Skip to content
Thoughtful, detailed coverage of everything Apple for 29 years
and the TidBITS Content Network for Apple professionals
15 comments

Fixing iPadOS 13’s Glacial Performance on the iPad Air 2

If you have an iPad Air 2 still running iOS 12, you might want to hold off on upgrading to iPadOS 13, and if you must, make sure you have at least one backup before proceeding.

TidBITS reader Randy Parker reported that after upgrading from iOS 12 to iPadOS 13.1.2, his iPad Air 2 was so sluggish that it was essentially unusable. He couldn’t get past the Wi-Fi password screen during setup, likely due to the connection timing out, and once it eventually connected on its own, actions that were normally instant, such as navigating within Settings, were taking up to a minute. Similar reports have appeared on the Apple Support Communities forum.

When Randy called Apple, the support agent said that the problem was a known issue with the iPad Air 2, and that Apple did not yet have a fix. However, the workaround was to reset the iPad Air 2 entirely (using Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings) and restore from a recent backup. With patience, since each tap took a minute or so, Randy was eventually able to work through the necessary steps, and after restoring from backup, his iPad Air 2 is working correctly and at full speed.

Erase All Content and Settings in iPadOS 13

The problem doesn’t affect all iPad Air 2 units, so you may have no issues with an upgrade. However, it’s possible that some other iPad models are susceptible as well. Regardless, if you experience the problem, try erasing and restoring from backup.

Subscribe today so you don’t miss any TidBITS articles!

Every week you’ll get tech tips, in-depth reviews, and insightful news analysis for discerning Apple users. For 29 years, we’ve published professional, member-supported tech journalism that makes you smarter.

Registration confirmation will be emailed to you.

Comments About Fixing iPadOS 13’s Glacial Performance on the iPad Air 2

Notable Replies

  1. As another data point, I’ve upgraded 2 iPad Air 2 128G’s with no problems.

  2. iPadOS 13.1.2 running my Air2, no performance hits that I’ve noticed.

  3. I don’t doubt there is a problem for some iPad Air 2 users, but no issues with mine except needing to force quit one app, which then worked well.

  4. Good to hear many iPad Air 2 owners are having no issues. I wonder what the commonality is for the units that are suffering.

  5. I included memory size on my report, just in case that was relevant.

  6. My Air 2 is working well. Note that I didn’t upgrade Reminders, if that is a (vaguely) possible issue.
    I have a cellular iPad but don’t use it for mobile data (no SIM card).

  7. I’m hearing it’s the latest models of the iPad Pro. My earlier 10.5” had no issues with the update.

  8. Hmm, interesting that you’re hearing about issues with other iPad models beyond the iPad Air 2… Perhaps the sluggishness is more widespread, if certainly not ubiquitous.

  9. I have not yet upgraded my Air 2 to 13, but when I upgrade the OS, I always follow these steps.

    • power down the iPad (or iPhone) to ensure there will be no running apps and memory is released
    • power up and use wire to connect to iTunes on Mac without using any app
    • download only the upgrade
    • synchronize and backup to Mac while waiting for the download to complete
    • install upgrade from iTunes

    I have not yet had any real issues after an upgrade using this method, but should something go wrong, you’re sure to have a recent backup.

  10. I’ve been assured by Apple Engineering that doing that does nothing.

  11. @alvarnell

    That is an interesting but somewhat vague statement. Can you elaborate on exactly what powering down ‘does nothing’ for? I mean, I know it does something, but apparently not for some purpose you have in mind?

  12. I haven’t noticed any performance hits with iPadOS 13.1.2 (or just 13.1), but it was pretty sluggish at first — and after it “settled in” (finished indexing), it’s been the same (or slightly better) than before.

  13. Same problem with iPad Pro (2018) after updating with 13.1.2. I had read post-upgrade reports about “slow” but they lacked the desperation that I was feeling. “GLACIAL” is the right word.

