iPhone 3GS Speed - iOS 4 vs 6


macrumors member
Original poster
Oct 19, 2017
I have a friend who has an iPhone 3GS and uses it as her primary phone. I don't get it, but she's mostly happy with it and can't be convinced into upgrading. Speed-wise, the phone is pretty slow. Being a nearly decade-old phone, that's not surprising. It's on iOS 6 right now and some of her apps aren't being supported anymore.

Would there be any benefit to downgrading her to iOS 4? I know there would be a speed boost, but I'm unsure if it would be significant. Even then, I don't know if she'd even be able to access the App Store to get apps, and if they would even be usable.


macrumors 604
May 26, 2016
You won’t be able to downgrade that device anymore. Try to convince her to get a better device maybe.


macrumors 65816
Aug 6, 2008
St. Louis
iOS 6.1.6 and iOS 4.1 are both currently being signed for the iPhone 3GS.

There is an issue with installing iOS 4.1, though. The install will mostly go fine, but then the last part will fail. It fails because it cannot update the baseband firmware (since a newer version is already installed).

You will need to use a tool, maybe something like redns0w or similar, to kick the device out of recovery when the iOS 4.1 installation finishes. I haven't done this in a few years, so there are possibly other tools to kick a device out of recovery. This doesn't jailbreak or anything, the phone is still totally stock. You just use the tool to get the phone to boot that one time during the 4.1 install.

Yes, iOS 4.1 will run a lot better than iOS 6.1.6. App selection will suck, though, so keep that in mind.

If you wish to tinker with jailbreak stuff, there are apparently ways to go to any iOS version without having your SHSH blobs saved (old bootrom and new bootrom 3GS). So, you could go back to iOS 3.1.3 if you wanted. The iPhone 3GS absolutely flies with that installed. You'll lose folders, wallpapers, multitasking, and 99% of app compatibility, though.
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macrumors regular
Oct 24, 2015
The biggest thing I missed when I put my 3GS on iOS 4 was iMessage. Mines back on iOS 5.1.1 right now and its performance is ok, but at least it does everything I want it to as far as messaging. She might want to be aware (if she isn't) that it'll be performance at the cost of iMessage-ing.