These iOS 15 features aren't coming to older iPhones (and iPads)


iOS 15 brings many small innovations, for example for FaceTime, notifications and weather. The list of devices that will receive the update is impressive, but it doesn't mean you can use everything. We already found a few exceptions in the fine print on Apple's website. For some functions you must have a device with A12 Bionic processor, but what does that mean in concrete terms? We explain this below using device names.

  • Why don't functions work?
  • If you have an iPhone 12 model
  • I have an iPhone XS (Max), iPhone XR, iPhone 11 model, or iPhone SE 2020 or older
  • I have an iPhone 8 (Plus), iPhone X or older
  • I have an iPhone 7 (Plus) or older
  • I have an iPhone 6s (Plus) or iPhone SE 2016< /li>
  • I have an iPad

All iPhones that run on iOS 14 also carry over to iOS 15. This applies to all devices since the iPhone 6s from 2015. And with the iPads, Apple goes back much further because even the iPad Air 2 from 2014 (!) gets another update. You can read which devices are suitable for iOS 15 in a separate article. There you will also find the list of suitable iPads.

I have an iPhone 12
On the iPhone 12 series you actually get all the innovations from iOS 15, but there are are also a few features that won't be available until later in the year. This is the case, for example, with:

  • SharePlay (for music, to follow in later beta or release only)
  • Pictures Review (for music, to follow in later beta or only on release)
  • Shared with you (for music, will follow in later beta or only on release)
  • Spatial audio with dynamic master tracking (to follow in later beta or release)
  • Hide my email (to follow in later beta or release)
  • Announce messages in CarPlay (to follow in later beta or upon release)

These features are coming to the iPhone 12 series, but may not be visible yet as Apple has them planned for a future software update. ‘Hide my email’ we already found it in the beta, but according to information on the Apple website, it will only be available later in 2021. It's part of the new privacy features in iOS 15.

I have an iPhone XS (Max), iPhone XR, iPhone 11 model, or iPhone SE 2020 or older
By far the most functions are available on devices that have at least an A12 Bionic chip. The models we have mentioned above are all equipped with an A12 or A13 Bionic chip, so you are completely fine with that. However, Apple does have one feature that for understandable reasons only applies to the iPhone 12 series, which is this:

  • Improved connectivity for 5G: Faster 5G connections for a variety of activities, such as iCloud backup and restore, audio and video streaming through Apple and third-party apps, download higher quality Apple TV+ content, sync photos with iCloud Photos, update Apple News+ articles for offline reading and machine learning model downloads. You only get this on the iPhone 12 models, because only those have 5G.
  • Enhanced panorama mode in photos: the geometric distortion is reduced and moving objects are better fixed. You only get this on the iPhone 12 series and newer.

You will also initially not see the above-mentioned functions that come later on your iPhone XS or newer.

< p>I have an iPhone 8 (Plus), iPhone X or older
You will miss a lot of functions on this device because there is no A12 Bionic in it.

You will not get these functions:

  • Spatial Audio for FaceTime.
  • Portrait mode with background blur for FaceTime.
  • Animated wallpapers in the Weather app.
  • Interactive globe in the Apple Maps app.
  • Immersive walking directions: Look around your surroundings while walking to a destination.
  • Detailed info on cities in the Maps app: only applies to cities like London, San Francisco and a handful of others.
  • Live text: Text in photos recognize and copy. Moreover, according to Apple, it only works in the languages ​​mentioned below, but we got it to work in Dutch as well.

  • House keys, office keys and hotel room keys in the Wallet app.
  • CarKey: Open car and start with your iPhone.
  • Use car key from Wallet to honk the horn, preheat your car and open the trunk.
  • Ultra Wideband support for your car keys.
  • Siri speech processing on the device itself: It is no longer sent to Apple, but processing is done on the device by the Neural Engine (if equipped). This is better for your privacy. This on-device processing is also faster.

  • Siri gets more personal: This means that Siri is increasingly taking your preferences into account. Siri learns which people you have the most contact with, which new words you use and which topics you like to read about. This happens locally on your device and requires quite a bit of computing power.
  • Siri offline: Siri can now handle a lot of requests offline, such as timers and alarms, messages, sharing, apps start up, control audio and adjust settings.
  • Dictation locallyon your device in more languages, including Arabic, French, Italian, German and more. Dutch is not included.
  • Continuous dictation: the 60-second limit no longer applies.
  • Zoom in QuickTake videos’s< /strong>: You can adjust the zoom by swiping up or down.

I have an iPhone 7 (Plus) or older
If you have an iPhone 7 (Plus) you are missing all the above features and also this one:

  • Walking stability: This is a score for the degree to which you walk stable and provides insight into how much risk you have of falling. Special algorithms are used for this that look at strength, balance and the like. You will be notified if your walking stability is low. Apple also gives you exercises to improve.

I have an iPhone 6s (Plus) or iPhone SE 2016
For you, all the functions mentioned above are excluded. But don't worry, there are plenty of things you do get, such as all the improvements for Safari, SharePlay, Focus, finding your device after wiping, notifications if you leave your device somewhere, privacy improvements, all kinds of health functions and much more.

However, you are missing all the features mentioned above and you are also missing these:

  • Spatial Audio with Dynamic Head Tracking: This gives a more immersive experience when you Using AirPods Pro or AirPods.

What about iPadOS 15 features on older iPads?

Many innovations in iPadOS 15 require Apple to have at least an A12 Bionic processor. This can be found in the:

  • iPad Air 2019
  • iPad mini 2019
  • iPad 2020
  • iPad Pro 2018 ( A12X Bionic to be precise)

This means that all previous models miss the following features:

  • Spatial Audio for FaceTime.
  • Portrait mode for FaceTime.
  • Interactive globe.
  • Detailed information about cities.
  • Siri speech processing on your device.
  • Siri personalization.
  • Use Siri offline.< /li>
  • Dictate locally on your iPad in new languages, including Arabic, French, etc.
  • Continuous dictation with no 60-second limit.

Most these points are discussed in more detail at the beginning of this article.

There are also three exceptions for the iPad:

  • Improved connectivity of 5G: Only for iPad Pro 2021 on models with 5G.
  • Universal Control: All iPad Pro models and iPad Air 2019, iPad 2019 onwards and iPad mini 2019 (en .
  • Spatial Audio with head tracking: from the iPad Pro 2018, iPad Air 2019, iPad 2019 and the iPad mini 2019.

Why features are missing: the hardware can't handle it

However, with older devices, functions may not work. For example, the new FaceTime feature that lets you blur the background is only available on more recent models because it requires more computing power. The 2015 iPhone 6s still runs on an A9 chip, even before Apple's Neural Engines and “Fusion” designations. and ‘Bionic’ added. In September, the iPhone 6s will be six years old, so we're impressed that Apple is still releasing new features for it. The 6s was a popular model because it offered such good performance at the time.

The iPhone 7 from 2016 has an A10 Fusion chip, the first quad-core processor in an iPhone. Funnily enough, Apple reused the same A10 Fusion chip three years later in a device that didn't come out until 2019, namely the entry-level iPad. Around that time, Apple was already ready for the A13 Bionic chip, which was much faster. Apple promises to release updates for at least four years, so owners of an iPad 2019 can count on them to still be able to update in 2023.

The most special thing is the iPad Air 2 from 2014: it will receive an update to iPadOS 15 but still running on an A8X processor!

Revision history:

  • 2021 – June 10, 4:24 PM: We have added the iPhone X to the item about the iPhone 8. Both have the same processor.