iOS 7.1 on iPhone 5s: Impressions and Performance

Apple finally delivers the iOS 7.1 update to iPhone and iPad owners this week, focusing on a lengthy list of improvements to the software that powers devices like the iPhone 5s.

iOS 7.1 is a major release for the iPhone 5s, bringing a collection of specific fixes to iPhone 5s problems and adds a few new features to the most recent iPhone. Apple patched small problems with iOS 7.0.4 and iOS 7.0.5, but this update is the culmination of months of work to fix big issues and put the final touches on iOS 7.1 before we get a look at iOS 8 this summer.

Apple is delivering performance enhancements on iOS 7.1 to older device like the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 5 thanks to faster animations. The iOS 7.1 performance boost is not as dramatic on the iPhone 5s which uses the latest Apple A7 processor, which iOS 7 is designed to take advantage of, but users should see some actions happen quicker.

Read our early iOS 7.1 on iPhone 5s review to see how the update performs.

Read our early iOS 7.1 on iPhone 5s review to see how the update performs.

After using the iOS 7.1 update on the iPhone 5s for a day, and testing a beta version for several months, it is clear that Apple fixed some of the biggest iPhone 5s problems and annoyances I experienced as an iPhone owner and those that I hear about from friends, family and readers.

New software updates like the iOS 7.1 update can bring un-intended problems along with all the fixes and features, which is why I spent the last 24 hours trying multiple parts of the iOS 7.1 experience on the iPhone 5s. This is the newest iPhone, but there is always a chance that an update could bring a problem along and there is no way to switch from iOS 7.1 to iOS 7.

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This is an early review of iOS 7.1 on the iPhone 5s. I will share a full review of the iOS 7.1 performance and features after spending more time with the update, but this will help users figure out if it is worth installing iOS 7.1 on the iPhone 5s.

iOS 7.1 Installation

For most users the iOS 7.1 installation is an easy process. To update the iPhone 5s to iOS 7.1 I tapped in settings a few times and about 45 minutes later I was running iOS 7.1. I did not lose any files and unlike the Android 4.4.2 update on my Galaxy S4 I did not need to re-login to all my apps and service.

Some users ran into errors from not having enough space on the iPhone to install the update. If you see this error you will need to plug in to iTunes to update or delete files. One Gotta Be Mobile reader is getting a,  “Software Update Failed: An Error occurred Downloading iOS 7.1.” message, but it is not clear why this is happening.

I recommend setting aside at least 30 minutes to install iOS 7.1 on the iPhone 5s, doing it at home and being prepared. Here is a guide to installing iOS 7.1 if you need help.

iOS 7.1 Features for iPhone 5s

There are a collection of new iOS 7.1 features and fixes that are worth mentioning in a breakout; Better Touch ID, Auto HDR and fewer crashes. The video below and this look at What’s New in iOS 7.1 will show the rest of the features and fixes in action.

Auto HDR allows users to tell the iPhone 5s camera to detect if a HDR photo will look better, and if so automatically take a HDR photo. If a user has the camera set to keep the original it will still do this.

The iOS 7.1 iPhone 5s update fixes Touch ID.

The iOS 7.1 iPhone 5s update fixes Touch ID.

Touch ID worked great right after training my fingerprints for the iPhone 5s fingerprint reader, but in time it took more tries to recognize a print and unlock the iPhone. Apple claims they fixed this in iOS 7.1 for the iPhone 5s. I retrained my iPhone 5s Touch ID and will be reporting back soon.

Apple also fixed a collection of iOS 7.1 bugs that led to home screen crashes which would force the iPhone to restart at weird times. During my time with iOS 7.1 I have not experienced while using iOS 7.1. If you experience these, it is definitely a good  idea to install iOS 7.1.

iOS 7.1 performance

After installing the iOS 7.1 update on the iPhone and iPad it is a good idea to test apps, connectivity, battery life and overall performance to look for bugs before completing the installation on every device in a household. I installed iOS 7.1 on the iPhone 5s so that I can tell you what works and what doesn’t work before you upgrade. This is an early look at the iOS 7.1 iPhone 5s performance with a full review coming later. This comes after using the iOS 7.1 beta, but specifically addresses the version available to download right now.

Apps

The iPhone 5s is an app center for me that lets me stay in touch with friends and co-workers, stay up to date on freak spring snow storms and entertain myself with games and videos.

The iOS 7.1 update adds some new features and fixes several bugs.

The iOS 7.1 update adds some new features and fixes several bugs.

So far most of my apps are working very good on iOS 7.1 on the iPhone 5s. I used Alien Blue to access Reddit for an hour last night without any issues. Facebook, TweetBot and Google Hangouts for iOS are working well for communication. I cannot dismiss a Hangout request from someone I don’t know, so there are still some tweaks that developers need to make, but I can still use the app to communicate.

