NYT reporter uses megaphone to decry 'slow death' of 5-year-old iPad mini running iOS 9, a...

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in iPad edited February 8
An editorial in the New York Times complains about the slow death of the writer's five-year-old iPad mini, while still noting that everything about it functions fine -- if not in the eternally new fashion the author demands.




In the piece published on Wednesday, author John Herrman waxed poetic about his iPad mini that he bought five years ago, just after the launch of the line.

"If my old iPad could talk, it might ask me what has changed. If it could feel indignant, it might suggest that it isn't the problem, and that everyone and everything else is," Herrman wrote. "While it would be wrong according to the logic of its creation, it wouldn't be incorrect."

"Above all, my old iPad has revealed itself as a cursed object of a modern sort," he said. "It wears out without wearing. It breaks down without breaking. And it will be left for dead before it dies."

But hardware no longer supported by OS updates is hardly gear that is "left for dead."

The hardware

For those not intimately familiar with the iPad mini in question, it debuted on Oct. 23, 2012. In an age of Retina displays, it was Apple's last iPad to not feature the display, paired with an A5 processor.




There are two ways to look at the A5 chip in the iPad mini. It is either a smaller version of the iPad 2 released 18 months prior, or a contemporary to the iPad fourth-generation released on the same day as the iPad mini, but boasting the A6X chip.

Not only is the processor in the iPad fourth-generation much faster from a sheer clock-speed perspective, but it has more GPU cores, and a much wider memory bus. As a result, the A6X is a full three times faster in nearly every performance metric, with many benchmarks being four times faster.

This doesn't even include the 512 megabytes of application RAM in the iPad mini, versus the 1-gigabyte in the fourth-generation iPad. Or Wi-Fi with MIMO on the larger iPad.




So, from the day of purchase, the author may have boxed himself into a corner with a cheaper model (which sold for $329 when he bought in early 2013). But the truth of the matter about the hardware's utility today is radically different.

The cost per day

The author notes that he purchased the 16-gigabyte iPad mini just after launch, priced at $329.

Let's also assume that he bought it five years ago today. That's 2192 days ago, which we'll round to 2000 for more conservative math.

That works out to a cost of less than 17 cents per day, before taxes.

Seems like a pretty good return on investment. And that's also assuming it's in the junk drawer as we speak -- and it shouldn't be.

The original iPad mini, in 2018

There are three original iPad minis in this author's house, in daily use. Right now, the kids are home because of some inclement weather nearby, and they are both happily listening to Apple Music. While I'm working, instead of yelling up the stairs, I summon one or the other with a FaceTime call, with no issue.

When one of the kids wants Lego instructions, he happily delves for them sitting next to me on Safari. The youngest doesn't have relatively unfettered Safari access yet, but she can either get her brother to do it for her, or watch time-lapse builds on YouTube Kids under our supervision.




To them, paper books are equivalent to what is still iBooks on the iPad mini. They can talk to their Nana just fine on it. They continue to refine their reading skills on it, with any one of a pile of Disney interactive storybooks, Endless Reader, or any one of literally thousands of educational apps that somehow, magically, still work under iOS 9.

Based on the editorial, I'm not certain how much Herrman has delved into the App Store. If he taps on an app he wants for his iPad, even if he can't use the newest and greatest, very nearly everything has a version that still works on his iPad mini -- and the App Store will happily install it.

At risk of ruining my reputation of using only the newest Apple gear, we have a couple of first-generation 2010 iPads, not iPad minis, that we dole out for tasks like comic book reading, eBook consumption, and very basic surfing given the processor in it is about one-third the speed of the iPad mini in question.

They still work fine, and we still download apps from the App Store. Even the relatively heavy original iPad is far lighter than a bag of books, or a long-box of comics.

From a software perspective, Apple's walled garden approach makes an old iPad easier to maintain than an old PC.

It's his gear, and he can throw it in a wood chipper if he's so inclined

I'm not making the argument that Apple gear is eternal and half-decade old gear is just as fast as new gear it -- because it is plainly not. Herrman can relegate his iPad mini to obsolescence whenever he wants -- that's his prerogative. But, it seems irresponsible to do so, given that he confesses in the piece several times that the hardware works fine to do exactly what he says he bought it do do five years ago.

He also notes that older PCs once retired after a five-year run can be relegated to spares, to play old games, or perform similar tasks. There's no reason why his iPad mini can't be used to play old games, for the reasons I enumerated before. And, thanks mostly to physics and Intel, there hasn't been an equivalent leap in PC speed over the last five years that there has in mobile processing -- further making for a bad comparison.

