Two weeks ago, Apple released its second major iOS 8 update dubbed iOS 8.1. iOS 8.1 is a small update but one that delivers new features and bug fixes to iPhone and iPad users. After using iOS 8.1 for more than two weeks, we want to take another look at how the update is performing across Apple’s most popular devices. This iOS 8.1 review roundup will provide iOS 8.1 users with more insight and help those on iOS 8.0.2 and below decide whether the upgrade is worth it.
In late September, Apple released the iOS 8.1 update into the beta program. For several weeks Apple, and its developer partners, poked and prodded the update until Apple deemed it ready for public use. In October, the company announced an iOS 8.1 release date and on October 20th, the company rolled the update out for iOS 8 users.
As we noted in our initial reviews, the update tackled some of the more annoying iOS 8 problems that emerged in the wake of the iOS 8.0 release in September. And while iOS 8.1 did squash some bugs, it did not get rid of them all.
Over the past two weeks, we’ve received feedback from many iPhone and iPad users who are dealing with assorted iOS 8.1 problems. We’ve also heard from iPhone and iPad users who, after hearing about these issues, are still on the fence about downloading and installing the iOS 8.1 update. We don’t blame anyone for being on the fence especially after the problems Apple’s iOS 8.0 and iOS 8.0.1 updates delivered.
iOS problems tend to show up, or dissipate, in the weeks after the initial release and now that we’ve hit the two week mark, we feel like we have a pretty good gauge on iOS 8.1′s performance across most of Apple’s iOS 8 devices including top devices like the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5, and last year’s iPad Air.
Today, as we run down our experiences on top iPhones and iPads, we want to offer you a definitive answer to one of the most popular iOS questions: Is iOS 8.1 worth installing? We also want to provide feedback to those of you who made the switch to iOS 8.1 in the weeks since its release.
iOS 8.1 Review: Two Weeks Later
Over the past two weeks, we’ve spent a ton of time with iOS 8.1. And while we’re confident about our testing, we should note that mileage is going to vary from device to device, person to person. We probably don’t have the same apps installed and there’s a good chance that we stream more movies, use more LTE, and play more games than you do.
Consider these short reviews a guide as you come to a final decision about iOS 8 and iOS 8.1. Ultimately, the decision to upgrade or to take action is going to rest in your hands. Neither we, nor Apple, will ever force you to make an upgrade.
After using the iOS 8.1 update on iPhone 6 for over two weeks, here’s what we’ve found. We’ve found that the iOS 8.1 update does squash some of the initial issues that appeared after the iPhone 6 release back in September. Bluetooth is working much better, the landscape issues aren’t as prevalent and apps are far more stable.
We’ve found that performance is still very good. The iPhone 6 is still very fast and battery life hasn’t taken a plunge. Wi-Fi issues that we noticed in the early goings have since disappeared and our connection is now fast and reliable.
We’ve also discovered some iOS 8.1 issues though. The phone will still occasionally get stuck and landscape and Apple’s Messages application is still very, very buggy especially the Group Thread feature. iOS 8.1 bugs have been minimal on our device though we’ve heard from a number of iPhone 6 users who are still experiencing a multitude of problems.
For more information about the iOS 8.1 update for the iPhone 6, take a look at our full length review.
iPhone 6 Plus
We’ve also been extensively using the iOS 8.1 update on the iPhone 6 Plus, the iPhone 6’s 5.5-inch counterpart. Like the iOS 8.1 update for iPhone 6, we’ve found that the update does tackle some of the bugs that came along with iOS 8.0 and iOS 8.0.2. Namely, Bluetooth is working much better, apps are working better, and the landscape issues have evaporated.
We’ve found that performance on the iPhone 6 Plus is also still very good. Battery life is still phenomenal, Wi-Fi and LTE connectivity are still fast, and the overall speed of the device remains intact.
Like the iPhone 6 update, we’ve also noticed a few bugs. The keyboard on the device will occasionally vanish and various applications still get stuck in landscape mode. The landscape issues appear to be the most prominent with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in iOS 8.1 and we’re hopeful that whatever is next tackles them.
For more information about the iOS 8.1 update for the iPhone 6 Plus, take a look at our full length review.
We installed the iOS 8.1 update for iPhone 5s the day that it came out and since then, we’ve been using it every single day. The iPhone 5s wasn’t nearly as buggy as the iOS 8 update for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus but the update appears to have tackled some of the minor issues that we were seeing after making the upgrade.
Battery life, LTE connectivity, Bluetooth and overall speed all remain consistent in the two weeks since the upgrade and the device feels like it did with iOS 8.0.2 and iOS 8.0 on board. Smooth and fluid.
