iOS 7 on iPhone 4s: First Impressions and Performance

Today’s the day; the day that iOS 7 officially releases unto the public. iOS users who have an iPhone 4 or newer, and an iPad 2 and newer can update to Apple’s completely overhauled iOS 7 platform and experience the next-generation of Apple’s mobile platform.

Without a second thought, I decided to pull the trigger and update to iOS 7 on my iPhone 4s. Older devices running newer pieces of software usually doesn’t go too well, but I have enough faith in the performance of my two-year-old iPhone 4s that I was confident iOS 7 would perform well on it. Plus, I was pretty excited to upgrade to the newer version, mostly because of the complete overhaul, and the update to iOS 6 from iOS 5 left me wanting more.

Apple announced iOS 7 earlier this year at WWDC 2013, and it was in beta for several months until a couple weeks ago when Apple promoted it to Gold Master, which is essentially the final version that developers get to play around with in order to update their apps to work seamlessly with iOS 7. Today, however, anyone and everyone with a relatively-newer iOS device can have their shot at using the new OS.

IMG_1517

Very First Initial Impressions

The very first thing that came to mind when my iPhone 4s booted up iOS 7 was, “It looks like iOS 7.” In other words, it’s about what I expected from all the video demonstrations and photos that I’ve seen of the new user interface. Of course, it’s running on the smaller 3.5-inch screen, so there’s no fifth row of apps and everything’s pretty much just shrunken down by 176 pixels vertically. The iPhone 4s and lower also don’t receive AirDrop support or filters in the Camera app, but other than that, everything else is the same compared to the iPhone 5 and newer.

It’s also important to note how much space iOS 7 takes up on your iDevice. For my iPhone 4s, the operating system takes up 2.6GB of my 16GB of storage, which is only slightly more than what iOS 6 required on the iPhone 3GS last year. So before you upgrade, make sure you have enough space that can be used for the update, or else you’ll be stuck cleaning out files and apps.

Overall Performance

As I mentioned earlier, installing newer software on older hardware can lead to problems most of the time, but I was confident enough in my iPhone 4s that I didn’t think it’d be a problem, and I was mostly right, actually.┬áThe redesigned UI is snappy and fluid, and opening, closing and switching between apps is surprisingly quick. While I was confident in the 4s’s performance, there was still something in me that figured that there would at least be a little bit of a slowdown, but I haven’t come across anything that has been slower than iOS 6.

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UPDATE: How to Fix Keyboard Lag in iOS 7 on the iPhone 4s

IMG_1518Multitasking

iOS 7 received a completely new multitasking tray and app switcher. Instead of the less-than-useful row of app icons that you would get in past iOS versions, you’re treated with a full-screen look at the apps you have running, including a preview card for each app. You can scroll through them and either tap on one to open up the app, or swipe the preview card upward to close it out.

Right away, this is a feature that is a lot more resource-intensive than the previous multitasking tray, but my iPhone 4s handled it like a champ, swiping through open apps was really quick and snappy, and swiping away apps to close them also saw honorable results.

Battery

Battery life is probably one of the most crucial things I had to look at with iOS 7, since software upgrades always tend to mess with the battery in weird ways. While I haven’t run actual battery tests yet, I can say that I haven’t really needed to charge my phone more often than before, although there’s this placebo-like effect taking place in my brain that makes me think the battery life is a little worse in iOS 7 than in iOS 6, but I might just be crazy. If there actually is a negative difference in battery life, it’s hardly noticeable.

Apps

The Settings app did crash on me a couple of times soon after I updated, but I haven’t encountered any such problem in a while, which leads me to just believe that my iPhone 4s simply experienced some sort of emotional shock when something so drastic as iOS 7 was installed, but it’s hard to believe that my iPhone has emotions, except for Siri; she’s very much alive.

Other than the Settings app, I’ve surprisingly haven’t witnessed any other apps crashing on me, even the ones that technically aren’t updated to support iOS 7 yet. It’s rather annoying that third-party apps without iOS 7 support still use the older iOS keyboard, so you’ll find yourself constantly switching between the iOS 7 keyboard and older iOS keyboard until all of your apps update with iOS 7 compatibility.

