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.


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. The 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.

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


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 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.


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.


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.