Is the iPad mini as agile with the escalation of software's demands on hardware as he may like? No -- but it wasn't the top of the heap when he bought it five years ago. In the history of computing there have been very few devices bought at the low end that have dealt well with a major OS update five years later.

Will it run software specifically designed for iOS 10 or iOS 11? No. Is it best put in the junk drawer, never to be heard from again? Also no.

"Perhaps the best option is to sell my old iPad overseas to a consumer who understands what it is," writes Herrman, "Not quite an iPad, but nevertheless a machine that will still chat, that will manage FaceTime, that can receive email or maybe take payments for a shop."

Maybe he should find somebody probably 250 yards away from his junk drawer, and see if they want it for the $40 he bemoans that he'll be granted if he turns it in for recycling. We agree that it's old gear -- but not useless as suggested by any remote stretch of the imagination.

And, when he's done with that, maybe he should dole out $329 retail -- around $300 street price -- for the new A9 powered iPad released last year. I suspect he'd get at least another five years out of it, for just pennies a day.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 64
    I had the next Mini (with the Retina) until recently. It worked fine browsing the web and doing basic things. But it did get laggy when trying to multitask between, say Spotify, Facebook, and iMessage texting. I wasn’t using it as much anymore so I sold it. But it still worked fine and I’m sure someone can get use out of it. I also have an old iPhone 5C. Sure it can’t run the latest OS, and it’s not super fast, but it still works fine as a backup phone.
    racerhomie3redsnowdropGeorgeBMacgregg thurmanlolliverjony0argonaut
  • Reply 2 of 64
    I think the NYT article is fair.  I have no issue with older hardware becoming laggy.  The issue for me is that many app developers certify their apps to work with the most recent or two major iOS versions (e.g. 10.x and 11.x).  I have purchased new iPads and generally use my older ones to browse the web or for basic functions (control Sonos in the kitchen, control insteon lights in the basement, etc...).  I wiped my older iPad and now I can't even download the last version of the apps that worked with 9.x.  I understand that app developers are adding new functionality to each release, and that in some cases cloud components might not be compatible with older versions of apps, but Apple could at least let me download the latest compatible version of an app so I have the opportunity to use it if it still works for basic functionality.


    jdiamondcincyteedacharharry wildargonaut
  • Reply 3 of 64
    Haters gonna Hate! PLUS it creates clicks/views on his Opinion, …..which in the end, Is The Most Important Reason Of All, For Writing The Opinion
    racerhomie3williamlondongregg thurmanlolliverwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 4 of 64
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,698administrator
    randyl said:
    I think the NYT article is fair.  I have no issue with older hardware becoming laggy.  The issue for me is that many app developers certify their apps to work with the most recent or two major iOS versions (e.g. 10.x and 11.x).  I have purchased new iPads and generally use my older ones to browse the web or for basic functions (control Sonos in the kitchen, control insteon lights in the basement, etc...).  I wiped my older iPad and now I can't even download the last version of the apps that worked with 9.x.  I understand that app developers are adding new functionality to each release, and that in some cases cloud components might not be compatible with older versions of apps, but Apple could at least let me download the latest compatible version of an app so I have the opportunity to use it if it still works for basic functionality.


    The App Store does allow you to install the last version that works on the installed operating system. I mentioned this in the article.

    Regarding the NYT article -- it is his opinion. Mine differs. We are using our platforms to say so.
    edited February 7 magman1979redsnowdropStrangeDaysGeorgeBMacSolimike1brucemcbshanklolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 64
    maltzmaltz Posts: 91member
    This article has kind of a butthurt tone to it.  There are plenty of valid complaints about the support of old devices by Apple - not the least of which is one that the NYT author doesn't even touch on: security.  Older versions of Windows get security support for 10+ years.  macOS devices can expect to have a similar life span, though Apple is annoyingly silent about when or even whether it has dropped support for any given macOS version.  But if you buy an iOS device, in a mere 5 years you won't be able to run the absolute latest iOS, and Apple almost never releases patches for anything but the latest iOS.

    5 years might be more than you'd get in practice from a typical Android tablet/phone, but Windows-based tablets such as the Surface will probably enjoy the full 10+ year lifespan as their desktop counterparts, at least when it comes to patches.
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 6 of 64
    maltz said:
    This article has kind of a butthurt tone to it.  There are plenty of valid complaints about the support of old devices by Apple - not the least of which is one that the NYT author doesn't even touch on: security.  Older versions of Windows get security support for 10+ years.  macOS devices can expect to have a similar life span, though Apple is annoyingly silent about when or even whether it has dropped support for any given macOS version.  But if you buy an iOS device, in a mere 5 years you won't be able to run the absolute latest iOS, and Apple almost never releases patches for anything but the latest iOS.

