iOS 5 through iOS 9 speed test on iPhone 4s confirms iOS gets slower every year on older devices

BY Killian Bell

Published 1 Mar 2016

iOS 5 to iOS 9 speed test

Those who are still clinging onto older iPhones will tell you that their devices get slower with every iOS update that Apple rolls out — and they’re not wrong.

In a new speed test that compares iOS 5 with iOS 9 and every major release in between, we get confirmation that older firmwares are faster on aging hardware.

EverythingApplePro on YouTube lined up five iPhone 4s handsets running iOS 5, iOS 6, iOS 7, iOS 8, and iOS 9. They then put the devices through a series of everyday tasks to find out which one was fastest, and the earlier releases battered more recent ones in almost all of them.

iOS 6 was fastest to boot up, followed closely by iOS 5 — while the others took a lot longer. iOS 5 and iOS 6 were also faster at loading common apps and menus, like Settings, the multitasking switcher, iTunes, the App Store, Weather, and Camera.

Surprisingly, earlier firmwares also loaded web pages faster, despite the many improvements Apple has made to Safari in later releases. Older software could also load Siri faster, however, iOS 8 and iOS 9 were faster at fetching voice search results.

It’s not too surprising that older software runs better than newer software on older iOS devices, after all, this software was optimized for that hardware at the time. With newer iOS releases, Apple’s focus is on optimizing them for the latest devices, which have more powerful internals.

Unfortunately, this poses in a touch decision for those who use older iPhones and iPads every year. Is it worth upgrading for the new features even though iOS won’t be as fast? Or is it better to miss out on those features for a more fluid experience overall?

Only you can decide that one. But at least you now know those performance hits aren’t just psychological.