Unleash Your Original iPhone or 3G with Whited00r

Custom firmware is everywhere in the Android world, and thanks to the whited00r team, we now have optimised firmware for older iPhones.

In true Low End Mac style, I recently joined the iPhone world with a low-end model, a 3G, Apple’s second generation model introduced in 2008. It is a fantastic device, and while Apple have stopped updating it, it does run iOS 4.

The original iPhone from 2007 misses out on iOS 4. This seems a deliberate marketing ploy pushing people to purchase a new iPhone – common practice with most businesses I know – as the original model and the 3G have nearly identical hardware (processor, RAM, and graphics are the same) with a few changes to the sound and WiFi chips being the main differences. Technically speaking, the original iPhone could run iOS 4 if Apple saw fit – albeit with the same speed and limitations as the 3G, as both models run at the same 412 MHz processor speed. (The 3GS runs at 600 MHz, and the iPhone 4 run at 800 MHz, each a big step forward in processing power.)

iOS 4 Sluggish on iPhone 3G

However, the first few releases of iOS 4 left the iPhone 3G in a practically unusable state – something that angered many 3G owners on its release – and while Apple rectified this with updates, my 3G running iOS 4.2.1 can be a bit sluggish at times, with menus lagging and apps taking a little while to open. I find it perfectly usable and am glad it is not stuck in OS 3, but what if you want the extra speed back, or what if you have an original iPhone stuck on OS 3 and want some of the fancy features of iOS 4?

Meet whited00r. What is it? Free custom firmware for the original iPhone and iPhone 3G, as well as first and second generation iPod touches. Developed by Andrew Gäwer and Matt Morando, whited00r offers increased speed and additional features, such as multitasking, homescreen wallpapers, folders and video camera and more, in OS 3.

Being custom jailbroken firmware, whited00r also offers pre-unlocking via ultrasn0w, which is a way to unlock your iPhone if you don’t want to pay the unlocking fee if your iPhone is locked to a single network. This is one of the main reasons people jailbreak their iPhones, and whited00r make it very easy to do it. It will do so without updating your baseband. Note that unlocking is available as long as your baseband supports it.

Amazing Speed

I am currently running stock iOS 4 Apple firmware on my 3G, but I did run whited00r (the OS 3 base) on it, and the speed was absolutely amazing. If you have an original iPhone, it really is a no brainer, as you don’t have the option to run iOS 4. Do you run stock OS 3 or whited00r OS 3? I would choose whited00r every time, as the extra speed and extra features mean it will make your iPhone run so much smoother and have more things to play with.

For 3G owners, it is a little more tricky. My 3G is factory unlocked, so I have no need for the ultrasn0w unlock that comes with whited00r, but if it wasn’t, I would seriously consider it. I have tried the unlock on a different iPhone, and it works flawlessly.

The thing that is keeping me running the stock Apple firmware at the moment is iOS 4. Obviously any apps that requires iOS 4 will not run on an original iPhone or an iPhone 3G running OS 3/whited00r.

There is an iOS 4-based whited00r in the making for the iPhone 3G – currently in beta stage – offering increased speed and tweaked features over stock firmware. Reports from people running the beta version are good, and it is faster than the Apple version. Once the final version is released, I will seriously consider using it instead of Apple firmware, to give my 3G faster speed and some extra features.

Improved Battery Life

All versions of whited00r promise increased battery life, another big plus for switching. As with most modern touchscreen phones, battery technology hasn’t really caught up, and with all the fancy features turned on, phones struggle to last a day, not good for a phone, so anything that increases battery life is helpful.

Installation is very simple. Head over to whited00r.com for full instructions, but it only requires downloading the custom firmware from their site, running iTunes, and clicking the Restore button whilst holding the Alt/Option key for Mac OS X or the Shift key for Windows. Once restored, set up your iPhone as new one – not from a backup – and presto, all done.

There are a number of different versions of whited00r available for each device, such as full, which has all the features mentioned, and lite, which lacks wallpapers and multitasking for an even more streamlined device. Then you have locked and unlocked versions that contain the ultrasn0w carrier unlock.

Also quite handy, you can find the original Apple firmware to in case you want to return to it.

I will review whited00r iOS 4 once it is released and I have been running it for a while.

Give it a go. You have nothing to loose – especially if you have an original iPhone – and so much to gain. Here at Low End Mac, we strive to keep old devices going and get the best out of them, and it seems the guys over at whited00r share the same philosophy.

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