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iOS 8.4 on iPhone 5: Impressions & Performance



Earlier today, Apple released iOS 8.4 for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The update is now available for all iOS 8 powered devices including the iPhone 5, Apple’s aging former flagship. We’ve been using iOS 8.4 on iPhone 5 since release and we now want to offer some feedback about the iPhone 5’s latest iOS 8 upgrade.

It’s been several weeks since Apple first confirmed iOS 8.4 for iPhone 5. The first confirmation came in the form of a beta release for those in the paid developers. That happened back in April. And up until a few days ago, we didn’t know when the final iOS 8.4 update would land for the iPhone 5 and other iOS 8 devices.

This week, Apple confirmed an iOS 8.4 release date for today, June 30th, to coincide with the release of its new Apple Music platform. The company also surprisingly confirmed an iOS 8.4 release time for 8AM PST. 8AM is a little earlier than its usual 9-10AM release window.

As promised, Apple delivered the iOS 8.4 update to the iPhone 5 and others around 8AM PST bringing Apple Music, iBooks tweaks and bug fixes to its mobile devices.

And as promised, I took the plunge right at 8AM to go hands-on with the iOS 8.4 update so that I can provide feedback to all of you iPhone and iPad users out there. Remember, there are some very valid reasons to avoid Apple’s new iOS 8.4 update today and perhaps this week.

My initial iPhone 5 iOS 8.4 update impressions don’t serve as a final review but they should help those of you who are struggling with the decision to download iOS 8.4 right now or wait a few days for the smoke around the release to subside. Here are my early impressions of iOS 8.4 on iPhone 5.

iOS 8.4 Installation

I’ll admit, I was a little nervous as we approached the iOS 8.4 release time. This had all the hallmarks of a perfect storm. A confirmed release date. A confirmed release time. A tons of publicity thanks to Apple Music and WWDC. Typically when this happens, Apple’s servers melt under the pressure. Not this time.

My fears quickly dissipated as the iOS 8.4 update for the iPhone 5 downloaded quickly and without any abnormalities. My download and installation process, at peak hours, took around 20 minutes or so. The update is smaller than the iPhone 6’s 200MB+ update but it’s still a hefty 171MB so be sure you install it over a fast connection.

If you run into installation problems and you’re coming from the public iOS 8.4 beta, we have a quick fix for those problems. It’s an easy process.

If you’re coming from a public version of iOS 8, and you need to jumpstart the download or installation process, you can simply hold down the power button and home button until the phone resets itself. Once the phone reboots, trying downloading iOS 8.4 again.

iOS 8.4 on iPhone 5 Performance

While the microscope has been on the Apple Music and the new Music features in iOS 8.4, these impressions don’t focus on those. If you want to read about Apple Music, have a look at our initial impressions here. Instead, these impressions are going to focus on the iOS 8.4 update’s performance on the iPhone 5.

When I download a new iOS update, I focus in on five key areas. They include the overall speed of the UI/software, app performance, battery life, connectivity, and random bugs and issues.

As a reminder, mileage with iOS 8.4 is going to vary. I am one man with one iPhone 5. I also probably don’t use the same apps that you do or use my phone the same way you do. So keep that in mind. I always encourage people to gather feedback from other users so go seek out feedback from other iPhone 5 owners before you decide to install iOS 8.4 or downgrade back to iOS 8.3.

iOS 8.4 Apps

While I was worried about the iOS 8.4 installation on the iPhone 5, I wasn’t worried about app performance. iOS 8.3 and the updates that came before it laid a solid foundation for iOS 8.4. And let’s not forget that the update just went through a multi-week beta process with developers and public testers poking and prodding it.

iOS 8.4 hasn’t let me down yet. My core applications (Asana, Slack, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Gmail, Hangouts, Chrome, Dark Sky, Amazon, SoundCloud, Spotify, and Xbox One Smartglass) are all working fine as are my secondary applications. I have about 70 apps on my iPhone 5, a lot I know, and I haven’t noticed any major problems with any of them.

I still haven’t been able to spend a whole lot of time with Apple Music so I’m going to reserve judgement until I can sit down and dive in deep.

Now this is a good sign. App problems typically pop up in the hours following an iOS update. That doesn’t mean that problems won’t pop up in the future though. I’ve seen app issues pop up weeks after an iOS release date.

As I’ve noted before, the only thing you can really do is make sure your apps are updated and that you report any bugs you see to the developer. You can also uninstall the problem app if it’s giving you too much grief.

iOS 8.4 Battery Life

I’ve already heard and seen complaints about bad iOS 8.4 battery life. This doesn’t surprise me and it shouldn’t surprise you either. Battery life problems are common right after an update rolls out.

Often times, battery life doesn’t have anything to do with the update itself though it does look like Apple Music is causing severe battery drain for some users.

If your problems don’t subside after a few days, then you’ll want to take a look at this list of fixes. Battery life sometimes takes a few days to settle so you’ll want to give it a few days before you try some crazy fix or take it into an Apple Store.

