In April Apple released iOS 7.1.1, the first update to iOS 7.1 with a number of small fixes including one designed to fix problems with the iPhone 5s Touch ID sensor. The latest update to IOS 7, which Apple released last fall, is a small and focused update but it is still one that I tested carefully on the iPhone 5s to make sure it did not bring any major problems along with the fixes. I shared my first impressions in an early review and after nearly two weeks with iOS 7.1.1 on the iPhone 5s I am sharing a more in-depth look at how this update handles so that you can figure out if it is ok to update your iPhone 5s.
Apple changed the look of the iPhone software with iOS 7 last fall and completed this change with the iOS 7.1 update in March. This small iOS 7.1.1 update did not bring any visual changes to the iPhone 5s or any other iPhone devices. The iOS 7.1 update was a major update that brought a lot of fixes to the table, including the promise of better Touch ID support on the iPhone 5s.
While Touch ID worked fairly well, some users experienced degrading performance after a few weeks, which prevented the iPhone from unlocking the device with a finger press on the home button. Training the iPhone 5s Touch ID sensor fixed the problem for a few weeks, but eventually the sensor would not recognize fingerprints as well.
For some users iOS 7.1 delivered a fix that worked. I noticed an improvement, after installing iOS 7.1, but as April rolled on there were still several times that the fingerprint reader did not unlock the iPhone on the first, or second, try. With this in mind Apple delivered another tweak to the Touch ID code in iOS 7.1.1 which is an improvement to the overall Touch ID experience, but it is still not 100% accurate on my iPhone 5s.
With more time using iOS 7.1.1 on the iPhone 5s, I’m back to share my full review of this small, but important update for the iPhone 5s.
iOS 7.1.1 Performance
The iPhone 5s is already a fast device and the iOS 7.1 and iOS 7.1.1 updates don’t change that fact. Simply put the iPhone 5s is still speedy and it is much nicer to use thanks to the iOS 7.1 update that fixed constant crashes. During the first two weeks after installing an update like this I check an array of features like connectivity, speed, apps, Touch ID, battery life and bugs.
There is no change in iPhone 5s performance on iOS 7.1.1. This is not surprising given this is the latest smartphone from Apple and this is a minor update. Don’t worry about any speed issues after installing iOS 7.1.1 on the iPhone 5s.
During the last two weeks I was able to spend more time than usual testing apps on my iPhone 5s running iOS 7.1.1 thanks to a car accident that means multiple visits to doctors and therapists where I am left waiting with a phone in hand. There are no apps in my large library of games, productivity and entertainment apps that do not work on iOS 7.1.1.
iOS 7.1.1 Battery Life
For the most part iOS 7.1.1 battery life on the iPhone 5s is good, but there are days where the battery drains faster than on iOS 7.1, especially while making phone calls. In my case this happens primarily in poor coverage areas, which is to be expected, but even with good coverage the battery depletes faster while making phone calls and using FaceTime Audio calls.
— Jennifer Aldrich (@jma245) April 25, 2014
Aside from faster battery drain while on phone calls, iOS 7.1.1 battery life is roughly the same for me. By switching all phone calls to another phone for one day my battery life was the same as on iOS 7.1.1, which makes me think it could be related to coverage or connectivity issues.
Touch ID on iOS 7.1.1
Touch ID is not perfect with iOS 7.1.1, but it is significantly better than on iOS 7 and is better than on the iOS 7.1 update from March. I can unlock the iPhone 5s with the first attempt most of the time, and if that fails a second try will normally unlock the iPhone. Where the frustration remains is when the third try fails. If this happens I may as well give up and enter a pass code because it could take 10 tries.
If you experience issues re set up Touch ID and the new set up process will take more scans to deliver a better experience. Hopefully the iOS 8 update brings continued fixes and Apple allows us to use the fingerprint as a password in more ways.
Overall connectivity is good while using iOS 7.1.1 on the iPhone 5s, but it is not perfect for me. WiFi and Bluetooth work wonderfully with multiple devices and networks, but the cellular coverage is a step down from when I was on iOS 7.
Soon after updating to iOS 7.1 the poor network coverage in my neighborhood became more pronounced and while it seemed to improve with iOS 7.1.1, after an additional week I cannot reliably make calls from my house. It is possible that this is a Verizon issues completely unrelated to the iPhone 5s, but I am not dropping calls very often on the HTC One M8 after a soft reset.
Other than the coverage issue that may not be related to the update I am not experiencing any iOS 7.1.1 bugs on my iPhone 5s.
Update: After a two weeks of good performance the iPhone 5s restarted this morning similar to the restarts that plagued users on iOS 7.
Is iOS 7.1.1 Worth Installing?
I recommend installing iOS 7.1.1 on the iPhone 5s for two main reasons. Touch ID is better than it was on iOS 7 and iOS 7.1, especially if you re-set up the fingerprints. This takes a few minutes, but it is worth it. The second reason is iOS 7.1.1 includes important security updates that keeps your data safe.
It could be a while before another iPhone 5s update as Apple is holding a developer conference on June 2nd where we expect to learn about iOS 8. iPhone 5s users can expect a free iOS 8 update later this year.