I'm in the process of developing and releasing an iOS game, and have found that it just won't run on an iPhone 3G (don't even ask about a 2G) for many reasons. Primarily, the number of sprites and sounds needed for each level continually cause low memory crashes. I've already pared it down to the bare minimum and strategically load/unload resources as needed, but some items need to be cached so they can be activated quickly. My last resort (which I'm trying to avoid) is to make lower quality versions of all audio. Graphics are already packed tightly into sprite sheets.

The game runs wonderfully on an iPhone 4 and iPad, and even performs nicely on a 3GS. Should I be concerned about no support for older devices?

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ There are probably a fair amount of users of the 3G still out there. Not all users are geeks and upgrade every year at full cost. I think most people keep their phone until it dies. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nate
    Sep 9, 2010 at 15:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Release your game first and see how it does. If there is a high demand for it, then port it to the 3G with reduced audio or whatever. \$\endgroup\$
    – 5ound
    Sep 9, 2010 at 19:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also note that Game Center isn't going to work on the 3G. \$\endgroup\$
    – MrDatabase
    Sep 10, 2010 at 12:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Update - I've been doing some research regarding hardware distribution, and have found that while the 3G is a dwindling market, they constitute anywhere from 10-20% of the active iPhones. Still a big chunk of the market to ignore. SO, I've gone back to the drawing board (literally and figuratively) and have done a ton more optimization. I'm finally able to run the app on a 3G as well as a 2G iPhone with intermittent low memory crashes. Thanks for all of your input. \$\endgroup\$
    – jtalarico
    Sep 11, 2010 at 23:01

5 Answers 5


I believe most developers will continue to support the 3G (and the similar spec iPod Touch 2nd Gen) until iOS5 is released in which it's expected that Apple will drop support for them.

If you really can't make your game run on a 3G though and you can deal with not selling to 3G owners, it's up to you. I would expect to get a number of 1-star reviews from the inevitable idiots who still buy it even though the description says it doesn't support their device.

There is an advantage in not supporting devices prior to the 3GS which is that you can use OpenGL ES 2 without having to provide an ES 1.1 fallback rendering path.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Wow, you can buy apps that won't work on your device? +1 for Android Market... \$\endgroup\$ Sep 10, 2010 at 0:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ You can buy apps for anything in iTunes itself. When you're buying through the on-device store it limits it to apps your device can run. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetrad
    Sep 10, 2010 at 1:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Check out Apple's own iMovie app for example. It only runs on the iPhone 4, but looking at the reviews plenty of people without iPhone 4s bought it :) AFAIK, the Android store is only accessible from the phone itself so I guess that cuts out the confusion. \$\endgroup\$
    – U62
    Sep 10, 2010 at 9:38

I highly recommend including an analytics tool such as Flurry in your app so you can get hard data after launch. (Apple is not enforcing their ban on Flurry for now).

For my game, currently 25% of my sessions are on the 3G, so I wouldn't even think of dropping it right now. I would highly recommend supporting it. There are a lot of performance tricks with getting your app to work faster, so keep honing away at it.


You can't really not support the 3G without also removing support for the 2nd gen touch (by making the app only run on armv7-supporting devices, for example). From the analytics from a game we recently released those users are a minority but still a decent percentage of our users.

The answer to your question, like so many others, is going to fall back to economics of your particular situation. Are you losing your competitive edge by paring down the design or art resources of the game to work on the 3G? Are the additional expected sales going to make up the money invested in that expenditure? If you can answer those questions then the answer is obvious.


There's older devices, and then older devices.

Something like the iPhone 1G, maybe even extending to the 2G, is/are obviously not capable to do what the 4G is. There are few users on these, and you're only missing a very small amount of users.

However, the iPhone 4 hasn't been out more than a few months. There's the few phone obsessed people, 'omg its new and better', and the geeks that upgrade whenever, as Nate Bross said. I'm still running on a 3rd gen iPod Touch (not exactly an iPhone, but close enough to it with a wifi signal).I know a good few people who still have 2G models.

You've got to choose between trying to reduce memory usage even more, and missing out on the significant proportion of users who don't upgrade.

  • \$\begingroup\$ You skipped the 3GS model. I don't think anyone is seriously considering dropping the 3GS yet. Dropping the 3G has immediate tangible benefits like guaranteed OpenGL ES 2 support. \$\endgroup\$
    – user744
    Sep 9, 2010 at 19:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, I apologise. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 9, 2010 at 19:01

Disappointingly, Apple has started to deprecate the 3G (not the 3GS) by not supporting Game Center on it.

There area a lot of these devices still out there. Really, if you're building games primarily for the 'low-def' iDevices, you might as well support the older iPhones and iPod Touches.

If you're building a game for the higher-performance 'hi-def' iDevices, and porting it to the 3GS, then it may be more reasonable to drop support for the 3G for performance reasons?


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