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iOS 8 Download: Should you update your iPhone or iPad?

iOS 8: Should you wait to update?

The final version of iOS 8 is now out, as are the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. But if you’re not buying either phone should you download iOS 8 now, wait or perhaps even stick with iOS 7? We take at look which devices should run it fine and which ones are worth waiting before updating.

We haven’t been able to test every single device in this list yet, so please share your experiences in the comments if you do update.

Last Update, 19th September at 16:30

VIDEO: iOS 7 vs iOS Performance Comparison
We put two iPhone 5S’s side-by-side to see how they compared. The result…

…almost identical performance. We’ll be testing more devices soon.

iOS 8 Support: Can I download iOS 8?

The list of devices that support iOS 8 is surprisingly long. It’s impressive that Apple continues to support so many older devices with software updates, though that doesn’t necessarily mean you should update straight away. Here’s the full list.

iPhones: iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus
iPads: iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad Air, iPad mini, iPad mini 2
iPods: iPod Touch

Devices that miss out include the iPhone 4, but amazingly the iPad 2 is still in the mix. Clearly there remain plenty of iPad 2s out there that Apple wants to keep going.

Probably don’t download: iPhone 4S, iPad 2, iPad mini & iPod touch 5

It’s great that Apple continues to support these older devices, but we’d advise against updating to iOS 8 immediately and perhaps considering sticking with iOS 7. iOS updates generally add more features, particularly background updates, that drain battery life faster and really hit performance.

This is a particular problem for older devices, and the iPhone 4S, iPad 2 and iPad mini (1st-gen) are basically based on the same core components.

The iPhone 4S and its A5 processor and 512MB of RAM is the most problematic. Apple’s OS doesn’t need huge amounts of RAM to run smoothly, but it’s still half as much any current devices and that will show. The iPad 2 has the same core specs, too.

The iPad mini (1st-gen) uses the second-generation A5 processor, which is more efficient, but it’s no more powerful than the other two. The 5th-gen iPod touch is an iPhone 4S on the inside, so the same applies to it.

Update: It’s only taken a day to find out that updating to iOS 8 on the iPhone 4S is a bad idea. Performance is significantly worse, with some loads speeds over a second longer. Individually this isn’t a huge problem, but the combination of lots of slower loading speeds leads to a sluggish experience. Several users have reported serious bugs on the iPhone 4S, too, suggesting it’s a bad idea to make this update. The same goes for the iPad 2, iPad mini and iPod touch 5.

Update: Looks like the 1st-generation iPad mini may fair better with iOS 8 than the iPad 2 it is based on. Here’s a report from reader Jon Gilbert:

“I upgraded mine. So far there doesn’t seem to be any noticeable performance issues. There are a couple of apps that have developed bugs with iOS 8 but they are probably ones you won’t have. All the mainstream apps work fine. The mini gets the improved camera interface, which I was surprised about, and the family sharing option is great.”

Wait and see: iPad (3rd-gen)

The third-generation iPad, otherwise known as the first iPad with Retina display or just iPad 3, is a strange beast. It was replaced within less than a year by the iPad 4, and the reason lies in the processor. The 3rd-gen basically runs a super-charged (that’s probably being a tad generous) version of the A5 chip, dubbed A5X.

The tricky bit is that the GPU is much more powerful than the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S (mainly so it could drive the extra pixels), but the CPU is more or less the same — a 1GHz dual-core based on the ARM A9 design.

Chances are it should run iOS 8 well enough, mainly thanks to the extra graphics power handling the glossier effects debuted in iOS 7, but we’d wait before committing.

Update: We haven’t tested the iPad 3 yet, but user Chris V has. He says:

“I have an ipad 3 (the first model with retina display), and it took a while to update, but once it had updated, it ran absolutely fine – I’m not noticing any perceptible lag to anything – though saying that, I tend to turn background updating off (with the exception of automatic app updates), and I keep the animations to a minimum.

Should work fine: iPhone 5, iPhone 5C and iPad 4

None of these devices should have any problems running iOS 8. They run iOS 7 comfortably and iOS 8 isn’t much more taxing on a basic level. The only question, particularly for older iPhones, is whether the battery is up to the task.

iOS 8 doesn’t appear to be that different, but battery problems immediately after new software releases are common. They normally settle down after subsequent updates, or after a hard reset, but it might be worth waiting a few days before updating if you want to be careful.

Go ahead and download: iPhone 5S, iPad Air
 and iPad Air mini 2

We’ve been running iOS 8 on an iPhone 5S since the very first beta. Early betas were very buggy, but we’ve had no problems at all recently. Battery life is fine and it’s stable. The iPad Air and iPad mini 2 are based on the same core chip, so should run just fine.

Next, watch our 
iOS 8 tips, tricks and secrets video

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