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iOS 9.2: Worth Upgrading?

iOS 9.2: Worth Upgrading?
Three months after its initial release, iOS 9.2 finally provides a solid and stable experience for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users. This article examines iOS 9.2 and whether it’s worth upgrading.

I’ve been holding off on upgrading my iPhone to iOS 9. After testing iOS 9 releases on my iPad, I found that they just weren’t good enough for my mission critical iPhone. With iOS 9.2, that’s changed. Waiting three months for a quality release is reasonable. No software is perfect, including iOS 9.2.

A small number of users are experiencing problems with iOS 9.2. My experience and the overall consensus is that this is finally a quality release. Let’s take a look at installing iOS 9.2, new features, bug fixes, security fixes and a few problems that some users are facing.

Installing iOS 9.2

Upgrading to iOS 9.2 can take between one to two hours, depending on your device and current iOS version. If you have an older device that hasn’t been upgraded recently, it may take a few hours to upgrade. On a newer device running iOS 9.1, the update should only take 20-30 minutes.

iOS 9.2 also varies in size. The update will be smaller on recently upgraded devices. Also, older devices don’t support some of the newer iOS features, such as Siri. Updates to older devices don’t include these modules. On my iPad 2, the update was only 145 MB. It is older and was already running iOS 9.1. The iOS 9.2 upgrade for my iPhone 6 was 1 GB, because it supports more features and was running iOS 8.4.1 prior to the update.

Make sure to backup any critical information using iCloud or iTunes before upgrading to iOS 9.2. For more information on best practices for upgrading iOS, please read “How to Upgrade iOS”.

You can start the iOS 9.2 upgrade process by tapping Settings > General > Software Update. Next, tap Download (it may be downloaded already) and Install to begin the process. You must accept the legal agreements to proceed.

If you have already installed iOS 9, you have another option. Users can choose to upgrade their device overnight. Simply tap on Install Later when prompted to upgrade to iOS 9.2. There’s no way to set an overnight update directly in Settings. You have to wait for the dialog box to pop up and accept it. The scheduled update runs between 2 AM and 5 AM, if your device is plugged in to its charger.

When the upgrade is finished, simply unlock your device. Unlike previous iOS releases, there are no greeting screens or prompts to login to iCloud. This is a major release with a lot of new features, but Apple seems to have forgone the post-upgrade fanfare. If iOS 9.2 is your first iOS 9 upgrade, you will be welcomed, informed of new features, and asked to complete some minor configuration tasks.


iOS 9.2 scores slight better on GeekBench 3. Prior to iOS 9.2, my iPad 2 got a single-core score of 262 and a multi-core score of 496. iOS 9.2 doesn’t improve the single-core score, however, it bumps up the multi-core score by 1 point.

IOS 9.1 vs IOS 9.2 Geekbench 3

You won’t notice this difference in performance, but it’s good to know that iOS 9.2 is a slight improvement, and not a regression.

iOS 9.2 improves speed in other ways. Overall, the App Switcher is faster than ever. For the most part, the user interface is faster and more responsive. Stock apps, such as Safari, offer slightly better performance.

I do find Spotlight to be very slow on my iPad. It’s even slower than with iOS 9.1. Unfortunately, I use Spotlight to launch apps. It can sometimes take 30 seconds before search results are displayed, even though I have turned off searching within apps. I may just have to go back to using icons on the home screen. It’s a cumbersome process, if you have accumulated a lot of apps.

New Features in iOS 9.2

iOS 9.2 is chock full of new features, for a “.x” release. Apple seems to be gradually introducing new features with “.x” updates, instead of cramming them all in to “.0” releases and fixing the defects later.

Apple continues to improve their streaming music service with each release. iOS 9.2 adds the ability to easily create a new playlist when adding a song to a playlist. They made it easier to download albums or playlists from your iCloud Music Library, by simply tapping the iCloud download button. They finally added a download indicator icon, to clearly display which songs are on your device. This is something Spotify has had for years and it is very useful. Apple Music also adds improvements for browsing classical music.