We have not run into any noticeable bugs on the iPhone 5s update and it seems to be a little more stable than its iPhone 6 brethren. For more information about the iOS 8.1 update on the iPhone 5s, take a look at our initial impressions and compare them to our experiences outlined here.
Our aging iPhone 5 is also running iOS and the past two weeks have been a very mixed bag. While the update did crush some of the more annoying issues that we saw in iOS 8.0 and iOS 8.0.2, the landscape issues for instance have disappeared, we’re still encountering some issues on board the iOS 8.1 update for iPhone 5.
Battery life, LTE, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth all remain solid and dependable. We haven’t noticed any issues in these areas. We have, however, noticed a significant drop in speed. While the iOS 8.0.2, iOS 8.0 and iOS 7.1.2 updates were all very fast, the iOS 8.1 update feels clunky and disjointed. Opening a folder feels a whole lot slower and moving around the operating system is simply not as fluid.
We’ve heard from several other iPhone 5 users who are dealing with iOS 8.1 problems and it looks like the iPhone 5’s road to iOS 8.1.1 and iOS 9 could get a little bumpy.
For more information about the iOS 8.1 update for the iPhone 5, take a look at our full length review.
We’ve also been using the iOS 8.1 update on the iPad. We installed the update on last year’s iPad Air and the results have been nothing short of fantastic. The iOS 8.1 update for the iPad, at least in our experience, is far more stable than the iOS 8.1 update for iPhone.
Everything from the speed to the battery life to Wi-Fi connectivity to Bluetooth is working properly two weeks into the iOS 8.1 update. Even apps are behaving normally. We have yet to discover any bugs or issues though there’s always a chance a bug starts rearing its ugly head at us in the days and weeks down the road.
For more information about the iOS 8.1 update for the iPad Air, take a look at our full length review.
iPad mini 2
Our experience on the iPad mini 2, the second-gen iPad mini from last year, has been very similar to our experience on the iPad Air. That is to say that it’s been virtually flawless during these past two weeks. Battery life is holding up nicely, so is connectivity, so is speed. We haven’t found any major faults with the update, at least not yet.
For more information about the iOS 8.1 update for the iPad mini 2, take a look at our full length review.
We’ve also been using the iOS 8.1 update on the iPad 3, the third-gen full sized iPad that is still very popular amongst consumers. After two weeks, our experience remains the same. We haven’t seen a drop off in key areas like battery life or Wi-Fi and we have seen some benefits in the speed department.
The speed of the iOS 8.1 update feels like iOS 7.1.2. The software is fast, fluid and dependable. It’s nothing like the iOS 8.0 and iOS 8.0.2 updates that came before it, updates that felt slow and sluggish.
For more information about the iOS 8.1 update for the iPad 3, take a look at our full length review.
We have not been able to spend quality hands-on time with either the iPad 2 or the iPhone 4s though we have rounded up experiences from iPhone 4s and iPad 2 users. These experiences are good starting points for those that are still on the fence about updating and for those that simply want to learn more about the benefits of iOS 8.1.
Should You Install iOS 8.1?
Let’s start with those of you that have already upgraded to iOS 8.1. If you’ve upgraded and you’re dealing with issues, we highly recommend taking a look at our fixes for common iOS 8.1 issues. Many of these fixes have worked for some of our own iOS problems and they’ve worked for many iPhone and iPad users as well. They’re worth a shot if you’re experiencing trouble after installing.
As for those of you still on iOS 8.0.2 and below, here’s what you need to know. If you own an iPad Air, iPad mini 2 or iPad 3, iOS 8.1 is going to be worth your time. It not only fixes bugs but it also delivers improved performance on the iPad 3 and an assortment of new features. After spending two weeks with these updates, we’re glad we installed.
Same goes for the iPhone 5s. We haven’t noticed any new bugs and some of the issues we found inside iOS 8.0.2 and below have been taken care of. If you’re noticing issues, now is the time to make the upgrade.
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are still experiencing issues though it’s our opinion that the fixes, performance and the arrival of Apple Pay outweigh the lingering issues on board. We recommend installing iOS 8.1 right now if you’re dealing with any problems on iOS 8.0.2 or iOS 8.0.
The only update that doesn’t get a recommendation from us is the iPhone 5 iOS 8.1 update. The drop in speed is enough for us to recommend a rain check for the time being. Fortunately, Apple’s iOS 8.1.1 is in the beta process with bug fixes and performance tweaks so it’s possible that the iPhone 5 problems and the problems affecting the iPhone 6 models will see permanent fixes soon.