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iOS 8.3 on iPad: Is It Worth Installing Now?



Three weeks ago, Apple released its iOS 8.3 update for the iPhone, the iPad and the fifth-generation iPod touch. With this three week milestone in mind, we want to take a look at how the iOS 8.3 update is holding up on the iPad and help you decide if it’s worth installing now ahead of the company’s upcoming iOS 8.4 update.

Way back in February, Apple confirmed the release of a new iOS 8 update in the form of iOS 8.3. Apple didn’t make an announcement on its website or on stage during an event on its Cupertino campus. Rather, it confirmed the update with a release of a private iOS 8.3 beta update for developers.

In the weeks after the release of that first iOS 8.3 beta, Apple released several more beta updates including two for the non-paying public. The public iOS 8.3 beta represented Apple’s first free iOS beta and it could foreshadow the future. With an iOS 9 release rumored for later this year, we could very well see the company extend its public beta to the next major iOS release.

Earlier this month, Apple finally took the iOS 8.3 beta out of its two beta programs and released it to iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users all over the world. The update, as expected, brings huge changes to iOS 8 users including enhancements and bug fixes. Among them is a redesigned emoji keyboard that introduces 300+ new emoji characters. It’s a significant update and it will serve as the bridge to Apple’s next iOS 8 update, iOS 8.4.

iPad Air 2 iOS 8.3 Review - 1

We’ve been taking a deep dive into the iOS 8.3 update in an effort to provide feedback to iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users. Apple likes to tout the benefits of its incremental releases but they often bring problems to iOS users. iOS 8.3 is no different.

With that in mind, we want to revisit the iOS 8.3 update at the three week mark. These updated iOS 8.3 on iPad reviews at three weeks will take a look at performance and features and it will hopefully help some of you that are still straddling the iOS 8.3 fence. We continue to get questions about the iOS 8.3 update’s merits so we know that there are still people struggling to come to a decision.

Here’s what you need to know about the iPad iOS 8.3 update on the iPad Air 2, iPad Air, iPad mini 2, and iPad 3, three weeks after their release.

iOS 8.3 on iPad Air 2: Performance

iPad Air 2 iOS 8.3 Review - 1

We’ve been using the iOS 8.3 update for three weeks now and so far, performance has been solid across our iPad variants. For reference, we’ve owned the iPad Air 2, iPad Air, iPad mini 2, and iPad 3 since their respective release dates. With that out of the way, let’s take a look at how the updates are performing after three weeks of continuous use. We’ll start with the iPad Air 2.

  1. We’ve been using a core set of about 30 applications on the iPad Air 2 including popular applications like Netflix and HBO Go. We primarily use the iPad Air 2 for entertainment so a majority of the applications on board are geared toward content consumption. So far, none of them have exhibited any problems. We haven’t seen a drop in performance after moving to iOS 8.3.
  2. We don’t have an LTE version of the iPad Air 2 so we aren’t able to test cellular data. We have been able to throughly test Bluetooth and Wi-Fi though and we haven’t experienced any issues with either. iOS 8.3 comes with a number of fixes for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi so the stability doesn’t come as much of a surprise.
  3. After three weeks of use we can say, with confidence, that battery life on the iPad Air 2 is outstanding. We’re able to get about 10 hours of heavy use. Standby is still holding an extremely solid charge as well. Nothing to complain about.
  4. So far, we haven’t seen any noticeable bugs on iOS 8.3. That doesn’t mean that bugs don’t exist, it just means that we haven’t seen any on our version of the iPad Air 2.
  5. The iPad Air 2, as you might expect, is still very fast with iOS 8.3 on board. The device is just a few months old so anything less than a stellar performance would have been surprising.

iOS 8.3 on iPad Air: Performance


We’ve also been using the iOS 8.3 update on the first-generation iPad Air, the model that arrived in the fall of 2013. Here’s how iOS 8.3 is holding up after three weeks of heavy use.

  1. We’ve got around 70 or so applications installed on the original iPad Air. After three weeks of poking and prodding, we haven’t discovered anything out of the ordinary. Key apps like YouTube, Netflix, Google Chrome, Hangouts, Asana, and Slack are all performing well. At this point, given how good apps have been on iOS 8, we don’t expect this to change.
  2. We don’t have the LTE model so we can’t tell you how LTE is performing with iOS 8.3 on board. We have been using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth a ton in the past three weeks and we have yet to run into a single hiccup with a router or Bluetooth device. Speakers, headsets, cars, you name it. Everything is paring to the iPad Air and iOS 8.3.
  3. Battery life is holding up after the move to iOS 8.3. We haven’t noticed any weird drain and we’re still able to get a full day or more, even when we put the pedal to the metal.
  4. We’ve been using this update nonstop and believe it or not, we have yet to encounter any major issues with the software. We’ve heard about iOS 8.3 problems but we simply haven’t seen anything noticeable in the past three weeks. Very stable.
  5. Like the iPad Air 2 iOS 8.3 update, the iPad Air iOS 8.3 update is running extremely smooth. It’s fast and fluid and while we did see some initial sluggishness out of the gate, its dissipated in the three weeks since the release.

iOS 8.3 on iPad mini 2: Performance


We don’t have an iPad mini or iPad mini 3 so those of you that own one of those will need to hunt around for feedback from others. We have, however, been using the software on the second-generation version of the iPad mini, also known as iPad mini 2, also known as iPad mini with Retina Display. Here’s how the software is running.

