February 03, 2012, 12:10 PM — It seems almost Vista-esque: Apple rushes its iOS 5 update to all compatible iDevices -- iPhone 3GS, 4, 4S, iPad 1 and 2, iPod Touch 3rd and 4th generation -- with a revamped notification system, iCloud integration and tons of new features and bugfixes.
Now, many users wish they'd never updated to iOS 5: While iPad 2 and iPhone 4S owners are (mostly) unaffected, "older" devices such as the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPad 1 suffer from massive performance losses and reliability issues. After being affected myself, I did some research on the issue and was surprised by how widespread the problems are. Apple forums and the official Apple Discussion boards are filled with users complaining about horrible problems, the most common being:
Springboard: Annoying stuttering when scrolling through your home screen.
App startup: Noticeably longer app load times (up to 10-15 seconds, depending on the App)
Apps: Delays while working with built-in apps: for example, the "Photos" app would take a lot longer until it displays your pictures.
Safari: Switching from one tab to another in Safari would cause the tab to reload the website every time.
Multimedia: Stuttering video (and sometimes even audio)
Overall sluggishness: Hitting a button in any app or the iOS 5 settings would be accompanied with a significant delay.
Battery Life: The battery would run dry 30-50% quicker than usual.
Keyboard: Typing delays of one to five (!) seconds.
Crashes: Apps unexpectedly crash to the home screen.
You get the drift.
The problem seems to be that iOS 5's new features consume so much memory and CPU resources that the older devices simply can't handle it, and even the newer A5+512 MB RAM chipsets found in the iPhone 4S and iPad 2 seem to struggle with it sometimes. For example, playing a simple MP3 file and having one Safari tab running in the background causes the iPad 1 to hit its memory limit immediately. Unfortunately, I'm not kidding. I used a tool called "System Status" to determine current RAM usage. Performing even the most basic tasks caused the iPad's performance to go south. It was unbearable.
Also, the iOS 5 log files confirmed what's going on. You'll find them under "Settings\General\About\Diagnostics & Usage\Diagnostic & Usage Data":