The iPhone 6S will turn six years old this September, an eternity in phone years. If you’ve managed to hold onto one this long, then Apple has some good news for you — your phone will be eligible for the iOS 15 upgrade when it arrives for the public this fall. The iPhone 6S, 6S Plus, and first-generation iPhone SE, which all shipped with iOS 9, will be among the oldest devices to receive the OS update.
Six years is an awfully long life span for a mobile device, and certainly puts the 6S in the running for the longest supported phone to date. The iPhone 5S was five years old when it got its last OS update with iOS 12 but wasn’t eligible for iOS 13. On the Android side, Samsung has made recent moves to improve its device longevity by offering four years of security support for some of its phones. But six years of OS updates and security support puts the 6S in an entirely different league.
To be sure, there are a lot of new features that won’t work with the 6S’s A9 Bionic processor. Features like the Google Lens-esque Visual Lookup, Live Text in photos, portrait mode in FaceTime, and immersive walking directions in Maps won’t be available to 6S users, since they all require a device with an A12 Bionic chip a la the XS and XR or later.
It’s also possible that newer software will slow down an older phone with an aging, less nimble processor. That might not necessarily be the case, though — both Ars Technica and Macworld found no significant impact on performance running iOS 14 on the 6S.
What may be a bigger issue, as both testers noted, is that the 6S shows its age with poor battery life. Features like widgets are also tougher to use on the phone’s 4.7-inch screen, which is quaint compared to today’s standard six-inch-plus panels. These aren’t so much compatibility issues as the inevitable, slow march of time that no gadget can escape.
iPhone 6S owners shouldn’t despair, though. They’ll still get potentially useful updates like notification summaries and Focus modes to minimize interruptions throughout the day, video and music sharing in FaceTime, and added privacy features like a seven-day app privacy report to keep tabs on how apps are using your information. There’s also the peace of mind that comes with running the latest OS version, and the security patches and bug fixes that come with it throughout the year. Not a bad deal for a six-year-old device.