How to downgrade iOS4 to 3.1.3 on iPhone 3G

Frankly, I think there needs to be a class actions suit against Apple- for making a software upgrade that you can’t *officially* revert from.

After “upgrading” to iOS4 my 3G iPhone bricked. Went into an infinite loop on sync- so that my contacts would never load- nor anything else.

To make matters worse- after a few tries- Apple Mobile Sync overwrote my immediate backup of data.

This nightmare started on Tuesday 22 July at 10am. I worked until 1:30 AM to try to restore. In the morning- I called Apple- and spent over 6+ hours on the phone with support. They told me there was no way to go back to iPhone 3.1.3 and restore my data from an older backup that I had from CC Cloner. The only hope was to get iOS4 to play nice with my phone and – then reinstall from iTunes- losing all settings, sms, etc.

From 9am to 11:30 pm I worked on my phone. They tried to tell me it was corrupt data in my Contacts- which I spent hours “grooming” and “cleaning”- yet- the reality is that same data had worked with my old OS- and it STILL worked with my iPad.

After watching many comments deleted on the Apple discussion forums- including people who said it was possible to do the downgrade- recovery- I found the right stuff.

Here are my steps:

Adapted from http://www.addictivetips.com/mobile/downgrade-iphone-3g-3gs-from-ios-4-to-3-1-2/ THANKS!

Step 1) Download iTunes 9.2 version (current version)

Step 2) Plug in the iPhone to PC/Mac

Step 3) Put the iPhone in DFU mode (MUST BE IN TRUE DFU MODE) Screen should be black but still be showing up in itunes with a warning “iPhone is detected in recovery mode” To go into DFU mode- press both buttons for exactly 10 seconds then release top- and hold the home button for exactly 10 seconds- screen will be black-

Step 4) Download a legit version of an older ipsw from Apple untouched

http://www.redmondpie.com/download-iphone-os-3.1.3-firmware-9140418/

http://appldnld.apple.com.edgesuite.net/content.info.apple.com/iPhone/061-7468.20100202.pbnrt/iPhone1,2_3.1.3_7E18_Restore.ipsw

Step 5) In iTunes- Option- click-restore on MAC, or Shift-click-restore on WIN for iPhone and select the Legit Apple firmware 3.1.3 you downloaded in step 4.

Step 6) Watch how Apple confirms that its legit Firmware your trying to restore to on their servers, (HAHA cause its Legit software from Apple so why wouldn’t they let you DOWN Grade to it) The Firmware then gets applied to your iPhone watch as the progress bar moves across and no error pop up.

Step 7) After the restore finishes you should be hit with a 1015 error. That’s expected. Your phone should be in Recovery mode now and iTunes will tell you to restore again. Click OK then hold option + click on restore again – this time you do not have to go into DFU mode – and navigate to the 3.1.3 FW.

At the end- you’ll get yet another 1015 error- you can ignore it.

Step 8) Success! You just took your iPhone3G from iOS4 to 3.1.3 Firmware!!!

Then do backup to your old data from an 3.1.3 backup- from time machine- or a CC cloner copy – hopefully you find it in the same place you have to place it:

put it in LIbrary/Application Support/Mobile sync on a Mac- (Sorry, I don’t know where it goes on a PC) The file will have a super funky name- looks like encrypted code

Do a restore.

The restore will take hours- but in the end- no brick. Hopefully I can save you some time.

Apple really needs to do two things: Make the process easy to revert- and to lock the backup from any major upgrade so you don’t lose it in the infinite loop that happened to a lot of people with this upgrade.

UPDATE: 25 JUN 2010 another option using another software tool, iRecovery: http://www.maclife.com/article/howtos/downgrade_iphone_os_40_beta_back_iphone_os_313 note- this was used with Beta’s of iOS4.

After my revert- I’m still running version 3.1.3 (7E18) and Modem Firmware 05.13.04 Supposedly- the modem firmware is what “can’t be downgraded” and won’t work- however, my 3g iPhone seems to be working fine (thankfully). I won’t upgrade again until ios4.0.1 is released.

UPDATE: Jun 27- here is an illustrated guide via LifeHacker: http://lifehacker.com/5572003/how-to-downgrade-your-iphone-3g

and – btw- Apple support still won’t tell you this can be done.

