If you own an iPhone 4, you no longer have to be afraid of updating the OS any more. iOS 7.1 won’t gum up the works the way iOS 7 did.
It’s hard to quantify the improvements. I tried timing a few basic actions before and after the iOS 7.1 update to see what kind of difference it made. Booting up and shutting down took several seconds longer. Even launching the Google web page was slower on iOS 7.1 than it was on iOS 7.
However, interestingly enough, when you’re actually doing things, the OS is noticeably smoother. When I initially upgraded to iOS 7 on my device, it wasn’t that hard to type so fast that the keyboard had trouble keeping up. It still happens occasionally with iOS 7.1, but typically only when an app first opens. Once things are running, it’s smooth sailing.
Stuttering animations and momentary pauses are no longer frustrations when flipping through the apps on my iPhone 4. Eventually, it was that kind of sluggishness in iOS 7 that drove me to re-flash iOS 6.1.3 onto my device. That made it much nicer to use, but a lot of new apps refused to install without that all-important first digit matching up. It’s that bothersome “you must be this tall to ride” thing at play.
Now, it’s true that the iPhone 4 is not my daily driver any more. I’ve moved on, but of course there are still iPhone 4 users out there (many will have snapped one up on better terms when the iPhone 5 came out, no doubt). Anyone that purchased it last year and felt stung by iOS 7 should now be breathing a sigh of relief. They can now make use of the redesigned camera and weather apps, utilise Passbook, and stealthily surf with the private browsing mode in Safari.
Apple deserves a tip of the hat for this. Yes, the iPhone 4 was still being sold in 2013 and we should be able to expect updates for devices that we bought a year ago. That’s not always the case, though. The situation with Android has got better, but OEMs and carriers continue to make the update process a painful one.
As for Android phones that were launched in June of 2010 that are still getting first-party updates? You can probably count them all on one hand – if there are even any to count.
For more on Apple's latest mobile OS update, see our closer look at what's new with iOS 7.1.