iOS 8.1 on iPad mini 2: Impressions & Performance

Yesterday, as promised, Apple released the iOS 8.1 update for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. With the iOS 8.1 release date finally here, we want to take a look at how the iOS 8.1 update is performing on the iPad mini 2, the device formally known as the iPad mini with Retina Display. This is our early iOS 8.1 review on iPad mini 2.

In late September, just a few weeks after iOS 8.0 came out of the beta program, Apple released iOS 8.1 beta. Apple did not attach a public iOS 8.1 release date to the beta leaving consumers wondering when the update would arrive. iPhone and iPad users had put great importance on iOS 8.1 release due to a number of iOS 8.0 issues and iOS 8.0.2 issues on board Apple’s latest update.


iPad mini 2

Last week, Apple finally announced an iOS 8.1 release date, confirming the update for Monday, October 20th. Yesterday, right on cue, Apple released the iOS 8.1 update for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The update, as expected is a sizable update that not only includes support for Apple Pay but comes packed with an assortment of tweaks and changes that are meant to improve Apple’s new iOS 8 update.

The iOS 8.1 change log is massive, much larger than your standard incremental upgrade, and it’s an update that iPhone and iPad users are clearly interested in given the problems plaguing iOS 8.0. Problem is, Apple’s iOS updates will often deliver some problems of their own. With that in mind we have decided to, once again, serve as your iOS guinea pig.


Yesterday, we installed Apple’s brand new iOS 8.1 update in an effort to provide iPhone and iPad users with some initial impressions of the iOS 8.1 update. These impressions don’t serve as a final review but they will help those of you who are straddling the fence about whether to install the company’s latest iOS 8 upgrade.


Here are our early impressions of the iOS 8.1 update for iPad mini 2.

iOS 8.1 Installation

I didn’t include the iPad mini 2 in my initial iOS 8.1 installations because issues that I ran into with the iPad Air iOS 8.1 update. While I didn’t encounter any problems installing the iPhone 6 iOS 8.1 update, I was unable to install iOS 8.1 update on the iPad Air due to Apple server issues. With those in mind, I decided to wait until the end of the day to install it on the smaller iPad.

It took a minute or two for the device to discover the iOS 8.1 update but once it did, the download and installation process went flawlessly. The entire process took around 15 to 20 minutes on a fast Wi-Fi connection and without any interruptions. Make sure you said aside some time for this update because there could be some unexpected bumps in the road. I encountered them myself.

If you do run into some issues, have a look at our fixes. They will hopefully alleviate any installation issues that you encounter during the transition to Apple’s iOS 8.1 update.


iOS 8.1 on iPad mini 2 Performance

Over the past 24 hours, I’ve spent a ton of time with iOS 8.1 on iPad mini 2. Before getting into the early review and my impressions, I should note that mileage is going to vary from device to device, person to person. That is to say, I probably don’t have the same apps installed and there’s a chance that I use Google Chrome, LTE, or my home screen more than you do. So, consider this a general guide as you try to decide whether iOS 8.1 is worth installing on your aging iPad mini 2.

iOS 8.1 Apps

My app experience in iOS 8 on the iPhone 5 and iPhone 6 has been a bit uneven but my app experience on the iPad has been very solid. I haven’t run into any problems with core apps like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google Hangouts, Google Chrome, or YouTube, and I am getting the same great experience inside iOS 8.1.

Everything is working fine on with the iOS 8.1 on iPad mini 2 update aboard. Even Netflix, a problematic application, is working well with Apple’s latest upgrade. It’s a testament to the job that developers have done ahead of this update and the iOS 8 update itself. Developers were very prepared for both iOS 8 and iOS 8.1 and that’s translated into a pretty stable app experience for many users.


If you are experiencing app problems right now, try updating your applications. I have auto update turned on so that my apps are always updated and there’s a good chance that a bug fix or iOS 8 compatibility update will help solve any issues you’re having inside with an app on iOS 8.1.


