Next Year Could Be the End of the Line for the iPhone 6s and First iPhone SE

iPhone 6s Apple Store Credit: Hadrian / Shutterstock
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Despite rumours that support for Apple’s 2015-era iPhone 6s models would be ending with this year’s release of iOS 14, we were pleasantly surprised to see that they lived on for yet another year, but don’t expect that to continue when iOS 15 is released next fall.

At this point, Apple’s iPhone 6s has now become tied for the longest iOS-supported iPhone in Apple history — a record previously held solely by the 2013 iPhone 5s, which managed to make it all the way from iOS 7 through iOS 12 before it was left out with the release of iOS 13 last year.

Thanks to Apple’s decision to leave no iPhone behind this year, however, the iPhone 6s also now has the distinction of being supported for six major iOS version releases, from iOS 9 through to iOS 14, but it’s unlikely to get a reprieve next time around, with rumours suggesting that iOS 15 will spell the end of the road for both the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus as well as the original iPhone SE which arrived the following spring, based on the same A9 chip.

According to a new report from The Verifier (Google Translate), iOS 15, which is expected to be released next September as usual, will drop support for the A9-equipped iPhone models, which really shouldn’t come as a big surprise.

Technically speaking, depending on when iOS 15 is actually released next year, the iPhone 6s could still take the crown for the longest supported device; the iPhone 5s was released on September 20, 2013 while iOS 13 came out on September 19, 2019, meaning it was supported for one day less than six years.

However, with the iPhone 6s being released later than usual, on September 25, 2015 (an extra week after Apple’s Sept. 9th announcement that year) — iOS 15 would have to be unusually late for this to actually happen, and at this point The Verifier is predicting a September 15, 2021 release date for iOS 15, although we’re much more skeptical about that specific date being accurate so far in advance.

It’s a feature that Android users are envious of, since even the most expensive flagship Android phones rarely get updates for more than a couple of years, while Apple routinely supports all of its iPhones for at least four major iOS updates, and sometimes even five. By contrast, Samsung’s Galaxy S6, which was released the same year as the iPhone 6s, saw its last Android update in March 2017.

What This Means

The Verifier has a somewhat mixed track record when it comes to rumours; although it was partially accurate in its prediction in early 2019 that iOS 13 would drop support for the iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus, it also suggested that the iPhone 6s lineup and iPhone SE would be axed at the same time, which of course never happened. A later report from another source offered up the even more unusual suggestion that the iPhone 6s would still be supported, yet Apple would still cut off the iPhone SE, despite it sporting the same processor and being released several months later.

On the other hand, The Verifier did accurately predict that this year’s release of iOS 14 would include support for all of the same iPhone models as iOS 13.

Still, as we’ve already noted it’s really not a stretch to believe that iOS 15 will finally end support for these older iPhone models, since it would be completely unprecedented for Apple to extend support for yet another year; after all, iPhones are already the longest-supported devices in the industry when it comes to software updates.

To be clear, however, this also only affects support for these older iPhones in terms of iOS updates, and they’ll continue to run just fine with iOS 14 even after iOS 15 comes out next year, and it will likely be another couple of years before new app updates start requiring higher iOS versions.

Apple is also not discontinuing hardware support yet for these models — that happens five years after they were last sold, which could still take us into 2023, since neither model went off the market until September 2018.

So your iPhone 6s or 2016 iPhone SE won’t suddenly stop working when iOS 15 lands next year, and you’ll also still be able to get updates for almost all of your favourite apps, since even today many popular apps still run just fine on versions as far back as iOS 10.

At this point, however, you may have less incentive to hang onto these older iPhones anyway; the iPhone 6s and iPhone SE have both been basically superseded by this year’s iPhone lineup anyway, which offers the extremely affordable and powerful iPhone SE that preserves the form factor of the iPhone 6s with a much more modern A13-series chip, and the iPhone 12 mini for those still longing for the days of the much more pocketable 2016 iPhone SE, which not only gets down to the same size but even offers a very similar squared-edge design.

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