iOS 7.1 for iPhone 5 Review

A week ago, Apple released the iOS 7.1 update for iPhone and iPad. After spending a week with the iOS 7.1 update for iPhone 5, it’s now possible to share what we think about the iOS 7.1 update for Apple’s former flagship.

Apple first introduced the iOS 7.1 update for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch back in November, The update remained in the company’s beta process until last Monday when the company finally rolled it out to iPhone and iPad owners across the globe. Those that haven’t updated already can find the update waiting for them in iTunes or in settings.

iOS 7.1 is not your average iOS update. While it’s not as large as the iOS 7 update before it or the iOS 8 update to come, it’s much larger than standard incremental updates, updates like iOS 7.0.6 and iOS 7.0.4. Instead of just a few bug fixes, the iOS 7.1 update also brings performance enhancements, design tweaks, and new features. It fixes a number of problems as well.

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In my initial iOS 7.1 impressions, I noted that I was impressed with the update for Apple’s iPhone 5. I noticed that the update brought dramatic improvements in the speed of the software and that it didn’t bring any catastrophic issues along with it. After spending a week with iOS 7.1, I’ve noticed a couple of annoying problems but nothing major.

Ultimately, the question I want to answer here is: Is the iOS 7.1 worth installing? Read on to find out whether I think iPhone 5 owners should install Apple’s latest iOS update.

iOS 7.1 Performance

For the past week, my iPhone 5 has been running iOS 7.1. And for a week, it’s felt like I just bought the iPhone 5 from the Apple Store. iOS 7.1 is seriously that good. There are a few things that are irritating, I’ll get to those in a second, but overall, for me, this update feels like it should have been the iOS 7 update that Apple released back in September.

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Speed

Apple promised performance enhancements for the iPhone 4 but the iOS 7.1 update has improved the speed of the software on the iPhone 5 as well. iOS 7.0 wasn’t slow but it certainly wasn’t fast. iOS 7.1 is extremely fast.

Opening and closing folders and apps is a whole lot faster inside iOS 7.1. I can’t tell you the exact difference in terms of seconds or milliseconds but there is a noticeable improvement. In iOS 7.0, there used to be a slight delay as apps or folders would open up. On iOS 7.1, everything is much more fluid and it honestly makes the whole experience that much more enjoyable.

The software just feels a lot more responsive than iOS 7.0 and that’s a major upgrade, particularly on a device that is nearing its second birthday. Olders devices tend to struggle with newer updates so iOS 7.1 has been a pleasant surprise. Almost makes me want to hold onto the iPhone 5 for another year.

Apps

Since offering up my initial impressions of iOS 7.1, I’ve heard from several iPhone and iPad users who have complained about broken applications. In particular, I’m hearing that the Facebook application is giving users trouble and that it won’t open now that iOS 7.1 is on board.

Facebook hasn’t been giving me any problems on iOS 7.1. Nor have any other apps really. All my apps made it over from iOS 7.0 and most of my core applications are functioning normally.

I’ve had a few lock ups with Google Chrome but I was getting those before the iOS 7.1 update arrived, so, it’s hard to pinpoint the problem. My guess is that it’s on Google’s end rather than Apple’s.

iPhone 5 users won’t get the new Auto HDR feature that came with iOS 7.1, that’s an iPhone 5s exclusive, but the camera app and Apple’s other applications all seem to be performing beautifully after the switch to iOS 7.1.

iOS 7.1 Battery Life

I was talking about iOS 7.1 battery life with one of my colleagues this morning after he had seen about the complaints about bad iOS 7.1 battery life. He mentioned an ArsTechnica report that came out a few days ago and told me how iPhone and iPad owners alike were complaining about battery drain inside iOS 7.1.

There is no overall iOS 7.1 battery life problem, but some users are impacted dramatically.

There is no overall iOS 7.1 battery life problem, but some users are impacted dramatically.

I replied that this was strange because not only was my iPhone 5 holding a normal charge but I felt like battery life had actually improved. He laughed and noted that ArsTechnica also reported an increase in battery life on the iPhone 5. Strange indeed.

The boost is noticeable but it’s definitely small. The report claims that the device offers about 20 more minutes of battery life but I can’t confirm that number exactly. What I can say is that I definitely have not experienced any of the battery drain problems that some iPhone and iPad owners have encountered.

