How to Speed Up iPhone 3G or 3Gs

by Tony Chung on September 14, 2009


Have you noticed a lag in the speed at which your iPhone 3G or 3Gs loads SMS text messages or web browser pages?

Here’s the solution.

Remember that your iPhone is basically a small computer, it runs an operating system just like Windows XP or Mac OS X. And just like those systems, there are background tasks running that may slow down the performance of your iPhone. So in order to speed up your iPhone, you should properly quit the applications that you are not using.

Important note (common misconception):

When you press the ‘Home’ button on the front of the iPod Touch, you are not quitting the application. You are simply closing it, but the application is still open and running in the background.

Suppose you open a game that you downloaded or an application on your iPhone that constantly updates via the internet. But you don’t use that application often. Then it is smart to quit those applications so it is not hogging the bandwidth (speed) of your iPhone in the background.

So, in order to properly quit these applications on iPhone 3G or 3Gs, perform the following steps:

  1. Open the application that you wish to quit by pressing its button on the home screen.
  2. Once the app opens, hold the power button (on the top of the iPhone) until the ‘Slide to Power Off’ with a red button shows up.
  3. Then let go of the power button and press and hold the ‘Home’ button on the front-bottom of the iPhone.
  4. When the interface returns to the home screen, you have successfully quit the application.

Perform steps 1-4 on any applications that you don’t use often. This will speed up the performance of your iPhone.

Bonus: Clear the cache of your Safari browser regularly by doing the following:

Home Screen > Settings > Safari > Clear Cache.

This will help speed up the performance of Safari when surfing the web.

Double Bonus: Got an iPad? Learn how to speed up YouTube on iPad.

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

sam September 14, 2009 at 7:23 am

My qn is, Cant you not acheive the same goal by just power cycling the iphone? especially if you have more than 20 apps?

Herb September 14, 2009 at 8:43 am

Do you know if the apps that free memory (e.g., MemoryInfo) do the same thing?

Unlocked iPhone Round Up September 14, 2009 at 1:19 pm

The information here was worth reading. I learned a lot. Thank you for the details on how to speed up the processing time of iPhone.

Tony Chung September 14, 2009 at 2:18 pm

Sam, yes power cycling the iPhone will do the same thing, but seeing that it takes 5-6 minutes for the entire power cycle process, it can be somewhat tedious to do it frequently. Some iPhone users power cycle their phone once a week.

Herb, I’m not seeing Memory Info when I do a search query for the app in the app store…

Tony Chung September 14, 2009 at 2:22 pm

From the Recession Apps website,

‘Apple has demanded that we remove the feature to Free Memory from all our apps. We have decided to remove our existing Free Memory 1.5 and MemoryInfo 1.1 apps from sale. We have instead submitted Free Memory Lite and MemoryInfo Lite without the Free Memory feature.’

Otto September 15, 2009 at 12:08 am

I’m sorry, but this is inaccurate. Apps do not run in the background unless they’re special Apple ones.

If you’ve jailbroken your phone and installed development or other backgrounding type of tools, then you’d be able to see exactly what is going on, but the gist of it is that while it’s *possible* to run an app in the background, Apple specifically forbids it for all App Store applications.

There are no applications in the App Store (that I’ve found) which run in the background. There’s several ways to run jailbroken apps in the background, and some can do this. But official ones do *not*.

Tony Chung September 15, 2009 at 12:50 am

Is that right Otto? Interesting, but when I open certain apps the second or third time, they open in the same state as when I closed the app. I don’t think the application is 100% quit when simply pressing the home button to return to the home screen.

Marc Clifton September 17, 2009 at 5:06 am

Yes Otto is correct.

Tony, when you press the home button certain apps save their exit state so that, when opened next time, they look exactly as though they had been running in the background.

It saves memory, processing power and most importantly battery power – something the iPhone is not the best at, currently.