28 Jun: a tip from Apple support forums if you want to be brave before iOS4.0.1 upgrade is up:

1. Full manual backup of iPhone (speed up by removing unnecessary app, music, video etc.)
2. Copy the backup from ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup to (very) safe place - this is for possible fail
3. Uncheck the Address Book sync in iTunes; select Removing contacts from iPhone
4. Sync; after sync the Contacts on the iPhone has to be empty; check it
5. Remove the previous backup and perform full manual backup again; this create fresh backup without data with contacts
6. Install iOS 4 via Restore procedure
7. Restore data from backup - this is THE moment! It should end this time without infinity loop
8. If restore from backup is OK, switch on the sync with Address Book in iTunes
9. Sync; after this sync the Contacts should be restored too

Update- 22 AUG 2010- Apple’s Steve Jobs supposedly says there will be a fix for iOS4 on the 3G

Here is a parody video- and, hey- at least his phone didn’t brick:

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55 Responses

  • [...] Luckily- I back things up in multiple places- and, did a whole bunch of searching- to find a solution- which I posted here: http://www.websitetology.com/?p=711 [...]

  • Badilicious says:

    Dear David,

    Thanks for your step by step instructions… however, my iphone does will still not recover from a brick mode. After trying to downgrade to 3.1.3, a pop-up appears stating something like “An unknown problem has occured (14)” and then gives me two options… either OK or More information.,.,. whcih basically is shit-help from apple.

    Any idea what I can do next?

    Appreciate all help!

  • David Esrati says:

    I don’t know what error 14 is- but, I’d hit OK- and then retry.
    Were you in DFU mode for sure?
    Black screen?
    If you set your iPhone not to sync on connection- in iTunes>preferences>devices
    you can start shutting off things to reload- makes it a bit easier.
    I’m not an Apple tech support person- but they said they had answers for the 3 digit error codes- so maybe try calling Apple.

  • David Esrati says:

    Here is another way to downgrade:
    http://www.maclife.com/article/howtos/downgrade_iphone_os_40_beta_back_iphone_os_313
    I think it’s a little more complicated- hope it helps.

  • I follow all steps and it worked for me is there a way to get back to 3.1.3 instead of 3.1.2. I want to guidance about this.

  • David Esrati says:

    This is the process to go to 3.1.3
    To go back to 3.1.2 or others- find a different version of the firmware

  • David Esrati says:

    Lifehacker has an illustrated guide: http://lifehacker.com/5572003/how-to-downgrade-your-iphone-3g
    and-no, apple still says this can’t be done.
    Btw- AT&T is being generous with discounts to your bill for loss of use during this SNAFU.

  • Prince says:

    The approach outline here: http://www.maclife.com/article/howtos/downgrade_iphone_os_40_beta_back_iphone_os_313 worked for me. I had to use time machine to obtain my earlier backup for restore as iTunes won’t allow me to restore a iOS4 backup onto iphone os 3.1.x

  • [...] How To Downgrade IOS4 To 3.1.3 On IPhone 3G Submitted on:Tuesday 29th of June 2010 10:37:22 PM voted by 2 users [...]

  • GregPP says:

    Hi David,
    Thanks for the guide, I have a problem though. I download the 3.1.3 firmware, following the link above, but there is no .ipsw file in the downloaded content, and so iTunes cannot find it. Any advice??

    Thanks

  • David Esrati says:

    @GregPP-
    Of you downloaded the firmware- you’ve saved it somewhere on your drive-
    iTunes won’t find it on it’s own- you have to navigate to it- by holding down Option- click-restore on MAC, or Shift-click-restore on WIN
    then it goes…

  • GregPP says:

    I did that, I extracted the zip file, but no ispw file

  • eagleone says:

    This is not working…..I have 3g 05.13.04
    I did everything as described here but after second downgrade finishes the phone remains in recovery mode and I cant get it out of there

  • Mocha says:

    I ecco GregPP- .. It is Zip file for me and No ispw
    I followed the link twice but the same problem
    Even i tried downloading the firmware from another source but still recieving it as a zip file
    please advice :(

  • MuadDib says:

    To be able to use the downloaded .ZIP file with iTunes you should rename the file to .IPSW. That’s all there is to it. I have had this problem a few times myself.

  • sirish says:

    i am facing an error 1604 wat shud i do?? i am unable to restore to 3.1.2

  • David Esrati says:

    @MuadDib- thanks for the rename tip.
    @Sirish- hate to say it- call Apple. They may be able to help.

  • Sirish says:

    Wel being in india tats nt an option

  • whitsey says:

    I echo eagleone’s sentiments… doesn’t work.. after 3 tries I find myself in the same position – phone needs to restored to factory settings to be recognised by iTunes…

    F&%#ing Apple!!! I am hating apple more now than I ever hated microsoft…

  • Mawaheb says:

    would this downgrade procedure work on 3GS??

  • David Esrati says:

    Yes- it works on a 3GS

  • Mawaheb says:

    thanks for your feedback, i will give it a try on my 32GS and will update the blog if it works. My Iphone is MC137LL/A model, iboot – 889.24, Baseband 05.13.04, do you foresee any issue?

