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Explained | Here is why iPhone 7 will not get iOS 16

Explained | Here is why iPhone 7 will not get iOS 16

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An argument can be made here that if the fifth generation of the base iPad, which runs the A9 chip, is eligible for iOS 16, then the iPhone 7, which is powered by a more powerful A10 SoC (system-on-a-chip), should be too. But iPadOS 16 is no longer just iOS 16 with a different name — it has its own iPad-specific features and, more importantly, will not get the resource-intensive features coming to iOS 16.

Explained | Here is why iPhone 7 will not get iOS 16
Last year, at Worldwide Developers Conference in June, Apple surprised many when it announced that the iPhone 6s would be eligible for iOS 15 — released in September. This was a break from tradition. Apple, to that point, only supported devices for five years since the date of release, and so many were expecting iOS 14 to be the last update for the 6s and 6s Plus that were launched in 2015.
Given that the 6s was the first iPhone to sport 2 GB of RAM and its successor, the 7 too, had similar RAM, it was widely speculated that Apple's update cycle has gone up by a year, effectively keeping its iPhones "current" for seven years.
However, Apple seems to have fallen back on its five-year update cycle with iOS 16, with no mention of the iPhone 7 or 7 Plus in the list of devices eligible.
(Image: Apple)
Part of it could be the massive overhaul in the iPhone's lock screen, which would need a lot of processing power, and part of it could be the fact that iOS 15 was only an incremental update from iOS 14 and so there was no logical reason to drop the 6s from the lineup.
Come September, even without iOS 16, the iPhone 7— launched in September 2016 — will have had OS support for six years.
An argument can be made here that if the fifth generation of the base iPad, which runs the A9 chip, is eligible for iOS 16, then the iPhone 7, which is powered by a more powerful A10 SoC (system-on-a-chip), should be too. But iPadOS 16 is no longer just iOS 16 with a different name — it has its iPad-specific features and, more importantly, will not get the resource-intensive features coming to iOS 16.
During the keynote, Apple rattled off a dizzying number of such features that need an A12 Bionic SoC or later to run. The A12 Bionic powers the Xs, Xs Max and XR. Here's the list of features older iPhones — including the iPhone X — will not support:
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Live Text in Video: Apple introduced 'Live Text'— its answer to Google Lens — with iOS 15. With iOS 16, Apple has brought the feature to work in videos as well.
Siri: Apple will introduce some features specific to its AI voice assistant, such as hanging up the phone and adding emojis to a text via dictation.
New dictation features: Apple announced new dictation features, wherein the users can switch between dictation and typing seamlessly and even insert auto suggestions using voice.
Medication: Apple will allow users to scan and add their medication to their Health app. This feature will not be supported by older phones.
Live captions: A new feature that allows users to transcribe conversations in real-time — a feature supported only by iPhone 11 or later.
Visual lookup: This is perhaps the most exciting of all camera-related features. Visual Lookup allows users to take a photograph of any object and look it up — plants, animals, et al. Users can also long process the subject of a photo, create an instant cutout and paste it into other apps, including iMessage.
Camera: iOS 16 will bring improvements to Cinematic Video, which is available only in iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max, and the ability to change the depth of field in portrait shots. This will not be available in older iPhones.
Apple withholding new features from older iPhones is nothing new. In 2019, while announcing iOS 13, Apple introduced the High-Key Light Mono filter in the portrait mode, but it was available only for phones running A12 Bionic (Xs, Xs Max and XR) and later.
Earlier this year, through a "dot update" — an iOS 15.x update — Apple supported Face ID unlock when users wear masks, but it was only available for iPhone 12 and later. The iPhone 11, equipped with the still-blazing fast A13 Bionic chip, was left out.
The huge user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) changes — internal and external — that iOS 16 is bringing could very well have played a role in Apple's decision to drop iPhone 7 from the list this year. As things stand, the second and third generations of the iPhone SE, released in 2020 and 2022, respectively, will be the only iOS 16 devices sporting the home button and Touch ID, at least till September 2023.
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