Apple’s iOS operating system powers millions of iPhones around the world. Each year Apple releases a major update to iOS,iOS 18 bringing new features and improvements. iOS 18 is expected to launch in September 2023 alongside the rumored iPhone 15 lineup. But which older iPhone models will be compatible with iOS 18? Let’s take a look.
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While details on iOS 18 are still scarce, we can make some educated guesses about the update based on past iOS release patterns. Apple tends to focus iOS updates on new features rather than core architectural changes. So we can expect iOS 18 to bring incremental improvements rather than a major overhaul.
Some potential new features in iOS 18 could include:
- Augmented reality enhancements
- New stock apps
- Home screen widgets
- Enhanced Siri capabilities
- Refinements to notifications
- Design tweaks
- Under-the-hood performance improvements and bug fixes.
Of course, it’s too early to know for sure what iOS 18 has in store. But if history is any guide, it will likely bring meaningful but not drastic changes. The update will aim to enrich the iPhone experience rather than radically transforming it.
Which iPhones Will Get iOS 18?
Now let’s get into the key question: which iPhones can expect to get the iOS 18 update when it is released?
Unfortunately Apple does not share details on iOS compatibility until much closer to an update’s release. However, we can make educated guesses based on Apple’s past software support history:
- iPhone 14 lineup: The iPhone 14 series expected in late 2022 will almost certainly get iOS 18. These devices will likely be the highlight iOS 18 showcase.
- iPhone 13 lineup: Apple’s current flagship iPhones – the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro, and iPhone 13 Pro Max – are nearly assured to get iOS 18 support. Apple provides at least 4-5 years of software updates for recently released flagship iPhones.
- iPhone 12 lineup: Released in 2020, the iPhone 12 series is highly likely to be compatible with iOS 18. Some iPhone 12 model owners may even be tempted to keep their devices for another year rather than upgrade to enjoy iOS 18.
- iPhone 11 lineup: The iPhone 11 series came out in 2019, so it should safely get i OS 18 support. Owners of even older premium iPhones like the iPhone 11 Pro may especially appreciate getting extended utility from the update.
- iPhone XR and XS lineup: Dating back to 2018, the iPhone XR, iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are still expected to make the iOS 18 compatibility list. The A12 Bionic chipset powering these phones has plenty of life left.
- iPhone X: Apple’s first OLED iPhone launched in 2017. While the iPhone X is approaching the 6 year mark, its powerful A11 Bionic processor could still have enough gas in the tank to run iOS 18 smoothly.
- iPhone 8 lineup: This popular 2017 series – including the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus – is right on the edge when it comes to i OS 18 compatibility. While not guaranteed, the A11 Bionic chipset inside gives them a fighting chance to get the update.
- iPhone 7 lineup: The iPhone 7 series dates back to 2016, which may be too far back for iOS 18 support. Apple typically provides about 5 years of software updates, so the A10 Fusion chip powering these iPhones is likely nearing the end of the line.
- Earlier iPhones: Barring exceptional circumstances, earlier iPhones like the iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone SE (2016) and earlier are almost certainly excluded from getting iOS 18. The aging processors in these devices are simply too outdated at this point to support the latest iOS capabilities.
Key Factors in iOS Compatibility
Determining iOS compatibility depends on a few key factors:
Processor: iPhones have traditionally needed an A9 chip or later to run the latest iOS versions. The A9 first appeared in 2015, so earlier chips are reaching end-of-lifespan territory. However, Apple has sometimes extended support for one generation beyond the A9 cutoff.
Hardware features: Each new iOS takes advantage of more advanced hardware like augmented reality sensors, secure enclave chips, advanced camera components, and more. Older iPhones often lack these capabilities, limiting their iOS compatibility.
Performance: Even if a device technically supports a new iOS, poor performance can ruin the experience. Apple avoids this scenario by restricting updates for models with inadequate real-world speed.
User adoption: High update adoption rates among active users motivates Apple to extend device compatibility. But very low update rates for an iPhone model signals minimal interest, making support less worthwhile.
Timing of release: iPhones released earlier in the year have a slightly better chance of getting one more iOS update compared to later year models. The iPhone XR (October 2018) will likely do better than the iPhone XS (September 2018) in this regard.
By weighing these and other factors, Apple targets an optimal mix of maximum device compatibility balanced against the need for compelling new features and strong real-world performance.