    By the way, I tried today earlier to restore 3.1.2 IPSW file (not sure if it is legit or not) following steps shown on http://www.addictivetips.com/mobile/downgrade-iphone-3g-3gs-from-ios-4-to-3-1-2/ but i never got past step 2, i.e. my iphone remained in DFU mode, never switched to recovery mode and did not get error 1015 either! is this is because the IPSW file i was using could be illegit? (i have no way to tell, i downloaded it from the internet).

  • David Esrati says:

    @Mawaheb- can’t tell you about the 3.1.2 files-
    I posted what worked for me – after 2.5 days of hell.
    I’ve also dug around and put links to other solutions- but, I’m by no means a iPhone hacker genius

  • Mawaheb says:

    I kept getting an error message on iTunes (this device isn’t eligible for this request)! any ideas?

  • Thanick says:

    @Mawaheb I visited many websites since a couple of days ago just to solve the same problem as you are having. I still can’t find the answer. Maybe it’s just for the 3gs that has that “this device isn’t eligible for this request” problem.

    What I know is you need to change the “hosts” to match somebody else’s. I tried and changed both the “hosts” in “/etc” folder and in Terminal.app. I think I tried everything I learned from websites and Youtube but it’s still said “this device isn’t eligible for this request”.

    I begin to give up now. If anybody know the solution. Please help us. Thanks

  • Sirish says:

    Hey david buddy!! Thnx fr ur info bt it still cudnt make a diff in my handset
    fr even a min.. Its like an itouch to me until ios4 is jailbreaked.. Cmon geohot
    u r d man..!!! Make it fast..!!
    N i ve tried ol dese solns available on net a long ago itself wen i posted tis
    for help but ol of it was to no avail..:-(… Geohott make it fast..!! Ol d ppl
    wid tis prob raise a request to geohot to jailbreak ios4 asap..!!!!

  • Dominique says:

    Hi David… thanks for your info… Everything worked for me just fine (although the first time I tried to put my phone into DFU, nothing appeared to happen, so I repeated and then my phone reappeared in iTunes as promised). However, now that I’ve gone thru the cycle (twice as per your instructions) of Restoring the 3.1.3 version, I’m at a loss as to what to do next! I keep getting a message saying that “iTunes must check the iPhone software update server to identify this device.” I’ve tried clicking “Check” and I’ve tried clicking “Cancel”. Cancel gets me nowhere and “Check” appears to put me back into the same cycle again, so I’m obviously missing the point! Could you please help me a bit further, cos your other instructions after “success” have left me puzzled. Many thanks! :)

  • David Esrati says:

    Hi Dominique- here is the answer: http://tinyurl.com/25vhfo4 Welcome to the internet!

  • Jay Shawn says:

    thnx for the guide. too bad it doesn’t have pics like this one: http://ipodtoucher55.blogspot.com/2010/07/downgrade-ios-40-to-313.html

    but it was still followable.

  • Hank says:

    Yes, I’m having the same problem as eagleone. After I restored it still says it has to restore. Also, could you clarify how to, “do backup to your old data from an 3.1.3 backup- from time machine- or a CC cloner copy – hopefully you find it in the same place you have to place it:

    put it in LIbrary/Application Support/Mobile sync on a Mac- (Sorry, I don’t know where it goes on a PC) The file will have a super funky name- looks like encrypted code”

    I didn’t understand this part. Thanks

  • David Esrati says:

    Sorry Hank- Don’t know what to do on PC. I’ve heard that Apple is now acknowledging the problem and may be able to help if you call.

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  • Anthony says:

    David-
    I followed your steps to a T, got the 1015 error two times. However, each time it stays i recovery mode. Thus, I never successfully end up on 3.1.3

    This was a working 3G running 4.01, that went into restore loop after i tried to get wifi working and restore to 4.02….

    Anyway, I have had NO luck and iRecovery doesnt work either. The iPhone shows up but the commands (printenv, savenv) do not do anything.

    What do u suggest?

  • David Esrati says:

    @Anthony- I’ve never tried to downgrade from anything other than 4.0, so I’m afraid I’m of no help. I suggest contacting Apple. This is their mess. I’ve stuck with 3.1.3 since this fiasco- and am either waiting for an iPhone 4 on a different network than AT&T or to pick up a used 3GS to run iOS4. Unless Apple says they have an optimized version for the 3g phone- because I don’t believe the hardware is iOS4 ready.

  • Matt says:

    I had this same locking issue when my iTouch 2nd generation was upgraded to iOS4. I brought it to the Apple store and their answer was to buy a new one. I guess I’ll try this procedure instead.