Camera

IMG_1519The Camera app in iOS 7 is also completely new, featuring a new user interface and filters for the first time ever. The Camera app in past iOS versions is just one of those apps that you have a love/hate relationship with. Many people complain about how slow it opens, but the more photos and videos you store on your iDevice makes a huge difference in this, even in iOS 7.

Furthermore, iOS 7 also still has the quick access camera slider on the lockscreen, although I’ve noticed on my iPhone 4s that it takes a little bit more effort to get it to open. In iOS 6 and older, you could really just flick the camera slider upwards and it would open without a problem, but I’ve noticed that I’ve been having to actively slide the camera slider all the way to the top of the screen in order for it to open. It’s kind of a nuisance, really.

Should You Upgrade to iOS 7?

This is the ultimate question, and my answer is, “do whatever you want,” but I can at least provide you with a little insight to help make your decision a bit easier. First off, if you’re jailbroken and don’t want to lose it, the smart move would be sticking with iOS 6 until a jailbreak comes out for iOS 7, which shouldn’t be too far off in the distance.

If you’re not jailbroken, it entirely depends on if you want to upgrade or not. If you’re worried about your older iPhone 4s not performing well with the newer software, I can attest that it’s just fine. Honestly, my advice to you, if you’re on the fence, is to give it a go; iOS 7 looks great and while there are some features that you may miss in iOS 6, the number of new useful features far outweigh those that were taken away. Plus, if you’ve owned an iPhone for a long time, upgrading to iOS 7 really makes you think that you got a completely new phone without paying a cent, and that’s something that’s worth the upgrade for me.

Comments

    • jennifer says

      plug your device into itunes i tunes will recognize the update and ask u if u want to update or not if not given the option update your itunes to latest version and try again just finsihed updating my iphone 4s to ios7 took like 20 mins. try it and let me know if it helps!

      • jeremy cathery (@JCathery) says

        took me abiut 2 hours becuase i got it the minute it came out and servers were sluggish but i updated it on my sis iphone and it works pefect now idk why i sent this reply well congrats you just wasted 10 seconds of your life reading this

    • testingdance says

      Marion, if there is any battery issue it will/should be taken care after the battery is recalibrated to IOS7, at least that is what I have read.

  1. bob says

    finally restarting, but it has been starting up for about fifteen minutes and shows it is not yet halfway done…

    • AW says

      I just found something that helps with the iPhone 4s and the keyboard ‘lag’ issue — ‘ I believe it has something to do with iCloud. Try this:´╗┐ settings>icloud>turn OFF documents & data iCloud sync. After this the keyboard should work OK. After you can turn ON syncing documents & data. But if you open iCloud>storage&backup the keyboard problem appears again. So you will have to turn OFF documents&data sync again. ‘

  2. Courtney says

    It is extremely laggy when typing stuff on the iPhone 4S. It seems that I can type a full sentence and it takes a little bit before it catches up to me. Kind of disappointed.

  3. Alex says

    Are the filters still there in the camera app? They were added in beta 4 and were still in the GM, which is what I’m currently running on my 4s, even though originally they were not there beta 3 and older and how everyone kept saying it was an iPhone 5 or newer feature.

  4. Morgan says

    My friend is wanting to update and has a 4.
    Her update was available a few hours ago in the settings app, but now its saying her 6.1.3 is up to date.
    Does anyone know how to fix this?

  5. Arman says

    I’m trying to update my 4s and it keep telling me my software won’t update after verifying what should I do?

    • Robert says

      Most likely you don’t want to do that!!!
      Look at someone’s “upgraded” one and decide after that!!!
      Cheers!!!
      P.S. Shame on you, Apple!!!

