How fast is iOS 11 on the iPad Air?

iOS 11 on the iPad Air
In the Dock: iOS 11 on the iPad Air

That might seem like an oddly specific question, but the original iPad Air is on Apple’s death row. It’s one of the oldest devices still to receive the latest operating system, and so iPad Air owners (such as myself) might wonder if iOS 11 will prove too much of a handful for their device.

It’s certainly not an unfounded fear. My ancient iPad 2 was one of the oldest devices to receive iOS 9 and that absolutely crippled the device. Seriously. If I want to play a song via Spotify on the iPad 2, it would be quicker for me to nip down to Woolworth’s and buy the single (throwing in a topical joke for the kids, there).

So, having installed iOS 11 on the iPad Air last night, how does it run?

The verdict: iOS 11 on the iPad Air

The good news is it’s not the device-destroying update that iOS 9 was for my poor old iPad 2. Things are a shade more sluggish – screen transitions dangle a little longer and switching between apps is a touch tardier – but it’s not a lethal injection.

The iPad Air is, however, spared some of the fancier, performance-smashing features of iOS 11. There’s no split view – having one app in half the screen and another in the other half – so true multitasking is out. Also omitted is the new drag-and-drop feature, where you can,┬ásay, swipe a photo into an email attachment. And if you’re looking at the listings for the all the new AR (augmented reality) games in the revamped App Store, forget it: AR games are only for the latest devices.

You do get a good smattering of new features, though. The Mac-like Dock is supported, allowing you to pin up to 11 apps to the bottom of the screen for easy access. The new App Switcher is there too, although as you can see from my screenshot below, thumbnails of open apps often take a while to load and scrolling through those thumbnails is a stuttering, jaggedy affair.

iOS 11 on the iPad Air


Minor irritations aside, there’s no reason not to install iOS 11 on an iPad Air. In fact, cherish it, because it’s probably the last iOS update you’re getting.

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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