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New tests prove that updating to iOS 12 really does speed up your old iPhone or iPad

Published Sep 19th, 2018 4:49PM EDT
iOS 12 speed upgrade
Image: Jonathan Geller, BGR

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Much like the iPhone XS, Apple’s latest iOS update is more concerned with performance improvements than it is with new features or functionality. If you visit Apple’s landing page for iOS 12, you’ll see that performance is the first thing that the company highlights: 70% faster swipe to Camera, 50% faster keyboard display, and 2x faster app launch under heavy workload, to name a few. But are the upgrades enough to actually make a difference?

Ars Technica attempted to answer this question by installing iOS 12 on three old devices: an iPhone 5S, an iPhone 6 Plus, and an iPad mini 2. Once they were all updated, Ars Technica measured app launch times on the devices and stacked them up against launch times on at least one older version of iOS.

Ars notes that all of the devices were allowed to fully sync before the test was conducted, and that each of the phones and the tablet were lightly used, minimizing the effects of inevitable battery slowdown over time.

Starting with the iPhone 5S, Ars tested the boot time of the phone along with the launch times of a variety of apps, including Safari, Camera, Settings, Mail, Messages, Calendar, Maps, and Notes. In general, performance declined from iOS 10.3.3 to iOS 11, improved slightly with iOS 11.4.1, and then actually overtook iOS 10.3.3 in several cases once the phone had been upgraded to iOS 12. If you’re still on an iPhone 5S after all this time, you should seriously consider upgrading, even if you’ve been burned in the past by lesser updates.

The results were similar for the iPhone 6 Plus, which Ars tested on iOS 11.4.1 and iOS 12. Every app the site tested launched at least 7% faster, and topped out with a 21.7% improvement for the Settings app. The phone even booted three seconds faster after being updated to iOS 12. Another win for iOS users avoiding upgrades.

Finally, the performance bump for the iPad mini 2 was slightly less pronounced than on either of the phones, but once again, each and every app launched more quickly on iOS 12, while the tablet booted four seconds faster than it did on iOS 11.4.1. That said, it’s clear that the iPad mini 2 is severely outdated in 2018.

It’s worth noting that Ars didn’t detect any measurable difference on the keyboard display speed, but if you’re looking to give your old phone a new lease on life, iOS 12 might do the trick.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.