Stuttering animations in iOS 4.3.x? Here's the fix!

They say that updates are supposed to bring enhancements and fixes. At most, the updates should provide those on the newest hardware with the most improvements. Not so with iOS 4.3 and its minor point revisions. Compared to iOS 4.2.1 which was preloaded on a fourth-generation iPod touch, there was quite a bit of stuttering when opening and closing applications, and unlocking the device. We originally thought the lag in animations was attributed to the increased memory usage between iOS 4.2.1 and 4.3.x.

The device was reverted to 4.2.1 for a while, but a terrible battery drain bug cropped up after jailbreaking with greenpois0n. Despite the legalities surrounding jailbreaking, SBSettings (installable via Cydia) is an indispensable tool for adjusting settings on the fly without opening the Settings application. At the same time however, the iPod touch draining itself from 76% to 0% after just one night of sleep was unacceptable. So the device was reluctantly put back to 4.3.3 while we sought for a solution to the animation jerkiness that was present in 4.3.1 through 4.3.3. At least battery life returned to being decent on 4.3.3.

Thanks to a discovery by MacRumors users in this thread, those that are stuck on iOS 4.3.x for whatever reason can enjoy a similar level of animation smoothness as once had on iOS 4.2.1. This applies to jailbroken and unjailbroken devices, as some users have reported similar animation jerkiness without jailbreaking. The steps to achieve this fix are summarized below, and can be done by anyone regardless of jailbreaking experience. This guide applies to both iPod touch and iPhone users.

Step 1 (optional): Before you start, it's recommended to backup your device via iTunes and start with a clean iOS 4.3.3 installation. Click on "Restore" in iTunes to restore the original firmware to your device, then accept the backup prompt. Following the restoration process, select to restore from your most recent backup when prompted.

Step 2: Apply a jailbreak. You'll need this to access the system files on your device. We recommend using redsn0w. Follow the on-screen instructions.

Step 3: You'll need an application that allows you to access files on your device. For Windows, we suggest using iFunBox. Launch your file browser application, locate the entry for browsing the file system (in iFunBox, it's the Raw File System node), and navigate to /System/Library/CoreServices/SpringBoard.app/

Step 4: Locate a file that is labeled "NXXAP.plist". The iPhone 4 is N90AP.plist, and the iPhone 3GS N89AP.plist. The iPod touch 4G 8 GB has it as N81AP.plist. Drag this file to your desktop and open it with your favourite text editor.

Step 5: Locate the two lines shown above. Change both lines to read as shown below:

Step 6: Save this file, then drag the file from your desktop back onto the file listing in iFunBox.

Step 7: Restart SpringBoard or restart your device (hold down the Power button, swipe the slider, then power the device back on).

 

Please note: Performing the steps in this guide will void your device's warranty if you leave it in a jailbroken state. You can restore your device via iTunes to remove the jailbreak before turning in your device to Apple for warranty service.

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27 Comments

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bugsbungee said,
Anything which invalidates warranty is not a fix...... Don't know why neowin are encouraging people to do this to their devices.

Dude, don't be afraid of jailbreaking. Just unjailbreak if you want to return it. Jailbreaking is good, you get way more features.

I'd rather have a jailbroken fast device, then a non-jailbroken one with stuttering animations.

TechDudeGeorge said,

Dude, don't be afraid of jailbreaking. Just unjailbreak if you want to return it. Jailbreaking is good, you get way more features.

I'd rather have a jailbroken fast device, then a non-jailbroken one with stuttering animations.

This goes beyond jailbreaking to messing with internal files on the script level.

TechDudeGeorge said,

Dude, don't be afraid of jailbreaking. Just unjailbreak if you want to return it. Jailbreaking is good, you get way more features.

I'd rather have a jailbroken fast device, then a non-jailbroken one with stuttering animations.

You misunderstand, I'm not "afraid" of jailbreaking. IOS is at the point for me now where I don't have to do it (only feature which was missing was Wifi hotspot for me, not interested in customisation etc), I'm not saying there aren't valid reasons for doing it either. I'm simply concerned that a tech site is encouraging people to do this without warning of the possibility of invalidating your warranty - theres a potential liability issue here if someone tries to get a warranty repair from apple but is refused because they applied this "fix" without knowing the consequences.