Keep in mind, there’s a chance that the iPad mini 2’s performance will decline in the hours, days and weeks after iOS 8.1. App performance has a tendency to do just that. I started to see issues crop up with Google Chrome and Facebook in the weeks after installing iOS 8.0.2 on the iPhone though again, the experience on the iPad Air and iPad mini 2 has been very solid so far.

iOS 8.1 Battery Life

iPad mini 2 battery life was solid in iOS 7. It was solid in iOS 7.1. It was solid in iOS 8.0. It was solid in iOS 8.0.2. Unsurprisingly, iOS 8.1 battery life is fantastic on the iPad mini 2, so far. I haven’t run into any abnormal battery drain, slow charging issues or anything else that is cause for concern. And that’s exactly how it should be.

As I’ve noted many times, iOS updates are not supposed to bring battery life problems to iPhones or iPads. Typically, bad battery life is caused by third-party apps or users themselves. We’ve outlined a number of strategies to get better battery life inside iOS 8 and the same advice applies to Apple’s latest iOS 8.1 update. Have a look at those before writing iOS 8.1 off or performing a factory restore on your iPad.

iOS 8.1 Wi-Fi & Bluetooth

Like many of you, I’ve heard complaints about Wi-Fi and Bluetooth in iOS 8 though I can’t say that I’ve experienced any myself.


I own a 4G LTE enabled iPad mini 2 on AT&T’s network. So far, LTE connectivity has held up well, Wi-Fi connectivity is fast and stable, and I’ve been able to connect the iPad mini to all of my Bluetooth devices including various speakers. None of these were problematic inside iOS 8.0.2 or below and they continue to perform inside iOS 8.1.


iOS 8.1 comes with fixes for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth though given that I wasn’t experiencing any issues before iOS 8.1, I can’t tell you if they fix anything. All I can tell you is that all three are performing well on my iPad mini 2 after installing the iOS 8.1 update and I’m fairly certain that I’m not alone.

Should iOS 8.1 fail to fix your problems, we advise you to take a look at these potential fixes. They might squash your issues though as is the case with all iOS fixes, they may not work for you all.

iOS 8.1 Bugs & Issues

While iOS 8.1 on my iPhone 6 and iPhone 5 was buggy, I didn’t encounter the same buggy experience on the iPad Air or iPad mini 2. That is to say that the devices did not get stuck in landscape mode, I didn’t notice any of the same iMessage issues that I saw on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 5 and I didn’t encounter any hero level bugs.

So far, I haven’t stumbled into any iOS 8.1 bugs or issues on the iPad mini 2. The update, which comes with an assortment of fixes for iOS 8 problems, seems to be very stable though, I know how quickly that can change. If you’re struggling, have a look at our fixes for common iOS 8 problems. They might help you tone down your issues.

iOS 8.1 Speed

I’ve noticed occasional lag on the iPad Air after installing iOS 8.1 but I haven’t noticed any on the iPad mini 2. It’s certainly strange given that these two devices share hardware so my hope is that the sluggishness I’m experiencing on the iPad Air is just temporary and that it will iron itself out as the days go on. Only time will tell.

iPad mini Retina 6-Month Review

Animations and transitions inside iOS 8.1 on the iPad mini 2 are fast and fluid and the operating system is performing about the same as iOS 8.0.2. That is to say that, overall, it has been very, very good.

Should You Install iOS 8.1?

So far, iOS 8.1 on iPad mini 2 has been very solid. Apps are working great, battery life remains top notch, connectivity is fluid, and it’s still performing at a very high level. If you’re dealing with serious problems on either iOS 8.0 or iOS 8.0.2, it’s probably going to be worth taking a chance on it. The iOS 8.1 update is full of bug fixes that could potentially settle your iOS 8 problems.

If you aren’t, you might want to think about waiting a few days for the smoke to settle. iOS updates have a habit of showing their true colors about a week or two in and if you’re not in a rush, consider sticking with what you have right now. I’ll be digging in this week and next to ensure that the iOS 8.1 remains as stable as it is right now.