As for me and my iPhone 5, I’m not seeing any problems yet. My iPhone 5’s battery has been holding up extremely well and it delivers incredible battery life for a phone that’s now going on three years old.

iOS 8.4 Wi-Fi, Cellular Data & Bluetooth

Connectivity problems are also common right after an iOS release and we’re already hearing complaints about Wi-Fi, LTE and Bluetooth.

I’m not seeing them on my iPhone 6, iPhone 5 or any of my iPads, all of which are running iOS 8.4. That doesn’t mean that they don’t exist though.

As many of you know, connectivity problems can pop up at any time so you’ll want to take a look at our list of fixes so that you’re prepared if something does impact your iPhone 5’s connectivity in the future. It’s impossible to predict so you’ll want to be safe rather than sorry.

iOS 8.4 Bugs & Issues on iPhone 5

I’ve seen complaints about iOS 8.4 problems but thankfully those problems appear to be isolated to a few users. They also appear to be small in nature. We could see a widespread problem emerge later this week but so far, it looks like iOS 8.4 is stable for most devices.

I haven’t run into anything on my iPhone 5 just yet. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any iOS 8.4 problems, it just means I haven’t noticed any. Smaller issues are extremely hard to spot and it could be weeks before I track down any bugs plaguing iOS 8.4 and my iPhone 5.

The fact that iOS 8.4 is stable isn’t shocking at all. Again, this is an update that followed several bug fixers including iOS 8.3 and it’s one that spent a ton of time in the beta process. I just hope it stays this way.

iOS 8.4 Speed

If you’re familiar with my iPhone 5 experience, you know that I started having issues with speed after Apple’s iOS 8.1 update. Those problems continued to plague my device up until the release of iOS 8.3.

iOS 8.3 wasn’t perfect. I still saw occasional slow down and animations and transitions would sometimes feel jagged and bumpy. Still, it was far and away better than anything I downloaded between iOS 8.1 and iOS 8.3.

iOS 8.4 feels very much the same. All-around, it’s pretty fast on a phone that’s almost three years old though there are still bouts of sluggishness. I’ve seen a little bit of lag today but I am hoping that the software settles down in the days and weeks ahead.

What I can tell you is that iOS 8.4 isn’t a disaster on the iPhone 5. It’s still usable and I’d be alright using this as a daily driver if I didn’t have an iPhone 6.

Should You Install iOS 8.4 Right Now?

While it appears to be stable, my advice to you iPhone 5 users is to wait a few days if you can. I realize Apple Music is exciting but it can wait. I think most of you would rather have a working phone.

Wait a few days and poke around for additional feedback before making a decision about iOS 8.4. iOS 8.4 and Apple Music aren’t going anywhere and you should take your time with new software on an old phone like the iPhone 5.

I’ll be back later this week with a full review after I’ve spent more time with iOS 8.4 for iPhone 5.



  1. Katja

    07/01/2015 at 12:26 am

    Thank you for this article, lookin forward to the follow-up!

  2. Andhika

    07/01/2015 at 3:43 am

    should I buy iPhone 5 in 2015 though? iPhone 6 is waaay to expensive for me but I need a new device. help?

    • Anonymous

      07/01/2015 at 6:35 am

      Depends on what your needs are. The iPhone 5 is still a fairly fast device that is capable of (mostly) everything the iPhone 6 is. That being said, don’t expect it to run the newest games. But if you need it just for calling, web browsing, etc. then the iPhone 5 is still a good phone.

    • Pam O

      07/01/2015 at 8:09 am

      Got my hubby a 5S this spring, works great for him… he plays a few games, web browses, emails, FBs. Should be fine for a couple more years at least. And I’m still using my 5 with zero problems.

  3. Anonymous

    07/01/2015 at 6:33 am

    iOS 8.4 feels pretty much the same as iOS 8.3 on my iPhone 5. I’ve disabled Apple Music though so that might’ve had a difference. That being said, it’s feel like there’s more animation lag: immediately after updating I went into settings and there was a lot of lag navigating through the settings.

    • JDnHuntsvilleAL

      07/03/2015 at 6:42 pm

      So Apple Music can be disabled? Does that disable ALL your music capabilities? I still want to play MY music, I just don’t have any interest at all in streaming music at a high price.

  4. Justin

    07/01/2015 at 9:26 am

    Been having a ton of issues with 8.4 on my iPhone 5. Cannot open most apps without them crashing. I got a text message and my phone wouldn’t stop vibrating. Safari has a black screen most of the time. Wait to update is my advice.

  5. Andrew

    07/01/2015 at 9:30 am

    The only issue I’ve run into with 8.4 is GPS problems. Since upgrading my 6 Plus, It has trouble correctly identifying my location. Currently unable to use GPS navigation apps with any accuracy.

  6. Raza

    07/01/2015 at 10:00 am

    too late 8.4 is on the install already- couldnt wait just couldnt!

  7. Dexter Jose

    07/03/2015 at 12:17 pm

    Thank you for the great feedback!

  8. Alexander Fassbender

    07/08/2015 at 9:47 am

    If you want to pay Apple another $9.99 a month forever, sign up to 8.4. Otherwise, don’t do it.

