Geoffrey Wiseman

Long-Term Reviews of iOS Devices (the iPad 1 is Slow)

John Gruber notes that we rarely see reviews of products after they've been used for an extensive period of time:

It shouldn’t be that surprising that a $200 device isn’t built all that well. What should be surprising is analysts and pundits who automatically assume a low price means a winner.

That's true. Actually, a lot of reviews are on the basis of a very short period of examination, or possibly even just on the basis of reviewing the literature about the product.

John Moltz's complaints on the Nexus 7's rapid obsolescence sound pretty serious:

Anecdotally, my Nexus 7 has gone from “able, if uninspiring, small tablet” to “ugh, you piece of crap, I hate you” status. As an e-reader and light gaming platform for my wife before she got an iPad mini it was fine. I then tried to turn it into a media device for my office desk and found that at just 10 months old the battery doesn’t hold much of a charge anymore and the audio bleeds interference from either the cordless phone or microcell tower on my desk. Not so with the old iPhone 3GS I’m using instead.

That's very quick; obseleting itself much faster than the iOS devices I've had.

iPhone 3GS

Over the years, the iPhone 3GS held up pretty well. It started to look fat, dated, and pixelly compared to its newer brethren, but it was still basically a good phone. When I upgraded to the iPhone 5, my 3GS went to my mother, and my wife's to our son. Both are still in regular use.

The primary problem I had with the 3GS is that applications got slow enough on it that iOS had a tendency to kill them on startup because they were taking too much time. That meant that a "heavy" app might "crash" the first couple of times I tried to load it. This got increasingly common towards the end of my 3GS use, presumably because developers were increasingly not optimizing for use on a 3GS.

iPad 1

The iPad 1 hasn't held up as well. The hardware is still pretty decent all things considered, but iOS outpaced it such that iOS 5 on the iPad 1 is slow enough to make the touchscreen and keyboard feel flaky and unresponsive at times. It's just enough to make you question whether or not the device itself is working properly.

And, unfortunately, Apple doesn't have a recommended means of downgrading an iPad 1 back to a version of iOS 4, so once you've upgraded, you're basically stuck.

It's still a decent tablet, but, to be honest, I wish we hadn't upgraded it to iOS 5, and when I get around to getting my wife an iPad mini, or give her my iPad, I may put it back to iOS 4.x using unsupported means before handing the iPad over to someone else.

iPad 2

Holding up pretty well all things considered. I would like a retina screen, and I'm curious to spend some time with a Mini, but neither of those options were sufficient to get me to upgrade. I will probably get a next-generation mini or iPad 5 (I'm leaning towards the latter -- I like having lots of screen real estate), but it's not urgent yet. I don't find the OS or applications to be particularly slow or crashy on this hardware yet.

iPhone 5

Still a very lovely phone, but obviously it's early days yet. I've managed to get a very slight crack on the bottom back when my son knocked my phone out of my hands and onto the bathroom tiled floor. Very hard to notice, totally cosmetic.