Apple iOS 11.2.2 Release Has A Nasty Surprise

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On Monday Apple AAPL -0.02% released iOS 11.2.2, its most important update for some time, but it seems in the rush to upgrade some users are encountering a very nasty surprise indeed…

‘Great Secret Features’ and ‘Nasty Surprises’ are my regular columns investigating the best features / biggest problems hidden behind the headlines.

For a number of iPhone owners iOS 11.2.2 is throttling performance by as much as 50%. I exclusively picked up on this trend in my iOS 11.2.2 Upgrade Guideyesterday as users were not just subjectively reporting their iPhones and iPads felt slower, but being able to demonstrate it with before and after benchmark scores (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc).

I was subsequently contacted by tech developer Melvin Mughal who, having read my Guide, decided to document a detailed breakdown of how his iPhone 6 performed before and after updating to iOS 11.2.2. For him the impact was dramatic.

Across over 30 single-core and multi-core benchmarks, Mughal found single-core and multi-core performance of his iPhone 6 fell by an average of 41% and 39% after updating to iOS 11.2.2. The results are broken down on his blog. It is worth pointing out Mughal upgrade to iOS 11.2.2 from iOS 11.1.2 not iOS 11.2.1, but that shouldn’t be relevant as the throttling Apple introduced in iOS 11.2 was specifically for the iPhone 7 only.

Melvin Mughal

iPhone performance before and after updating to iOS 11.2.2

Instead the obvious finger to point is at the sole feature of iOS 11.2.2: mitigations for the serious Spectre vulnerability which is impacting just about every platform around the world. Apple even warned users in advance the patch could have a performance impact in some situations, but said it was not expected to be higher than 2.5% in any situation. So are the big drops the consequence of an error in these mitigations or a problem elsewhere in the update?

Furthermore there is a flipside to this story with some users actively reporting benchmark performance increases after updating to iOS 11.2.2 (1, 2, 3), though admittedly these were fewer in number and run counter to Apple’s own warning. Personally I’ve found no difference to the benchmark scores of my own iPhone X and I’m sure that’s the same for many others, but it doesn’t help those who have clearly been very badly affected.

I’ve reached out to Apple for a comment on this and will update should I receive a reply.

Ultimately new cases of performance degradation are the last thing Apple needs in the midst of its iPhone battery debacle. All of which pushes extra pressure on the mysterious iOS 11.2.5…