Should I upgrade to iOS 8?

ipad2The one thing I’ve applauded Apple for that Android device makers have done rather poorly on is the whole continuous stream of OS updates. Whereas Android devices are often abandoned by their makers after two years and rarely see updates after one, Apple is still churning out versions of its latest releases of iOS for quite old devices.

The new iOS 8 is a case in point – you can now install this update onto an ageing iPad 2.

But is that necessarily a good thing?

As you’d expect, Apple designs each iteration of its mobile OS to best show off its latest creation – in this case, the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus smartphones. But does the tech giant factor in how the OS will perform on older devices when make those updates available?

We do know a couple of things already – first, it appears the iOS 8 update has different space requirements for each device, with reports the iPad 3 requires 5.8GB of temporary space; the iPad Mini 6.9GB. That suggests each device is receiving a customised update, but we also know historically that new CPU-intensive apps won’t perform as well on older devices because – well, they just don’t.

A quick look at comparison results of GeekBench show the new Apple A8 CPU inside the latest iPhone 6 delivers six times the results compared with the Apple A5/A5X CPU inside an iPad 2 or iPad 3. And interestingly, the differences don’t change much whether you’re looking at single-thread or multi-threaded performance.

Others have speculated that the CPU performance in an Apple A7 SoC CPU is ‘four times’ that of an A5, which seems to support the GeekBench findings.

With such a performance gap, you’d have to question whether upgrading to iOS 8 would indeed be a good idea. General operating system history tends to suggest it wouldn’t. While it seems clear that Apple is providing custom versions for different devices, the extra features, security changes and the like will only weigh down on overall performance – and if you’re already as much as six times behind the current CPU level, the chances of coming out ahead with the new OS compared to what you’re already running would have to be stacked against you.

I have an iPad 3 and it’s the question I’m asking myself right now – do I upgrade to iOS 8? At this stage, based on CPU performance differences and unless I can find a more compelling answer, I think for it’s sake, I might end up just leaving well enough alone.

6 comments for “Should I upgrade to iOS 8?

  1. Bradley Eaton
    September 26, 2014 at 1:08 am

    Hi Darren, I have a 32GB iPad 3 that I got back in 2012, just 4 months before the 4th generation iPad and have enjoyed using it immensely! When iOS 8 was released, I hesitated for the reason that even without iOS 8, the past few months have seen me have issues with my iPad where it freezes and restarts when either using certain apps, putting music on it. When iOS came out, I eventually updated later that day. My regular apps mostly work, except one (I think it was looking for the old Camera Roll). It still freezes to where I have to restart it, and going from certain screens are quite lagging than before, in some ways I do wish I’d kept iOS 7, but then, as I do have a lot of music on my iPad, that may be causing certain problems too in slowness. I think you’d be doing the right thing holding off updating.

    Keep up the great work, I enjoy your articles, and I used to read Australian PC User quite regularly!


    • Darren Yates
      November 5, 2014 at 11:31 am

      Thanks, Brad!

  2. November 1, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    In hindsight I shouldn’t have upgraded my iPad 2. While all the great new stuff works, there are horrible waits for things to happen. The worst thing is that it’s now impossible to go back to iOS 7. Unless you know otherwise?

    • Darren Yates
      November 5, 2014 at 11:24 am

      Hey Bill,
      No, I don’t – the problem is that Apple stops signing downgrades after a couple of days, so there’s not much you can do.
      Upgrading an iPad 2 was always likely to be an optimistic exercise I guess. :)
      That said, I’ve heard some good things about 8.1 in terms of speed, at least on an iPad 3 – at least, reducing the lag somewhat compared with 8/8.0.2.

  3. Bryan Corkran
    November 15, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    Hi Darren
    I have an IPad 32GB and it runs like a dog under 8.1,slow to start and slow to launch some apps .This will be the last update I apply .

    • Darren Yates
      November 15, 2014 at 9:02 pm

      Hi Bryan,
      Which generation is it? iPad 2? I’ve heard it runs like a pooch on that. I’ve heard some positive reviews of 8.1 but despite several times being tempted, I’ve resisted so far.

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