  • Andreos says:

    try this link after the second 1015 error
    http://jaxov.com/2010/05/recboot-iphone-recovery-mode/

    gets the phone out of recovery mode, worked for me (had to install LibUSB too, but there are links for that)

  • sunny says:

    I had sucessfully downgraded MY 3G Iphone from iOS4 to 3.00

    1. tried jailbreaking Iphone using redsnow by selecting iPhone1,2_3.0_7A341_Restore.ipsw file
    2. It was successful but phone did not restart.Later started in DWF mode
    2. started phone in DFU mode restored with iPhone1,2_3.0_7A341_Restore.ipsw file
    3.received 1015 error
    4.Did restore again. this time, it did not asked for any file.
    5.No error, restore was successful

  • Tito says:

    Hi there!
    I’ve followed all the steps up to the error 1015. From there I don’t get any option about restoring again, it just stays in recovery mode and there’s no way to get it out of there. I´ve used iRecovery and Recboot, but it’s been useless.
    Could you help??
    Thanks!

  • tony says:

    hi guys
    @tito, ref restore again, unplug usb then plug back in so it reregisters the iphone, itunes will say found in recovery mode then, hold shift and click restore for the second attack.

    @mocha , ipsw/rar/zip, right click on mouse , rename , change .zip to .ipsw
    if cannot scan google on how to change your setting, thats what i did and got anwer from utube,

    @david, thanks for the advice, this could provr to be worth its weight in gold for many people inc myself ( not tried yet though still digging), i have a thought born through reading mocha ‘s prob, if i had a trusted (older version) of an ipsw image and also a bang up to date ipsw image, renamed them both to rar or zip files i am able to read them and play with them !! so would it be possible to simply take the firmware folder from the trusted ipsw and use it to replace to folder in the newer prob ipsw then simple rename once more from rar to ispw, voila new o/s trusted firmware ! sounds to simple so sure theres a reason not to…….or is there ?

  • David Esrati says:

    Good news- while the update process for 4.1 doesn’t work with my 3G- the restore does.
    Follow these steps.
    1) Do a standard sync making sure NOT to ask for the new iOS4 software (security step)
    Then
    2) click to check for updates- make sure it says 4.1
    3) Try the regular update process- but if it it hangs on backup (as mine did)- hit cancel.
    4) Hit Restore.
    5) It will wipe your phone, install the latest 4.1 OS- and then ask do you want it as a new phone or restore from last backup (which you did in step 1)- select restore.
    6) Leave your phone for a while- I did- no idea how long it took- in the morning- it was whining about being unable to sync again or something- but, everything was on the phone and working just fine. Nice and fast.
    Voila- iOS 4.1 running on an iPhone 3g – and doing so relatively well.

  • Tom says:

    Goodbye apple…..hello samsung These boneheads at Apple are just full of themselves…..they can keep their $%^#

  • Carlos G. says:

    When I do everything it says to do on here… everything seems to be fine(I get the error messages and everything), but nothing ever happens… when I look at Itunes where it says software version is says “n/a”… any ideas?

  • David Esrati says:

    @Carlos- not sure I can help- you are probably trying to downgrade from a much newer version- which may cause issues that didn’t happen.
    4.2 seems to have solved many of the issues that bricked my iPhone 3G

  • PRATIK says:

    I DOWNGRADED MY IPHONE FROM 4.0 TO 3.1.2 VIA ITUNES USING RECBOOT BUT IT IS NOT GETTING UNLOCKED

  • David Esrati says:

    @Pratik- unlocking your iPhone is something else- can’t help you there. I’m running 4.2 on my 3G and it seems fine.

  • Jim Curley says:

    I found this very informative but I am not an informed IT person and a bit scared to attempt to do this alone.

    I have faxed Apple and if someone is filing a lawsuit – I am in.

    I worked for 34 years with an International Organization and I have never ever seen this sort of crap when I worked. Apple is getting rather arrogant!!

    will keep checking this site for sure and thanks very very much.

    will let you know if i hear!! from Apple

  • Travis says:

    Dude you saved my bacon. This so didn’t make sense that it went through the entire process and it didn’t take the install. RecBoot was what I needed!!

  • Akif Shamim says:

    Dude i kept getting an error message on iTunes (this device isn’t eligible for this request)! any ideas?!?

  • Toqeer says:

    Hey I had this same locking issue when my iTouch 2nd generation was upgraded to iOS4. I brought it to the Apple store and their answer was to buy a new one. I guess I’ll try this procedure instead…

  • vivek says:

    I agree with the poster in totality when he says that apple should be penalized for these practices.

    Also this does not work with the latest upgrades from apple, as far as I know. I am sitting here with a bricked iphone.

  • Jody says:

    this is a step by step and fool proof video! Worked amazingly