iOS 6.1.3 on iPhone 5 Review: Impressions and Performance

Today, Apple released its third update to its iOS 6.1 software in the form of the iOS 6.1.3 update which has arrived for owners of all iOS 6 powered devices including the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The update, while small, packs some big fixes inside some of which are good and unfortunately some of which are bad. Here now, we take a first look at the iOS 6.1.3 for the iPhone 5.

Back at the end of January, Apple released its first major update for its iOS 6 software which arrived back in September alongside the iPhone 5. iOS 6.1, while not a massive incremental update like iOS 5.1, nonetheless was the first iOS 6 update to deliver new features to iPhone, iPad and iPod touch owners. Among them, fantastic new lock screen music controls which were a big upgrade over the previous controls.

However, as we soon found out, iOS 6.1 had a more sinister side to it as it brought a variety of issues along with it. The first issue to arise were 3G connectivity issues that were isolated to the iPhone 4S. Apple quickly moved to quell those issues and delivered iOS 6.1.1 to iPhone 4S owners. Still, issues remained.

iPhone 5, iPad and iPhone 4S owners alike complained about substantial battery drain that was caused by a bug within Exchange that caused the abnormal amounts of connectivity. We heard from plenty of owners who said that their devices were checking Exchange many, many times per day, thus, killing the battery.

Soon after that, it was discovered that iOS 6.1 contained not one, but two security flaws wherein users could by pass the lock screen and access personal date like contacts and photos.

Apple, aware of the issues, rolled out iOS 6.1.2 to owners of all iDevices though the issue was only aimed at tackling the Exchange battery drain issue. The security issues would have to wait until the release of iOS 6.1.3 which promised a fix.

iOS 6.1.3 has rolled out today to owners of not just the iPhone 5, but all other devices running iOS 6. And after spending a few hours with the new software, it’s time to relay our first impressions about the latest update to iOS 6.

iOS 6.1.3 update release notes.

iOS 6.1.3 update release notes.

Update Was Fast

Today, both of my smartphones were revealed to have incoming updates. My iPhone 5 was graced with iOS 6.1.3 while my Verizon Galaxy Nexus is set to get Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.

As soon as I found iOS 6.1.3 available as an Over-the-Air update, I pounced on the 18MB file and downloaded and installed it. Within about 10 minutes, the update was not only downloaded and installed, but I was ready to use my iPhone 5 as normal.

My Verizon Galaxy Nexus on the other hand, despite an announcement from Verizon, will likely not receive Android 4.2 for several days which means I will have to watch as other owners receive their update and potentially mock me with their new software.

This carrier-controlled update process that Android is apart of is one of the reasons why I ditched my Verizon Galaxy Nexus long ago. Bug fix updates take far too long and major updates are slow and unpredictable as well. With iOS, I am assured swift fixes, like iOS 6.1.3 and a fast installation process. I love both qualities.

Battery Life Remains Normal

As we saw with the iOS 6.1 update, almost instantly, there were complaints about battery drain amongst iPhone 5 owners. Of course, most of those were due to an Exchange issue but even some owners without Exchange voiced concern about their battery life.

I never saw any battery drain issues after updating to iOS 6.1 or iOS 6.1.2 though I do not use Exchange to check my work email. The same can be said about my initial experience with iOS 6.1.3.

I haven’t noticed any abnormal battery drain and things appear to be normal. I’ve been using my phone extensively in the past few hours, both phone calls and surfacing the web, and nothing has changed from iOS 6.1.3, for better or for worse.

Also interesting is that the usual complaints about battery life are not present on Apple’s iPhone discussion forum which is a very good sign that most owners aren’t experiencing any significant battery issues.

All Quiet on the Exchange Front, For Now

As we told you, we heard from a number of iPhone owners who complained about having Exchange and battery drain issues even after updating to iOS 6.1.2.

For example, just a few days after the release of iOS 6.1.2, we spoke to an IT employee of a big company who claimed that an iPhone 5 running iOS 6.1.2 contacted the company‚Äôs Microsoft Exchange 2003 server in the neighborhood of 50,000 times, effectively killing the device’s battery.

Read: iOS 6.1.2 Bugs Frustrating iPhone, iPad Owners.

iOS 6.1.3 has arrived for iPhone 5 owners today and we haven't seen many complaining.

iOS 6.1.3 has arrived for iPhone 5 owners today and we haven’t seen many complaining.

Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to confirm that iOS 6.1.3 has quelled these issues but given their silence and the lack of complaints on Apple’s forum, we have reason to believe that they have been fixed.

We know that the folks we spoke to filed complaints directly with Apple so it could be that the company indeed quietly tackled the problem with iOS 6.1.3. It remains to be seen.

Random Reboots Haven’t Reappeared

One issue that I had been having with my iPhone 5 was a random reboot problem that was more of an annoyance than a major problem due to its infrequent nature.

After iOS 6.1 though, the issue stopped and since then, even after updating to iOS 6.1.3, the issue has no reemerged. While this may not have been issue for some users, I heard from plenty of people who claimed to have experienced a random reboot wherein the device would shift to the boot screen for no apparent reason and return to the lock screen seconds later.

iOS 6.1.3, so far, does not seem to have brought the issue back.

Security Issues Seem to Be Fixed

Since the release of iOS 6.1, iPhone owners have been dealing with a lock screen security issue wherein it could be passed by using a simple trick involving the Emergency Call button. The trick would allow owners to access contents beyond the lock screen including Phone, Contacts and Photos. Users could also plug in a USB cord to the device to access similar info.

Apple promised a fix for the bug and it seems iOS 6.1.3 has delivered. I am unable to replicate either of the issues on my iPhone 5 which leads me to believe that the problem has been patched up.

No Major Bugs Thus Far

Thus far, I haven’t discovered any other major bugs within iOS 6.1.3. Of course, many of them don’t show their face until well after installing the software, but thus far, things are good.

Battery life remains solid on my iPhone 5, apps aren’t crashing, my Wi-Fi connection is strong and the security issues that were once a problem, seem to have dissipated.

I can’t guarantee that I won’t find bugs after using the software for a few more days, but thus far, Apple seems to have tackled the iOS 6.1 issues without adding any other big name bugs.

Should You Install iOS 6.1.3?

For most iPhone 5 owners, the answer is yes. The update patches up bugs, it keeps the status quo for battery life, Wi-Fi and 4G LTE connectivity remains strong, and the update seems to have killed the security issues.

Those iPhone 5 owners who are either jailbroken or are hoping to jailbreak are the only ones that I would advise not to upgrade. iOS 6.1.3 is the end of the line for the Evasi0n jailbreak.

Read: iOS 6.1.3 Update Kills Evasi0n iOS 6 Jailbreak.

The iOS 6.1.3 update killed the Evasi0n iOS 6 jailbreak tool.

The iOS 6.1.3 update killed the Evasi0n iOS 6 jailbreak tool.

Apple patched up the exploits which are those bad fixes that I was talking about above. This means that owners who wish to jailbreak will have to stay on iOS 6.1.2 with the security flaws enabled. iOS 7 could bring a jailbreak but that release isn’t likely going to go down for several months at least.

For the rest of you though, iOS 6.1.3 appears to be safe.