The Bottom Line
While Apple’s 18 compatibility decisions won’t be finalized until much nearer the operating system’s launch, we can draw some reasonable conclusions for now:
- The iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 lineups are virtually guaranteed to get i OS 18 support, serving as showcase devices for the update.
- Recent premium models like the iPhone 12 and iPhone 11 families also have extremely strong chances for iOS 18 compatibility.
- Older models like the iPhone X, iPhone XR, and iPhone XS have good prospects for iOS 18 but are far from ensured.
- Support is very unlikely for 2014 and earlier iPhone models due to processor and hardware limitations.
- As always, it’s wise to wait for Apple’s official word down the road before banking on iOS 18 support for your device.
Owners of older iPhone models hoping for extended iOS compatibility may want to keep an eye on battery health and overall performance on iOS 17. If you encounter unexpected issues, upgrading to a newer iPhone model in 2022 or 2023 could be prudent to maximize your iOS version support options.
With i OS 18 likely to arrive in September 2023, check back over the coming months as additional details surface. We’ll update this guide as Apple’s compatibility plans crystallize, so you can make informed upgrade decisions when the time comes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some common questions about iOS compatibility and iOS 18:
Will the iPhone SE (2022) get iOS 18?
Yes, the current second-generation iPhone SE is practically guaranteed to receive iOS 18 support thanks to its powerful A15 Bionic chip and recent 2022 release.
Can my iPhone 8 Plus get iOS 18?
The iPhone 8 Plus has a decent chance of getting iOS 18 support, thanks to the A11 Bionic processor inside. However, its lack of advanced hardware compared to newer iPhones makes iOS 18 compatibility uncertain.
What about the original iPhone SE?
The original iPhone SE from 2016 is highly unlikely to get iOS 18. It’s well past the ~5 year software support window Apple typically provides. The A9 chip inside, while still decent, is nearing obsolescence.
Will iOS 18 slow down my iPhone 11?
iOS updates aim to maintain a consistent experience across supported devices. If your iPhone 11 has no underlying hardware issues, iOS 18 should deliver smooth performance similar to iOS 17.
Can I get iOS 18 on my iPhone 7?
Unfortunately, iOS 18 support for the iPhone 7 is highly unlikely. The A10 Fusion chip inside dates back to 2016, exceeding Apple’s typical 5 years of software updates.
How big will the iOS 18 download be?
iOS download sizes vary, but recent updates have ranged from 2-4GB. Expect iOS 18 to land within a similar range. Ensure you have enough free space by offloading unused apps and files.
The Future of iOS Updates
The yearly iOS update cadence has provided major new features, improvements, and security patches since the first iPhone OS release in 2007. Apple has supported devices with new iOS versions for generally 4-5 years after release.
But there are signs Apple may be rethinking this strategy going forward. Growing smartphone lifespans means supporting older iPhones for 5-6 years strains hardware capabilities and holds back innovation.
Rumors suggest Apple may switch to either a two-year major iOS release cycle, or possibly even push out incremental features via live updates throughout the year rather than big bang annual releases.
This new update strategy could allow dropping support for older devices on a more regular basis. iOS versions like i O S 18 may only support iPhones from the past 2-3 years rather than 4-5. This shorter update lifecycle can ensure optimal performance, strengthen security, and prevent innovation from being constrained.
Of course, Apple needs to balance these motivations with keeping their vast iPhone user base satisfied. But the company is no stranger to leaving the past behind in pursuit of future innovation, when the time is right.
The iOS 18 compatibility list will offer intriguing clues into Apple’s future software update strategy and iPhone hardware advancements. Owners of aging iPhones may need to decide sooner rather than later whether it’s time to trade up to the latest and greatest models to stay current with new iOS capabilities arriving each fall.
it is still months away, but before you know it, Apple fans will be buzzing about functions and features on the horizon. And for many, the first question that comes to mind is – will my current iPhone get the update?
We explored the key factors that determine iOS compatibility, and made educated guesses at which iPhone models have the best chance of making the iOS 18 cut. But until Apple makes an official announcement down the road, nothing is guaranteed.
Owning an iPhone model on the compatibility bubble? You may want to wait for confirmation of i OS 18 support before committing to another year. And if your iPhone is unlikely to make the cut, it could be wise to consider an upgrade in late 2022 or 2023 to ensure you don’t miss out on the latest iOS capabilities.
One thing is certain – i OS 18 is sure to bring exciting new innovations that enrich the iPhone experience. And for millions of users, part of that anticipation hinges on whether their trusty iPhone will join the ride. Stay tuned as we learn more on the road to iOS 18!