iOS 7 on iPhone 5: First Impressions and Performance
In June, Apple announced that it would be delivering a new iOS update to iPhone and iPad owners this fall, an update that it called iOS 7. iOS 7, unlike past software updates, would deliver a brand new user interface, vastly different than one found in iOS 6, while also delivering the usual feature upgrades to the company’s mobile users. And with the iOS 7 release date now upon us, it’s time to take an initial look at iOS 7 on iPhone 5, Apple’s now discontinued iPhone.
Last September, the iPhone 5 helped to usher in new eras for Apple’s mobile hardware and software. From a hardware standpoint, the iPhone 5 delivered the first iPhone that offered a larger 4-inch display, the company’s new Lightning dock standard, and 4G LTE data speeds, the latter of which had been available on Android phones for quite some time.
It also brought a new iOS update along with it, iOS 6 to be precise, an update that followed in the footsteps of its predecessors by delivering hundreds of new features to iPhone and iPad owners, without changing the overall look and feel of the operating system. Over the past year, Apple has worked to improve iOS 6 with incremental updates including iOS 6.1 which offered new functionality for Siri and a new look to the lock screen music player.
Earlier this year, Apple stopped supporting iOS 6 and instead, focused its efforts on a new iOS update, iOS 7.
iOS 7 debuted at WWDC 2013 and much to the delight (and shock) of those watching around the world, it delivered a brand new look for iOS, a look that prompted Apple to call the update the biggest update to iOS since the launch of the original iPhone. With Jony Ive and his design team at the helm, the software presented a new flatter look than the one conceived by the outgoing Scott Forstall.
Apple also showed off some new features including AirDrop, filters for the new camera application, an overhauled Control Center with new Notifications, additions to Siri, and a whole lot more. The company tagged the iOS 7 update with a fall release date and unleashed an iOS 7 beta that it offered to developers ahead of its release.
After several months of beta testing, Apple announced the iOS 7 release date, giving iPhone, iPad and iPod touch owners a September 18th release date, just two days ahead of the iPhone 5S’ arrival.
Today, the company rolled out iOS 7 for the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPad 4, iPad 3, iPad 2 and iPod touch fifth-generation. And after spending some time with the iOS 7 update for iPhone 5, it’s time to dig in with some first impressions.
Comedy of Errors
Earlier today, Apple unleashed iOS 7 upon the world, offering it to iPhone, iPad and iPod touch owners through iTunes and through an Over-the-Air update. The iOS 6 update this was not as iOS 7 did its best iOS 5 update impression and led iPhone and iPad owners on a not-so-pleasant installation process riddled with errors.
When iOS 5 arrived two years ago, iPhone and iPad owners ran into several different errors that prevented them from installing the software. The same thing happened with the iOS 7 update this year as Apple’s servers were evidently hammered with requests from users all over the world.
Around 10AM PST, we tried getting the iPhone 5 upgraded with iOS 7 to no avail, Apple simply wasn’t having it. After an hour and a half of running into Error 9006 and Software Update Failure errors, Apple’s servers cooled off enough for the update to start the download process. Between the download and the installation, it took more than two hours to get iOS 7 up and running on the iPhone 5.
One would think that after all of these years, all of these updates, Apple would have figured out the formula to handle the millions that wish to download on day one. We guess there’s always next year.
iOS 6 was running like a dream on the iPhone 5. It was swift, apps rarely crashed (expect for Yahoo!’s Fantasy Football application which might crash more than any software not called Flash), and the device hadn’t randomly rebooted for a number of months. So we were a little skeptical to update the iPhone 5 right at the start, particularly in the middle of a busy work week.
After the nasty installation process, the iPhone 5 rebooted and lo and behold, it had iOS 7 on board instead of iOS 6. New look, new icons, new features and all. And while we have run into some relatively minor issues including some lag in multitasking, keyboard and with some of the animations, for the most part, iOS 7 is smooth and snappy.
The UI is responsive and we haven’t experienced any significant, debilitating slow down within the software are using it extensively for several hours. Apple’s core applications like Mail, Camera (an app that can often be slow) and Weather opened extremely fast and were all easy to navigate.
This is big, particularly for an update of this magnitude. In the past, we’ve seen new updates cause major performance issues but right from the start, iOS 7 has delivered a nice, fluid performance that has helped ease us into the new software on our main device.
One of the things that iPhone owners are concerned about when a major update arrives is battery life. Battery drain is one of the biggest complaints that we see from iPhone and iPad owners after a major update and we will likely see many, many complaints about battery after the dust settles today.
In the past, the battery issues have been widespread. We saw it happen with the iOS 6.1 update earlier this year. However, most of the time the issues are limited to a small percentage of owners.
So far, so good with iOS 7. We haven’t seen any abnormal battery drain over Wi-Fi over 4G LTE and while we can’t say if there is a battery life increase, we can confirm that our device isn’t experiencing anything out of the ordinary.
There are always bugs in iOS updates, it’s just part of the game. There will be bugs discovered within iOS 7 at some point down the road but thus far, we haven’t seen any noticeable ones. No random reboots, nothing that is making the device unusable, nothing that really jumps up.
