iOS 7.1 is likely the last update for the aging iPhone 4

iphone-4Apple released iOS 7.1 today to iPhone owners with an iPhone 4 or newer. While the new version runs spectacularly on the iPhone 5s, customers with an iPhone 4 may be wondering whether the update will improve or degrade their experience. According to Ars Technica, the experience is an improvement over iOS 7.0, but it still isn’t great.

The limitation for the iPhone 4 is its A4 processor, which is now almost four years old. The processor just doesn’t have the power to handle the animations and graphics in iOS 7.x. Apple has moved in a positive direction in iOS 7.1 by shortening the animation durations, thereby easing some of the burden on the processor. It also smoothed out most, but not all of the jerkiness in the UI that was present when opening apps or pulling up the control center window shade.

Apple also improved application launch times for stock iOS apps, including Safari, Camera, Mail and other. Ars Technica tested these launch times and found that iOS 7.1 showed a measurably improvement in all apps, with some even loading as quickly as they did under iOS 6.1.3.


iOS 7.1 still can’t overcome the limitations of the A4 processor and consequently offers a limited iOS experience. Notably absent in the iPhone 4 are the following iOS 7.1 features:

  • 3D Flyover or turn-by-turn navigation in Maps
  • Panorama mode or Live filters in the Camera app (filters can still be applied in the Photos app after the picture has been taken)
  • AirPlay Mirroring
  • Siri
  • AirDrop
  • Graphical effects such as the translucency effects throughout the OS, live wallpapers, and the parallax effect of the Home screen

As pointed out by Ars Technica, this version is likely to be the last version of iOS pushed out the iPhone 4. Apple rarely moves beyond the x.1 version of the operating system and it likely won’t change that pattern with WWDC and iOS 8 right around the corner. This release is probably the end of the line for iPhone 4, with performance at a level that is bearable. If customers want the additional features that’ll land in iOS 8, then will have to update this handsets to the iPhone 4S or even better the iPhone 5s.

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  • Damian

    It just puzzles me why Apple is blocking iPhone 4 from downgrading to ios6. It is like advertising they have best phone, and later in the future they release the update that make it the worst experience ever. They should advertise and warn not to update.

    Their policy regarding downgrading or forcing upgrading makes no sense for limited hardware idevices

    • iDoc

      Downgrading to ios 6 has been possible since the day ios 7 was available if you saved your blobs

      • jzack

        but still not possible without appticket.. shsh blobs alone wont do..

  • Puzzled Man

    Couldn’t agree more.
    I have a few friends who were big fan of apple and were very happy with their iphone 4. until the day iOS7 released. their phone downloaded the new iOS and ask to update. All of them don’t care much about new control center or fancy new screen. But click to update anyway (as the phone suggests them to)
    It turned into nightmare. Phones now holds 20-30 seconds once in a while. Slow reponds etc. Taking back to Apple shop for help, all they got is their beloved phones are “outdated”, “too old”, though they are working great before update, no way to returning to iOS6 but to buy a new one.
    I truely think Apple should leave the iOS update decision to their customer. warn them if you upgrade, it will be slow. encourage them to stay at 6 if its a technical limitations.

    • Bob Barker

      And Apple truly doesn’t care what you think. Or what anyone in their fanbase thinks.

    • Rockenroller

      I have a 4S, I have followed all the updates to present, have never had any probs whatsoever other than SIRI is crap, I too had my doubts about the ‘updated’ screen features, as well as the lack of contrast that came across on some screens, making them harder to see, but all in all its alright, I wonder if the carrier or server some people are using is weak? Thats the only thing I can say other than internal weak components?

    • jzack

      i used to have iPhone 4 too.. i admit that 7.0 lags and kinda slow. but one day i saw a video of ios 7.1 beta review on youtube and i tried.. the ios 7.1 is as good as it was in 6.0. no more lag and fully usable without running any issue.. even the battery consumption is better compare to when i used it on ios 6.

      i suggest you try the 7.1 final as this should fix the lag / crash issue and you can see a very huge difference in terms of speed..

      and to bob barker, i think you are wrong because if apple doesn’t care about their fan/ consumer they wont be fixing iPhone 4 issues (lag, freezes, slow, crash, etc) when upgrading to ios 7.1.. this shows that apple does their job well..

      take your 4 years aged android phone, does the manufacturer still give them update and most importantly, does it lag even on their stock os? even samsung will ignore and will not provide any update their device after 2 years. eg just take samsung galaxy s2, no more official update from them. not that i hate samsung, i used to love samsung but..

  • lordgod

    Just jailbreak your iphone 4,install a tweak to disable animations.