If you’re still hanging on to a years-old iPhone and resisting the pressure to buy the latest, shiniest version, props to you. You’re probably experiencing slower performance and outdated features, among other things, but Apple is said to support iPhones with iOS upgrades for around seven years—long beyond a 1–2 year upgrade cycle.
That means that if you’re using an iPhone 6S from 2015, Apple supports iOS 15 (the latest version of iOS) for your device and will continue to push updates— including security fixes.
Those hanging onto an iPhone 5S, which came out in 2013, are frozen on iOS 12, but Apple released a security update (12.5.5) for these devices as recently as September 2021.
Do you still need software and security updates for old iPhones?
The downside for older phones: The further away they’re frozen from the latest version of iOS, the less likely it is that small bugs will get fixes, and the higher the potential security risk. The upside? You can keep using devices for a really long time, as long as you don’t care about the newest, fanciest features or hardware upgrades.
So, how do you know if Apple supports your older iPhone? You can head over to Apple’s security log to see what version of iOS (or macOS or watchOS or iPadOS) is available for your device and when it was released. You can click through to determine what each OS update is meant to fix.
How to update your old iPhone
Your iPhone can be set to update iOS automatically or manually. Go to Settings > General > Software Update to see which version of iOS your device is running and whether a new version is available. If so, you can install it. Or, click through to Automatic Updates > Download iOS Updates and Install iOS Updates.
Apple also has troubleshooting instructions for updating or restoring your iPhone while in recovery mode and connected to your computer.
Note that if you’re not on the latest iOS, your device may not update automatically. You should check for updates frequently and install them immediately when they’re available.