Applying software updates is a lot like playing a low stakes version of Russian Roulette–sometimes it will leave your technological device worse off than it was before. Last year, owners of the iPhone 4 experienced this when iOS 7 essentially took a functioning device and made it slower than old ketchup in a glass bottle. This year, no iPhone is safe from the numerous flaws and bugs present in this year’s iteration of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 8.
As an owner of the iPhone 4S, I was reluctant to download iOS 8, especially after seeing what happened to the iPhone 4. Right now I’m thanking my lucky stars that I had the foresight to stick to iOS 7, because, as you’ll see, Apple still has a lot of work to do to optimize iOS 8.
1. It will slow down your iPhone 4S.
Last year’s update, iOS 7, pushed the then-two-year-old iPhone 4S to its limits. The latest update only serves to throw it off the proverbial cliff. Though you might see comments across the web saying stuff like, “My iPhone 4S runs fine after iOS 8,” don’t listen to them. That is buyer’s remorse, because who wouldn’t want to shield themselves from the harsh truth that they downloaded an update that essentially put their phone on its last legs?
As the image from ArsTechnica reveals above, the facts reveal the truth. While a .89 second difference in opening Safari might not seem like much on paper, that difference builds up over time, and in terms of real world use your once snappy 4S will feel like it’s chugging along for dear life. Is this all a ploy by Apple to get you to upgrade your phone? Probably not. I’d argue that they’re doing the best they can to apply the latest updates to old technology, but doing so in a poorly executed manner. With proper optimizations, iOS 8 could run just fine on the 4S, as its dual core processor and graphics processing unit aren’t too shabby even by today’s standards.
It’s possible that Apple will release an update in the future that applies these optimizations, but until then, stick to iOS 7, or even 6, if you own a 4S.
2. It’s designed for iPhone 6’s larger screen.
At 4.7″ and 5.5″, the two new iPhones blow previous versions out of the water when it comes to screen size. What is the consequence of that? One of the major ones is that iOS 8 is designed with those larger screens in mind, meaning the iPhone 4S, 5, and 5S will experience a few problems due to the sole fact that they are equipped with 3.5″ and 4″ screens, respectively. As can be seen in the image above, the screen is more cramped on older iPhones, thanks to both the new notification system and the way that apps are programmed to be used with the larger screen on the iPhone 6. On the 4S, the new keyboard makes things nearly unusable in some instances. For example, in the e-mail app you’ll now only be able to see one line of text when composing a new message. Speaking of the keyboard, let me add a little aside: many users have reported instances of it actually disappearing entirely within apps. So, good luck with that!
3. It requires an obscene amount of free space to install.
Let’s forget for a moment that iOS 8 will slow down your phone and quite possibly make some apps unusable, or at the very least, unwieldy. Even if you wanted to install the update (which would make sense if you have a 5 or 5S), it’s nearly impossible to do so unless you first delete nearly everything you have on your phone. If you have a 32GB or 64GB model, you’ll be fine (probably, but who buys those anyways). If you are, however, unfortunate enough to have acquired an iPhone with only 16 or, heaven forbid, 8 gigabytes of storage, you’re pretty much out of luck. If you have a 16GB model you’ll probably be able to eke out enough space to install the update, though just barely. I make a point of deleting every app and photo on my phone that I no longer need or have made backups of on a regular basis, and I would still barely make the cut.
It is true that you can download the update through iTunes, but even then, you’ll need at least a gigabyte of free space, which would still be quite an accomplishment these days on the 8GB models.
4. It might ruin your iPhone’s ability to use wi-fi.
Though this has been an issue with previous iOS updates as well, it seems to be far more prevalent with this one. There’s not too much to say about it, other than that many iPhone owners have been experiencing wi-fi issues after updating their phones. These range from not being able to connect to any wi-fi, to cases where they can connect, but it’s such a slow connection that it might as well be useless. It’s likely that Apple will fix major issues like this in a forthcoming update, much like they did with iOS 7 (I’m hoping at least).
5. Battery life may take a hit.
This one is a bit ironic, considering that one of the major new features of iOS 8 is the implementation of a “Battery Usage” monitor, pictured above, that lets you see what’s eating up your battery. Turns out what eats the most battery is the very update that gives you the battery monitor.
Folks over on the Apple forums have already been talking about this issue and, curiously, it seems to be afflicting not only older models, but the iPhone 6 as well. That means that this may be more than an instance of older hardware struggling to keep up with a newer operating system. Indeed, what this reveals is that there are likely problems inherent to the operating system itself that are causing the battery to drain far faster than usual.
As always, Apple is likely to release some sort of update that fixes or at least tries to address this battery drain issue and the other problems listed above. That being said, it would have been nice if they had ironed these things out before deciding to release a buggy update to millions of iPhone owners. Software updates are always a bit of a crapshoot, at least initially, so know that your iPhone may have zero issues with iOS 8. Still, I think it’s best to not take any chances.
If you own a 5, 5C, or 5S, do yourself a huge favor and wait until Apple releases an update to iOS 8 that fixes the major bugs and issues people have been experiencing. If you own a 4S, don’t even bother updating your device; iOS 7.1.2 is about as good as it’s going to get for us, and trying to force iOS 8 on your 4S won’t do it much good performance-wise anyways. Besides, you’re probably due for an upgrade relatively soon if you still have a 4S, so just hold on for a few more weeks/months. If you have an iPhone 6, all you can do is weather the storm (your phone luckily doesn’t suffer from some of the problems listed above anyways).
How has your iOS 8 experience been so far? Find any flaws while using it? Comment below!
Featured photo credit: iPhone 6 front / thronx via flickr.com