iOS 9.2.1 on iPhone 5: Impressions & Performance

Apple’s iPhone 5 iOS 9.2.1 update is finally here and today we want to take a look at how it’s performing in key areas like battery life, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and UI speed.

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Last year, Apple confirmed an iOS 9.2.1 update for the iPhone 5. For several weeks, the update remained in beta while Apple, developers and the general public tested it for bugs and problems.

Today, Apple decided that it was ready for primetime and the iPhone iOS 9.2.1 update is now available for users in the United States and abroad.

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As expected, the iOS 9.2.1 update is a small update for the iPhone 5 and Apple’s other iOS devices. That is to say that it doesn’t bring any big time features to the aging former flagship. Instead, it brings security patches and bug fixes.

Small updates can have a big impact on an device’s performance and that’s why I am taking a close look at the iOS 9.2.1 update on the iPhone 5.

The iOS 9.2.1 update is only a few hours old but I want to provide you with some initial feedback about its performance on the aging former flagship. But first, a look at the iOS 9.2.1 installation process on the iPhone 5.

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iOS 9.2.1 Installation

If you’re coming from iOS 9.2, the iOS 9.2.1 update is going to be small. Like, 20MB small. That’s tiny for an iOS update.

While the download process took all of a minute or two, the installation process took a lot longer. I timed the installation and it took around eight minutes to complete. That’s a little abnormal for an update of this size.

I’d set aside 10 to 15 minutes of time if you’re coming from iOS 9.2, more if you’re coming from something older.

I haven’t heard about any server issues or problems with the iOS 9.2.1 installation process. If you do run into an issue, my advice is to hold down your home button and power button for a few seconds until the iPhone 5 reboots. This should jumpstart the download or installation.

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iOS 9.2.1 Performance

The iPhone 5 iOS 9.2.1 update doesn’t come with a long list of features. Instead, it comes with a vague change log that’s focused on bug fixes and security updates.

My impressions doesn’t go into detail about those changes. If you want more about iOS 9.2.1 features, take a look at our walkthrough.

Two things I want to point out before getting into it. One, it’s possible (and likely) that things will change in the hours, days, even weeks ahead. And two, I’m just one person with one version of the iPhone 5. If you’re still feeling leery, dig into additional feedback about iOS 9.2.1. I encourage it.

Apps

I’ve been using the iPhone 5 iOS 9.2.1 update for a few hours now and so far, apps are performing beautifully.

While there’s still a bit of a delay when opening them on the iPhone 5, I haven’t run into any head-scratching problems with the apps themselves.

My core apps (Asana, Slack, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Gmail, Hangouts, Chrome, Dark Sky, Amazon, SoundCloud, Spotify, and Xbox One Smartglass) are all running fine with the iOS 9.2.1 update on board. That could change at any moment but for now, performance is excellent.

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I can’t speak for every single application on the App Store so you’ll want to make sure you dig into app reviews from iOS 9.2.1 users if you’re feeling nervous.

I haven’t heard about any iOS 9.2.1-related app problems yet but it’s still early so you’ll want to be very careful.

iOS 9.2.1 Battery Life

My iPhone 5 battery life is still in great shape.

After three years and countless updates, you’d think its battery would be showing signs of age. Not my iPhone 5, not this battery.

iOS 9.2 battery life was outstanding and I haven’t noticed a difference after installing the iOS 9.2.1 update on my iPhone 5.

I can’t speak to long-term battery life yet but the short-term looks good. I haven’t experienced any weird drain since downloading iOS 9.2.1.

If you’re concerned or you’re already seeing issues, take a look at our list of fixes. There’s a good chance that it’s your bad habits or a rogue app causing the problems, not iOS 9.2.1

Wi-Fi, Cellular Data & Bluetooth

I own an AT&T iPhone 5 and so far, AT&T’s LTE and 4G networks are performing well with iOS 9.2.1 on board. Connections appear to be stable and fast and that’s all you can ask for after downloading a new iOS update.

I’ve tested the software with several different routers and I haven’t experienced any issues with Wi-Fi. Like LTE, it’s stable and fast with iOS 9.2.1 on board. Same goes for Bluetooth.

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I’ve tested the iPhone iOS 9.2.1 update with several different Bluetooth devices including Bluetooth speakers and headphones and I haven’t noticed any problems. Par for the course.

Connectivity issues can emerge at any time so I’m going to keep my list of fixes close in case I need them. For now, the iOS 9.2.1 update is stable.

iOS 9.2.1 Problems

I haven’t run into any experience-breaking issues during my time with the iOS 9.2.1 update. There are iOS 9.2.1 problems but I haven’t seen any myself, at least not yet.

Smaller bugs and problems can be difficult to spot so I’m going to continue to dig in the hours ahead. I’ll let you know if I find anything.

Speed

I’ve noticed some keyboard lag and I’ve also seen some lag when pulling down to access Notifications and when pulling up to access the Control Center.

Control Center lag is actually a pretty common problem for iPhone 5 users and my device appears to have fallen victim in the early goings.

Scrolling around my home screens still feels fast and fluid and I haven’t seen any slowdown when opening up my various folders.

So far, a mixed bag.

Should You Install the iPhone 5 iOS 9.2.1 Update?

The iPhone 5 iOS 9.2.1 update is small but the security patches and fixes make it one worthy of your consideration.

That said, my advice is to wait a day or two for the smoke to settle, especially if you’re coming from something older than iOS 9.2.

My guess is that this lag will settle down after a day or two but I can’t be sure. If you absolutely must have iOS 9.2.1 right now, please be careful.

I’ll be back with an updated review in a few days.

9 Things to Do Before Installing iOS 9.2.1

Get Familiar With iOS 9.2.1

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Get Familiar With iOS 9.2.1

Before you install iOS 9.2.1, get familiar with the update and the changes it brings to the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

Because this is a small incremental update, it doesn't bring a whole lot to the table but that doesn't mean you can or should install the update blindly. 

The iOS 9.2.1 update comes with "security updates and bug fixes including a fix for an issue that could prevent the completion of app installation when using an MDM server." For more on what the fix for MDM means, see Apple's website.

Get familiar with the iOS 9.2.1 change log right now

If you're coming from a version of iOS not called iOS 9.2, you're also going to get the changes that came on board the iOS 9.2 update so it could be wise to get familiar with those features as well. If you're coming from something older than iOS 9, do the same.

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