    It would get progressively slower as I worked. The more complex the work, the faster it would reach “unusable.” If I re-booted with volume-up, volume-down and then hold power button until the screen went black, I could re-start at acceptable speed. But then the degradation process would start all over again. I was re-booting every 30 minutes.

    A techie friend told me that it will either settle down (something about re-indexing due to some pretty big changes) during the days to come or I’d be forced to do a total wipe and restore. He was right - after 4-5 days, speed quickly came back to normal…

    Until today! Now it’s right back where it was again. I checked and there has not been another release.

    This has been the most infuriating release ever. And not just due to “Glacial 13.1.2.”

    I really don’t understand some of the changes. Email for example. I used to just click on a Forward arrow and send. Now I have to click 1-arrow-fits-all button and then choose what I want to do. There are several reverse-usability issues like this scattered around (cursor placement is harder, another pet peeve).

    But I digress (just wanted to get that off my chest, I guess).

    Ugh.

    P.S. After writing the above, I noticed another iPad Pro report. So it’s definitely NOT Air-only.

  14. I also had this problem with my iPad Air 2. After upgrading to 13.1.2, almost nothing worked correctly, including joining encrypted Wifi networks. I went to the Apple Support Community and found I wasn’t alone, and a procedure that worked for me. I was able to install iPadOS 13.2 beta, and it now works great. Thanks to scottmvegas, this was the procedure that worked for me (I had to include what he calls the “DFU Detour” step:

    "I was able to fix this exact issue today.

    The problems started when my girlfriend’s ipad auto installed ipados 13.1.2 – once installed, the iPad lost the ability to join any wifi network that required a password. I had to temporarily disable encryption on my wifi router in order to get this ipad to connect. But even after getting it back on the internet, I still couldn’t authenticate to iCloud. (Maybe some crypto routines were broken?)

    So I resorted to a DFU restore from iTunes. But in retrospect, I don’t think this was necessary. I think I was mistakenly thinking that the update failed to install correctly, but in reality, I think 13.1.2 is just very buggy. I think I could have skipped the DFU DETOUR below and gone straight to the BETA PROFILE INSTALL.

    DFU DETOUR: DFU Mode on this iPad requires pressing the Power and Home buttons simultaneously for 10 seconds, and then letting go of the Power button while still holding the Home button for another 2 to 5 seconds. Oddly, the first two times I attempted this, the iPad wasn’t restored to factory settings, but the third time it was. Thankfully, my mac is still running Mojave, so I didn’t have to figure out the new way to do it without iTunes.

    BETA PROFILE INSTALL: Anyway, once I had a clean 13.1.2 install, I STILL couldn’t connect to wifi with WPA2 enabled, so I thought I’d install the beta. I went to http://beta.apple.com in the iPad’s safari browser, logged in with my icloud acct, and imported the beta profile, went to Settings/General/Profiles, installed this profile, and restarted the iPad.

    After the restart, I went to Settings/General/Software Update and could download and install the 13.2 public beta. Once installed, I tested wifi with a password, and it worked! (But, because I had wiped my iPad to factory settings during the DFU DETOUR, I still needed to restore from iCloud next, but if you skipped the DFU DETOUR, then you’re probably already done, so jump to IT WORKS.)

    RESTORE FROM ICLOUD: So, with a good OS installed, I went to Settings/General/Reset and erased all content and settings, and set up the iPad as new again, this time restoring from a recent iCloud backup.

    IT WORKS: And poof, everything was back to normal: wifi worked, iCloud login worked.

    So, in summary, the real fix was: disable encryption on wifi router, and install 13.2 beta."

    The entire discussion can be found at https://discussions.apple.com/thread/250682648?answerId=251411521022&page=1 .

  15. Is anyone else having a problem with battery drainage after the update? My iPad Pro (9 in with home button) has been draining to nothing regularly. Overnight, with no programs or background things running per Battery, it went from 60% - 10%.

    Is this something the beta install and recover will fix?

Join the discussion in the TidBITS Discourse forum

Participants