When the iOS 16 compatibility list was announced, it was cause for celebration. Sure, the iPhone 7 and earlier were out of the running, but that still meant the iPhone 8 was in line for the new update. The five-year-old iPhone is now the oldest iPhone to be updated to the latest and greatest version of iOS, and since it’s the iPhone I own, that has to be cause for celebration. . Right?
Like many, I dread software updates, especially when it comes to older devices. The next update after the release of a phone? I hit the Update button with the strength of a thousand suns. The second? Hmm, a little worried, but I’m sure it’ll be fine. The fifth, yet? New software colliding with aging hardware is sure to be a recipe for disaster. My iPhone 8 isn’t just a backup smartphone, it’s also the iPhone I use for work, so it’s a pretty vital device, and I didn’t want to see it slow down – or worse.
So when I pressed Download and install, I did so with more than a little trepidation. But was I right to worry?
What we all fear about OS updates
My fears stem from the anecdotes we’ve all heard: “I downloaded a new update, and now my battery life is terrible”, “My phone is now very slow”, or “My phone is broken”. . Operating system updates add new features, but many feel they can also slow down your phone and reduce battery life. This conspiratorial thinking often leans toward companies using planned obsolescence, intentional sabotage that expedites the purchase of a new device by slowing down or reducing the usability of your current device.
These conspiracy theories actually paid off in 2017 when it was revealed Apple has been slow down older iPhones with new software updates. The company claimed it does this to stop unexpected shutdowns due to aging batteries. But no matter how true the story, people were furious. Much of the anger seemed to stem from the practice being hidden from general consumers. After all, a slow smartphone is infuriating, and although Apple launched an extensive free battery replacement service in the wake of this outrage, the damage was done.
Fortunately, this was largely an isolated incident, and there is little other evidence that manufacturers are intentionally slowing down other smartphones. After the reputational impact on Apple, it’s also unlikely to consider doing something like this again. But those rumors are coming from somewhere, and chances are you’ve noticed a beloved device slowing down after a major update.
In reality, any slowdown is likely to be a combination of aging hardware struggling to run more demanding software, plus a touch of simple confirmation bias. You can help avoid some of this by replacing key components, like the battery, but eventually you’ll have to accept that your device will slow down over time.
How my iPhone 8 works in iOS 16
Knowing this didn’t help the anxiety of watching my venerable iPhone 8 download and then install iOS 16. Bracing myself for the worst, I watched it reboot, and…
Uh, well, that was good, actually. In fact, it felt largely the same as before the update. It was no slower than when running iOS 15, and using it as I normally do felt exactly the same. The new features were fun and useful, and they didn’t interfere with the daily operation of the device. The standout feature was the new lock screen, which I immediately made changes to. Oddly enough, battery life, which I actually expected to take a hit, was also good.
All in all, not a bad update, really.
Apple really is the king of mobile updates
It was a shocking result, but should I have been shocked, really? Apple is by far the most accomplished cellphone maker in keeping older devices up to date. It only cut the iPhone 6S – a device released in 2015 – after seven full years of updates. When you consider that most manufacturers retire after three years at mostApple’s record is simply amazing.
But a long update queue does not mean that updates will always be of high quality. Not all updates are guaranteed to be as comprehensive as iOS 16 turned out to be, and you should always be a bit careful when installing a major new update. That’s why we always recommend backing up your iPhone before every major update, as well as once in a while, just to be on the safe side.
But even with all of these omens of doom ringing in your ears, can we take a moment to truly appreciate the incredible job Apple has done here? Not only does it continue to update a phone years after other manufacturers would have thrown in the towel, it does it brilliantly. I’ve used five-year-old smartphones before, and they don’t compare to the enjoyable experience I’m getting using the iPhone 8 in 2022.
So yes, while there is still a healthy anxiety around updates and older phones, Apple continues to buck these trends and deliver amazing upgrades year after year. Come on, iOS 17. My iPhone 8 will be ready.
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