Hands on with iOS 7 on iPhone 4, Windows Phone's latest competition

iOS 7 on iPhone 4

We don't ever talk about Apple iOS here at WinBeta, in fact we don't usually talk about anything Apple related, but since I have an iPhone 4 laying around, I thought I might as well update the aging hardware to the new iOS 7 beta, just to see if the update runs as smooth as iOS 6 does. Plus, it doesn't hurt to take a look at Windows Phone's latest competition.

So I updated my iPhone 4 to the iOS 7 beta on Tuesday. I’ve had 4 days to play with it and I’ve enjoyed the update as a whole. As I own a Windows Phone, it was nice to get back into the iPhone ecosystem for a bit, and with the new flattened UI it was a breath-taking change from what iOS used to look like.

While the update still uses the boring grid interface, changes to the UI have made the OS look and feel a lot more modern, much like Windows Phone actually. The update itself is very, very nice. The ability to add unlimited apps in folders is such a great addition, which should have been stock since the introduction of folders in iOS 4.

Another new feature worth mentioning is the ability to access the multitasking list in landscape mode. While it may not sound like a big deal, it really is. It’s so convenient and better to use. In a matter of fact, the whole UI update to the multitasking switcher is very Windows Phone like, as it displayed a shot from the apps current position, allowing you to tap into it or swipe it closed.

Control Center is available on the iPhone 4, however the AirDrop ability is not. AirDrop is only available on the iPhone 5, which I don’t actually own.

Now, onto the iPhone 4’s hardware. How does it hold up against the brand new update? Unfortunately, not well. In fact, it very closely resembles how iOS 4 behaved on the ancient iPhone 3G hardware. Terrible in fact. Animations are laggy, app open times are very slow. In fact, the iPhone 4’s hardware restricts the ability to have the blur effect on transparent elements of the OS. Also, the cool panoramic wallpapers are disabled, which is probably for good measure as it would just eat into hardware resources.

In a matter of fact, whilst taking the screenshots seen in this article, the iPhone panicked and had to do a respring or something similar. It seems like iOS 7 uses a lot of system memory, and since the iPhone 4 only has 512MB RAM, the new update most definitely needs more memory to use freely.

Safari’s new UI is pretty cool, however the iPhone 4’s GPU can’t handle the tab switching UI. Its framerate drops when switching between tabs, which isn’t good.

Of course, we all have to remember here that the build of iOS 7 running on the iPhone 4 right now is in beta stages. Apple are still working tremendously hard at optimizing the update for the older hardware. We're almost certain that iOS 7 beta 1 runs better on iPhone 4s and iPhone 5. Right now it is just problems with the iPhone 4's old hardware.

We’ve made a 10 minute video demoing some of the new features found in iOS 7 for iPhone 4. Check it out below!

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