    • Anna says

      Yes, you are eligible to receive this update and I love it and its working great. I don’t know what Robert’s deal is – but it is definitely at the very least a nice cosmetic change. Also, this is the best phone I ever had, but I was worried I’d get sick of the Apple interface – not only does this give it an uplift – it changed a lot of stuff that I really like. You can have more items in folders, nicer backgrounds, round buttons instead of squares, the font is nice and large, multitasking and background programs are a bit better and it should give you access to the new iTunes Radio (which isn’t much different than all the other radio streaming services out there, but still cool). In addition to all this, it has a quick “control panel menu” that offers easy volume and brightness adjustment, music actions, quick buttons to turn on/off various things and quick access to flashlight, camera (which now has stopwatch and timer), calculator and camera. Another awesome feature, assuming none of the carriers interfere – you can block numbers (both calls and texts) – I know I get a lot of junk calls from accidentally giving out my number on a website, and now I know I can block them!

  6. Caryn says

    I’m not going to update for at least a week or two or even 3. Not until all the bugs are worked out and I don’t trust that they are yet. Especially not for the iPhone 4s. There is no reason at all to rush unless you’re just one of those people who absolutely have to have the latest bells and whistles right away. IOS 7 was just released for download to the public today and with very mixed reviews. Some love it, some absolutely hate it. Barely 1 day is not enough time to tell yet how IOS 7 will affect battery life. I also am reluctant because I don’t know how it’s going to affect my already installed apps, which I love, and have no plans to delete them to make room for this “bulky” space taking new operating system. From what I’ve seen so far, I don’t like the looks of the home screen. In fact, I think it’s ugly. The colors and icons have changed dramatically, and I’m not so sure I like that much either. We’ll see if I change my mind in the coming weeks, but as I said so far…I’m not going to rush it!

  7. Dj says

    Beware it is super laggy on an iphone 4. Annoyingly slow. Wish i could down grade unti i get the new phone

  8. Kent says

    there is no Airdrop , my godness … is it only i5 share i5s or 5c only ? then 4s is wad?
    is it after Steve dead , playing racists now ?

  9. Jessica says

    I have an iPhone 4S and the control center is not translucent, it’s opaque grey? Does anyone know Why?

    • jeremy cathery (@JCathery) says

      it is translucent but not as translucent as the notifacation center click calculator and pull up control center you should see the orange and white whn they said translusent it won’t be at 0 where you seee every thing in the back ground a little bit higher

    • SunStarr says

      Check if Increase Contrast is turned on. Turning that off might help! You find it this way: Settings – General – Accessibility. Good luck.

  10. Brian says

    I Got everything updated on my iPhone 4 and i recommend if you have a 4 don’t download it. The lag is insane,when i text it takes forever.

  11. msankar89 says

    I have jailbroken iOS5 in my iphone4, is it possible for me get upgraded to iOS 7, if i do that wat are the apps would get crashed?????

  12. Robert says

    Crap!!!
    Unfortunatly it’s for good since you can’t “downgrade” to the previous vesion

  13. AJ says

    it took me about an hour to install iOS 7 on my iPhone 4S. I’m a little disappointed with the performance as its definitely slower than the previous version of iOS, I had to turn off some features in order to get “better” performance.

  14. Marty says

    Is anyone having trouble updating apps? It requires I accept their 54 page terms & conditions but there’s no accept button. Also the Email option button doesn’t work.

  15. David says

    Another fix for the keyboard lag (worked on an iPad 3)
    Go to Settings, General, Reset and Reset all settings.

  16. Donna says

    I do not like the new upgrade. Keyboard very sluggish. I do not like the new bigger icons. Someone really needs to check out all these comments before upgrading the system again. I hope changes will be made on this system.

  17. Kendeb says

    Cannot sign in to iMessage (says my network connection is not working — which is not true) and Words With Friends cannot be played as a pop up box comes up saying to sign into iTunes to use notifications and when I click OK the box keeps popping up — I have to turn the phone off to exit Words With Friends. HELP!!

  18. Bryan thomas says

    my wife has same problem. Cannot sign into iMessage, on 4g or wifi. She has 4S as well.