Incidentally, I don't get the stuttering issues on either my 3gs or 4.

bugsbungee said,
Anything which invalidates warranty is not a fix...... Don't know why neowin are encouraging people to do this to their devices.

Firstly, jailbreaking is not dangerous or "bad".

Second, a fix is just a solution to a problem, no politics involved. So step off your high horse. Every single jailbreaking site, topic, tool, etc tells people that doing this voids your warranty. It's your own damn fault if you don't read, and in all honesty, most people who do this are well aware and well-versed in the nature of jailbreaking.

If this works, I'm gonna love you Neowin! I have had this problem from 4.3 up and it's horrible. It's fine in 4.2.1 apart from bad battery. So that plist change happened in 4.3 and caused all this?

On a post-ed note: if anyone wants to fool around with animation speed on their device, search for "FakeClockUp" on Cydia. You'll need to find repositories to add in yourself to get it.

On my jailbreaked device (iPhone 4 + iOS 4.3.2), I saw a real difference after applying this fix.

The "switcher" is still laggy (a lot less though) but the animation that occurs when I open or close an app is definitely smoother. Reeder was laggy too, now it runs perfectly. Same for Osfoora and Safari.

I'm not a hardcore jailbreaker thought. The only things I have installed: Lockinfo, Popupblocker (to block notification pop-ups and send them to Lockinfo instead) and a little fix to remove the "Spotlight" page from the Springboard

Imagine that...a useful reason to jailbreak. If Apple ever releases an official fix, be expecting them to not support the phones that applied the fix by jailbreaking.

techbeck said,
Imagine that...a useful reason to jailbreak. If Apple ever releases an official fix, be expecting them to not support the phones that applied the fix by jailbreaking.

Any official fix will overwrite the system files via a new iOS version. Moot point to be honest.

this is nice. I have iPhone 4 and my gf has iPhone 3GS, both of our devices have 4.3.1, both of us recently bought iPad 2, and both of us thought we have gotten used to A5's speed and think our phones are "slow in spec"...

Just applied jb and the fix on my phone and it got all faster now! Gonna put it on my gf's phone now! Thanks a lot for fixing my phone

Never had any animation stuttering on my iPod Touch 3G, before or after jailbreaking it (fully updated too).

Thanks for posting the fix though, for those having these issues.

I don't even see the need for this. As much as I don't have a preference towards an iPhone, or iPod (but maybe not iPad ), I find no shortcomings of the OS in terms of animations. I've used said devices before, and the animations are quite smooth, to be honest. Is this a rare issue?

PlogCF said,
I don't even see the need for this. As much as I don't have a preference towards an iPhone, or iPod (but maybe not iPad ), I find no shortcomings of the OS in terms of animations. I've used said devices before, and the animations are quite smooth, to be honest. Is this a rare issue?

I encounter the stuttering on a daily basis with my iPod touch (3G), so while I can't speak for others it's certainly not a rare occurrence for me.

Thinking I may try this tweak out this weekend and see how things go.

As mentioned above, animations were generally smooth on older iOS 4.x versions, but for some devices it got slow starting with 4.3.

PlogCF said,
I don't even see the need for this. As much as I don't have a preference towards an iPhone, or iPod (but maybe not iPad ), I find no shortcomings of the OS in terms of animations. I've used said devices before, and the animations are quite smooth, to be honest. Is this a rare issue?

iOS users, yes this is an issue, as iOS is known for the smooth accelerated animations.

Android users, nope, since they don't know what it is like to have accelerated and fluid animations anyway.

WP7 users, have no position and are keeping quiet on this issue as they have nice accelerated animations and a full accelerated UI, but if an updates ever causes a similar issue for them, all the Apple and Android users will proclaim how horrible and flawed WP7 is...

thenetavenger said,

Android users, nope, since they don't know what it is like to have accelerated and fluid animations anyway.

This is what annoys me about every Android phone I've seen so far. Why bother with animations if it's just gonna stutter? Scrolling especially isn't nearly as smooth...

Part of me thinks the iPhones out currently, will get slower and slower each update, and then behold!

iPhone 5 running iOS 5. Zippy quick.

Benjy91 said,
Part of me thinks the iPhones out currently, will get slower and slower each update, and then behold!

iPhone 5 running iOS 5. Zippy quick.

I agree with you that is why I am not buying another iPhone. Also ATT/Verzion hold the users hostage with overpriced plans.