Apple today announced the next iPhone operating software. Unsurprisingly, it’s called iOS 16. Surprisingly, it’ll work with fewer iPhones than many had predicted.

The current software, iOS 15, is compatible with every iPhone from the iPhone 6s onwards. Intriguingly, that’s the exact same group of phones that ran iOS 14 and even iOS 15. In other words, Apple hasn’t dropped any iPhone for three years.

So, while many were expecting that iOS 16 wouldn’t work with the oldest of those phones, the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, both released in September 2015, there are three other iPhones that will no longer update to the latest software.

First, that’s the iPhone SE (first generation) announced on March 20, 2016, which is more than six years old, so maybe that’s not a complete revelation.

But it also sees the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, from September 2016 losing support as well. Altogether, millions of people still use those phones and they won’t be able to update to iOS 16 with its cool new lock screen and myriad of other new features.

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Let’s put this in context. It means that every iPhone from iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, launched in September 2017, and more recent, will work with the new OS. By the time it goes live, that’s phones first launched a full five years ago. Few Android phones offer that length of upgradeability in terms of software.

And there’s a balance to be found here. If you want to add a bunch of powerful upgraded features, you need a level of power from the processor. On the other hand, if you want long-term, complete compatibility, you need to limit the upgrades so they’ll work with older processors.

The fact that so many phones have been left out this time is a clear indication that the updates need more power and, therefore, are probably pretty advanced.

Of course, and you know this, I know, all those earlier iPhones don’t just stop working. They carry on exactly as they do today. They just can’t get the eye-catching updates that have just been announced.

And some of those updates are so keen, they may be enough to tickle some users into buying a new iPhone.

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