Earlier this week we saw Apple distribute iOS 8.1.1 to its userbase, resolving a few bugs and delivering what were supposed to be performance improvements for older Apple hardware like the iPhone 4S, which had been struggling to meet the demands of iOS 8 with aging A5 SoCs and just 512 MB of RAM. Did Apple succeed in its goal? Some real-world testing suggests it did to an extent, though even these tweaks are insufficient to bring these models back to previous levels of performance.
In an array of timed tests, iPhone 4S hardware completed tasks in essentially the same amount of time running 8.1.1 as with pure 8.0. The only substantial improvement cropped up when loading Safari, shaving half a second off its time. But that said, performance was still across-the-board better when running the old iOS 7.1.2. Further tests comparing 8.1.1 against 8.1 showed improved web page reload times, to the tune of a couple seconds each.
Even with this latest code, the user interface is still a bit choppy, a problem that’s reportedly worse on A5-based tablets. And short of a major reversal from Apple (read: don’t expect this in the least), the system demands aren’t likely to decrease any further; this may be the best owners of older hardware can hope to expect, going forward. For three-year-old devices, though, even lasting this long is a triumph, and we suppose we should just be appreciative for even the modest performance improvements 8.1.1 makes possible.