Battery life is going to vary based on usage so I’ll say this. I see myself somewhere in between an average and a hardcore iPhone user. I’m constantly on my iPhone but I typically don’t stream content or play games. I also use some strategies to keep my battery life strong and I recommend taking a look at those tips if you’re struggling with battery life issues.

Connectivity

I haven’t experienced any data issues in iOS 7.1. My Wi-Fi connection is stable as are the data speeds that I pull down from AT&T’s 4G LTE and HSPA+ networks.

Call quality seems to have taken a step back though. I am told that I continually cut out now when on a regular call and when using Apple’s FaceTime Audio. There are good days and bad days so I am not entirely convinced that it’s a software issue. There is a chance that it has a lot to do with AT&T’s network in my area.

Bugs/Problems

Believe it or not, I haven’t run into any major bugs in my iOS 7.1 travels. Things open when I tap them. My iPhone 5 hasn’t randomly rebooted. The software, at least to me, seems to be extremely stable on my iPhone 5. This is a stable piece of software and it looks like the lengthy beta process paid off.

Keyboard/Siri

There are two new features that I want to call out. The first, the keyboard changes that Apple implemented inside iOS 7.1. The other, the changes it made to Siri. Let’s start with Siri.

In case you haven’t heard, Siri doesn’t interrupt you anymore. If you hold down the home button and keep it pressed, it will wait until you finish before it presents results to your query. I rarely use Siri but at least this feature makes her a little more tolerable. It works as advertised and is a fantastic addition, even if it’s small.

Apple also changed the look of the keyboard. I like it, a lot. The keys are bolder and easier to see and while I’m not typing 1000 words per minute I appreciate the increase in legibility.

Should You Install iOS 7.1?

There are some reasons why you might want to hold off. If you’re traveling or you’re thinking about jailbreaking, updating to iOS 7.1 might not be in your best interest.

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However, for those that are simply thinking about whether it’s worth the trouble, my answer is yes. It doesn’t come with any game-changing features, at least in my opinion, but the performance enhancement alone is worth the install. My iPhone 5 seriously feels like new, it’s honestly that fast.

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At this point, I feel like it helps more than it hurts and thus, you should seriously consider downloading and installing the brand new iOS 7.1 update for iPhone 5 today.

Comments

  1. holli says

    When will Apple do something about being able to clear the usage storage on your phone without having to use Ibackupbot, or another external app?

  2. Al jacques says

    Same here my tapped out game n other games dont even work for me no more i put lots of time n effort in them to loose it all n not be able to play or use them anymore hopefully u guys can fix it with newer update .,

  3. Selvin says

    I don’t now but my phone is On point and I love it even more now, I agree it’s given me pause should it keep for a nother year or upgrade if ios 8 wrks this great wht ever may come better be great. So this way I can have a natural act of god happen on my phone 😜 !

  4. Indira says

    ugh i updated and I am one of those who has awful battery life… I have had my phone off of a charge for about an hour and I haven’t touched it, made sure all my apps are not running much in the background and I am down to 50%. I am hoping after a few full discharge/charge cycles it gets better. This is a MAJOR disappointment since I am constantly out on appointments for work and cant constantly be connected to a power source. This new battery life has literally taken the mobile capabilities out of my phone since I have to be constantly plugged in. Also the lack of picture when someone is calling, takes a bit away from the phone now, at quick glance you cant tell who is calling.

  5. Rhonda says

    We downloaded the update on my son’s IPhone 5s and his keyboard is AWFUL! It takes between 20-30 sometimes 40 seconds to type one letter. So when typing a whole word it can take up to a minute or more. We have been to the Apple Store and now going to head to the Verizon Store. We are at a loss on this. He is regretting getting this update.

  6. Rhonda says

    Ok if anyone has problems with the keyboard we did figure it out. You have to go to settings, general, reset, reset keyboard dictionary. it is crazy but it works.

  7. password92 says

    After installation of iOS 7.1 the rear camera of my iPhone 5 works only intermittently (approximately 10% of the time). Usually I get a black screen, and the camera is completely nonfunctional. I have tried resets, changing privacy settings, disabling and removing apps (I have plenty of memory unused). I also reset to initial values. It worked until the first power down, then it’s back to nonfunctional. Review of the Apple users’ forum shows this dates back to iOS 7.0.6 (at least), but the 7.1 update seems to be the initiating factor on my phone.

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