Making the Most of iOS 7 with an iPhone 4

By October 9, 2013Featured Articles

As a longtime Apple fan and iPhone user, I was very excited when iOS 7 was announced last month. The new design looked beautiful and features like iTunes Radio and Control Center were much needed. The fact that I had an iPhone 4 and couldn’t use certain applications like Siri or AirDrop didn’t bother me at all. I’ve never had those abilities on my iPhone anyway and I was still going to get plenty of upgrades with iOS 7. So, on September 18, I hit the “Update Now” button and four hours later I had an all new iPhone at my fingertips.

Why I Upgraded

The iPhone 4 is the oldest device capable of running iOS 7 and many users were skeptical that it would function properly. I, however, didn’t think it was risky at all. I tend to keep my iDevices for as long as I can and push them to the limit until I can’t possibly upgrade them anymore. A perfect example of this is when I decided to install OS X 10.5 Leopard on my 1.5GHz Powerbook G4. Although technically possible, many Powerbook users felt this operating system would significantly slow down their computer. But after maxing out the RAM to 1.25GB, my Powerbook not only ran Leopard flawlessly, it’s still being used today as my main iTunes machine. Like my Powerbook, I decided to upgrade my iPhone 4 because I plan on using it even after I purchase a replacement in a year or two.

Pros and Cons

The iPhone 4 has 512MB of RAM and an antiquated A4 processor. iOS 7 is optimized for the iPhone 5S that has 1GB of RAM and an all-new 1.3GHz dual-core A7 processor or the iPhone 5C equipped with the previous generation’s A6 processor. This means there is going to be significant differences in the way iOS 7 is handled on the iPhone 4. Our phones aren’t as powerful as the newest generations and we have to expect them to not work as efficiently as the 5, the 5S, 5C, or even the 4S.

Since upgrading, I’ve noticed my iPhone 4 is slightly slower but a lot smoother. I don’t mind waiting an extra split-second to switch between apps because smarter multitasking makes the transitions more enjoyable and much easier. Also, with the Control Center and Notification Center available from the Lock Screen, I rarely have to unlock my phone to accomplish tasks like checking e-mail, reading text messages, or opening the Camera app.

The only complaint I have since upgrading to iOS 7 is the battery life of my iPhone 4. Right away I noticed power drains – even when the iPhone was turned off. The first night I installed iOS 7 I went to sleep with 100% of battery life and woke up to an iPhone with 70% of its power left. I have no idea how this happened but I knew I had to fix it if I wanted to make the most of my iPhone 4 like I did with my Powerbook.

How to Save Battery Life

iOS 7 uses a lot more memory than iOS 6 ever did. Because of this, iPhone 4 users need to change the way we use our iPhones in order to conserve battery life. We can’t leave our Wi-Fi signal on all day with our screens at full brightness unless we plan on keeping our iPhones plugged in and charging 24/7. We need to compromise.

Turning off your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth while adjusting the screen brightness to the lowest-tolerable setting will greatly improve battery life. I have an unlimited data plan on my iPhone so I’m no longer connecting to Wi-Fi to stream audio or video. If you don’t have an unlimited data plan, you should only turn on your Wi-Fi connection when you absolutely need it. Use your data plan as much as possible and save a few precious hours of your iPhone 4’s battery.

You should also disable all Location Services that use your iPhone’s GPS signal. Right now, the only app I have using this function is Maps but I turn it off when I don’t need it. Unlike the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functions that can be accessed from the new Control Center, the GPS setting is buried deep inside the main Settings menu and requires a lot of effort to change. This may seem like a hassle but the extra battery life more than makes up for it.

After turning off most of your Location Services, you should also disable unnecessary apps from your Notifcation Center. There is no reason to receive an update whenever someone “likes” one of your pictures on Instagram or follows you on Twitter because this takes up precious battery power from your iPhone. Instead, save the Notification Center for important things like missed phone calls, text messages and FaceTime.

The last thing you can do to save battery power is use the new, handy multitasking feature to disable unused apps. Simply double tap on the home screen and swipe away battery-hogging applications like Maps, Yelp!, or anything else that requires a lot of memory. You should also turn off the Background App Refresh option which allows your phone to use Wi-Fi and cellular data automatically.

Do I Regret It?

Even with depleted battery life I don’t regret updating my iPhone 4 to iOS 7. By disabling most of the “fancy” features, I’m able to go the entire day without a single recharge and still use my iPhone 4 the same way I did with iOS 6. Some people may think that this defeats the purpose of upgrading but when you factor in the new design and updated features that you are able to use, your iPhone 4 literally becomes a new device all over again. I get a lot of satisfaction in knowing that I’ll be able to use my iPhone for at least another year before having to upgrade. I only hope that Apple will soon release an update to iOS 7 that fixes the battery life issue for the iPhone 4. In the meantime, I’ll just follow these simple tips and enjoy iOS 7 as much as I can.

Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • Brenda M. says:

    I finally received the notification that I could upgrade my iPhone 4s a couple weeks ago, but have neglected to do so because I do not have enough space available. After reading this, I think I might get rid of a few space hogging apps and move my iPhone on up!

  • Alexza says:

    I’m not looking forward to upgrading my phone because I don’t like the new look. But after reading his article I may reconsider.

  • Zahira says:

    I have an iPhone 4S and the battery doesn’t last much longer than 10 hours, even less if it’s in use constantly. I still think it’s worth the upgrade and I personally think there’s a lot to love in iOS 7. Definitely some good tip in this article!


    You’re an Apple tool.

  • JayGreentree says:

    I’m on an iPhone 4 with iOS 7 and have no issues with battery life. I only charge it once every 24 hours and usually leave wifi, facebook, email all running constantly because of my job.

  • 716 says:

    i just tried updating my iPhone4 and did a backup from iTunes (which my laptop says was successful) but now i can’t get past the iTunes backup screen. if i restart, i get the multiple language “hello”, then get routed back into the wifi screen and iTunes. i can’t get out of this loop! ARGH!!! it doesn’t acknowledge that i have a carrier.

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