iOS 8.1 Review: Is It Worth Installing?

A little more than a week has passed since Apple rolled out its iOS 8 update for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. And over that week, we’ve spent some quality time with Apple’s latest and greatest iOS 8 update and today, we want to help you answer that ever so important question: Is iOS 8.1 worth installing on iPhone or iPad?

Back in September, Apple released the iOS 8.1 update into the beta program. For several weeks Apple, and its developer partners, poked and prodded the update ahead of its public release date. In mid-October, Apple took the stage to announce several new products and there, it confirmed an October release for the highly regarded iOS 8.1 upgrade for iPhone and iPad.


iOS 8.1 rolled out a week ago and as we’ve noted in our reviews, the iOS 8.1 update for iPhone and iPad seems to have tackled some of the annoying problems that emerged last month in iOS 8.0. But as we’ve learned over the past week, it hasn’t tackled them all.

iOS 8.1 problems are a big issue with some iPhone and iPad users with issues ranging from bad Bluetooth to issues with apps to random reboots. In the past few days, a growing number of iPhone users have begun to complain about iOS 8.1 battery life problems with many noticing a considerable drop after installing Apple’s new software.

We continue to get bombarded with questions about Apple’s iOS 8.1 update and the most popular question revolves around whether or not it’s worth a download. Today, we want to help answer that question for you as we run down our experiences on top iPhones and iPads and offer you a definitive answer to one of the most popular iOS questions: Is iOS 8.1 worth installing? Let’s find out.


iOS 8.1 Review

Over the past week or so, we’ve spent a ton of time with iOS 8.1. And while we’re confident about our testing, we should note that mileage is going to vary from device to device, person to person. We probably don’t have the same apps installed and there’s a good chance that we stream more movies, use more LTE, and play more games than you do.


Consider these short reviews a guide to your final decision about whether to update to iOS 8. Ultimately, the final decision is going to rest in your hands and neither we, nor Apple, will ever force you to make an upgrade.

iPhone 6

iOS 8.1 on the iPhone 6 has, for the most part, been a stable update. As we noted in our review, we’re still getting great battery life after the update and the speed of the software, the overall speed of the operating system, is still tremendously fast. We’re also getting great Bluetooth connectivity and overall, the update is very stable.

We have, however, encountered a couple of issues include the resurgence of landscape issues wherein the device gets stuck in landscape mode. This problem seems only to occur when trying to enter the iMessage app after entering the phone from the lock screen. In other words, it’s far more isolated than what we saw in iOS 8.0.2.

iPhone 6 Plus Review - 10


The other issue we’re seeing is inconsistent Wi-Fi. Connections seem to drop more frequently and a few times, the phone hasn’t recognized the Wi-Fi connection at all. We’ve also noticed that at times, the iPhone 6 will simply start using 4G LTE data even with a known Wi-Fi connection in its presence. The issues are infrequent but frustrating nonetheless.

For those iPhone 6 users seeking more information about iOS 8.1, our full review will go over the update’s core features and problems in greater detail. It should also help you come to an informed decision.

iPhone 6 Plus

Apple’s iOS 8.1 update for the iPhone 6 Plus is similar to the update for the iPhone 6. No question, it fixes a ton of the issues that came along with iOS 8.0.2 and iOS 8 but there are still some very pesky iOS 8.1 bugs that annoy.

iOS 8.1 delivers a better experience on the iPhone 6 Plus.

iOS 8.1 delivers a better experience on the iPhone 6 Plus.

We’re still seeing the same landscape issues that we saw in the earlier versions of iOS 8 and we’ve also seen the keyboard disappear on occasion. Obviously, this isn’t a good thing on a device that heavily relies on a virtual keyboard. So far, these are the only noticable bugs that we’ve seen though there’s always a chance that we’ll encounter more as time goes on.


Overall, the update is way better than iOS 8.0.2 and iOS 8.0 and for more information, be sure to check out our full length review. It will detail all of the benefits and problems that iOS 8.1 offers iPhone 6 Plus users.

iPhone 5s

Our experience on the iPhone 5s has been very solid. While we haven’t offered a full review of iOS 8.1 on the iPhone 5s just yet, we’ll outline what we’ve seen here.


In short, we haven’t noticed anything wrong with the iOS 8.1 update. At least not yet. Battery life is still extremely solid, connectivity across the board (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LTE) remains stable, speed and fluidity of the iOS are still top notch, and we haven’t run into any game-changing bugs. In fact, iOS 8.1 actually fixed some of the problems we were seeing in the update, problems like getting stuck in landscape mode.


