iPhone 4 customers are getting one last software update before being completely dropped from the update chain ahead of the imminent iOS 8 release later this year.
According to the changelog accompanying iOS 7.1, the update offers “Improved performance for iPhone 4 [users].” Fans will recall that Apple initially botched iOS 7 on iPhone 4 devices, causing the 2010 hardware to become virtually unusable for some customers.
However, iOS 7.1 indeed makes for a worthwhile experience with faster application launches and cold boots to the lock screen, according to those who’ve tested the firmware on 2010 Apple handsets.
Ars Technica took the time to install a GM build of the new firmware on an iPhone 4 unit and measured the time between when an app icon is tapped and when the app becomes ready for user interaction.
What they found was that iOS 7.1 worked better and faster compared to iOS 7.0. However, they also noted in their tests that iOS 6.1.3 still runs the fastest on iPhone 4 devices.
But for those who want to get their old iPhone 4 up to par with the rest of the user base (with or without some features that aren’t supported on this particular handset), iOS 7.1 is “as good as it gets” for iPhone 4 customers, according to the testers.
Of course, iOS 7.1 will be the last major software update deployed for iPhone 4 owners, as Apple gears up to launch iOS 8 to the masses sometime around summer, in usual fashion.
The signs were there at the release of iOS 7.0, but the company felt it was necessary to right this wrong and offer customers what can be considered at least a decent experience.
iOS 8 will likely have iPhone 4S as the minimum requirement, but it wouldn’t be too surprising to see Apple drop support for the 2011 handset as well. Starting this year, iPhone 5 may become the oldest iPhone version available for sale, coupled with iPhone 5c, which Apple reportedly still has trouble moving.
iOS 8 is said to come with a range of features that allow an iPhone and the upcoming iWatch to communicate with one another, including an all-new Healthbook app that tracks the user’s vital signs, including hydration levels, blood pressure, and even sleep patterns.
As you can expect, iOS 8 will probably show similar sluggishness on iPhone 4S/iPhone 5 devices (as iPhone 4 did with the first release of iOS 7).