    5 years might be more than you'd get in practice from a typical Android tablet/phone, but Windows-based tablets such as the Surface will probably enjoy the full 10+ year lifespan as their desktop counterparts, at least when it comes to patches.
    Stop comparing IOS to Desktop Windows 10.
    Even then, no.
    In practice , Windows still slows down ,just like Android.
    macOS & iOS don’t slow down magically . I have 10 years of evidence to prove it. Now tell me why is Microsoft allowed to get away with shipping a crappy OS that slows down over time?
    edited February 7 StrangeDaysmike1lolliverwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 7 of 64
    I call it New York Times, a former newspaper .

    StrangeDaysentropyslolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 64
    magman1979magman1979 Posts: 1,014member
    The ramblings of John Herrman at NYT signifies his complete lack of insight or knowledge about how technology works, degrades, and slows with time, either due to physical wear and tear, or by increasing software demands placed upon the device as time and upgrades get released after the initial purchase; iPad mini shipped with iOS 6 as I recall, so iOS 9 has placed far greater demands on it feature and code wise than 6 did at launch.

    If the author of that hit piece understood even this one part, and wasn't on a path to try and vilify Apple in a time when everyone seems to be wanting to because of page clicks and mob mentality, then the NYT article would've had a much different tone.
    StrangeDaysmike1lolliverwatto_cobranetmagejony0
  • Reply 9 of 64
    The ramblings of John Herrman at NYT signifies his complete lack of insight or knowledge about how technology works, degrades, and slows with time, either due to physical wear and tear, or by increasing software demands placed upon the device as time and upgrades get released after the initial purchase; iPad mini shipped with iOS 6 as I recall, so iOS 9 has placed far greater demands on it feature and code wise than 6 did at launch.

    If the author of that hit piece understood even this one part, and wasn't on a path to try and vilify Apple in a time when everyone seems to be wanting to because of page clicks and mob mentality, then the NYT article would've had a much different tone.
    That’s why I call NYT ,a former Newspaper.
    jbdragonmagman1979
  • Reply 10 of 64
    It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about a PC, an iPad or a supercomputer at a national lab. Five or six years old is old. For instance, the 10 PetaFLOP Titan supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory is six years old and is due to be replaced by the Summit supercomputer this year, which will be 15 to 30 times faster. But what about Titan? It’s slow, that’s what. In six years, Summit will just be a hill. That’s how this works. 

    People have unrealistic expectations about technology. Everyone demands the advances in speed and performance, but somehow resent that a purchased item gets left behind as the newer versions bring on those advances in speed and performance. Computers, cars and other tech gear are consumable items.
    mike1Mike Wuerthelemwhitelollivermagman1979watto_cobranetmagejony0argonaut
  • Reply 11 of 64
    I actually still have an iPad 2 (2011)at home, it still works fine.
    My aunt uses it for Facebook,FaceTime & talking Tom game.
    NYT is definitely a former Newspaper.
    They can’t even report honestly on Tech anymore. My uncle’s PC from 2009 slowed down within 2011. I don’t see the NYT reporting on Windows slowdowns anywhere!
    edited February 7 jbdragonlollivermagman1979watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 64
    maltz said:
    This article has kind of a butthurt tone to it.  There are plenty of valid complaints about the support of old devices by Apple - not the least of which is one that the NYT author doesn't even touch on: security.  Older versions of Windows get security support for 10+ years.  macOS devices can expect to have a similar life span, though Apple is annoyingly silent about when or even whether it has dropped support for any given macOS version.  But if you buy an iOS device, in a mere 5 years you won't be able to run the absolute latest iOS, and Apple almost never releases patches for anything but the latest iOS.

    5 years might be more than you'd get in practice from a typical Android tablet/phone, but Windows-based tablets such as the Surface will probably enjoy the full 10+ year lifespan as their desktop counterparts, at least when it comes to patches.
    A “mere” five years? Sorry but like you said you’d be lucky to get half that on Android. mobile devices don’t have the same useful lifespan as desktop computing devices. 
    racerhomie3jbdragonlollivermagman1979watto_cobranetmage
  • Reply 13 of 64
    for handy reference, a partial list of pro-troll outlets: NYT, WSJ, Bloomberg (seeing a trend yet?) and Verge. each has a particular personality guiding their coverage who has an axe to grind when it comes to Apple. 
    racerhomie3mwhitelollivermagman1979watto_cobranetmage
  • Reply 14 of 64
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 2,264member
    That is our new journalism these days:   Negative spin using cherry picked Alternative Facts to make it sound factual.

