iOS 16 could end support for iPhone 6s and original iPhone SE

iPhone 6s back
(Image credit: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Update (April 26): Another rumor has appeared making the same claim as this source: bad news for the iPhone 6S and iPhone SE Gen 1.

If you own an iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus or the original iPhone SE, 2022 looks like the year you're going to want to upgrade to one of the best iPhones because it sounds like your current handset isn't going to be able to run the next major iOS update from Apple.

That's the word from iPhoneSoft, anyhow, with the French blog claiming to have the inside scoop about iOS 16 compatibility from a source within Apple. There's no official announcement yet, since iOS 16 isn't likely to see the light of day until a preview at next June's Worldwide Developer Conference in advance of a release in the fall.

Assuming the report is correct, though, and that iOS support will be cut off for the original iPhone SE and the iPhone 6s models, it's hardly a shocking development. Apple released the first iPhone SE in 2016, so the phone will be more than 6 years old by the time iOS 16 is ready for its fall 2022 release. The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus will be celebrating its seventh birthdays next fall. That's a long time for any phone to still be getting software updates.

In fact, it was something of a surprise when those phones were included among the devices capable of running this year's iOS 15 update. Even then, older devices weren't capable of supporting all of iOS 15's features, as some required a phone running on an A12 Bionic chipset. That was essentially the writing on the wall for these older iOS 15-compatible iPhones that time was running out.

Still, that illustrates one of the big edges Apple continues to enjoy over Android devices. You may still mind someone using a 2016-era Android phone, but it's very unlikely that phone will be running this year's Android 12 update. Samsung has one of the more generous upgrade policies among Android device makers, and you can still only count on three years of software updates (along with an additional year of security updates).

Should the iPhone 6s models join the iPhone SE on the support chopping black, that will leave the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus as the oldest Apple phones to still be upgradeable. Those phones, released in 2016, feature an A10 Fusion chip.

iPhoneSoft's report doesn't just focus on the iPhone. It also includes info on which iPads will be supported by iPadOS 16. Tablets that are being dropped from the upcoming version are said to be:

  • iPad mini 4
  • iPad air 2
  • iPad 5
  • the iPad Pro (2015), 9.7- and 12.9-inch versions

The 7th gen iPod touch should also retain iOS support. Like the iPhone 7, that version of Apple's music player runs on an A10 Fusion.

Traditionally, Apple shows off its next iOS update during June's WWDC event, with a public beta released during the summer. The final version of iOS 16 is likely to arrive in the fall, around the same time Apple releases the iPhone 14. Apart from iOS 16 concept designs, we know very little about what's on the docket for Apple's next mobile operating system.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.