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You won’t get any of these exciting new iOS 15 features if your iPhone is 3+ years old

Published Jul 15th, 2021 9:20AM EDT
iOS 15 Features
Image: Apple

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Apple at WWDC last month officially took the wraps off of iOS 15, the latest update to the company’s mobile OS. While the list of iOS 15 features may not contain a singular blow-away item, the update is nonetheless compelling in its own right. Per usual, Apple at WWDC didn’t even have time to touch on all of the interesting new features iOS 15 is poised to bring to the table. The return of the magnification loupe for text selection and drag and drop functionality between apps are just two examples.

If you have an older iPhone, it’s worth noting that you may not be able to enjoy every iOS 15 feature. While Apple does an admirable job of ensuring new iOS releases work on older devices, not every iPhone can support some of iOS 15’s more advanced features.

Not every iPhone can run iOS 15

iOS 15 will run on the iPhone 6S and any device released subsequently. Note that this includes the first generation of the iPhone SE.

What iOS 15 features will not work on older iPhones

The simple reality is that older iPhone hardware can’t take advantage of every new iOS 15 feature. Specifically, some iOS 15 features, at a minimum, require an A12 Bionic processor. Apple’s A12 processor made its debut on the iPhone XS and XR models in 2018.

Portrait Mode

One feature that won’t work on iPhone models released before 2018 is Portrait mode when video chatting via Facetime.

Enhanced Apple Maps features

Apple Maps with iOS 15 is getting a few nice enhancements. Some new features, like immersive AR for walking directions, will require a more recent device.

Live Text

Live Text is one of the cooler iOS 15 features Apple introduced last month. The feature, in a nutshell, allows users to extract text from photos. It’s basically built-in OCR right on your device without having to rely on third-party software. Even cooler is that Live Text can understand seven different languages and can translate text in real-time.

Spatial Audio

Spatial Audio is a great new feature that will require the use of an iPhone 7.

Digital Keys

With iOS 15, users can use their iPhone to unlock their home, garage, and workplace. Taking advantage of this feature, however, requires an iPhone XS or later.

Some great iOS 15 features that will run on all devices

Push notifications for rain

– iOS 15 includes support for push notifications for when it’s about to rain, snow, or hail.

Security updates without updating – Finally, users can update important security updates without having to update their entire mobile OS.

No limit for on-device dictation – Users in iOS 15 can now dictate messages that exceed 60 seconds.

Pull to refresh functionality for mobile Safari – Mobile Safari has a brand new look that not everyone loves. Functionality-wise, however, we can all agree that the ability to “pull to refresh” a page is long overdue.

Locate an erased iPhone – Apple writes: “The Find My network and Activation Lock can locate your device even after it has been erased. To help ensure that nobody is tricked into purchasing your device, the Hello screen will clearly show that your device is locked, locatable, and still yours.”

Other iOS 15 features to look forward to include SharePlay and Focus.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.