Why 25% of iPhone Users Still Haven’t Upgraded to iOS 17

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Apple recently released figures on the adoption of iOS 17, and the statistics are relatively surprising. Almost 25% of iPhones sold in the last four years have yet to update to iOS 17. While most of those are still on iOS 16, a surprising 4% of those devices haven’t even moved beyond iOS 15 — despite all being capable of doing so.

Further, the numbers for iPad users are even more bleak, with only 53% of all iPad users running iPadOS 17, and 61% for those devices that were released in the last four years (and therefore capable of upgrading).

Let’s take a deeper dive and have a look as to why more iPhone and iPad owners aren’t rushing to update to iOS 17. The numbers were released by Apple on February 4, 2024, as measured by devices that transacted on the App Store.

iPhones introduced in the last four years

Any device released by Apple since 2018 (the iPhone XS/XR models) can be updated to iOS 17, yet only a little over three-quarters of the devices released since the iPhone 12 have actually received an update.

  • 76% iOS 17
  • 20% iOS 16
  • 4% earlier

What’s even more surprising is those that haven’t even moved to iOS 16, an update that’s now been out for over a year and can be installed on devices as old as the 2017 iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X.

All iOS devices

The numbers for all active iOS devices are perhaps a bit less surprising, as this would include older iPhone models that simply can’t get iOS 17 or even iOS 16, which spelled the end of the line for the 2016 iPhone 7 and 2015 iPhone 6s models that couldn’t be updated past iOS 15.

  • 66% iOS 17
  • 23% iOS 16
  • 11% earlier

Apple doesn’t spell out what “earlier” means here, but it’s worth noting that there are no iPhone models that can run iOS 13 or iOS 14 that can’t be updated to iOS 15; only the 2014 iPhone 6 and 2013 iPhone 5s remain stuck on iOS 12.

iPads introduced in the last four years

The numbers for iPads are even more surprising since iPadOS 17 can run on some models going as far back as the 2017 iPad Pro, and yet it’s received even weaker adoption among those iPads introduced since early 2020 than its iPhone counterpart.

  • 61% iPadOS 17
  • 29% iPadOS 16
  • 10% earlier

All iPadOS devices

Again, like the iPhone, the story across all iPad models is lower since this would include those that simply can’t run iPadOS 17 or possibly even iPadOS 16.

  • 53% iPadOS 17
  • 29% iPadOS 16
  • 18% Earlier

What’s Going on Here?

Interestingly, iOS 16 adoption at this time last year had reached 81%. So, why are so many iPhone and iPad users not upgrading this time around?

One possible explanation is the perception that there have been minimal changes, like emojis or wallpapers, so there isn’t enough to motivate users to take the time to download the update. However, these folks are failing to acknowledge the significant security updates included in the latest release. While Apple still releases security patches for iOS 16, these only cover critical security issues; however, many folks may not be installing these either, as it’s unclear how many people are deliberately avoiding iOS 17 versus not bothering to update their iPhones at all.

Another possible explanation is concerns about device performance, especially those with older models. Past experiences of iPhones slowing down after updates could contribute to hesitancy and the “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” mentality.

Others might be waiting for future releases due to quality assurance and stability fears with early iOS releases. These concerns aren’t entirely without merit. Many users have experienced significant battery drain after upgrading to iOS 17. Some users might simply wait it out until later versions are released addressing earlier bugs.

Finally, not all iPhones are capable of downloading iOS17. You can view a complete list here.

While there are some valid reasons for not downloading iOS 17 yet, we’re fans of immediately exploring and testing new features as they become available. In fact, we’re already on to dreaming about Apple’s next update, iOS 18, scheduled for later this year. Stay tuned for more news about what some speculate will be Apple’s biggest iOS update ever!

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