Apple iOS 13.2.3 has landed (as I predicted). This is Apple’s seventh rapid-fire update since iOS 13 launched as a bug-ridden mess in September and it delivers important fixes but also frustrates in equal measure and most iPhone owners should steer clear. Here’s what you need to know.
Tip: bookmark this page because I keep it up to date if new problems are found. I will deliver my final verdict in a week (if Apple hasn’t issued further iOS releases before then).
Who Is It For?
iOS 13.2.3 is for all iOS 13-compatible devices. This means the iPhone 6S and newer and the current iPod touch 7th generation. Upgrade notifications should be automatic but you can check manually by going to Settings > General > Software Update. Beta testers, if you are running a later version of iOS when you read this (more in ‘The Road Ahead’ section below), remember to unroll your iPhones or iOS 13.2.3 won’t show up.
iPad owners, Apple has moved you to a new dedicated platform: iPadOS.
The Deal Breakers
iOS 13.2.3 is a dedicated bug fix but, as we’ve come to expect from iOS 13 updates, they tend to ignore major problems and while creating some more of their own – and this is true again. There are three key issues this time: App Updates, Mail and Battery Drain.
iOS 13.2.3 App Updates
The headline news this time around are reports that iOS 13.2.3 is stopping apps from updating. New app installs are fine, but existing apps appear to be stuck in limbo:
“@AppleSupport Since updating my iPhone 11 and iPad Pro 9.7 to #iOS 13.2.3 and #iPadOS 13.2.3 all available app updates can no longer be installed from the App Store. Triggering them leads to an automatic stop w/o further feedback.” – source
“Anyone else having issues updating their apps since iOS 13.2.3? Seems to be happening in Mojave as well. I can install new apps, tried signing out and signing in, rebooting, clearing App Store cache.” – source
“@AppleSupport since updating to today’s iOS 13.2.3, I can no longer update apps in the App Store on iPhone and iPad. (i can install NEW apps, but not update existing ones.)” – source
“Same problem. Happened at the same time for both iPad and iPhone right after updating to iOS 13.2.3” – source
Moreover, while this bug had been detected previously, it seems to be spreading:
“It’s definitely very widespread. I know 3 personally w/bug. The worst part is that the iOS update just released 13.2.3 doesn’t resolve the issue. @AppleSupport” – source
iOS 13.2.3 Mail Problems and Battery Drain
In addition, despite specifically naming this as a fix, iOS 13.2.3 has not addressed the long-running Mail issues for a number of affected users, the signal issues persist and there are still reports of ongoing chronic battery drain. Speaking to me, fellow Forbes contributor Mark Sparrow explained:
“I can confirm that the battery drain issue hasn’t been fixed. My iPhone SE is still dropping 1% every minute or two. It’s made the phone practically unusable. This morning the charge went from 100% to 10% in 30 seconds! Then it rebooted itself and went back to 100% the moment I plugged it into a charger. I think iOS 13 has ruined my phone’s performance. I hope Apple fixes it soon.”
This is far from an isolated case, while other users are reporting iOS 13.2.3 has introduced battery drain problems for them which – seven releases in – is of serious concern:
“@AppleSupport Hey Apple. After updating to iOS 13.2.3 the battery is draining drastically 🤷🏻♂️ #iPhoneXs” – source
“@AppleSupport Look at this after I updated my iPhone to latest 13.2.3 ios version, my iPhone battery is draining drastically. Watch the video #iOS1323” – source
“@AppleSupport I think the new ios 13.2.3 does not like my Iphone. My battery is draining alot faster now.” – source
“Ios 13.2.3 is updated and my battery drains so fast” – source
So What Do You Get?
Apple officially lists the contents of iOS 13.2.3 as follows:
- Fixes an issue where system search and search within Mail, Files, and Notes might not work
- Addresses an issue where photos, links, and other attachments might not display in the Messages details view
- Fixes an issue that could prevent apps from downloading content in the background
- Resolves issues that may prevent Mail from fetching new messages, and fail to include and quote original message content in Exchange accounts
The big news here is hidden at the end: the fix for Mail failing to fetch new messages. This hasn’t been wholly successful, but I seeing that it has made a difference in some cases. Unfortunately, that’s about the end of the good news since Apple has (again) prioritises bugs I haven’t even seen reported ahead of the major battery life and long-running signal problems users are reporting.
As if often the case with minor point releases, Apple confirms on its official security page that there are no security fixes in this update (as was the case with iOS 13.2.2, though iOS 13.2 contained a lot).
Apple iOS 13.2.3 Verdict: Upgrade If You Have Mail Problems, Otherwise Avoid
The main benefit of Apple iOS 13.2.3 is it has partially fixed the mail retrieval issues users have encountered since iOS 13 (and yes, we waited seven releases for this) so if you have been affected, you should upgrade.
But everyone else should stay away. iOS 13.2.3 doesn’t fix a number of major longrunning issues and actually seems to introduce the battery drain bug for previously unaffected iPhone owners. Given it’s lack of new features and security updates, there’s no reason at all for anyone who is lucky enough to be bug-free running iOS 13 or still sitting pretty on iOS 12 to hit that update button.
The Road Ahead
Apple is currently beta testing iOS 13.3, which is unlikely to arrive before December. This should deliver both feature and security updates so it would be nice if Apple could get this one right. Battery drain and (more) Mail fixes have to be the priority here. Will we see iOS 13.2.4? I suspect not, but that largely depends on whether the beta testing iOS 13.3 suffers delays.
Tip: if you can learn one lesson from iOS 13 (and pass it onto others), do not rush to upgrade to every new iOS release. Right now Apple has not earned such faith. In the meantime, bookmark this page and I’ll update it within a week with any new bugs (or benefits) I find.
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