iOS 8.4 on iPhone 5: Impressions & Performance

Earlier today, Apple released iOS 8.4 for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The update is now available for all iOS 8 powered devices including the iPhone 5, Apple’s aging former flagship. We’ve been using iOS 8.4 on iPhone 5 since release and we now want to offer some feedback about the iPhone 5’s latest iOS 8 upgrade.

It’s been several weeks since Apple first confirmed iOS 8.4 for iPhone 5. The first confirmation came in the form of a beta release for those in the paid developers. That happened back in April. And up until a few days ago, we didn’t know when the final iOS 8.4 update would land for the iPhone 5 and other iOS 8 devices.

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This week, Apple confirmed an iOS 8.4 release date for today, June 30th, to coincide with the release of its new Apple Music platform. The company also surprisingly confirmed an iOS 8.4 release time for 8AM PST. 8AM is a little earlier than its usual 9-10AM release window.

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As promised, Apple delivered the iOS 8.4 update to the iPhone 5 and others around 8AM PST bringing Apple Music, iBooks tweaks and bug fixes to its mobile devices.

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And as promised, I took the plunge right at 8AM to go hands-on with the iOS 8.4 update so that I can provide feedback to all of you iPhone and iPad users out there. Remember, there are some very valid reasons to avoid Apple’s new iOS 8.4 update today and perhaps this week.

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My initial iPhone 5 iOS 8.4 update impressions don’t serve as a final review but they should help those of you who are struggling with the decision to download iOS 8.4 right now or wait a few days for the smoke around the release to subside. Here are my early impressions of iOS 8.4 on iPhone 5.

iOS 8.4 Installation

I’ll admit, I was a little nervous as we approached the iOS 8.4 release time. This had all the hallmarks of a perfect storm. A confirmed release date. A confirmed release time. A tons of publicity thanks to Apple Music and WWDC. Typically when this happens, Apple’s servers melt under the pressure. Not this time.

My fears quickly dissipated as the iOS 8.4 update for the iPhone 5 downloaded quickly and without any abnormalities. My download and installation process, at peak hours, took around 20 minutes or so. The update is smaller than the iPhone 6’s 200MB+ update but it’s still a hefty 171MB so be sure you install it over a fast connection.

If you run into installation problems and you’re coming from the public iOS 8.4 beta, we have a quick fix for those problems. It’s an easy process.

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If you’re coming from a public version of iOS 8, and you need to jumpstart the download or installation process, you can simply hold down the power button and home button until the phone resets itself. Once the phone reboots, trying downloading iOS 8.4 again.

iOS 8.4 on iPhone 5 Performance

While the microscope has been on the Apple Music and the new Music features in iOS 8.4, these impressions don’t focus on those. If you want to read about Apple Music, have a look at our initial impressions here. Instead, these impressions are going to focus on the iOS 8.4 update’s performance on the iPhone 5.

When I download a new iOS update, I focus in on five key areas. They include the overall speed of the UI/software, app performance, battery life, connectivity, and random bugs and issues.

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As a reminder, mileage with iOS 8.4 is going to vary. I am one man with one iPhone 5. I also probably don’t use the same apps that you do or use my phone the same way you do. So keep that in mind. I always encourage people to gather feedback from other users so go seek out feedback from other iPhone 5 owners before you decide to install iOS 8.4 or downgrade back to iOS 8.3.

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iOS 8.4 Apps

While I was worried about the iOS 8.4 installation on the iPhone 5, I wasn’t worried about app performance. iOS 8.3 and the updates that came before it laid a solid foundation for iOS 8.4. And let’s not forget that the update just went through a multi-week beta process with developers and public testers poking and prodding it.

iOS 8.4 hasn’t let me down yet. My core applications (Asana, Slack, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Gmail, Hangouts, Chrome, Dark Sky, Amazon, SoundCloud, Spotify, and Xbox One Smartglass) are all working fine as are my secondary applications. I have about 70 apps on my iPhone 5, a lot I know, and I haven’t noticed any major problems with any of them.