Bugs are often tough to spot in the hours after updating so it’s possible that we will stumble on some down the road. Thus far, we haven’t run into anything that requires an immediate update to iOS 7.0.1 or iOS 7.0.2.
One of the things that iPhone 5 owners complained about in iOS 6 was Wi-Fi connectivity, or the lack thereof. For months, iPhone 5 owners complained about weak or dead signals or grayed out Wi-Fi connections. Those complaints continued up until today.
As we pointed out, we did have some Wi-Fi issues on the iPhone 5 early in the game but Apple’s incremental iOS updates solved our connectivity issues for good and heading into iOS 7, we didn’t have any issues with our Wi-Fi connection.
So far, iOS 7 is looking good. We’ve been able to snag data when connected to both known and new Wi-Fi networks and both types have offered speedy data.
Another issue that some iPhone 5 owners encountered in iOS 6 were 4G LTE data issues where trade offs between Wi-Fi and LTE would kill data. Other users simply reported LTE that didn’t work. We haven’t experienced those in quite sometime and we aren’t experiencing any 4G LTE issues with iOS 7 either.
Data is speedy on AT&T, per usual, and loading things in both Chrome and the new Safari is snappy, as it should be. We don’t anticipate any major issues with 4G LTE and Wi-Fi going forward but those who do encounter issues are best served by heading into Apple’s forums.
iOS 7, plain and simple, looks a lot different than iOS 6. And for many, that’s pretty scary considering iOS has looked the same for a number of years now. After using the beta a bit, we knew what we were getting into, but even for those that are scared about the changes, it’s really not going to be that big of a deal.
For starters, here is how our homescreen on the iPhone 5 looked on iOS 6.
And here, is how the home screen looks in iOS 7.
Indeed, things look different, but it’s not going to floor anyone and it’s not going to make things difficult to find. Apps and what not will stay in the same place. Folders look different but act in the same way. Icons looks different but they aren’t impossible to figure out. What we’re getting at is that the look may be different but the overall feel of iOS remains very similar.
If anything, the feel of iOS 7 has improved from iOS 7.
Control Center is Fantastic
Control Center is quite possibly our favorite iOS 7 feature thus far, much like Quick Settings was our favorite feature within the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean update. The new Control Center, like Quick Settings, gives iPhone 5 users access to many of the more important, and most used, functions on the iPhone 5.
By swiping up from the bottom on the home screen or lock screen, users are treated to a mini menu of sorts that allows them to turn Wi-Fi on and off, toggle Airplane Mode, flip on Do Not Disturb, use AirDrop, adjust music, use a flashlight, calculator and more.
It’s simple, easy to access and a feature that we have already used a ton, just a few hours into the iOS 7 experience.
Prior to the arrival of iOS 7, multitasking on the iPhone 5 consisted of double tapping the home button to bring up a tray of icons in order to force close them. That was it. In iOS 7, Apple has upped the ante a bit and users can now double tap the home button to bring up a small preview of the apps that are currently open.
Shuffling back and forth is easy enough and a simple swipe up dismisses the applications from view. It’s a nice gesture and an improvement over what iOS 6 had on board.
However, it still leaves something to be desired. The previews don’t update until a user enters the application, something that is sounds a lot less frustrating than it is.
it also can’t touch the type of multitasking that is found on a device like the Galaxy Note 3 which allows users to run two apps on screen at once and even lets users watch a video while performing other tasks. Galaxy Note multitasking this is not, but it’s a start and hopefully future iOS updates improve upon this foundation.
Still Won’t Use Siri
iOS 7 brings some changes to Siri, including a new look and some new functionality. As someone who has never bought into Siri, the new look and the new features simply aren’t enough to turn a non-Siri user into a Siri user.
There are some nice additions like the ability to check more sources for questions, a better sounding voice, and the ability to play voicemails, but Siri is still slow and hard of hearing. Even with the improvements, she had trouble figuring out what I was trying to do when doing the very things that Apple touted on stage.
One of the more interesting features in iOS 7, and one that many iPhone 5 users might have missed, is something called FaceTime Audio. FaceTime Audio allows iPhone 5S users to make voice calls to other FaceTime users over Wi-Fi or over a cellular connection. Instead of minutes, it will eat into data.
After using it today, the audio is crisp, when there is audio to be had. It was a bit clunky with the person on the other end fading in and out, even with a strong Wi-Fi connection. It’s not perfect, but it’s a great start and it’s a feature that many iPhone 5 owners will likely grow to love, despite the issues that we ran across today.
The camera app in iOS 7 is vastly superior to the one found in iOS 6. For iPhone 5 users especially. The application is snappy, something that wasn’t always the case in the older camera application, and it comes with a boatload of features to sweeten the deal.
In particular, the in-app filters are an extremely nice touch.
Should You Install iOS 7 for iPhone 5
iOS 7, at this point, seems to be snappy and relatively bug free. Battery life seems to be on par with iOS 6 as well. It comes with a host of new features including some special ones like the new camera application and Control Center. And in our opinion, the overall feel of the operating system isn’t that drastic of a change despite the new icons, colors and overall look.
This is the future of Apple software and the sooner iPhone 5 owners learn about it and use it, the less scary it becomes. So, we recommend installing the iOS 7 update for iPhone 5 sooner rather than later.