iOS 7 may be one of the most hotly anticipated mobile operating system releases of all time, but after extensive testing and usage of iOS 7.0 across a variety of devices, we’re taking the unusual step of recommending that some users hold off from updating to the initial release. At the very least, reconsider whether or not some of the potential performance trade-offs that exist with iOS 7.0 on some devices are worth it. This obviously won’t be a popular opinion, but we think this recommendation is in the best interest of our readers, and by waiting until an iOS 7.0.1 or similar update is out we think many users can avoid some frustrating experiences that haven’t quite been resolved.
We are posting this in advance of the wider release on the 18th to give you adequate warning. You are welcome to not heed our advice and update all your iOS hardware anyway, but be aware that typically all major iOS updates prevent downgrading, which would leave the device dependent on future updates to resolve any potential complaints or issues that are being experienced. For some hardware, the issues may never resolve with updates, as any iPhone 3G owner can attest to when iOS 4 came out and rendered the device practically useless. The fact is no amount of proper preparation for the iOS 7 update matters when the software update itself isn’t quite ready or hasn’t been optimized for every piece of supposedly compatible hardware. This is particularly true for several iPad models, some of which may suffer performance degradation and general instability with the most recent iOS 7 build (GM).
Our recommendations are divided into two groups: devices that should wait to update until some issues have been resolved, and devices that should think twice before updating because the current 7.0 experience isn’t optimal.
You should wait to install iOS 7 on these iPad models
We do not yet* recommend updating to iOS 7 on the following devices:
- iPad 2 – wait, buggy and slow user experience
- iPad 3 – wait, buggy and slow user experience
Put simply, iOS 7 on the iPad doesn’t feel entirely ready yet, but it’s worse on these two older models and they wind up experiencing a combination of annoyances; general bugginess plus sluggish overall performance. The bugginess may be tolerable to many (if you don’t mind some apps randomly quitting or becoming unresponsive), but the performance degradation and sluggishness is frustrating enough to just say forget it for the 7.0 build. Tasks that are as simple as typing have an awkward lag to them, changing the wallpaper can take 15-25 seconds and render the entire device useless in the process. Even bringing up Spotlight or rotating the iPad from landscape into portrait mode wind up as exercises in patience. Basically, the iOS 7.0 GM build still feels like a beta on these devices, and the experience will probably not be what you are accustomed to with a speedy and stable iOS 6 release.
* The performance issues, speed degradation, and stability problems may be resolved by a future minor iOS update, perhaps iOS 7.0.1 or iOS 7.1. We highly recommend waiting until then. Updates versioned as iOS 7.0.1, 7.0.2, and 7.1 are actively being worked on by Apple, according to logs studied by MacRumors and 9to5mac, thus we may see releases of those updates sooner than later.
Think twice before updating these devices to the first 7.0 release
We suggest thinking twice about updating these devices because the experience isn’t entirely optimized yet:
- iPad 4 – reconsider or wait before updating, buggy experience
- iPad Mini – reconsider or wait before updating, buggy experience
- iPhone 4 – reconsider or wait, iOS 7 is sometimes more sluggish on iPhone 4 than iOS 6
As mentioned already, the iOS 7.0 GM build still feels like a beta in many ways. To non-developers, that basically means the experience can sometimes be buggy, with apps crashing and freezing up for no obvious reason. Simple tasks can bring frustrations, and typing on the keyboard can be randomly and inexplicably lagged with a delay before characters appear. To get the device to become responsive again, sometimes you’ll have to force quit an app or even hard reboot the entire device. These kind of quirks do not happen all the time, but it’s often enough to be potentially frustrating if you are accustomed to the stability of iOS 6. Waiting a week or two for a minor bug fix update may alleviate many of these frustrations. At the very least, know what you’re getting into before installing iOS 7.0 on any iPad model, and don’t expect it to be a perfectly fluid user experience quite yet.
Finally, the iPhone 4 is also on our ‘reconsider’ list for a more simple reason; it’s often just a bit slower running iOS 7 than it is running iOS 6. That’s probably due to some of the new transparencies, transitions, eye-candy effects, and background app functionality that have been introduced in iOS 7, and it may be resolvable through adjusting user settings or a 7.0.1 type of update. If you’re happy with how your iPhone 4 is now, holding off on the initial 7.0 update may provide you with a better experience.
This is a recommendation based upon experience with the iOS 7.0 GM build. You don’t need to agree with this opinion, and remember that Apple supports iOS 7 on all the devices we mentioned here. At the very least, take the time to properly prepare and back up your iOS stuff before jumping ahead.
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