A new rumour has surfaced echoing earlier reports that Apple may be setting a new bar with iOS 13, meaning some more recent iPhone models may not make the cut.
This week, iPhonesoft.fr added its voice to an early February rumour from Israeli news site, The Verifier, claiming to have gotten a list of iOS 13 compatible devices from “a developer friend at Apple.” While the earlier rumour suggested that the line would be drawn at the iPhone 7, cutting off support for the 2015 iPhone 6s and earlier models, along with almost all older iPad minis, iPhonesoft’s report suggests a less drastic cutoff, with only the 2013 iPhone 5s, 2014 iPhone 6, and 2016 iPhone SE being left out of iOS 13’s goodness, along with the 2013 iPad mini 2 and iPad Air models.
The last time Apple dropped compatibility for older devices was with iOS 11, excluding the 2012 iPhone 5 and iPhone 5c, which were Apple’s last 32-bit devices. Last year’s release of iOS 12 didn’t exclude any additional devices, and in fact boosted performance on older models like the iPhone 5s.
If true, however, this latest rumour would represent one of the more unusual moves for an iOS update. The iPhone SE, in particular, is only three years old, and sports the same A9 processor as the iPhone 6s and the fifth-generation iPad. One possibility, however, is that Apple may have decided it’s time to simply drop support for the four-inch screen sizes.
However, in this case it’s less clear what Apple might do with the iPod touch, which has become the weird cousin in Apple’s iOS device lineup that nobody seems to want to talk much about. Contrary to the prior rumour that said the iPod touch would also be left out, iPhonesoft.fr says claims that it will still be supported, despite its older A8 chip and four-inch screen, since it’s currently the only iPod touch in the lineup. However, there have also been rumours that a seventh-generation iPod touch is waiting in the wings, which if true could give Apple the excuse it needs to leave the older 2015 iPod touch behind as well.
It’s also worth keeping mind that the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus was Apple’s best-selling iPhone lineup in history, since it represented the iPhone’s long-awaited bump to larger 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screen sizes. Pent-up demand for larger iPhones likely resulted in a huge swath of upgrades, and it seems likely that many millions of iPhone 6 era devices are still in people’s hands. On the flip side, Apple’s iPhone SE was later released as an upgrade option for those users who wanted a faster and better iPhone that retained the classic form factor of the iPhone 5 generation, and there are likely still quite a few hardcore iPhone users that refuse to go with a larger device.
Apple’s usual strategy has been to support as many devices as it can for as long as possible, and it’s been years since an iOS update has made such a drastic move. However, Apple has to draw the line somewhere, and traditionally that’s been at around the four- or five-year mark:
- 2012 — iOS 6 drops the 2008 iPhone 3G, 2009 iPod touch 3G and original 2010 iPad.
- 2013 — iOS 7 drops the 2009 iPhone 3GS and 2010 iPod touch 4G
- 2014 — iOS 8 drops the 2010 iPhone 4
- 2015 — iOS 9 continued to support all earlier models from iOS 8
- 2016 — iOS 10 drops the 2011 iPhone 4s and iPad 2, and 2012 iPod touch 5G
- 2017 — iOS 11 drops the 2012 iPhone 5, 2013 iPhone 5c, iPad 4
- 2018 — iOS 12 continued to support all earlier models from iOS 11
With the iPhone 5s released in 2013, and the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus introduced in 2014, it’s fair to say that Apple has already supported these devices longer than most iPhones, especially in the case of the iPhone 5s, which now holds the crown for the longest-supported of any of Apple’s iPhones.
So while the rumour isn’t that far-fetched, with Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference right around the corner, it’s likely we’ll know for sure in a few weeks.