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iOS 7.1: Worth Upgrading?

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iPhone upgraded to iOS 7.1

Apple just released iOS 7.1, the first major update to iOS 7. After initial testing, iOS 7.1 is worth upgrading. Not only is this release stable, but it features better performance and UI improvements.

How Long Does it Take to Upgrade?

I tested iOS 7.1 on an iPhone 4. The upgrade took a total of 85 minutes. Upgrade time will vary depending on the device and iOS version it is running. If you haven’t yet upgraded to iOS 7, the upgrade will take a few hours. At a minimum, the upgrade will take a little over an hour, however, you can use your iPhone while the update is downloading and being prepared for installation. You can also download the update and install it later. For more information on how to upgrade iOS safely, please read this article.

iOS 7.1 is Much Faster

After the upgrade, I noticed some sluggish performance. This usually means that there is a post-upgrade optimization process running. Among other tasks, Spotlight needs to re-index files for faster searching. It’s best to just put down your device and let it do its thing.

After about 20 minutes, I picked up my iPhone and was amazed at how fast it is. I would even go so far as to say, in some respects, it is faster than iOS 6. The only exception would be Safari and Settings, which are still a little sluggish, however faster than with iOS 7.0.6. Scrolling and motion are very smooth. Searching is also faster. iOS 7.1 is quite an improvement.

After testing the upgrade for a day, I upgraded my iPad 2. Again, there is a noticeable improvement in performance. Apps launch faster and scrolling is fast and smooth. Officially, Apple claims the performance improvement is only for the iPhone 4, however, my iPad 2 is also running much faster after the upgrade.

If you have put off upgrading to iOS 7, you may want to reconsider. Of course, you might also want to wait until iOS 7.1.1 comes out.

iOS 7.1 Battery Life

Before upgrading my iPhone, I charged it completely. I highly recommend doing this, as well as running the upgrade unplugged. Make sure your device is not in a case. Major iOS updates take some time and run the CPU and solid state drives intensively. This generates heat. The last thing you want to do is add more heat to this by charging. Heat affects the lithium-ion battery and also is suspected to cause the “grayed out WiFi” issue.

The entire upgrade process used up 18% of battery life. After over a day of standby time and 2 hours of active use (after the 85 minute upgrade process), my battery indicator is at 71%. There doesn’t appear to be any issues with battery drainage. Of course, I expect to see the usual complaints about diminished battery life. This happens with every iOS release. My hunch is that people run the update while the device is plugged in and in a case, and for some, the extra heat will damage the battery. Also, make sure to calibrate the battery after the upgrade. That said, even without calibration, I don’t notice any battery life issues. I will still calibrate the battery after this upgrade.

New Look

When you first use iOS 7.1, you will notice some enhancements to the user interface. The lock screen is brighter and zooms in when you unlock your device.

iOS 7.1 with brighter zoom-in lock screen

The keyboard has a new look, with more contrast. It makes it easier to see and use. Quite a few users complained that iOS 7 had a “washed out” appearance that made it hard to read. This has been addressed in iOS 7.1.

iOS 7.1 improves keyboard contrast

Users will also see some redesigned buttons, most notably in the phone app. The button to end a call is now a small circle. This should make it harder to accidentally hang up a phone call. It also creates unity between the other UI elements on the screen. (continue…)

iOS 7.1 new end call button for phone app

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UPDATE: Some users have reported Bluetooth connectivity issues after upgrading to iOS 7.1. If you are having Bluetooth problems after upgrading, read “Fix iPhone Bluetooth”.


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