A week ago, Apple released the iOS 7.1 update for iPhone and iPad. After spending a week with the iOS 7.1 update for iPhone 5, it’s now possible to share what we think about the iOS 7.1 update for Apple’s former flagship.
Apple first introduced the iOS 7.1 update for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch back in November, The update remained in the company’s beta process until last Monday when the company finally rolled it out to iPhone and iPad owners across the globe. Those that haven’t updated already can find the update waiting for them in iTunes or in settings.
iOS 7.1 is not your average iOS update. While it’s not as large as the iOS 7 update before it or the iOS 8 update to come, it’s much larger than standard incremental updates, updates like iOS 7.0.6 and iOS 7.0.4. Instead of just a few bug fixes, the iOS 7.1 update also brings performance enhancements, design tweaks, and new features. It fixes a number of problems as well.
In my initial iOS 7.1 impressions, I noted that I was impressed with the update for Apple’s iPhone 5. I noticed that the update brought dramatic improvements in the speed of the software and that it didn’t bring any catastrophic issues along with it. After spending a week with iOS 7.1, I’ve noticed a couple of annoying problems but nothing major.
Ultimately, the question I want to answer here is: Is the iOS 7.1 worth installing? Read on to find out whether I think iPhone 5 owners should install Apple’s latest iOS update.
iOS 7.1 Performance
For the past week, my iPhone 5 has been running iOS 7.1. And for a week, it’s felt like I just bought the iPhone 5 from the Apple Store. iOS 7.1 is seriously that good. There are a few things that are irritating, I’ll get to those in a second, but overall, for me, this update feels like it should have been the iOS 7 update that Apple released back in September.
Apple promised performance enhancements for the iPhone 4 but the iOS 7.1 update has improved the speed of the software on the iPhone 5 as well. iOS 7.0 wasn’t slow but it certainly wasn’t fast. iOS 7.1 is extremely fast.
Opening and closing folders and apps is a whole lot faster inside iOS 7.1. I can’t tell you the exact difference in terms of seconds or milliseconds but there is a noticeable improvement. In iOS 7.0, there used to be a slight delay as apps or folders would open up. On iOS 7.1, everything is much more fluid and it honestly makes the whole experience that much more enjoyable.
The software just feels a lot more responsive than iOS 7.0 and that’s a major upgrade, particularly on a device that is nearing its second birthday. Olders devices tend to struggle with newer updates so iOS 7.1 has been a pleasant surprise. Almost makes me want to hold onto the iPhone 5 for another year.
Since offering up my initial impressions of iOS 7.1, I’ve heard from several iPhone and iPad users who have complained about broken applications. In particular, I’m hearing that the Facebook application is giving users trouble and that it won’t open now that iOS 7.1 is on board.
Facebook hasn’t been giving me any problems on iOS 7.1. Nor have any other apps really. All my apps made it over from iOS 7.0 and most of my core applications are functioning normally.
I’ve had a few lock ups with Google Chrome but I was getting those before the iOS 7.1 update arrived, so, it’s hard to pinpoint the problem. My guess is that it’s on Google’s end rather than Apple’s.
iPhone 5 users won’t get the new Auto HDR feature that came with iOS 7.1, that’s an iPhone 5s exclusive, but the camera app and Apple’s other applications all seem to be performing beautifully after the switch to iOS 7.1.
iOS 7.1 Battery Life
I was talking about iOS 7.1 battery life with one of my colleagues this morning after he had seen about the complaints about bad iOS 7.1 battery life. He mentioned an ArsTechnica report that came out a few days ago and told me how iPhone and iPad owners alike were complaining about battery drain inside iOS 7.1.
I replied that this was strange because not only was my iPhone 5 holding a normal charge but I felt like battery life had actually improved. He laughed and noted that ArsTechnica also reported an increase in battery life on the iPhone 5. Strange indeed.
The boost is noticeable but it’s definitely small. The report claims that the device offers about 20 more minutes of battery life but I can’t confirm that number exactly. What I can say is that I definitely have not experienced any of the battery drain problems that some iPhone and iPad owners have encountered.
Battery life is going to vary based on usage so I’ll say this. I see myself somewhere in between an average and a hardcore iPhone user. I’m constantly on my iPhone but I typically don’t stream content or play games. I also use some strategies to keep my battery life strong and I recommend taking a look at those tips if you’re struggling with battery life issues.
I haven’t experienced any data issues in iOS 7.1. My Wi-Fi connection is stable as are the data speeds that I pull down from AT&T’s 4G LTE and HSPA+ networks.
Call quality seems to have taken a step back though. I am told that I continually cut out now when on a regular call and when using Apple’s FaceTime Audio. There are good days and bad days so I am not entirely convinced that it’s a software issue. There is a chance that it has a lot to do with AT&T’s network in my area.
Believe it or not, I haven’t run into any major bugs in my iOS 7.1 travels. Things open when I tap them. My iPhone 5 hasn’t randomly rebooted. The software, at least to me, seems to be extremely stable on my iPhone 5. This is a stable piece of software and it looks like the lengthy beta process paid off.
There are two new features that I want to call out. The first, the keyboard changes that Apple implemented inside iOS 7.1. The other, the changes it made to Siri. Let’s start with Siri.
In case you haven’t heard, Siri doesn’t interrupt you anymore. If you hold down the home button and keep it pressed, it will wait until you finish before it presents results to your query. I rarely use Siri but at least this feature makes her a little more tolerable. It works as advertised and is a fantastic addition, even if it’s small.
Apple also changed the look of the keyboard. I like it, a lot. The keys are bolder and easier to see and while I’m not typing 1000 words per minute I appreciate the increase in legibility.
Should You Install iOS 7.1?
There are some reasons why you might want to hold off. If you’re traveling or you’re thinking about jailbreaking, updating to iOS 7.1 might not be in your best interest.
However, for those that are simply thinking about whether it’s worth the trouble, my answer is yes. It doesn’t come with any game-changing features, at least in my opinion, but the performance enhancement alone is worth the install. My iPhone 5 seriously feels like new, it’s honestly that fast.
At this point, I feel like it helps more than it hurts and thus, you should seriously consider downloading and installing the brand new iOS 7.1 update for iPhone 5 today.
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