Thinking of a new iPhone? You may want to try iOS 12 first

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While most of the attention of this week’s Apple event is on the company’s latest iPhones, those thinking of an upgrade have a cheaper, simpler option they may want to try first: iOS 12. 

Unlike prior iOS updates which stressed new features like multitasking, Control Center and Siri, iOS 12 is placing the focus on performance, particularly on speeding up older devices. 

Is it worth it? Available for free on Monday, we put the latest beta version of the software on an older iPhone 6 and compared it to another iPhone 6 running iOS 11.4.1 earlier this week to find out. 

More: Who needs a new iPhone? iOS 12 adds tools and features to freshen up your current device

More: If you want to save money, say hi to iPhone 7

More: Apple announces iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, less expensive iPhone XR in phone line revamp

 

Important note: As mentioned, these tests were done on a beta, or test, version of iOS 12. While the software is probably close to final, it is likely that there will be some additional tweaks before it hits the general public. 

Basic tasks

In powering on, opening up Apple’s own apps like Notes and Messages and firing up the camera iOS 12 is noticeably quicker. It’s not game-changing, but the few extra seconds are noticeable and appreciated.  

The camera and keyboard are two areas Apple, in particular, is stressing. The company claims iOS 12 will improve the time it takes to open the camera from the lock screen by up to 70%, the keyboard popping up in apps like messages by up to 50% as well up to “2x faster” app launching when under “heavy workloads.”  

In our use, this wasn’t always the case, but at the very least it wasn’t ever noticeably slower, either. 

Third-party apps

Opening up third-party apps like Snapchat, YouTube and Google Maps wasn’t significantly faster on iOS 12 compared to the latest iOS 11. At various times each was faster than the other but rarely was it by more than a second or two, at best. 

Make sure your battery is up to par

Introduced as an update to iOS 11 earlier this year, Apple allows users to see the performance of their phone’s batteries by going to Settings, Battery and then Battery Health.

Older phones, and by extension older batteries, will lead to iOS slowing itself down, sacrificing performance in exchange for battery life when your battery isn’t capable of “peak performance.” Apple apologized for doing this in secret late last year and has since brought down the price of replacement batteries from $79 to a more affordable $29 for the rest of 2018. 

Both devices we used were performing at peak performance, with battery health at 100% on our iOS 11 device and 94% on our iOS 12 phone. 

While iOS 12 promises performance updates under the hood, without a capable battery the benefits aren’t likely to be realized. 

Is it worth it? 

In short, the answer is yes. Like all recent iPhone software updates, iOS 12 will be free for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users to download. Apple even is supporting devices as far back as 2013’s iPhone 5s, so if you have an older iPhone this new update is definitely worth a shot before deciding to go out to buy a new phone. 

If your battery is in need of replacement, try using the update when your phone is plugged into power and at 100%. See if the speed improvements are noticeable for you. If that’s the case, a $29 battery swap may be a decent option for you (and a cheaper one than dropping hundreds on a new device). 

One thing to do regardless of what you decide: make sure to backup your iPhone first. When it comes to data protection you can never be too careful. 

Follow Eli Blumenthal on Twitter @eliblumenthal

 

 

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