iOS 8.1 on iPhone 5: Impressions & Performance

Today, as promised, Apple has 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 iPhone 5. This is our early iOS 8.1 review on iPhone 5.

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 might come out. 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.

Last week, Apple finally announced an iOS 8.1 release date, confirming the update for Monday, October 20th. Today, 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.

Earlier today, 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 iPhone 5.

iOS 8.1 Installation

While the iOS 8.1 installation process went well on the iPhone 6, I ran into an annoying issue on the iPhone 5. I, like many others, tried to install the iOS 8.1 update immediately after its release. And while I was able to promptly download the iOS 8.1 update for iPhone 5, the overall process took a whole lot longer than I initially thought.

Once the download process is complete and the installation process is ready to begin, the update must be verified. The verification process, which took seconds on the iPhone 6 and iPad Air, took almost 25 minutes on the iPhone 5. It was all a bit nerve wracking given that the power button on my iPhone 5 is not working which means that I can’t perform a hard reset to dislodge the problem.


The update did finally get verified and the installation process took only a few minutes to complete. While I think this was probably a product of Apple’s servers getting slammed after the iOS 8.1 release and not the age of the iPhone 5, you should still put aside some time to update your iPhone 5 to iOS 8.1. There’s no telling what you might encounter during the process.

If you do run into some issues, have a look at our fixes.

iOS 8.1 on iPhone 5 Performance

In the past few hours, I’ve spent a ton of time with iOS 8.1 on iPhone 5. 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 iPhone 5.

iOS 8.1 Apps

App performance on the iPhone 5 has been fairly good though I’ve experienced some issues with Facebook and Google Chrome. Google Chrome was terrible after the iOS 8.0.2 update though things improved slightly in the buildup to the iOS 8.1 release. Instagram, Netflix, Spotify, Soundcloud, Google Maps, Google Hangouts, Pandora, The Weather Channel App, and YouTube all were performing well before today’s release.

Right now, in the hours after the iOS 8.1 update, my iPhone 5 applications all offer solid performance, even Google Chrome. I haven’t seen a single lock up or freeze and every application on the device has opened properly. If you are experiencing 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 your issues.

iPhone 5

Now, keep in mind, there’s a chance that performance will decline in the hours, days and weeks after iOS 8.1. App performance has a tendency to do that and I started to see issues crop up with Google Chrome and Facebook in the weeks after installing iOS 8.0.2. Still, it’s worth noting that I haven’t experienced any terrible issues in the hours after iOS 8.1’s arrival.

iOS 8.1 Battery Life

iPhone 5 battery life has stayed consistent after the arrival of the iOS 8 update. It’s not as good as the battery life on my iPhone 6 but it hasn’t declined from the same great battery life that I got inside iOS 7 and below.

I haven’t noticed any abnormal battery drain or any slow charging issues after installing iOS 8.1 and after using a ton of apps and both Wi-Fi and LTE, it’s holding up quite well.

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 iPhone 5.

iOS 8.1 Wi-Fi, Cellular Data & Bluetooth

All three of these, Wi-Fi, cellular data and Bluetooth, have presented problems in iOS 8.0 and iOS 8.0.2. I myself have not experienced any issues with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth (including the car) or cellular data on AT&T though I know these have been problematic for some iPhone 5 users inside iOS 8. Several of my colleagues have experienced these same issues though they’ve been limited to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

iOS 8.1 comes with fixes for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth though given that I was not experiencing any issues before iOS 8.1, I can’t tell you if they fix anything. What I can tell you is that all three are performing nicely with iOS 8.1 on board. Wi-Fi and LTE are both extremely fast and I haven’t been unable to connect to my Bluetooth devices with iOS 8.1 aboard.


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

iOS 8.1 Bugs & Issues

In iOS 8.0.2, I ran into two very noticeable, very annoying issues that had an impact on my daily use. The first, the device’s inability to always transition out of landscape mode. While the issue wasn’t as frequent as it was on the iPhone 6, the iPhone 5 would still occasionally get stuck in landscape when trying to shift back to portrait. The other was a well documented issue wherein text messages would show up as new, even after I’d already them. Both issues were small but annoying.

I’m happy to report that both bugs appear to have been resolved. I’m also happy to say that I haven’t run into any debilitating bugs after installing iOS 8.1. Bugs typically don’t jump out at me for a few days as I comb through the dark reaches of Apple’s new software so there’s a good chance that iOS 8.1 isn’t bug free. For the moment though, the update appears to be very stable, more stable than iOS 8.0.2.

If you’re struggling, have a look at our fixes for common iPhone 5 problems. They might help.

iOS 8.1 Speed

iOS 7.1.2 was fast on my iPhone 5. And while I didn’t notice any significant slow down after iOS 8.0 and iOS 8.0.2, I have noticed occasional choppiness which is frustrating given how well iOS 7.1.2 performed on the aging flagship.

Unfortunately, I’ve run into this same problem with iOS 8.1, even after using my own tips to improve iPhone 5 performance. The operating system has already stuttered multiple times. It hasn’t completely locked up on me yet but the experience has been fairly slow. I was beginning to notice a decline in performance before iOS 8.1 and the update has seemingly done nothing to improve it.

My hope is that the performance here irons out in the days and weeks after the installation though given the iPhone 5’s age, there’s a chance that I’ll have to deal with this kind of performance moving forward.

Should You Install iOS 8.1?

In my few hours with iOS 8.1 on iPhone 5, I’ve had a pretty good experience. Connectivity is fast, battery life is still good and apps are working well. On top of that, Apple appears to have fixed two nagging bugs that were hampering my overall iOS experience. 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.


On the flip side, iOS 8.1 isn’t as fast as iOS 7.1.2 was. So, if you’re having a stable experience inside iOS 7.1.2 or below, you might want to hold off for a few days as I, and other brave iPhone 5 users, comb through the iOS 8.1 update in search of reasons not to install it. iOS updates have a habit of becoming unstable in the days and weeks after their release and it’s still too early to tell if that will apply to iOS 8.1.