iOS 6.1.4 on iPhone 5 Review: Impressions and Performance

In a bit of a surprise, Apple released yet another update to its iOS 6.1 software in the form of the iOS 6.1.4 update which arrived earlier today for iPhone 5 owners and iPhone 5 owners only. And after spending a few hours with the latest piece of Apple software, it’s time to offer some first impressions about how it performs on Apple’s most current smartphone.

iOS 6.1 has been one of the more busy iOS updates in recent memory as it has accumulated not one, not two, not three, but four incremental updates since its release back in January. Unfortunately, those updates have not come for very good reasons.

To put it lightly, iOS 6.1 has seen its fair share of issues, starting with its initial release back in January of this year. In January, iOS 6.1 rolled out to owners of the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch and almost immediately, owners started noticing a host of issues, particularly with battery life and connectivity. Rather quickly, Apple rolled out iOS 6.1.1 which was for iPhone 4 users and iPhone 4 users only.

Read: iOS 6.1.3 Issues Plaguing iPhone, iPad Users.

iOS 6.1.4 has replaced iOS 6.1.3 as the most current version of iOS.

iOS 6.1.4 has replaced iOS 6.1.3 as the most current version of iOS.

The update tackled a 3G connectivity issue that users began facing after installing the iOS 6.1 update and its new features (and bugs). Of course, the problems didn’t end there. Owners of iPhones and iPads of various names began complaining about severe battery drain. This tends to happen after every update but this time, the issues were widespread thanks to an Exchange bug that had phones contacting servers over and over again, draining battery.

By that time, iPhone owners also had found two lock screen security issues that allowed owners to bypass the lock screen and access information in Contacts and see Photos.

Apple then rolled out iOS 6.1.2 to squash the the Exchange bug and several weeks later, issued iOS 6.1.3 which tackled the security issues that had been plaguing iPhone owners.

However, as we reported, the issues did not stop with the release of iOS 6.1.3. We’ve still heard from a number of iPhone and iPad owners experiencing problems with iOS 6.1.3 and who have been hoping, ever since, for an update to iOS 6.1.4 to solve their problems.

Today, that potential savior arrived in the form of iOS 6.1.4. However, the update is unfortunately only for the iPhone 5 which means that those experiencing issues on other devices are going to have to wait for a potential remedy.

That said, we’ve spent some time with iOS 6.1.4 today and here now are our first impressions of the software’s performance and stability on Apple’s current iPhone, the iPhone 5.

Smooth Update Process

The iOS 6.1.4 update arrived today for the iPhone 5.

The iOS 6.1.4 update arrived today for the iPhone 5.

As with iOS 6.1.3, the update process with iOS 6.1.4 was extremely smooth when installing it Over-the-Air. Whereas previous updates have caused some issues, this 11.5MB update not only downloaded swiftly but also installed relatively fast as well. Again this isn’t always the case with iOS updates installed OTA or otherwise.

Users can expect only a few minutes of downloading and installing before the software replaces iOS 6.1.3 as the iPhone 5’s operating system. Thus far, all of our files are intact.

Speakerphone Seems the Same

iOS 6.1.4 only came with one feature advertised, an “Updated audio profile for Speakerphone.” Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the update hasn’t fixed other issues or brought along new issues with it. A good example of this is the fact that iOS 6.1 fixed the random reboot issues that our iPhone 5 was having, but didn’t advertise the fix in the changelog.

We aren’t sure exactly what the update fixed with the speakerphone however as the update did not go through a beta phase and we haven’t been able to discover any noticeable differences with the speakerphone. So, we aren’t exactly sure what Apple did here.

In fact, the change has some iPhone 5 owners wondering why it was even included at all. At this point, again, we’re not sure.

Wi-Fi Is Functioning

iPhone 5 owners, since its launch back in September, have been dealing with issues with their Wi-Fi connectivity. The issues have persisted through to iOS 6.1 and owners have been complaining about issues even with the incremental updates to iOS 6.1.1, iOS 6.1.2, and iOS 6.1.3.

The issues revolve around Wi-FI connectivity not holding a connection, being weak, and the Wi-Fi toggle being gray for no apparent reason. While we dealt with the first two issues in iOS 6, we haven’t experienced any of these issues in iOS 6.1 or beyond.