    • Wench Wendy says

      Haven’t upgraded to iOS 7 yet, airing to hear all the issues, but this worries me as I have cheapest (older) minimal text & web plans as I use wifi everywhere. I’m generally at…anyone found a fix for it?

  19. Todd says

    I updated my 64 GB Verizon iPhone 4S yesterday afternoon. I did it through iTunes, and it went rather fast, which surprised me after hearing so many reports of people’s download of iOS 7 taking so long.

    The update process itself was the smoothest to date. I did *not* do a clean wipe, I just updated, retaining all of my apps, settings, etc. Everything was there upon completion of the update. It took a while for the photos to all show up in thumbnail view, though.

    I experienced laggy keyboard issues upon initial use after update, as others have mentioned. It remained laggy for a while and then was normal (responsive and fast) after that. I think there’s a lot going on in the background after initial upgrade to iOS7, hence the laggy text-input for a while.

    Using iOS 7 itself has been mostly fast and smooth since initial upgrade, but I am experiencing some home screen/springboard lag and animation hiccups – just enough to annoy me. My iPhone 4S has felt fast and zippy for the two years I’ve had it, and now for the first time it’s feeling a little dated and slow when I see the animation hiccups and occasional lag. Admittedly, I may notice things like this more than most, but perfect, silky smooth animations make my experience very gratifying. Choppy animations and lag detract significantly. I turned on “reduce motion” under accessibility to minimize the animation hiccups, but they still happen here and there to the point where I am very aware of it (which again, I’m also looking for it).

    Performance is fine when using an app. Noting noticeable has changed there, so I’m pleased on that end. Some apps have a few glitches now, which the devs will need to correct in an update, but that’s expected.

    The battery is also draining noticeably faster, and I monitor battery with OCD-like attention (I always have). Having said that, I think the faster battery drain may be due to the new iOS battery percentage calibration coding, and/or the OS “learning” my phone usage behavior (which afterward, it may be able to optimize power usage to offer better battery life). The drain is approx. 20% faster than what I normally see, given the same usage time within the same apps.

    On the whole, I do like iOS 7 on my 4S. I like the new features and options. My experience hasn’t been as smooth (as in performance) as was reported in this article, but it’s not bad. I am hoping the animation hiccups and lag are fixed with some optimized code in an update. I’m not getting the 5S, so I’ll be with my 4S for at least another year, waiting for a 128 GB iPhone (**hopefully** that sports a larger screen, too). I’m one of those people who is always running low on space, even with 64 GB (take a lot of photo, videos, and app-junkie). Again, up until now, my 4S has felt fast, zippy, and performed excellent. iOS 7 has given it a bit of a dated, old-slow-tech feel.

    • Caryn says

      The best review here yet. VERY helpful to me, thank you! I’m going to wait before I update my 4S to iOS 7. I had been planning to wait anyway until the bugs are worked out, and like you, I too am stuck with my 4S another year. My phone is fine with iOS 6 right now..zippy and fast. No hiccups. I’m not going to toss any in if I don’t have to for the time being. Thanks again!

  20. Brad says

    Wow, this is like reading the obituaries. It’s just all bad news. Fut the wuck…this sucks.

  21. Richard says

    Did the iOS 7 download, & all looks good, except the swipe up control center does not work on my 4s is this a glitch, or is something amiss?

  22. Lakshya Bhadreshwara says

    Do not update your iPhone 4 to iOS 7….
    It’s annoying and too much laggy…
    Stick with iOS 6.1.3……

  23. Robyn says

    Ok I used to be able to tap my home key two times in succession and it would bring up all my open apps, I do that now and I get a shared screen.. my battery is not lasting very long with this new os either.. any ideas how to close the apps down that I have opened and no longer using??? thanks!