Overall, iOS 8.1 appears to be a very solid update for the iPhone 5s and we’re not anticipating any changes between now and Apple’s next iOS 8 update. It’s an update that iPhone 5s users will certainly want to consider, especially those dealing with major iOS 8 or iOS 7 problems.

iPhone 5

While our initial impressions of the iPhone 5 iOS 8.1 update were made, the update made some noticeable improvements over the past week. Battery life continues to frustrate some iPhone 5 users but we’ve emerged unscathed. Connectivity is good, so is app performance. We also haven’t noticed any insane bugs. Most bugs have been resolved after the iOS 8.1 update.


The only issues that we’ve encountered has to do with the speed of the software. It’s not as smooth as the iOS 7.1.2 update though it’s on par with what we saw in iOS 8.0.2 and ioS 8.0. Transitions are a little clunky and animations could certainly be more fluid. Hopefully, the overall speed gets ironed out as time goes by. We’re not too confident though.

To get a better read on our iPhone 5 iOS 8.1 experiences, check out our full review. It will run down everything you need to know about the iOS 8.1 update on Apple’s aging former flagship.

iPad Air

iOS 8.1 on the iPad Air is a solid update that keeps the same great performance that we saw with iOS 8.0.2, iOS 8.0 and iOS 7. For whatever reason, be it hardware or something else, iOS on the iPad has been a much smoother experience than iOS on the iPhone. iOS 8.1 for the iPad Air is no different and it hasn’t given us much trouble.

iPad Air 2

While we did encounter some speed issues after the initial install process, the experience got better with time. We haven’t noticed any issues with the software either. While it’s certainly a recommended update, we suggest taking a look at our full length iOS 8.1 on iPad Air review. It should help you decide whether the update is worth it.

iPad 3

iOS 8.1 for the iPad 3 delivered a much improved experience from the iOS 8.0.2 and iOS 8.0 updates that Apple rolled out earlier this year. The update has essentially returned the iPad 3 to the performance that we got on iOS 7.1.2. iOS 7.1.2 worked beautifully on Apple’s aging tablet and iOS 8.1 is working beautifully as well.

IOS 8.1 performance on the iPad 3 is better.

iOS 8.1 performance on the iPad 3 is better.

We still haven’t discovered any real downside to the update but those that want the full scoop will want to take a look at the full review to make an informed decision about whether it’s worth the download.

iPad mini 2

Finally, we’ve been using the iOS 8.1 update on the second-gen iPad mini, also known as the iPad mini 2. iOS 8.1 on the iPad mini 2 is working out just like the update on the iPad Air. We haven’t discovered any crazy bugs and performance hasn’t taken a big hit. It’s still very solid, just like it was in iOS 8.0.2 and iOS 8.0.

iPad Air 2 vs iPad mini 3

We still recommend taking a look at our full review of the software which will outline all of the pluses that come with the update. iOS 8.1 is working out fine in the iPad mini 2.

Should You Install iOS 8.1?

All of that sets up our response to your burning question about whether or not it’s worth installing iOS 8.1 at this time.

At this point, there are only two kinds of people that might want to think about holding off on the iOS 8.1 update: Those of you who are still on iOS 7 and those of you that own an iPhone 5.

iOS 8.1 on the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and iPad 3 improve the performance tremendously and we highly recommend installing the iOS 8.1 update today. The iOS 8.1 update for the iPad Air and iPad mini 2 doesn’t change much but it doesn’t break much either. If you’re already on iOS 8.0 or iOS 8.0.2, it’s a recommended update. Same goes for the iPhone 5s.

Most users should install IOS 8.1 on the iPhone 6 Plus.

Most users should install IOS 8.1 on the iPhone 6 Plus.

The potential for battery life issues and the speed problems on the iPhone 5 are enough to caution users. While iOS 8.1 does fix a lot of the problems that arrived with iOS 8, it does introduce some problems of its own. We recommend waiting a week or so to see if the problems get ironed out. Often, all it takes is time.

Finally, if you’re on iOS 7 and you’re thinking about moving to iOS 8, we recommend waiting one more week just to if issues pop up. iOS 8 isn’t a massive upgrade but it does pose some potential problems and we think it’s worth giving it some time before installing it. Remember, there is no going back to iOS 7 after installing it.

For most of you though, iOS 8.1 and its features and fixes are going to be worth the download.