Last week, Apple released its iOS 8.3 update for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The update delivers tons of bug fixes, new features including a revamped emoji keyboard, and some bugs and issues of its own. In the past week, we’ve spent some quality time with Apple’s new software and today we want to share our full iPhone 5 iOS 8.3 review.
Earlier this year, Apple confirmed its iOS 8.3 update with a beta release. While the release confirmed an iOS 8.3 release, it did not confirm an iOS 8.3 release date. Apple only announces release dates when it talks about an update on stage next to new hardware. Apple’s iOS 8.2 update got that treatment in March but we did not expect iOS 8.3 to follow in its footsteps.
That’s why it came as no surprise to us, and a lot of other iPhone and iPad users, when Apple released the iOS 8.3 update, unannounced, on Wednesday last week. That’s how Apple’s incremental iOS releases often work and it’s something that new iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users should get used to. It could happen again with the company’s upcoming iOS 8.4 release.
iOS 8.3 is a huge update in terms of size (well over 200MB) and what it brings to the table (bug fixes, enhancements, new emoji keyboard, etc). Naturally, it’s an update that many iPhone and iPad users have their eyes on.
While iOS 8.3 is a big update, it’s still an incremental release. And as many iPhone and iPad users know, incremental iOS updates can have a huge impact on the performance of a device. Often, that impact is positive and other times it’s negative. iOS 8.3 appears to deliver both to owners of the iPhone 5. We’ve gotten a ton of positive feedback but again, we’ve also heard about iOS 8.3 problems as well.
With all of that in mind, I’ve been taking a look at Apple’s iOS 8.3 update on a number of devices including the iPhone 5, Apple’s flagship from 2012. Today, I want to offer some feedback to those that might be leery of the update and to those that are already on iOS 8.3.
This is my full iOS 8.3 on iPhone 5 review and it will attempt to answer the question that we’ve received many times over in the past week: Is iOS 8.3 worth installing on the iPhone 5?
iPhone 5 iOS 8.3 Review
From Wednesday all the way up to today, I’ve spent a ton of time with iOS 8.3 on iPhone 5. The iPhone 5 is no longer my daily driver but I still use it every single day for work and pleasure.
Before getting into this detailed review and my detailed impressions of iOS 8.3, 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, play more games, and use my home screen more than you do.
With that in mind, consider this review a general guide as you try to decide whether iOS 8.3 is worth installing on your iPhone 5. I’m only one man and I encourage you to gather as much feedback as you can before installing.
iOS 8.3 Features
In case you’re not caught up to speed, a reminder. iOS 8.3 brings tons of bug fixes but it also delivers some new features. If you aren’t familiar with those changes, take a look at the slideshow below.
Apple adds over 300 new iPhone emoji in iOS 8.3. There are new Emoji like the Apple Watch and a new Mac, but most users will focus on the addition of more family choices including more kids, families of two men or two women and now there is an option to change the skin tone of many emoji. Read: How to Use New Emojis With this update you can tap and hold to choose the skin tone of an emoji icon for many emoji options and then tap to pick the color option. Tap and hold on a new color option to make it the default. The iOS 8.3 emoji keyboard for iPhone now offers continuous scrolling so it is easier to scroll through the emoji options and find the ones you want.
New iPhone Emoji in iOS 8.3
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Apple adds over 300 new iPhone emoji in iOS 8.3. There are new Emoji like the Apple Watch and a new Mac, but most users will focus on the addition of more family choices including more kids, families of two men or two women and now there is an option to change the skin tone of many emoji.
Read: How to Use New Emojis
With this update you can tap and hold to choose the skin tone of an emoji icon for many emoji options and then tap to pick the color option. Tap and hold on a new color option to make it the default.
The iOS 8.3 emoji keyboard for iPhone now offers continuous scrolling so it is easier to scroll through the emoji options and find the ones you want.
After using the iPhone 5 iOS 8.3 update for a week, it’s safe to say that I’ve fallen in love with Apple’s new emoji keyboard. The emojis are much easier to find, even on the iPhone 5’s 4-inch display. For me, its been a huge upgrade. There is a bit of a learning curve but once you adjust, I think you’re going to like the change too.
Another iOS 8.3 feature that I’m enjoying is a small change to Messages that allows to easily filter spam messages. I’ve already used this several times and I have a feeling that I’ll be using it again.
It’s small features like that that have me excited about Apple’s new iOS upgrade protocol. It’s nice to see it sprinkle new and useful features onto its incremental updates. iOS 8.4 is up next.
iOS 8.3 Performance
My app experience after the move to iOS 8.3 has been very, very good. That doesn’t come as much of a surprise though. My iPhone 5 app experience on iOS 8.2 and below was also very, very good.
After spending a week with Apple’s new update, I haven’t seen any crashes or weird out of the ordinary issues. All of my applications, I have around 100, are doing fine. Even Google Chrome, an app that’s given me problems in the past, is performing well. Asana, Slack, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Hangouts, and more are working normally.
