iPhone 4, which is now more than three years old, is probably India’s most popular iPhone. The reason behind its popularity is its premium design – it is a characteristically Apple product with an all glass and aluminum body – and yet a low price by Apple’s standards. Over the years, Apple has cut the price of iPhone 4 several times. Since last year, iPhone 4 has been the most affordable choice for anyone in India who wants “an iPhone”.
Three years can be considered an eternity in the fast-moving smartphone industry. But the reason why Apple has been able to keep iPhone 4 in the market is its promise of prompt software updates. Recently, when the company announced iOS 7, it said the new OS would be available for iPhone 4.
The reality, however, is not so rosy. Even though you can run iOS 7 on iPhone 4, it doesn’t necessarily makes the device better. In fact, a large number of users running iOS 7 on iPhone 4 agrees that the new OS has made the device slower.
Kunal Gangar, a technology blogger, installed iOS 7 on his sister’s one-year-old iPhone 4 the day the new OS became available. “After the install was complete, I noticed that the phone was slow. Animations were slower. Even scrolling through installed apps was slow,” he said. “iPhone 4 with iOS7 is similar to how mid-range Android phones feel. There is noticeable lag.”
Nithin Rajasekaram, a PR professional, shares a similar experience. “After installing I can see that iPhone 4 feels slow. Worse, there is not only the lag in user interface but some apps are also crashing. For example, after I installed iOS 7, my phone can’t handle Temple Run. The app always crashes,” he said.
To be fair, iPhone 4 is a three-year-old phone and lacks the hardware that can handle a modern OS like iOS 7. The amount of RAM is particularly an issue. iPhone 4 has 512MB RAM, which is just not enough for the full-blown multitasking that has been implemented in iOS 7.
Multitasking is one area where iPhone 4 feels slowest. For example switching between apps is not at all smooth. Even scrolling through open apps in the card view is slow and shows lag.
Rajasekaram adds that iOS 7 keyboard also feels slower on iPhone 4. “When I type a message in WhatsApp, letters appear with some lag,” he said.
Hans Gogia, another technology blogger, advises that iPhone users stay on iOS 6. “iOS 7 on iPhone 4 has some lag compared to 6.1.3. This phone is too old for the new OS,” he said.
Apple has now discontinued iPhone 4 in the US. However, in India the phone is still available in stores for a price of around Rs 22,000. Also, once a device has been updated to iOS 7, Apple doesn’t officially allow users to switch back to the older OS.
Despite the lags and slow user interface, most iPhone 4 users agree that the device continues to be usable. “I love my phone. There are ways to manage performance. For example, I often close the applications I don’t need instead of letting them run in the background. Given that this is an old phone, I don’t have much complaints from it,” said Rajasekaram.
Gangar added that it was nice of Apple that it was supporting such an old phone with the new OS. “It continues to be usable. Yes, it slows down but it doesn’t hang,” he said.
So, if you have iPhone 4 should you upgrade to iOS 7 or not?
The answer depends on what you prefer – features or performance. Given the performance issues, it is advisable to keep iPhone 4 on older versions of iOS. But if you do not mind some lag, it is worth getting the new OS for features like control centre.
In case you don’t have an iPhone 4 and are looking to buy it because it is the cheapest iPhone, which also runs the latest version of iOS, our advice is that don’t go ahead. If you want an iPhone, stay away from iPhone 4. By paying just a few thousand rupees more you can get Nexus 4 or Galaxy S3, which are better devices. Even iPhone 4S is not a very smart choice. You should wait for iPhone 5C to come into the market. It is expected to cost around Rs 40,000 and should offer the premium iPhone experience.