When iOS 16 launches this fall, it could leave millions of iPhone users needing to upgrade their phones. That’s because iOS 16 only works on the iPhone 8 and above, with some features even requiring a later Apple device to function.
This is bad news for iPhone users—and not just because of the iOS 16 features you’ll miss out on. If you can’t upgrade to iOS 16, it also means you won’t receive security updates to your iPhone, which could of course leave you at risk.
Apple has been very proactive with iPhone security updates of late, pushing them out almost monthly over the last couple years. Some of the security updates have been for iPhone and iPad vulnerabilities already being exploited—in other words, used by adversaries in real-life attacks.
In the past, that might not have been an issue—Apple updated iOS 14 for months after iOS 15 came out, with important security upgrades. Although the iPhone maker didn’t patch every single iOS 15 vulnerability in iOS 14, the average person could be pretty happy their iPhone was safe. But then Apple stopped the iOS 14 updates, which meant you needed to upgrade to the latest version of iOS 15 to make sure your iPhone was secure.
Apple has been known to issue updates for older operating systems when the iPhone vulnerability was particularly serious—for example, iOS 12.5.5 patched the issue used for “zero-click” Pegasus attacks. However, this is a rare occurrence. You need to be on the latest version of iOS in order to stay secure.
iOS 16 iPhones—what to do to stay secure
It’s not ideal, of course—while an iPhone’s life is not infinite, not everyone can afford to upgrade their devices when iOS 16 comes out later this year. So what can you do?
I’m hoping that Apple continues upgrading iOS 15 with important security updates, as it did with iOS 14, but we can’t bank on it. If it does update iOS 15, it’ll probably buy you a few more months.
In addition, there are steps you can take to secure your iPhone once iOS 16 comes out. For general iPhone security, be careful about the apps you download. At the same time, it makes sense to check the apps on your iPhone regularly and delete any you don’t need.
Stay vigilant, especially if you think you could be a target—be wary of your message and email attachments, don’t click on random links and be careful when you use your browser.