Left behind: the iPhones Apple stops supporting with iOS 17

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In the recent WWDC keynote, Apple made headlines with its release of the Apple Vision Pro mixed reality headset, as well as the latest iPhone software update, iOS 17. This update promises a host of cool new features to the millions of iPhone users across the globe. However, as was the case in last year’s move, Apple is once again leaving a portion of its loyal customer base behind.

With the introduction of iOS 17, Apple has decided to exclude the iPhone 8 and iPhone X from the list of compatible devices. These two models, released in 2017, miss out on the latest operating system, leaving users in a state of technological stagnation.

It is worth noting that Apple’s decision to exclude these older models is not unprecedented, as the company has historically always had a cut-off point beyond which it no longer supports older devices. For example, the original iPhone and iPhone 3G received two major iOS updates, while subsequent models usually enjoyed software updates for five to six years. The iPhone 6s, for instance, defied expectations by becoming the first generation to witness a seventh iOS version.

However, this year’s decision to abandon the iPhone 8 and iPhone X is a reminder that Apple, like all major tech companies, continues to have limits when it comes to supporting older devices. While the introduction of iOS 17 is highly anticipated by many, it’s just as much a disappointment for those being left behind. For those that are still more than happy with their iPhone 8 or iPhone X, to enjoy all the latest innovations will require an upgrade to a newer device.

If you do have an iOS 17-compatible device, the public beta is now live, along with many new features.

Which iPhones are compatible with iOS 17?

Any iPhone from 2018 onwards can run the upcoming software update, including the iPhone XS through to the recent iPhone 14 Pro Max. Anyone with these phones benefits from the upcoming new features like live voicemail transcription, improvements to the Health app, and family check-in services. If you have an older phone? No dice.

More than just fancy new features, software updates are important for securing your device and data. Incremental updates close up dangerous vulnerabilities that threaten your privacy. Unfortunately, upgrading to a new phone is costly, prohibitively so for many people. One solution is to consider purchasing a refurbished phone. This way, you can get a more recent model for cheaper and in like-new condition.

iPhone iOS 17 compatible chart - Statista
A history of iOS compatibility. Source: Statista.

Another consideration when upgrading to a new phone is what you do with your old device. Australians generate a lot of e-waste per capita, and MobileMuster estimates that only eight per cent of phones get sold or traded when upgrading. Fortunately, you have multiple options at your disposal. One is to trade in your old iPhone to Apple. If it’s a recent enough model, you’ll get some value towards an upgrade. At the very least, it ensures the phone gets properly recycled.

Another method for all types of phones is to use the Boost Trade-In app. By just following a few simple tests, you can assess your device for trading in, its value, and even receive an Aus Post label to send it away. Take for example, my iPhone X 256GB, which at the time cost $1,829. Boost Mobile is currently offering $220 as a trade in for it, and when you take that off the price of a refurbished iPhone 12, I’m looking at a changeover of $579 for a like-for-like capacity iPhone with better hardware and is compatible with iOS 17.

How does Apple compare to others?

Between five and six years of software support for a phone is actually pretty decent by modern standards. It wasn’t that long ago that Samsung only guaranteed three years of OS upgrades, which has thankfully since increased. Plenty of budget phones only offer between two or three years of software upgrades, albeit usually with longer security update commitments.

As phones like the Nokia G22 and G42 encourage users to repair devices at home, saving money and prolonging hardware life, it’s important that software support follows suit. If manufacturers are truly committed to reducing e-waste, then OS updates need to last the distance too.

iOS 17 is exciting, there’s no doubting that. However, plenty of us get left behind when software support stops for older phones. As users, we need to make informed decisions based on our own needs and circumstances when considering an upgrade. At the same time, tech companies need to meet us halfway, if not to consider their customers during tough economic times, then to at least commit to a sustainable future of long-term device use.

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