iOS 11 is in beta testing at time of writing, and will launch to the public alongside the iPhone 8/X shortly after 12 September 2017. But, assuming your device is new enough to make the upgrade, is it a good idea to install the new software on your iPhone or iPad?
In this article we weigh up the pros and cons of updating iOS on your iPhone or iPad, and help you decide whether to upgrade to iOS 11 or stick with iOS 10 or earlier.
iOS 11’s new features & design changes
In the pro category, each new version of iOS brings a bunch of new features, and iOS 11 has an impressive roster. Bear in mind, however, that many of its most dramatic enhancements are for the iPad only.
If you’re on iPhone you get: a redesigned Control Centre (on a single screen), a redesigned and newly organised App Store, lots of new features in Messages including peer-to-peer Apple Pay and a new one-handed keyboard, a more intelligent and natural-sounding Siri, new animated emoji, a built-in QR scanner, effects in Live Photos, a new feature called Do Not Disturb While Driving.
On iPad you get all the above, plus a new Dock interface feature, drag-and-drop of images etc between two apps in splitscreen, a boring but extremely useful new app called Files and improved Apple Pencil support.
This ignores all the smaller graphical tweaks, updated app icons and security and performance patches that come with any iOS update.
Check out iOS 11 vs iOS 10 for a direct comparison between iOS 11 and its predecessor.
When iOS 7 launched, many users were horrified by the radical graphical redesign, which took a while to get used to and still annoys a minority of iPhone and iPad owners. That year we advised people to spend time with borrowed iOS 7 devices if they could, and see if they got used to the look of the OS after a week or two – generally interface changes feel earth-shattering at the time, then before you know it you can’t remember how it used to look.
However, bear in mind that iOS 7 was an unusually radical departure, visually, from its predecessor. iOS 11 will take a bit of getting used to, with a few things moving around in the interface, but aesthetically it’s mostly the same, so we don’t expect this to register as a serious downside.
Going back is difficult (or impossible)
Here’s a potential reason not to update: upgrading iOS tends to be essentially a one-way journey. It’s always extremely hard (if not impossible) to go back to the previous version afterwards, so be sure you want to do this before starting the upgrade process.
It’s very difficult to reinstall a version of iOS once Apple stops ‘signing’ (or verifying) it, and the company will stop signing versions of iOS 10 a few days after the launch of iOS 10. You’ll have a tiny window to go back, and even then it’ll be tricky. It’s generally best to assume that you’ll be stuck with the new OS if you update.
Will updating iOS slow down my device?
When Apple announces a new version of iOS, it also announces the list of devices that are certified as capable of running it. For iOS 11, that’s the following devices:
- iPad Air 1, iPad Air 2, iPad Pro (12.9, 2015), iPad Pro (9.7, 2016), iPad (9.7, 2017), iPad Pro (10.5, 2017), iPad Pro (12.9, 2017)
- iPad mini 2, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 4
- iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus (plus any new iPhones which launch this autumn)
- iPod touch (sixth generation)
If your device isn’t on that list, your decision is easy: you’re not allowed to update. And if you’ve got one of the newer ones on there, again, it’s a straight shoot-out – do you want the new features and the new graphical look, or not?
The complication arises if you’ve got one of the borderline cases. One of the older devices that only just makes it on to the list. The iPhone 5s, for example, or the iPad mini 2.
In the past, updating iOS on a device that can only just support the new software has been risky, and occasionally it has slowed down performance. This was particularly irksome when iOS 8 came out; a number of iPhone 4s owners said this noticeably slowed down their devices
Now, this has been less of an issue with iOS 9 and iOS 10, and we don’t expect it to be a serious problem with iOS 11 either. But if you’ve got a phone or tablet near the older end of the list above, we’d still advise caution.
Wait a few days after the launch to see if you can find out how the update for people with the same iPhone or iPad as you. Googling the name of your device and iOS 11 together is a good way to see what others users have experienced. If possible you could also try to find someone else running the same hardware with iOS installed and see how they got on – has their device slowed down at all?
If your iPad or iPhone is up to it (and really up to it – not just officially rated as iOS 11-compatible), you should probably update. Even if you don’t care about the new features, the boring stuff – such as bug fixes and compatibility with new apps – is important.
But take the decision carefully, because you probably won’t be able to go back.
See where your iPhone or iPad sits on the chart of compatible devices above. If it’s only just new/powerful enough to run the new OS, you need to find out if there will be any speed problems. See how people with the same model as you get on.