The News app now offers a Top Stories section, which is an essential feature of any news reader. It’s now possible to send large attachments using the Mail Drop feature in Mail.

iOS 9.2 offers many more new features. Read Apple’s release notes for more information.

iOS 9.2 Bug Fixes

iOS 9 got off to a rocky start. In fact, it was so bad, I put off upgrading my iPhone until iOS 9.2 was released. Apple’s newest version of iOS fixes several defects and improves the stability of stock apps.

iOS 9 made Safari almost unusable, especially on older iPads. Since iPads often get desktop or tablet versions of websites, they tend to push Safari to its limits. It’s not just about processing power. Safari had some serious bugs that caused it to close unexpectedly. I often experienced several Safari crashes in less than an hour of browsing. iOS 9.2 brings much-needed stability to Safari, but it’s too little, too late.

I no longer use any WebKit browser on my iPad, but have opted for Photon instead. Photon offers a “streaming” web feature, where web pages are rendered on their servers and displayed on an iOS device. It’s remarkably stable, and one can experience full desktop websites. It even supports Flash. I highly recommend Photon to anyone who has an older iPad. iPhones can function well with Safari, as mobile sites tend to fare better with WebKit.

The Podcasts app has been updated to address stability issues. iOS 9.2 also fixes issues with Mail attachments, Live Photos, Contacts, Calendar, Camera, Health and other stock apps. For more information on defects resolved in iOS 9.2, please read Apple’s release notes.

iOS 9.2 Security Updates

As with all iOS updates, 9.2 includes numerous security fixes. iOS 9.2 fixes a vulnerability that allowed malicious apps to access Contacts. Another patch prevents malicious websites from executing code. Safari also enabled malicious sites to spoof the iOS user interface. This has been fixed in iOS 9.2. Check out Apple’s security update notes for more information.

It’s noteworthy to mention that most of these vulnerabilities are not found by Apple. Ian Beer from Google’s Project Zero always finds quite a few security flaws. Academics, jailbreak developers and corporations such as Yahoo also find iOS vulnerabilities. Apple fans who dislike Google should be aware that they help keep your device secure. Both Apple and Google are excellent companies, and you don’t have to root for just one team. This is technology, not sports, after all.

iOS 9.2 Battery Life

I haven’t experienced any issue with battery life after upgrading to iOS 9.2. These problems typically surface because devices can overheat while upgrading to iOS. People will often plug in their device, which is already warm from being used for several hours, and then run the upgrade. The upgrade process itself uses just about every system on an iOS device. This generates heat, which can damage the battery. Make sure to calibrate your battery after installing iOS 9.2. Check out “How to Extend iPhone Battery Lifespan” for more information.

I recommend fully charging your iOS device, while it’s turned off, before upgrading to iOS. I always run my iOS upgrades on a fully charged device that isn’t connected to the charger. I turn down the screen brightness all the way, and set Auto-Lock to Never. (Sometimes the update will stop if the screen locks.) This seems to minimize heat, which can preserve the lifespan of your battery and prevent the WiFi module from being damaged.

iOS 9.2 Problems

As with every iOS release, 9.2 has created problems for some users. These are isolated issues that may not be caused by the software update. Some of these problems coincidentally surface after the update. I personally have not experienced any major issues. Having researched iOS 9.2, I haven’t found any egregious problems affecting a significant number of users.

iOS 9.2: Worth Upgrading?

Overall, iOS 9.2 is worth upgrading. This release isn’t perfect, but it is finally good enough to install on my iPhone. I always test iOS releases on my older iPad to evaluate their stability. After almost three months, Apple has finally released a stable and reliable version of iOS 9. If you have been on the fence about upgrading to iOS 9, Apple’s newest release is worth installing.


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