Apple's pulling the cord on its iOS guillotine a little early this year. The next operating system update will reportedly only be available for the iPhone 5S and newer devices. That means if you have an iPhone 5 or an iPhone 5C, your expensive slab of aluminium and glass is about to become obsolete. (See the update below: you iPhone 5 might survive just a little longer.)
This will be the first time that Apple has cut off updates for a device mid-cycle. It's unclear why Tim Cook and his cronies aren't waiting until iPhone day to begin the iPhone 5's slow death, but there are some hardware limitations involved. You see, iOS 10.3.2 — an otherwise minor update, now in beta testing, that features some bug fixes and some new Siri commands — is only supported on devices with a 64-bit processor. The iPhone 5 and 5C have a 32-bit processor. So those phones won't be eligible for the update when Apple rolls it out to all users in a few weeks, and those phones probably won't see an iOS update ever again.
Put down your pitchforks for now, iPhone 5 loyalists. In recent years, Apple has made it very clear that it will eventually stop supporting those devices, presumably encouraging customers to buy a newer iPhone. It's happened a few times before. We also knew that iOS 11, set to be released this Spring, would only support 64-bit devices and probably wouldn't support the iPhone 5 or 5C.
Again, we have no idea why Apple decided to move the 64-bit requirement up six months. Maybe it wants to sell more iPhone 7s before the rumoured Tenth Anniversary Edition (a.k.a. the iPhone X) gets announced in September. Maybe there's some technical reason for the early iPhone murder-death-kill. Maybe Tim Cook is just fucking with us. Or maybe it's time you finally made the jump to a newer iPhone, before your old iPhone 5 explodes on an aeroplane. Probably not that, actually. iPhone 6s and 7s explode, too.
A tipster claims that he's successfully installed iOS 10.3.2 on an iPhone 5. He writes:
Apple has been pretty open about the upcoming move to 64-bit only which we are broadly assuming will coincide with iOS 11. It has been plain since that announcement went wide that the 32-bit hardware would eventually be deprecated along with that move, but Apple traditionally only retires hardware with major releases. I run the mobile hardware/software compat lab at my company and we are planning for all currently supported hardware to stay that way through the remainder of iOS 10. The particular ipsw file for the 10.3.2 beta that I installed even includes the flag '32-bit' in the filename, so I suspect this whole thing was probably a misread or misinterpreted changelog. In any case, it's up and running in my hot little hand running my apps like a champ, so I doubt that it's 'dropped' as Forbes reported.
Here is the Forbes post in question.
Regardless, as the tipster points out, it's widely understood that Apple will stop supporting the iPhone 5 and 5C with the release of iOS 11, so if you're using one of these phones, you might want to get used to iOS 10 and brace for bugs in the not too distant future.
Update 4:35pm - A person familiar with the situation says that iOS 10.3.2 will support the iPhone 5 and 5C, corroborating our tipster's claim.