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Still using an iPhone 6? Upgrade now to fix this hacking risk

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

If you’re running an iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, you’ll be greeted with a rare sight in the Settings app: an update is available for iOS 12, the first since September 2021.

As you might expect when Apple issues a patch for eight-to-nine-year-old hardware, the patch should be taken very seriously indeed. iOS 12.5.6 (opens in new tab) targets an exploit that was recently fixed in iOS 16 and macOS 12 where a malicious website could run code on your phone when opened in Safari or another browser on your iPhone.

“Processing maliciously crafted web content may lead to arbitrary code execution,” Apple writes in the patch notes, adding that it is “aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited.”

As well as the three ageing iPhones, the update is also available for owners of the first-generation iPad Air, second and third-generation iPad minis, and sixth-generation iPod touch. Devices newer than these are capable of running iOS 15, so should already be covered, assuming you’ve been keeping your software up to date.

If you own one of the above devices, you should definitely download the patch as soon as possible. If not prompted by iOS, you can force an update by going to Settings, then General, then Software Update. Given the limited internal storage of Apple devices from that era (the iPhone 5s could have as little as 16GB), you may need to delete some apps to free up enough space.

Suffice it to say, if you are still running a device this old, you should consider upgrading to one of the best iPhones. Not only will a nearly-decade-old device likely struggle to last the day thanks to the ageing battery, you’ll find modern iPhones are improved in every way, from the sharp OLED screens to the improved photography and more generous internal storage. 

But you may want to hold off a week longer, even if you have finally decided to upgrade. Apple is set to unveil the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro to the world at an event next Wednesday, and even if you don’t want to pay the undoubtedly high cost of entry, new hardware means price cuts for other still desirable models in the iOS family.

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.