iPhone Performance Before And After iOS 11.2.2 Spectre CPU Security Patch Compared
You do not need to be an IT security professional to be well aware of what is going on in the world of IT security right now, with Spectre and Meltdown dominating headlines the world over. Apple has already pushed security updates out for its desktop and mobile platforms, with iOS 11.2.2 released to secure the latter. If you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, we heartily suggest you update now.
As we all know, the way these fixes are being implemented means that we can expect a performance hit once they are installed.
That performance hit is something that is unavoidable, but thankfully, the severity of the reduction in performance is often negligible, although that is not always the case. Melvin Mughal was curious about just how much performance he would lose by installing iOS 11.2.2 on his iPhone 6, so he set about doing some benchmarks to answer the question for himself. With an iPhone 6, iOS 11.2.2 and iOS 11.1.2 in hand, he did exactly what he set out to do, and as it turns out, things are a little less rosy than we might have hoped.
The performance benchmarks were performed on an iPhone 6 and are done pretty straight forward. The benchmarks were performed before/after updating iOS in the exact same scenario: no apps running (including background). So the running benchmark basically had the full CPU capacity and all other iPhone resources to its disposal. The original scorecards of the benchmark are at the bottom. The percentages are rounded accordingly.
Those percentages make for disappointing reading. Based on the tests carried out, an iPhone 6 experiences a performance reduction of 41% in single-core benchmarking and 39% in multi-core, quite a reduction and one that would certainly be noticed in real-world use, we imagine. Still, no matter what the performance hit, we would still suggest updating. After all, a slower phone is preferable to an insecure one!
It is, of course, possible that there is some sort of throttling going on here, related to the battery in the phone being used to test and Apple’s recent confirmation that it may play a role in iPhone performance – something Mughal also acknowledges.
Some have fairly pointed out the results could be influenced by the battery throttling that was exposed last month and confirmed by Apple. That may be a technical correct argument (which has not been proven by vendor benchmark numbers correlated with the Spectre patch). Several other users and reporters mentioned fluctuating benchmarks with some showing no loss of performance but others did (which were already throttled, so Spectre specific).
So what have we learned? Nothing we didn’t really already know, and we’ll say it again for good measure – update your iPhones people, no matter how slow it may or may not make them!