iOS 11 on the iPhone 5S: Slower, but not quite slow

Enlarge / The iPhone 5S running iOS 11. Stay gold, phone-y-boy. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

One of my longtime pet projects has been tracking the performance of new iOS versions on the slowest hardware that can run it. I was pleasantly surprised by the iPhone 3GS and iOS 6, but after that I was in for several years of disappointments. The iPhone 4 struggled to run iOS 7 well, and the iPhone 4S only fared a little better with iOS 8 and iOS 9. Then, last year, a reprieve: iOS 10 ran pretty well on the iPhone 5 and 5C, slowing the phone down just a little but remaining totally livable in spite of it.

And now we come to iOS 11 and the iPhone 5S. Apple's transition to all-64-bit hardware and software, begun just four short years ago, has now completed, and the newest iPhones are easily four or five times faster. Does the iOS 11 update leave the original gold iPhone feeling shiny and new, or does it come away feeling tarnished?

What you’re missing

Every time a new iPhone is released, it does some stuff that previous iPhones couldn’t do. Sometimes that just means going faster, and sometimes that means the addition of special hardware like a fingerprint sensor or NFC chip. Here’s a combination of all the hardware and software features the iPhone 5S is missing relative to the iPhone 7, not including processor benchmarks or camera improvements.

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