  1. We have around 50 or so applications installed on the iPad mini 2. While we use the iPad Air models primarily for entertainment, the iPad mini 2 is far more versatile and we use it for productivity, entertainment, and more. App performance is essential. We’re sounding like a broken record here but thus far, we’ve yet to stumble upon any major app problems. Google Chrome has crashed a few times but that’s happened with every single iOS update for the iPad mini. So far so good.
  2. We own the LTE version of the iPad mini 2 and we use it on AT&T’s network. So far, LTE, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are all holding their ground. We haven’t run into a single issue in the three weeks that we’ve been using the device with iOS 8.3 on board.
  3. Battery life is normal in that we’re still able to get a solid day of use out of the iPad mini 2. We haven’t noticed any of the battery drain that some other iPad users are complaining about after making the move.
  4. No noticeable bugs on the iPad mini 2. That could change in a heartbeat but given how solid iOS 8 has been on iPad, we’re optimistic.
  5. It’s still extremely fast. Can’t ask for much more than that.

iOS 8.3 on iPad 3: Performance


Finally, we’ve been using the iOS 8.3 update on the iPad 3, also known as the iPad with Retina third-generation. It’s a popular slate and one that continues to deliver excellent results.

  • The iPad 3 is old though we’ve somehow managed to keep the number of apps to a minimum. We have around 40 applications on the iPad 3 and so far, all of them are working perfectly. We primarily use the iPad 3 for Pinterest, Facebook, Netflix, Spotify, Pandora, and Gmail. All of those applications are working to perfection.
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are both working fine after moving to iOS 8.3. That’s key because we depend on a Wi-Fi connection when we’re using the iPad 3. We don’t use it for gaming, at least not anymore.
  • Believe it or not, the battery on the iPad 3 is holding up well with iOS 8.3.We’re still able to pull down a full day over a Wi-Fi connection. The iPad 3 is an old device so that’s huge.
  • No bugs. Yet.
  • While iOS 8 started off a bit rocky, the device has recovered and we’re not seeing any lag or slowdown issues with iOS 8.3 on board. The update has been very smooth in the past three weeks.

iOS 8.3 Features

iOS 8.3 isn’t your standard iOS update. It comes with some new features as well, among them, a new emoji keyboard. The redesign is beautiful and so are the 300+ new emojis that came along with the change. Once you get the hang of the look and feel of the new keyboard, you’re going to realize that change was necessary. It’s so much easier to find and save your favorite emojis.

iOS 8.3 vs iOS 8.2: What’s New in iOS 8.3

New iPhone Emoji in iOS 8.3

New iPhone Emoji in iOS 8.3

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.

iOS 8.3’s new spam filters in the Messages application are also nice but it’s the emoji keyboard that makes the iOS 8.3 update worth it across all of our iPad models.

Is iOS 8.3 for iPad Worth Installing Now?

We’ve been using the iOS 8.3 update on four of the most popular iPad models in existence. After three weeks, we can say that all four versions of the software are extremely stable. While we can’t speak for every device, we think that iOS 8.3 with its new keyboard, security enhancements (these are crucial if you use your iPad for work) and its bug fixes, will be worth it for most iPad users.

You always assume some risk installing new iOS software but we think the odds of something major happening to your iPad after getting iOS 8.3 on board are extremely low.

Galaxy Note 3 vs iPad mini 2-2

If you’re leery, know that you can still downgrade back to iOS 8.2. You can also wait for Apple to release iOS 8.4 though a release may not come until the summer, around the start of WWDC 2015 in early June.



  1. Dan

    04/30/2015 at 12:23 pm

    “iPad with Retina Display” is the 4th generation iPad, not iPad 3. Which one did you test and would you recommend iOS 8.3 on the iPad 4 (aka iPad with retina)? iPad 4 was also the first iPad with lighting connector. iOS 3 had 30 pin connector.

    • Ryan

      05/14/2015 at 2:08 pm

      Dan you are right that the iPad 4 was the first with the lightning connector but the iPad 3 was the first with the retina display. The connector was the only major difference between the two.

    • Dereth Tang

      06/24/2015 at 8:51 pm

      I’ve never heard of a “iOS 3” with a 30 pin connector… LOL, just joking on that typo.

      Anyway, there’s:
      1. Original 1st Gen iPad
      2. iPad 2
      3. New iPad (3rd Gen with Retina)
      4. 4th Gen iPad with new Lightning connector
      5. iPad Air
      6. iPad Air 2

  2. Louise

    05/24/2015 at 7:57 pm

    How does it fare on the much older iPad 2? (I can’t afford to upgrade to a new iPad any time soon, so I’m stuck on the iPad 2 for the foreseeable future and haven’t updated since IOS 7)

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