** This post was originally written when I was using an iPhone 8 at the end of November. I am now using an inherited iPhone 12**
Apple’s introduction of iOS 16 was a blessing. Not how you think either. It had nothing to do with lock screen widgets, focus modes, email scheduling, and message editing — quite the opposite. I found the update a blessing because it had been a disaster for my Apple iPhone 8. Even though the phone came out in 2017 (I bought mine in 2018), it had been chiefly reliable up to iOS 15.7. I don’t know why I did it now, but the urge to install a newer iOS felt quite compelling. After the update, I started to notice things were not going well.
Noticeably, the battery was greatly affected. I know the iPhone 8 battery installed is roughly 1856 mAH, and mine was at 86% battery health. I could safely go through a whole day without charging my phone because I spend seven hours on weekdays without my phone. I am not allowed to use it at work (safeguarding policy for working in a school). So, at that time, my iPhone 8 idly went through 60% of the battery. Why? It doesn’t make sense when most apps have background services turned off; I don’t have any social apps installed, a handful of location services have been turned off, and emails are set to manual fetch. On, I took my phone off charge and confirmed it was set at 100% charge. By 6:33 pm that evening, I was down to 1% of the battery remaining (the phone died 10 minutes later). Luckily, I didn’t need my phone that evening, so I left it until bedtime to put the phone on charge.
Another issue I have experienced was responsiveness (or lack of it). I started noticing issues with replying to messages. I would type a word and have to wait for the text to appear onscreen. Occasionally, I would experience input lag in other applications such as Brave Browser, Todoist and Amplenote. I don’t believe it is an issue with these apps. Also, Google Calendar, Google Photos and Apple Notes would completely hang. Even by pressing the home button, I was not able to return to the home screen. iGeeksblog suggested making some changes, which has made the typing experience better. In addition, It took a hard reset of my phone to fix the problem. The iOS 16.0.2 update fixed the app crashes, but I still got input lag when using Apple Music and iMessage.
Changes to my iPhone experience
These problems were not a problem under iOS 15. Since my iOS 16 experience, I have made additional changes, which seem to have worked in favour of performance. I essentially have a smart dumbphone. These changes include:
- I removed 12 apps, including email.
- Disabled all background services.
- Set the phone to dark mode.
- Removed lock screen widgets.
- Removed all other widgets, apart from the calendar, on my home screen.
- Made changes recommended by Brandon Butch and Payette Forward.
- Avoided using my phone when I did not need to.
The final change is where I benefited the most. I only used my iPhone 8 when I needed to message and make a phone call, like in the good old days. I know it sounds weird complaining about using a phone as a phone, but my iPhone did so much more under iOS 15. Using my phone less has allowed me to focus on the environment around me and helped me refocus my energy on tasks I needed to do. I am now contemplating getting rid of my iPhone, Apple Watch and iPad completely by the end of the year. I think a basic Android phone would do the job nicely. All I need is access to phone calls, messages, Signal, WhatsApp, Google Calendar, Todoist and Evernote.
These issues do feel like first-world problems to be honest. With so much going on in the world right now, my iPhone situation seems quite petty. However, I have responsibilities as a husband, father and computing teacher. It would be nice to have some reliability and convenience in my phone to help throughout the day. I’m sure Apple will come up with a few updates to iOS 16 in the upcoming months.
Update Jan 23
Since the original draft of this blog, I inherited an iPhone 12 (like you do). My app list is still minimalist because I want to stay focused. The battery is a lot better and having a larger screen is good for my eyes. I also learnt that widgets on the home screen can be stacked. I have placed my todos, calendar and Evernote into one simple stack. Three additional apps have been installed – Journey, Calm and my Bento Method app. These are more for mindfulness reasons when I am away from my desktop PC. Whether I stick with my iPhone or switch to Android is still in the air. However, I am certain that the experience of using iOS 16 has made me re-evaluate my relationship with mobile devices.
I don’t think I would have been as mindful of the experience if it weren’t for my change encounter with a book I admire so greatly – Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport.Link to Cal Newport’s book
My iPhone 8 had a little “accident” since the first draft of the blog.
Here is what my phone setup looks like now (January 2023)