iOS 7.1 for iPad mini with Retina Display Review

Last week, Apple released the iOS 7.1 update for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, an update the replaced iOS 7.0.6 as the company’s latest iOS 7 update. After spending a week with the iOS 7.1 update on the iPad mini with Retina Display, it’s time to take a look at how the update is performing on Apple’s latest tablet.

In November, Apple released the iOS 7.1 update into the beta program. Per usual, the company did not say when it would release the update though reports soon pegged the update’s public release for 2014 rather than 2013. January and February went by and iPhone and iPad owners, particularly those dealing with iOS 7 problems began to grow weary.

Apple finally delivered the update last week, just a short time after reports pegged the update’s arrival as imminent. As expected, the update is available to all iOS 7 devices including the aging iPhone 4 and iPad 2. For owners of those two devices, iOS 7.1 figures to be the last major iOS update.

That isn’t the case for a device like the iPad mini with Retina Display. Instead, for owners of Apple’s latest tablet, iOS 7.1 serves as the first major iOS update.

Prior to the arrival of iOS 7.1, we heard from a number of iPad mini with Retina Display users, including our own Warner Crocker, who were dealing a issues inside iOS 7.0.6 and below. Most of those users complained about springboard issues wherein the device would randomly reboot itself. Apple promised a fix for the problem and the iOS 7.1 update came with the supposed remedy on board. But did it actually fix the problem?

We take a look at that and more in our final review of the iOS 7.1 update for the iPad mini with Retina Display.

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iOS 7.1 Performance

Last Monday, I took the plunge and installed iOS 7.1 on my iPad mini with Retina Display. I say plunge because iOS updates always have the potential to deliver a poor experience. And while I didn’t expect iOS 7.1 to deliver one, I have faith in Apple’s beta process, I’ll always remain skeptical.

For a week now, I’ve used iOS 7.1 on Apple’s latest tablet. During that week, I’ve received a ton of questions and comments about the update and its performance. Many friends, family and readers are wondering exactly how the update is performing on the 7.9-inch slate and whether it’s worth installing. It seems that I’m not the only one aware of the risks involved when it comes to installing new software updates.

My first impressions of the iOS 7.1 update for iPad mini with Retina Display were good, but how is the update holding up after a week? Let’s take a look.

Speed

iOS 7.0 on the iPad mini with Retina Display was fast, much faster than it was on the iPad 3. iOS 7.1 is faster than iOS 7.0 thanks to changes Apple made to transitions and animations.

As I pointed out in my iOS 7.1 review for iPad Air, the change is not as noticeable as it is on a device like the iPhone 5, but there is definitely some added zip. Folders appear quicker and the time between tapping on an app and it popping up full screen is much shorter. It just cuts down on a lot of that extra time that iOS 7 used to take.

Overall, it just feels a lot more crisp, a lot more fluid than iOS 7.0 and I think that this change alone makes the upgrade to iOS 7.1 worth it for iPad mini with Retina users. It’s subtle, so don’t expect a dramatic different, but again it’s something that I’ve come to appreciate over the last week.

Apps

Since the arrival of iOS 7.1, I’ve heard complaints about broken applications. Many of those complaints center around Facebook, one of the App Store’s most popular pieces of software. iPad owners say that the app now refuses to open and even after re-installing the app, it fails to work.

I haven’t seen Facebook crash in iOS 7.1 nor have I had issues with any other applications inside iOS 7.1. Apps, including Apple’s stock iOS apps, appear to be stable and I have yet to run into any random crashes. It seems that I’m not alone.

Gelaskins iPad mini Retina Skins

According to a new report from performance monitoring firm Crittercism, app crashes are down with iOS 7 on the whole. My app experience with iOS 7 has been solid and nothing has changed with iOS 7.1.

Those that are dealing with problems should try uninstalling the application. If the problem persists, get in touch with the developer.

Battery Life

Tests performed by ArsTechnica suggest that battery life hasn’t changed after iOS 7.1. My experience on my iPad mini with Retina Display lines up with the site’s analysis.

I haven’t noticeable any visible drop in battery life and there certainly isn’t any abnormal battery drain on board. The device still offers up a massive charge that’s hard to get through in a day.

As I’ve said before, battery life is going to vary from user to user. We all have different habits and different software on board. iOS battery life tends to stay the same for most people after an update but if for some reason you’re experiencing bad battery life, be sure to check out our iOS 7.1 battery life tips and this one easy fix that might solve all of your issues.

If nothing works, bring the device to Apple because there is a good chance that it’s not the software that’s affecting the iPad mini with Retina Display.

Connectivity

Wi-Fi and 4G LTE on AT&T’s network remain strong on iOS 7.1. Unlike some people, I haven’t run into any issues in iOS 7 and the upgrade to iOS 7.1 hasn’t changed a thing. My signals are strong and I don’t expect that to change as we move forward.

Bugs & Problems

I did not run into the springboard crash issue on my iPad mini with Retina Display though I have heard, from colleagues and friends, that the issue has been taken care of in iOS 7.1. What I can say is that I haven’t experienced any trouble since installing the iOS 7.1 update. The tablet remains stable. I haven’t bumped into any other major bugs or issues either. iOS 7.1 seems to be extremely stable.

There does appear to be another security issue inside iOS though all we iPad mini with Retina Display owners can do is sit back and wait for Apple to address the problem with a future update.

iOS 7.1 Features

iOS 7.1 also brings some other changes to iPad mini with Retina Display owners, two of which I have found to be extremely useful on the iPad mini with Retina.

The first, the change to the calendar app. In iOS 7.1, Apple added an easy way to display events in the month view. It’s an extremely small change but it’s one that I, and many others, appreciate.

Apple also made a necessary change to Siri. It’s not going to turn me into a regular Siri user but the fact that I can now hold down the home button and give Siri orders without her interrupting me is a big improvement. Siri will no longer respond until after you let go of the home button. It’s a small but much needed change.

Should You Install iOS 7.1?

If this review makes the iOS 7.1 update sound like a fantastic update, it’s because it is. iOS 7.1 is a solid, all-around piece of software that kills off bugs and doesn’t seem to bring any major ones of its own to the table. While it doesn’t offer any major battery life improvements, it does bring improved performance refinements to the look of iOS 7.

iPad mini with Retina display

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At this point, only those who are thinking about jailbreaking their iPad mini with Retina should avoid iOS 7.1. Others would be wise to take the plunge along with me.

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