As we have suggested several times in the past, there is a lengthy thread that deals with the many issues that iPhone 5 owners have seen and it’s worth taking a look at, especially if the issues persist after installing iOS 6.1.4.

We haven’t heard from any owners complaining about their connection yet but it’s too soon to declare the long-standing Wi-Fi issues as dead.

Battery Life Is Stable, For Now

Battery life remains solid in iOS 6.1.4.

Battery life remains solid in iOS 6.1.4.

The iPhone 5 that we have in our possession does not use Exchange and therefore, our battery life has been stable throughout iOS 6.1’s lifespan. It was fine after iOS 6.1, after iOS 6.1.2, iOS 6.1.3 and now, after installing iOS 6.1.4, we can safely say that the battery life is as stable, and as good, as it ever has been on the iPhone 5.

After using it extensively over the past few hours, we haven’t noticed a considerably drop in battery life, and it has not shown any signs of extreme battery drain while sitting idle.

As we have pointed out in reviews previously, iOS is strange in that issues that didn’t appear on day one, can appear out of the blue several days or weeks down the road. With the iOS 5.1 update on the iPhone 3GS for example, what started off fine, ended up badly as battery drain started to become a serious issue in the weeks after installing the update.

Will that happen to the iPhone 5? We doubt it.

Exchange Issues?

As we pointed out several weeks ago, the Exchange issues that plagued iOS 6.1 users persisted even after updating the iPhone 5 to iOS 6.1.2 and iOS 6.1.3. Because we don’t use the server, it’s impossible to confirm whether the issues are fixed or not.

Read: iOS 6.1.3 Battery Life a Problem for iPhone Users (Video).

We can say this though. We haven’t seen anyone complaining about them and we haven’t heard from our sources who were having issues with it after iOS 6.1.3 so it may be that they were finally taken care of either on the server side before iOS 6.1.3 or with iOS 6.1.4.

iMessage Problems

iMessage issues haven't cropped up yet, but that doesn't mean they won't.

iMessage issues haven’t cropped up yet, but that doesn’t mean they won’t.

One issue that we’ve been having lately is with iMessage, the messaging service that iPhone 5 owners use to communicate with other iDevice users. Specifically, over the past few months, the service has deteriorated to the point that our iPhone 5 has been locking up for extended periods of time or freezing in short bursts.

Particularly, it happens when sending or receiving an MMS while the app is open on a running laptop. It has happened without the laptop present as well, but it’s more prevalent when it’s open.

Additionally, we’ve had iMessages continually buzzing as new when on a phone call. For instance, when the iPhone 5 was in use yesterday on a call, the phone continually buzzed with messages that were hours old.

So far, we haven’t run into trouble with iOS 6.1.4 but this is a sporadic issue so it’s impossible to say whether an 11MB update fixed the issue or if we will have to wait. So far, no other solutions have presented themselves.

No Other Big Issues

Thus far, we haven’t discovered any big issues with iOS 6.1.4. Battery life is efficient, Wi-Fi works, the phone isn’t randomly rebooting, texts work fine, calls are as clear as they have been. Typically, bugs don’t show themselves until a few days after as they are generally hard to track down but we are fairly certain that there are no big issues on board iOS 6.1.4.

Should You Install iOS 6.1.4?

At this point, we feel comfortable recommending iOS 6.1.4 to iPhone 5 owners. Is it a necessary update? No, because it’s fix is a bit of an unknown and we can’t be certain whether it has squashed some of the smaller, isolated issues that uses have been facing. What we can say though is this.

Those that wish to jailbreak their iPhone 5 should not install this update or iOS 6.1.3.

Those that wish to jailbreak their iPhone 5 should not install this update or iOS 6.1.3.

For those experiencing issues on iOS 6.1.3, it probably wouldn’t hurt to try installing iOS 6.1.4 to see if it takes care of any problems. It’s not a risky update by any means and the discussion boards, that are usually rife with activity, are silent. So it might be worth a shot.

Those who are jailbroken or are thinking about jailbreaking with iOS 6.1.2 should not install this update and should avoid it at all costs. Those that don’t wish to do so should be safe to go ahead and get it up and running on the iPhone 5.