    It removes the old useful itunes program and replaces it with an extremely low functioning substitute – unless you sign up to their service. It is simply rent seeking at its worst and has me rethinking my relationship with Apple products. It is a severe downgrade of the iphone’s capability as a music machine. To the point I may sell my Apple shares sooner rather than later.

    When the accountants take over a tech firm from the innovators, the next management team are led by lawyers and they are followed by bankruptcy trustees. The Apple brand and share price are tied to customer good will and that is damaged by this horrific ios 8.4 disaster.

    • JDnHuntsvilleAL

      07/08/2015 at 1:44 pm

      I did NOT sign up for anything new. After installing 8.4 and starting up the Music app, I ignored the prompt to sign up. I went straight to “My Music”, lower-left on the bar, and except for a few minor annoyances, I’m able to use the new music app pretty much the same as the one in 8.3. So if the pay part of the music app is what worries you, I say go ahead and load 8.4 — you don’t HAVE to pay any monthly fee just to listen to the music you have loaded onto your idevice.

  9. Davero

    07/08/2015 at 12:40 pm

    Passbook will no longer load tickets including stubhub, mlb, individual websites, etc. any fixes?

  10. PG

    07/09/2015 at 11:45 pm

    iOS 8.4 has terrible usability issues. I can’t imagine that this iOS 8.4 has been released for the users. Almost every application crashes and has lowered the performance of my iphone. One of the most terrible experience when I need to access my calendar, work app or social media.

    I would have appreciated if the team would have spent genuine time doing QA, UAT or other quality checks before putting the end user through so much pain. Overall a very bad experience.

    • JDnHuntsvilleAL

      07/10/2015 at 9:40 am

      I have had NO PROBLEMS with 8.4 on my “aging” iPhone 5.

  11. uzziel

    07/15/2015 at 7:48 pm

    having no problems with my iphone 5c

  12. Killa

    07/17/2015 at 9:51 pm

    iOS 8.4 on my iPhone 5 will not let me get on YouTube, if I click on the app it sends me straight back out

    • JDnHuntsvilleAL

      07/18/2015 at 12:49 pm

      Just tried it on my iPhone 5 and didn’t have any problems, so probably an individual case.

      Have you tried doing a complete shut-down of the phone (you know, hold the power button down until you get the prompt to swipe) and the restart it. I have occasional problems which that fixes.

      Do you do regular updates of your apps? I seem to recall YouTube being updated recently. You can check for updates on your iTunes.

      You might try removing the YouTube app, do a complete shut-down, and then re-install the app. That, too, has helped me at times in the past.

  13. Halle

    07/22/2015 at 10:23 pm

    I highly do not recommend you getting the iOS 8.4 upgrade if you use your music app a lot, I had just got it a few minutes ago and I am really regretting it, once you upgrade you have to start paying monthly for the music app which I find ridiculous so now I’m using audio tube.

    • JDnHuntsvilleAL

      07/23/2015 at 11:09 am

      Do you get paid to write bad reviews? I use my music app A LOT, all my OWN music and I upgraded a few weeks ago. You do NOT have to start paying monthly for the music app. What the hell makes you say that? What did YOU do WRONG?

    • Pam Oh

      07/23/2015 at 5:22 pm

      False. You get a 90-day free trial, after which you can choose to pay or not.

      • JDnHuntsvilleAL

        07/23/2015 at 5:30 pm

        It’s not the music _app_ you sign up for a “90-day free trial”, it’s “Apple Music”. Ignore the sign up and you won’t have to bother with it at all. I believe that hint is in one of the comments above. I followed it and have no problems with the app itself playing my music.

  14. Pam Oh

    07/23/2015 at 5:16 pm

    I have since installed on iPhone 5, 5S and iPad, with zero issues.

  15. Tibo

    08/01/2015 at 7:03 am

    Thx u very much for this very complete article

  16. zorkor

    08/05/2015 at 7:20 am

    iOS 8.4 is giving me nightmares on my iPhone 5 which never had any issues on previous updates. Apps crash and phone performance has been extremely laggy.

    • JDnHuntsvilleAL

      08/05/2015 at 7:28 pm

      Just wondering — what size is your iPhone and how much memory is available? I have a going on 3 year old 64GB iPhone 5 with just over 15GB free and have no problems. If you’re close to being full, you might want to try removing some stuff and see if that helps. Don’t forget to do a complete shutdown, too, to close all those apps you may have opened but aren’t using at the moment.

  17. RC Ward

    08/29/2015 at 3:05 pm

    but is it better then the ios that I have on the 5c, that is the question, is it worth the trouble

  18. Daniel

    09/10/2015 at 7:39 am

    I’m currently on iOS 8.0.2 (iPhone 5) and the device works as fast as when I purchased it more than 2.5 years ago. I heard about the 8.1 slowliness and didn’t update and for now I’m really happy about that decision. Problem is, I use a lot of whatsapp and there’s no option to use the web version without upgrading the iOS version.
    So, question is, is it worth updating? I can live without whatsapp web if that would make my phone slower.

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