Read this before upgrading your iPhone 4s to iOS 8

iphone 4s user

Think twice before updating your rusty old iPhone 4s to the just-released iOS 8 because Apple’s feature-packed upgrade makes its handset run most tasks about two times (or more) slower.

iOS 8 will slow down common tasks on the handset, including approximately two times slower launching of stock apps, almost three seconds longer booting and more, ArsTechnica reported Wednesday.

In addition to the performance hit, the three-year-old handset is incompatible with certain hardware-dependent iOS 8 features such as Handoff, AirDrop, the OpenGL ES 3.0 and Metal graphics run-time and more.

As you can see for yourself in the speed comparison table below, opening stock apps on the handset is about two times slower in iOS 8 compared to the latest iOS 7.1.2 software.

A few examples:

  • Safari opens 70 percent slower
  • Camera needs an additional 0.3 seconds to launch
  • Settings is more than 30 percent slower to open
  • Calendar loads about 60 percent longer
  • Cold-booting the device requires an additional three seconds to complete

Messages, arguably the most popular stock iOS app, is fortunately only marginally slower to launch. And surprisingly enough, the iPhone call forwarding feature to other devices seems to work fine on the iPhone 4s.

Despite slower performance, iOS 8 on the iPhone 4s “is nowhere near as bad” as iOS 7 on the iPhone 4. And although the phone renders transparency and translucency UI effects, animations are “markedly more choppy” and inconsistent due to dropped frames, the publication has concluded.

Sometimes, animations would slow the whole device down so it wouldn’t respond to input in a way it did before.

iPhone 4s (iOS 8 speed, AnanadTech 001)

Other iOS features unavailable to iPhone 4s owners:

  • Handoff — requires Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, which the iPhone 4s lacks
  • Airdrop — same as Handoff, this features needs modern Bluetooth chips
  • Touch ID in apps — obviously, as this requires Touch ID hardware
  • OpenGL ES 3.0 and Metal  — the popular run-times need a faster GPU and a 64-bit CPU than the handset provides. Specifically, its A5 chip offers only a quarter the raw performance of the A7 powering the iPhone 5s. As a result, games optimized for Metal and OpenGL ES 3.0 may exhibit poor frame rates and graphics, or may not run at all on the iPhone 4s.

Another issue related to running iOS 8 on the device is its small 3.5-inch screen which does not lend itself well to iOS 8’s new predictive keyboard.

As evidenced on the screenshots below, other stock apps feel cluttered on the 3.5-inch screen, especially features like Contact favorites in iOS 8’s task switcher.

iPhone 4s (iOS 8 apps, AnanadTech 001)

Other apps like Mail, Messages and Spotlight also feel constrained due to the handset’s noticeably smaller canvas. If the publication’s findings are anything to go by, iPhone 4s users should steer away from today’s iOS 8 update unless they’re cool with sacrificing performance for new features.

If there any iPhone 4s users out there, we’d love to hear in comments whether you’ll be upgrading your device to iOS 8.