems and hangups.

    The new update has been so far running good. Some apps like message, safari and email have booted faster. Other apps like music and app store are a bit slower.

    I am here to report that iOS 6 overall hasn’t greatly improved nor hampered the performance of the 3GS.

  • Freddy

    I LOVE the iOS 6 on my 3GS!

    My Sunspider test was 15% faster after the upgrade, I have more features, and overall useability is excellent.

    iOS adds alot of added stuff that tries to always be running.

    The older machines (3GS and 4) can’t handle all of that the way the 4S and 5 can.

    To get best performance, you have to turn off some of the background “clutter”, that really isn’t necessary, push notifications, etc…. See here for some tips about the iOS5 on the 3GS, but also apply to the new iOS as well:


    As stated above, I am really happy with the iOS6 update on my 3GS. No slowdown at all for me.

    I think Apple learned their lesson with the ios4/iphone3 debacle, and made sure ios6 ran very well on the 3GS before saying that it could.

  • kristin

    I just got the ios 6 for my 3gs and its working fine theres not much difference in it really (well not that i can see anyways). But i have only had it for about a day and nothing yet. I will update anyone if something does change.

  • Christine

    I downloaded iOS 6, my battery drains so quickly, and worst of all, I can’t play my music! Does anyone know a fix?

  • Dimitris

    I upgraded my 3gs the same day that ios6 released. i didn’t see any diference in speed as I expected. it works fine, the apps works fine and i see a small increase in speed with 3G network. the only disadvantage i saw, is that the battery lasts a little bit less time.

  • george

    Im very critical about performance on my 3GS. I upgraded immediately because my phone was very slow on ios 5, so why not try ios 6.

    Believe it or not, it performs better. Noticeably. I kid you not.

    Yeah my battery is shot, so Im not able to tell if it uses up the battery faster like reported on the 4S. To me its the same.

    With ios 5, my 3GS would hang, not even pressing home button would release it. Also, when using iMessage or even email the phone would always pause then catch up my typing – hated that.

    Opening and closing apps works faster. No more hangups. It manages memory better.

    Im not going to have this 3GS for much longer. But Im recommending the ios 6 upgrade.

  • Adrian

    In contrast to the other posts here my experience has been very positive. I actually find nothing is slower and most things, especially app updates, are faster. I was a bit sceptical before I upgraded but I’m glad I did. The 3 most useful features for me are Do Not Disturb, custom tune for alarm and answer with text. Like everyone else, I’m a little disappointed with maps but I can work around that and wait for if/when it improves.
    I couldn’t be happier with my 4 year old phone!

  • charles kimbler

    I think someone should beat the shi….. out of the apple big wigs for this crap.We all are not rich enough to upgrade to a 4 or a 4s I just have the 3gs and was I say was working just fine.Now its slower than cold snot e-mail is a joke an app update took me 4-trys to get it.Just doing crazy things now.Goes to sleep while on a call and have to slide it open to hang up now.Good job apple ar eyou owned by wal-mart now???

  • gia

    My 3Gs was running fine on the ios5 and in point of fact I was able to imessage pics and text; since I’ve updated to the ios6 my messenger app sits in the: “Waiting for activation” mode, when I attempt to send a pic via. imessenger it will begin to load then stop short and a “Not Delivered” message will appear and it will no longer allow me to receive pics via. imessenger ither.I’ve done several hard reboots by holding down start & home buttons to no avail, so I went so far as to change my itunes,imessenger & apps. passcode, and nothing, still in the “Waiting for activation ” mode. I can however send and receive txt just will not allow me to send or receive pics. Any suggestions????

  • courtney

    i updated to ios 6 and now i have no sound when i get facebook notifications. all the sounds are on for it, but no sound…

  • simon

    i updated my 3gs with the latest ios 6 now my phone cant recognize the sim card neither can i activate it on itunes ……any solutions? id really apreciate

    • shoshi

      same thing it’s happened to my iPhone 3gs also.
      if u get any solutions means plzzzzzzz tell me bcz i tried so many times to fix it

    • kaif

      the same here too

      • kaif


  • some one help ., i updated to the ios 6 today .im on 3gs btw .
    so my problem is im trying to get imessage to work, my phone number is ticked but greyed out . email is ticked i can start convo’s from my email or phone number , at apparently receive at 2 addresses ./ YET /> i cant send a imessage it gets half way and flops ./ can some one help me ! ..im not jail broken its legit