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I still haven’t been able to spend a whole lot of time with Apple Music so I’m going to reserve judgement until I can sit down and dive in deep.

Now this is a good sign. App problems typically pop up in the hours following an iOS update. That doesn’t mean that problems won’t pop up in the future though. I’ve seen app issues pop up weeks after an iOS release date.

As I’ve noted before, the only thing you can really do is make sure your apps are updated and that you report any bugs you see to the developer. You can also uninstall the problem app if it’s giving you too much grief.

iOS 8.4 Battery Life

I’ve already heard and seen complaints about bad iOS 8.4 battery life. This doesn’t surprise me and it shouldn’t surprise you either. Battery life problems are common right after an update rolls out.

Often times, battery life doesn’t have anything to do with the update itself though it does look like Apple Music is causing severe battery drain for some users.

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If your problems don’t subside after a few days, then you’ll want to take a look at this list of fixes. Battery life sometimes takes a few days to settle so you’ll want to give it a few days before you try some crazy fix or take it into an Apple Store.

As for me and my iPhone 5, I’m not seeing any problems yet. My iPhone 5’s battery has been holding up extremely well and it delivers incredible battery life for a phone that’s now going on three years old.

iOS 8.4 Wi-Fi, Cellular Data & Bluetooth

Connectivity problems are also common right after an iOS release and we’re already hearing complaints about Wi-Fi, LTE and Bluetooth.

I’m not seeing them on my iPhone 6, iPhone 5 or any of my iPads, all of which are running iOS 8.4. That doesn’t mean that they don’t exist though.

As many of you know, connectivity problems can pop up at any time so you’ll want to take a look at our list of fixes so that you’re prepared if something does impact your iPhone 5’s connectivity in the future. It’s impossible to predict so you’ll want to be safe rather than sorry.

iOS 8.4 Bugs & Issues on iPhone 5

I’ve seen complaints about iOS 8.4 problems but thankfully those problems appear to be isolated to a few users. They also appear to be small in nature. We could see a widespread problem emerge later this week but so far, it looks like iOS 8.4 is stable for most devices.

I haven’t run into anything on my iPhone 5 just yet. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any iOS 8.4 problems, it just means I haven’t noticed any. Smaller issues are extremely hard to spot and it could be weeks before I track down any bugs plaguing iOS 8.4 and my iPhone 5.

The fact that iOS 8.4 is stable isn’t shocking at all. Again, this is an update that followed several bug fixers including iOS 8.3 and it’s one that spent a ton of time in the beta process. I just hope it stays this way.

iOS 8.4 Speed

If you’re familiar with my iPhone 5 experience, you know that I started having issues with speed after Apple’s iOS 8.1 update. Those problems continued to plague my device up until the release of iOS 8.3.

iOS 8.3 wasn’t perfect. I still saw occasional slow down and animations and transitions would sometimes feel jagged and bumpy. Still, it was far and away better than anything I downloaded between iOS 8.1 and iOS 8.3.

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iOS 8.4 feels very much the same. All-around, it’s pretty fast on a phone that’s almost three years old though there are still bouts of sluggishness. I’ve seen a little bit of lag today but I am hoping that the software settles down in the days and weeks ahead.

What I can tell you is that iOS 8.4 isn’t a disaster on the iPhone 5. It’s still usable and I’d be alright using this as a daily driver if I didn’t have an iPhone 6.

Should You Install iOS 8.4 Right Now?

While it appears to be stable, my advice to you iPhone 5 users is to wait a few days if you can. I realize Apple Music is exciting but it can wait. I think most of you would rather have a working phone.

Wait a few days and poke around for additional feedback before making a decision about iOS 8.4. iOS 8.4 and Apple Music aren’t going anywhere and you should take your time with new software on an old phone like the iPhone 5.

I’ll be back later this week with a full review after I’ve spent more time with iOS 8.4 for iPhone 5.