    • Caryn says

      Well of course closing apps doesn’t work the same way anymore. iOS 7 is a different operating system, so nothing will work as it did before. I can’t tell you how to close apps, but I can tell you there is a way and I’ve seen it..sorry.. don’t remember HOW as I am refusing to install buggy software on my iphone until the Apple fixes the lag problems others here are experiencing. GOOGLE is your friend, and for that matter, so is Youtube. My suggestion would be to go either place and punch in your question for your answer on how to close apps. You’ll get a gazillion hits. A monkey can do it! Lastly on your battery draining..well of course it will drain much faster! AGAIN, it’s a new operating system. Try putting the phone down awhile and stop playing with it so much, and/or drain your battery completely and recharge. Everyone should do this periodically anyway. iOS7 has animations and therefore uses more battery power. Take my suggestions or wait for Apple to release updates to “hopefully” fix these issues, or live with it.

  24. Anonymous says

    Did anyone have to delete apps? Does it delete your text messages? Your call log? Calender stuff, photos, etc?

  25. BD says

    It’s awful. Text messages have disappeared. The ones i want to delete keep re-appearing. A bunch of songs randomly downloaded and I can’t delete. Freezes a ton. Slow. Terrible battery life.

  26. Randy says

    Try to ‘share’ a photo by going to the ‘share’ page with the up arrow on the lower left. On my 4S, I have not yet been able to get the screen with the share options to show. It seems to almost lock up on the sharing aspects of images.

  27. Paul says

    I just updated to ios7 on my iPhone 4S. Still have ios 6 on my ipad. Comparing the two UIs side by side, the ios 7 is terrible. I hope I get used to it, but first impression is that it is confusing, unclear, has no borders around anything, no buttons and looks a bit like Microsoft Zune (which is a real disaster). I wish apple returned the look n feel to ios 6 as they will get slated for this, but I know as a company they do not go backwards. It is a real shame, as I am an ios app developer, and this will not do apple any good. The new features are great and there are some aspects of brilliance, but what happened to the look n feel. Steve would surely of shot this before it got out.

  28. Paul says

    I upgraded to the iOS 7 on my 4s.. Now I can’t open pics in iMessage. Anyone else having that problem? I still get pics via normal text messages!!!

  29. Juls says

    Hey so I got excited to download iOS 7 but then I saw remarks on it on the Internet while I was already preparing to download it. So I tried to stop it and now it is on pause.. I reboot my phone first -nothing , still says that it is on pause for upload. Then reset all settings and what not – nothing. So I restored my iPod on my laptops and when I finished and checked into the settings it continued to say how far along I was and on pause. I just want to stick to iOS 6 now what do I do?

  30. Anne Hart says

    How do you close out apps in the ios7 ? I used to double click the home button then press one of the app buttons til the red appeared on the left corner… Clicking the red tab closed out the app. Help!

    • Kendeb says

      Double click on home button which brings up apps with a box above them. Put your finger on the box (not the icon) and push it up and away.

  31. Shez says

    It is taking far too long for my battery to charge (4s) after the update. It is draining faster than before. Tried most of the things, closed running apps, turned on reduced motions

  32. Michael says

    @CraigLloyd – good article, man. It was to the point, while being specific AND funny. I’m glad I read it.

  33. Rob says

    Ive put ios 7 on a iphone 4 16gb and works fine , no lag at all ,icloud on! ( im in UK) well pleased. no problem with download, battery the same, everything works, you don’t get air drop or camera filters, time will tell if people like the new look (its growing on me all the time) I would go for it, some things like timer looked better on old ios. home screen with a nice blue sky wallpaper looks stunning.

    • Rob says

      P.S. on iphone 4 the compass now has a spirit level too! + a torch , well done apple for getting with the programme. (it just something else to play with)

  34. Eliot says

    Thanks for this. Apple is usually pretty good about saving you from yourself with upgrading to new software that shouldn’t be running on older hardware. But they have burned me in the past with my iPad 1 and Mac Mini updates (post Jobs). I was hesitant to upgrade my 4s, but now I think I’ll give it the old college try.

  35. Shakawat says

    After iOS 7 upgrade on my iPhone 4S my Settings, Phone and Messages apps running very sloooow. Its really freaking to see iPhone 4 is running okay but 4S performance is slower. Moreover, its draining battery very fast even after switching off paralax eye candy thing.

  36. Prithvi says

    Did the upgrade on 18th. Used it for one and and found the following issues.