    Added:  Yes, it was an "opinion" piece.   But an opinion piece based on lies and distortions is not opinion.   It's lies and propaganda disguised as opinion.
    edited February 7 entropysracerhomie3StrangeDaysmwhitelollivermagman1979watto_cobranetmage
  • Reply 15 of 64
    airnerdairnerd Posts: 514member
    NYT author is just looking to meet a deadline and fill space, because he is so wrong on many fronts.  My iPad mini was bought a year or so after my son was born, which was almost 7 years ago.  Day 1 I put an otterbox lifeproof on it and he has grown up on that thing.  He still uses it daily and has no qualms about it, and he also uses my 2017 iPad occasionally.  I notice the speed difference, he doesn't.  it has survived so many bumps and drops I'm amazed it is still in like new condition.  Never had anything changed on it and I am not sure it has ever been out of that otterbox now that I think of it.  

    It has a lightning charger so I'm good, it just works so I'm good, and it gives him something to be "his computer" to watch youtube, play games, and be his camera.  


    Long story short, that original iPad mini has never once [knock on wood] had even a hiccup while being stress tested by the ultimate QA tester...a human male toddler.
    racerhomie3GeorgeBMacStrangeDayslollivermagman1979watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 64
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,698administrator
    maltz said:
    This article has kind of a butthurt tone to it.  There are plenty of valid complaints about the support of old devices by Apple - not the least of which is one that the NYT author doesn't even touch on: security.  Older versions of Windows get security support for 10+ years.  macOS devices can expect to have a similar life span, though Apple is annoyingly silent about when or even whether it has dropped support for any given macOS version.  But if you buy an iOS device, in a mere 5 years you won't be able to run the absolute latest iOS, and Apple almost never releases patches for anything but the latest iOS.

    5 years might be more than you'd get in practice from a typical Android tablet/phone, but Windows-based tablets such as the Surface will probably enjoy the full 10+ year lifespan as their desktop counterparts, at least when it comes to patches.
    Compare like-to-like. A Windows-based tablet is still a desktop OS just in a fondleslab. iOS is unabashedly not a desktop OS.

    Compare Android to iOS, and Windows to macOS. 

    Referring to Windows and macOS, computers going back seven years can install High Sierra. Computers going back to 2007 can run El Capitan. El Cap, Sierra, and High Sierra are getting security patches still. So, parity, if you want too look at it in a years of support way.

    Regarding butthurt. If I ever get there, you'll know it for sure. This is not it. :D
    edited February 7 darwinianduderacerhomie3osmartormenajrGeorgeBMacStrangeDayslollivermuthuk_vanalingammagman1979watto_cobranetmage
  • Reply 17 of 64
    airnerdairnerd Posts: 514member
    Wonder if author complains that his 5 year old car doesn't have the latest bells and whistles, burns a little oil, doesn't get the MPG it used to, and smells different?
    GeorgeBMacStrangeDaysbshanklollivermuthuk_vanalingammagman1979watto_cobranetmageargonaut
  • Reply 18 of 64
    Read this the other day (I subscribe to the Times) and wondered why it had not landed on the Apple sites.

    Apple needs to show some love to the iPad mini. If Apple and the carriers would allow iPads to function as phones I would gladly keep my Apple LTE watch and drop the iPhone. An up to date iPad Mini with LTE would be a great WiFi phone base via the watch or Bluetooth headphones as it is not too big to bring around.

    it would be interesting to see a breakdown of communication between traditional phones (including cell phones), app based communication like FaceTime and Skype, text messaging, apps like Apple’s messages and Facebook messenger, and email. The whole concept of a phone is probably on borrowed time. 
    mac_128argonaut
  • Reply 19 of 64
    randyl said:
    I wiped my older iPad and now I can't even download the last version of the apps that worked with 9.x.
    The App Store does allow you to install the last version that works on the installed operating system. I mentioned this in the article.
    I, too, have come across apps that insist they must have iOS 10 to install. In addition, I've encountered news apps whose developers brick their old versions to encourage updating. That's fine ... for those who can update. I've worked in the content management systems, and nothing has changed on the back end; they just want to force users to update. Instead, they make my device less useful, cost me content and them users. When enough places do that, they force devices into obsolescence that has no technical (hardware or system software) foundation.
    mac_128airnerd
  • Reply 20 of 64
    Still have my iPad 2, bought in May 2011. Almost 7 years of daily use, and its battery is in great shape!

    The only trouble is some heavy websites crashing Safari. Being stuck in iOS 9 is a minor annoyance, but I was baffled that it was supported for so long! I can still remember the hype for iOS 5 update!
    racerhomie3StrangeDayslolliver
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