This is good because major issues typically emerge in the week or so after an iOS updates release. Smaller problems can appear at any time though there isn’t much you can do beyond installing the latest bug fixes from the developer.
If that doesn’t work, you can try reinstalling the application. And if that doesn’t work, then you should reach out to the app’s developer to complain about the bug or issue. Don’t complain to Apple.
iOS 8.3 Battery Life
iOS 8.3 battery life complaints are some of the loudest though I still haven’t seen any issues with any of my devices, including the iPhone 5. Here is a phone that is well over two years old now and it’s still getting the same great battery life that it was getting two years ago. It’s pretty impressive and it certainly instills confidence.
Battery life troubles can emerge out of nowhere but so far, I’ve yet to notice anything out of place. Over the last week, I’ve been using this phone an absolute ton and the iPhone 5 is still pulling down a solid charge when in use. Standby battery is still excellent as well. That’s huge because I often forget to attach it to a charger overnight.
I’ve said this a million times but it bears repeating. iOS updates aren’t supposed to ruin your iPhone’s battery life. More often than not, it’s not the update itself causing the problems. It’s usually bad habits, rogue apps, or a combination of both plaguing the phone.
Apple rarely issues iOS updates to fix battery life problems so those of you dealing with battery issues on the iPhone 5 are going to have to be proactive. I’ve outlined a number of strategies to get better battery life on iOS 8.3. Take a look at those if you’re running into trouble right now or if you’re worried about the impact iOS 8.3 could have on your device.
Wi-Fi, LTE & Bluetooth
Some iPhone users are experiencing connectivity issues after making the move to Apple’s new iOS 8.3 update. I am not one of them.
It has been a week and I still haven’t noticed any problems with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or LTE connectivity. Wi-Fi is working beautifully and I’m not expecting that to change given the amount of Wi-Fi fixes on board the update.
I haven’t noticed any major bugs or issues with Bluetooth either and I’ve connected the device to Bluetooth in a car (Toyota Prius), to several different Bluetooth speakers, and to a number of Bluetooth headsets. I’ve been able to pair it to all of them. It’s also worth mentioning that AT&T’s LTE network is working fine after iOS 8.3.
iPhone connectivity issues can pop up at any time and if you see them, you’ll want to consult our list of fixes for common iOS 8.3 problems on iPhone. Those fixes are a great starting point though I do suggest branching out and digging a little deeper so that you’re prepared for anything that comes your way in the future.
Bugs & Issues
I’ve been using the iOS 8.3 update every day for a week. I’ve been digging and digging and so far, I haven’t run into any significant bugs or problems on the iPhone 5. That’s not to say that there aren’t any problems, iPhone 5 users are complaining about issues, it just means that I haven’t noticed any on my device.
It’s worth noting that most of the iOS 8.3 problems I’m hearing about are isolated issues rather than system-wide problems. iOS 8.3 is, as of right now, extremely stable on the iPhone 5. Problems and issues always have the potential to pop up in the weeks and months down the road so I’m definitely not in the clear. You really never are with mobile software.
iOS 8.3’s stability doesn’t surprise me though. iOS 8.3 is Apple’s eighth incremental iOS 8 update since the release of iOS 8.0 in September. The update also went through a lengthy beta process. It also comes with an extensive list of bug fixes for iOS 8 problems.
If you are experiencing iOS 8.3 problems or you’re concerned about the potential for them, take a look at our list of fixes. You’re always assuming risk when you install a new iOS update, especially when the update is on an old device like the iPhone 5. You’ll want to be as prepared as possible.
For the first five days or so, iOS 8.3 didn’t show any improvements to speed and fluidity on the iPhone 5. This, as I noted at the time, was a problem because my iPhone 5 had been sluggish since the release of iOS 8.1.
In the past couple of days, the software has actually settled and I’ve seen some noticeable improvements to the overall speed of the operating system. It’s not perfect but it’s starting to feel a whole lot smoother. It can take several days for a new piece of software to settle in so I’m not surprised to see these gains a week after the iOS 8.3 release.
Apple’s version of multitasking is still slow and laggy on the iPhone 5 but I’m fine with that if opening folders, apps and navigating the home screen is smooth. The device still isn’t back to where it was before the iOS 8.1 update but it’s getting there. Baby steps.
Is the iPhone 5 iOS 8.3 Update Worth It?
Everyone’s situation is a little bit different, I understand that, but for most of you I think iOS 8.3 is going to be worth the upgrade. The new emoji keyboard and the new spam filters are outstanding additions to iOS 8. iOS 8.3 comes with a ton of bug fixes for iOS 8 problems. And I haven’t noticed any major bugs or issues. iOS 8.3 appears to be a solid update for Apple’s aging former flagship.
Of course, there’s always risk involved when you install these updates. And if you don’t want to take the risk, you don’t have to. Just remember that you’ll need this update to pair your iPhone 5 with the Apple Watch.
Apple’s next major update, iOS 8.4, is set to arrive this summer which means that you have plenty of time to dig into some more feedback about the iPhone 5 iOS 8.3 update. Do that if you need to.