    1) The Control center is totally child unfriendly. My son ended up locking orientation, enabling airplane mode etc. I dont use pin code to unlock.

    2) There was lots of judder and battery was dying quite quickly. Had to kill all the background apps.

    3) The breaking point was then airplay mirroring with apple tv failed everytime I tried to videochat using non-facetime tools like Skype, Hangout etc. This was the dealbreaker.

    I rolled back the upgrade. Luckile, Apple let me do it. It seems there is a very small window for backing out of the upgrade.

    Prithvi

  37. beach66 says

    The camera app is crashing for me when trying to take photos. Screen simply goes blank and the app quits. Running an iPhone 4S 64 GB.

  38. Brandon says

    Cannot activate iMessage with this new ios 7 garbage. I have a 4s never had 1 complaint the 2 years I’ve had this phone until ios7. Try to activate iMessage I enter my apply I’d password and it tells me to check my network connections. How bout we check out who’s running apple these days cuz whoever made ios 7 available for the 4 and 4s is a complete moron!! I can barely write out this comment because of the horrible lag my phone now has. I’ve very disappointed. Apple really embarrassed themselves this time.

  39. Melissa says

    Anyone notice that it takes up alot of room. I cant fit many games on my ipad now. Not happy at all.

  40. Mon says

    What options will be lost when upgrading a 4s?

    They say that the wifi or bluetooth will be lost. Is this true?

  41. Chriss says

    I’m pretty cautious when it comes to upgrading operating systems so put off the iOS7 upgrade for my iPhone 4s for a couple of weeks but finally the reminder messages got to me. In case anyone else is still unsure, here’s my experience. It’s not slow to use, the battery life is no different from iOS6, absolutely seamless update with no loss of any settings. Only thing to watch out for is it inserts a new app symbol on the first screen and when you restart your phone it looks at first as if half of your apps have disappeared – but they’ve just been pushed over one page.
    Verdict on iOS7. It is not a revolution but it has a few nice features and overall is an improvement on iOS6. If you have an iPhone 4s I’d have no hesitation recommending that you upgrade!

    • Wench Wendy says

      Thanks for this…I STILL haven’t done it as most the horror stories I hear are from 4s users who convert … I NEED my iMessage …so I’m still waiting for the 7.0.3 update that promises to fix it..I’m def not a fan of the new ‘flat’ graphics tho….still not sure i even want to venture there!

  42. Matt says

    I disagree with this article.

    Let’s face it, iOS 6 is outdated and ugly. The new OS has a pleasant design, and it runs well if you only use the iPhone for texting, voice, and photos.

    If you are a true multitasker or power-user, DO NOT UPGRADE your iPhone 4s. The reviewer raves about the new task switcher. Apparently he never USED it. On the 4s, applications are no longer fully stateful. iOS 7 requires the 4s to kill open applications to conserve resources. So, the task manager is nothing more than a photo album of apps that WERE running. Selecting an app will usually reload it from the beginning.

    An example in PLAIN ENGLISH. Let’s say you’re playing a game in Words with Friends and decide to look up driving directions on Google Maps. Everything seems to work fine. Then you switch back to your game and the app will reload for 10 seconds and put you at the home screen, losing your place. If you switch back to google maps, your directions will be gone and you will again be at the app’s home screen. This is the new normal.

    Don’t take my word for it. Try an upgraded 4s and put it through its paces. You’ll end up sticking with iOS 6.

    • Caryn says

      I completely disagree with you Matt. I upgraded my 4s to iOS 7 and I’m able to multitask just fine. Just the other day I was playing a game, then switched to google maps for driving directions to a friends house without closing my game app. I then switched back to the game, played for a bit, then went immediately back to google maps and my driving directions were still there. I’ve not had the same experiences you have. Multitasking works just fine!

  43. Garth says

    Do not upgrade to ios7 I stupidly did it and now my phone can’t get pass the apple logo I can’t even turn it off. When it came on I updated the new release with the bug fix now it only blinks the apple logo all day

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