The YouTube app is still an easy way to watch popular videos and Netflix is delivering new House of Cards episodes just like it did on iOS 7.1. My favorite games like Smash Hit and Threes run fine on the new software as well.

If you have apps that are distributed by your employer or the iPhone 5s is managed by an IT department it is a good idea to check with them before updating, but overall don’t expect any major app issues on iOS 7.1.

iOS 7.1 Battery Life

So far iOS 7.1 battery life is good on the iPhone 5s. I see no major changes in battery life from using iOS 7 and iOS 7.1 on the iPhone 5s during my day-to-day usage.

This is a good sign, but users who are cautious may want to wait a few days or a week to find out if there are any bugs that could cause poor iOS 7.1 battery life.  These can cause bad iOS 7.1 battery life for users that might use a specific type of email or rely on different apps or services.

iOS 7.1 Bugs

There are some iOS 7.1 problems for a small number of users, but I’ve only run into two problems so far. These problems may be tied to connectivity issues in my area.

While using FaceTime Audio the connection appears to be less reliable than on iOS 7. While chatting with a coworker the service will lag and then catch up and cut in and out more than on iOS 7 in the same room with the same router and Internet connectivity.

After the iOS 7.1 update my iPhone drops calls more often in poor coverage.

After the iOS 7.1 update my iPhone drops calls more often in poor coverage.

The other issue relates to Verizon Wireless and phone calls. Several times in the last 24 hours while in the middle of calls the iPhone 5s dropped service the call and would drop it again soon after making another call. Verizon coverage in my neighborhood is very poor, so this problem may not be widespread.

Connectivity

While there appears to be a small phone call connectivity issue while in poor coverage areas, overall connectivity in iOS 7.1 is good with no issues connecting to multiple WiFi networks and using the iPhone 5s as a personal hotspot.

When it areas with good Verizon 4G LTE coverage I am able to connect at very fast speeds of 14 to 15Mbps down and 6 to 8Mbps up. For most users a iPhone 5s connectivity on iOS 7.1 is not an issue. If you live in a fringe area for 4G LTE coverage you may want to hold off.

Speed

iOS 7.1 is a speedy version of iOS for the iPhone 5s. This update may not bring the, “night and day” change in user experience that Gotta Be Mobile editor Adam Mills experienced after installing iOS 7.1 on the iPhone 5, but there are small areas where speeds are better.

IOS 7.1 on the iPhone 5s runs fast.

IOS 7.1 on the iPhone 5s runs fast.

The improvements are mainly when using multitasking, pulling up the Notification Center, switching apps and moving in and out of folders.

Should You Install iOS 7.1?

The iOS 7.1 update as a whole delivers new features and important bug fixes for the iPhone 5s. Other than issues in poor service areas and limited app odd behaviors that did not impact my ability to keep using the app, the iOS 7.1 experience so far is a good one. iPhone 5s owners specifically should look into updating in order to stop frequent home screen crashing and to get better Touch ID performance.

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Users who are concerned can wait another week or two in case any major issues pop up over extended use, but for the majority of iPhone 5s owners the iOS 7.1 update is worth installing.

Comments

  1. Larry says

    Blah blah blah it’s the same shit as all the last updates!! Get over it I have a 5s 64 gb and 7.1 is no faster than 7.0 or all others just a few UI changes big deal… Apple should had this on 7.0.1

  2. Steve says

    With 7.1, network switching thresholds appear to be much more aggressive. This is useful for activities like browsing (drops a moderate wifi signal sooner and moves to cellular data), but is brutal for UDP connections. Apps like Skype disconnect and re-connect much more frequently, and is really disruptive for SIP calling in any moderate network condition with multiple endpoint connections. Anybody else noticing this?!

  3. Steve says

    I’ll add that I’m seeing Facetime dropping connections much more frequently as well since the update, I assume related.

  4. Guest says

    My battery life is horrible since the update. Going down every few mins, not even constant use :( I have an iPhone 5s. I thought it was supposed to improve battery life.

  5. Elizabeth says

    7.1 didn’t improve incoming call contact photo size–instead of full screen size, the photo is now a tiny round image 6/16″ in diameter. That’s smaller than a dime. Loved the full screen photos–can hardly even see the new “improved” version.

  6. paul walther says

    This update broke my Japanese dictionary app which I rely on for quite a lot. It makes my Flashcard app that I study with freeze my phone and crash. The app author has an iPhone 5 and can’t test these issues that I’m having. I wish I didn’t upgrade.

  7. Karen Elkins Stephens says

    I have an iPhone 4 and installed the iOS 7.1 last night (03-12-2014) So far the only thing I’m having a problem is is that my phone won’t upload pictures to my computer. The phone repeatedly asks if I trust my computer. I click “YES”, the message goes away, but comes right back. When I click on my phone icon on my computer, it doesn’t show to have any pictures in it. HELP please.

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