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iOS 16 supported devices — which iPhones won't make the cut?

iOS 16 concept designs
(Image credit: Hacker 34/YouTube)

With WWDC 2022 getting underway Monday (June 6), we’re very likely to get our first look at a new version of iOS that will launch alongside the iPhone 14 in the fall. 

While iOS 16 rumors are somewhat thin on the ground at the moment, rumored iOS 16 features suggest we’ll be looking at improvements to the lock screen, notifications, some AR/VR integration and more health tracking capabilities.

But each iteration of iOS takes a greater processing toll, which inevitably some handsets have to miss out. Apple has a very good track record of supporting handsets for the long haul — iOS 15 supports phones that first came out in 2015 for example — but there are limits. With that in mind, we believe that the following iPhones will be limited to iOS 15 for the rest of their working lives.

iPhone 6S and 6S Plus

iPhone 6s

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Practically ancient in smartphone terms, the iPhone 6s and larger 6s Plus launched back in September 2015 when Barack Obama was still in the White House, there was no such thing as AirPods and the first-generation Apple Watch was only six months old.

Those two phones launched with iOS 9 and have been discontinued for nearly four years, so the end of support shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. The iPhone 6s family had a very good run indeed.

iPhone SE (2016)

iPhone SE from back

(Image credit: Future)

Although a good seven months younger than the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, the original iPhone SE actually uses the same Apple A9 chipset and 2GB RAM. 

In other words, if the 6s goes, so does the first-generation SE. But the good news is that the two newer iterations should be safe for some time, given those versions of the iPhone SE launched in 2020 and this year, respectively. The iPhone SE 2022 even features the same A15 Bionic processor that powers Apple's more expensive iPhone 13 lineup, so it's going to be supported for some time.

Which iPhones will get iOS 16?

If those are indeed the only three iPhones to miss out on the upgrade to iOS 16, then by process of elimination, these handsets will all be eligible:

If your iPhone is eligible to download iOS 16, then Apple must feel confident of its usability. But if you own one of the older models, we’d suggest shopping for one of the best iPhones to replace your current handset or deciding whether it makes more sense to wait for the iPhone 14 this fall.

What about iPads?

iPad Air 5 images from the Apple Event

(Image credit: Apple)

While iPads technically use a different operating system — iPadOS — it’s a very close relative of iOS and will almost certainly be upgraded this fall to iPadOS 16. With iPadOS 15, support went even further than iOS 15 with the aged iPad Air 2 from 2014 eligible for the upgrade.

This time we suspect that several tablets won’t make it. Not only is the iPad Air 2 set to miss out, but we’d also wager that the 5th generation iPad, 4th generation iPad mini and maybe even the original 2015 iPad Pro may be too slow to make the cut. 

We’ll likely find out if all these assumptions are correct at next week’s conference for Apple developers. Here’s how to watch WWDC 2022 if you want to tune in live. 

Next: The iPhone 14 Pro is tipped for an always-on display — here's why I'm worried. (opens in new tab) 

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.