iPhone 5s and other older Apple devices just got a surprise security update — what you need to know

an image of an older iPhone
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Apple is well known for supporting its devices with software and security updates for several years. But that support doesn’t last forever, and Apple will eventually stop rolling out major updates. So the fact a security patch (opens in new tab) has just been released for devices dating back almost 10 years, is pretty noteworthy.

Devices getting a new update include iPhones, Macs, MacBooks and iPad models dating as far back as 2013. The iPhone 5s is one of the oldest to receive an update, having been released in September 2013 and losing access to major iOS updates with the launch of iOS 13 in 2019.

These updates include MacOS Big Sur 11.7.3, MacOS Monterey 12.6.3, iOS 12.5.7, iOS 15.7.3 and iPad OS 15.7.3. Though they aren’t alone. Apple’s support page includes information on a huge range of security updates that were released on January 23, covering just about every device released in the past decade; from iPhones to Apple TVs.

The updates don’t appear to all be targeting the same things, according to the patch notes, which is pretty interesting. The iOS 12 update (opens in new tab), for example, only covers a bug in WebKit that may have put users at risk from “maliciously crafted web content." 

The iOS 15 update (opens in new tab), on the other hand, solves problems in the Kernel, Mail Exchange and offers updates to features like Maps and Screen Time, but no mention of the WebKit. The update to iOS 16 (opens in new tab) offers even more changes, including a WebKit fix that sounds pretty similar to that from iOS 12.

Why? Who knows, but it’s not that it really matters. The fact is there were problems out there that could have impacted various older Apple devices. Rather than ignoring the issue, Apple released an update to fix it. It’s commendable, even if, in all likelihood, the number of people that are affected could be pretty low. 

Updates released by Apple include:

  • iOS 12.5.7: (iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air, iPad mini 2, iPad mini 3, and iPod touch [6th generation])
  • iOS 15.7.3 and iPadOS 15.7.3: (iPhone 6s [all models], iPhone 7 [all models], iPhone SE [1st generation], iPad Air 2, iPad mini [4th generation], and iPod touch [7th generation])
  • iOS 16.3 and iPadOS 16.3: (iPhone 8 and later, iPad Pro [all models], iPad Air 3rd generation and later, iPad 5th generation and later, and iPad mini 5th generation and later)
  • macOS Monterey 12.6.3
  • macOS Big Sur 11.7.3
  • macOS Ventura 13.2
  • Safari 16.3: (macOS Big Sur and macOS Monterey)
  • tvOS 16.3: (Apple TV 4K [all models] and Apple TV HD)
  • watchOS 9.3: (Apple Watch Series 4 and later)

Keeping your phone updated is incredibly important, especially if you have an older device that stopped getting regular update support some time ago. If you have automatic updates enabled, your devices will handle the problem by itself, likely when you’re sleeping. 

If not, you can manually install the update by heading to Settings > General > then Software Update. Alternatively you can check out our guides on how to update an iPhone and how to update a Mac.

Tom Pritchard
Automotive Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.