Polprav October 16, 2009 at 9:21 am

Hello from Russia!
Can I quote a post in your blog with the link to you?

Tony Chung November 26, 2009 at 2:58 am

No problem Polprav!

Tech Guy March 21, 2010 at 11:56 am

The ones I recommend quiting like this are YouTube, Mail, Safari, and Music. Those are the main ones which will use up your ram.

Make Money Online April 16, 2010 at 7:58 pm

I didn't really think about doing the above with my 3Gs In fact I didn't know how, I guess practising this could help me alot lately Safari has been locking up on me randomly not too often though but it's a pain when it does happen. Maybe the ram gets used too heavily. Thanks for the post

Oscar May 2, 2010 at 8:56 pm


Tom May 23, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Just confirming for those who are curious: the methods described here do not make much/any difference to your iPhone. This is because the apps do shut down when you close them already. iPhone OS does not currently allow multitasking – all apps are shut down when they lose focus (you close their window by pressing the home button). Apple's built-in apps don't even run in the background; they simply use pre-made processes built into the OS to continue certain functionality while you do other things. This is about to be expanded with iPhone OS 4.0 which will allow 3rd party apps to use the same processes and many new ones for much more of a multitasking 'feel'. It will still not be true multitasking, which you can currently get by jailbreaking your iPhone and installing the necessary apps. When truly multitasking, iPhone apps pop into and out of existence immediately with no delay, but your RAM usage will be insane. Luckily, there are plist-related 'mods' available to both increase the clock speed of the iphone's processor and bestow upon it virtual memory to allow for more apps to be open at once. The jury is still out on whether even these work; as many people say they do as they don't. For me, it seems the overclocking at least has led to some improvement. my 3G can nearly keep up with a 3GS, although only nearly – the required hardware to match it just isn't there.

Guest #? :) July 2, 2010 at 7:11 pm

I do not have a lot of apps, but many places I’ve read had different opinions on whether they really slow the iPhone down or not. Since the release of iOS 4, I jailbroken and installed Cydia for an unlock. My phone was a bit slow and I thought it was the new OS, but after uninstalling Cydia and an app or two, it was running fast again.

I think some apps are not ready for the new OS yet, which was why I think it slowed the phone down. Point is, apps can be the cause of anything on a cellphone. I had an app that caused my volume control to bounce around. I did not find out until I found the app un-useful then realized it was a bug.

Karamboora August 3, 2010 at 3:07 pm

Try To reboot your whole iphone by holding down the home and power button

Vgeezy September 11, 2010 at 6:57 pm

While this solution does work, I found something that works better to stop the lagging on 3G. I have two 3G phones that were lagging a lot. Mostly when switching from apps like Google maps or Facebook. I found out both of these apps use location services on the iphone. I went into settings and found location services and saw that there were numerous apps using this service. I turned off location services and my phone worked fast like when I first got it. Those apps that use location services never terminates from using it even after you exit out of the app. Hope this helps others.

Theolivertrees September 25, 2010 at 2:19 pm

I call bullsh*t on the comment before mine. I did exactly what this article says and the difference is astounding. I had a 45 second delay on my 3g when I would press the home button in an application. Now it works perfectly!

Tony October 7, 2010 at 10:57 am

I have a few friends who use that app, seems like it has a similar effect as stated above.

Tony October 7, 2010 at 10:58 am

Yes, but:

1. rebooting takes a long time
2. when opening the apps for the first time again after rebooting, it will take some time to load

But yes, it is one way to clear out the cache.

Kinggeo29 October 7, 2010 at 10:59 am

hey man is there a way i can get the 3g network to work whille using tmobile with my iphone

Tony October 7, 2010 at 2:57 pm

I have a few friends who use that app, seems like it has a similar effect as stated above.

Tony October 7, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Yes, but:

1. rebooting takes a long time
2. when opening the apps for the first time again after rebooting, it will take some time to load

But yes, it is one way to clear out the cache.

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