Author Topic: What happens when Apple stops supporting a phone, still ok to buy one?  (Read 1106 times)

tooqk4u22

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Need to get a new phone and the prices on the iPhone 6 are good but I think that is because apple will no longer be supporting them.   What does this mean? Will the phone still work and be usable time to come or are they basically doomed to not work soon?

Would I be better off getting a new model?

BobbyTables

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I am in the same situation but with an Android phone. I bought a refurbished one that was about 1.5 years released when I bought it, a month later the manufacturer released what will be probably the last update.

I do not know much about the iOS specific policy but what this probably means is that the phone will work absolutely fine. Maybe a year or two from now new apps will come out that will not work on your phone. However, the biggest problem will be that when a vulnerability is found in iOS, your phone will remain vulnerable because it is not updated. For Android you can usually find patched versions online, not sure about Apple though.

Alfred J Quack

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The risk of a non-supported phone is basically 2-fold:
1. No more system updates means that any security holes found in the system will no longer be patched. An example of this is Windows XP but also Android 4.4, 5 and 6 if it isn't up to date with security, there are known security holes which are actively abused for phishing, man in the middle attacks (I insert myself between you and your bank and see the traffic between) and other attacks.
2. In future, app updates will require a minimum OS version which is beyond what is installed on the device. This means that eventually apps like Whatsapp and Facebook will no longer work on the outdated device. This is basically out of security concerns but also because a new version contains new functionality and supporting multiple OS versions is expensive for a developer.

DeepEllumStache

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I have an iPhone 6.

There are still software updates but Apple optimizes those updates towards newer phones. This is likely the last year I'll get updates though and some of them have been less than awesome for my battery life.

It's been a great phone. It originally got heavy usage, but it probably couldn't handle that level anymore. Now it works fine for light usage and a watchful eye on battery life. The ending of software updates will make me a bit more cautious of what I use it for as well since there could be a security hole. It also means that some of the apps will stop working.

If you're looking for a phone that does fine with light usage and the software update cycle isn't a concern for you, it is a great deal. If you need a phone that is guaranteed to not have weird battery issues or problems with your bank's app for the next few years, then you might want to find a different option.

robartsd

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One thing going for iPhone 6 is that iPhone SE with less capable hardware was still available new from Apple until last fall. I'm guessing that all currently supported models will be supported for the next version of iOS, but that will be the last version for models released before iPhone 7. In some ways iPhone beats Android because update support is much more predictable, on the other hand, Android app developers seem to support older OS releases than iOS app developers do.

Alfred J Quack

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One thing going for iPhone 6 is that iPhone SE with less capable hardware was still available new from Apple until last fall. I'm guessing that all currently supported models will be supported for the next version of iOS, but that will be the last version for models released before iPhone 7. In some ways iPhone beats Android because update support is much more predictable, on the other hand, Android app developers seem to support older OS releases than iOS app developers do.

Less capable? If I recall correctly, the SE has the same internals as either the 6 or 6s but in a smaller format.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPhone_SE

Car Jack

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In my humble opinion, the only disadvantage to an older phone is that it may not be capable of running a newer app or work with a newer email system.

This past year, I had to replace my perfectly good 4s because our work email system changed and the old phone did not have the option to add it.  I got a new and improved phone.  A used 5s. 

I'll add that I NEVER update the ios ever.  My phone works fine.....I'd like it to continue this.  Back in my 4s days, beyond....from memory....ios 7.1, I think.....battery throttling did not exist.  So while my friends with new wizz bang new iPhones were slowing down like slugs, I was blazing fast with a battery that lasted forever.  And yes, I do yell at clouds.  Get off my lawn.

chemistk

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As others have said, the phone itself will continue to work for a long time. Apple's native apps will be just fine and you'll be able to do calls/texts/browsing/email probably for as long as the phone will last you. Some stuff will eventually become unsupported, mostly because the hardware can't keep up anymore. Planned obsolescence is a wonderful thing, isn't it?

How important is your personal information? Will you be using online banking apps? Paypal? Venmo? If you're planning on using your new (to you) phone for stuff that requires your personal security, I'd be supremely cautious about how you treat the phone.

Syonyk

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Need to get a new phone and the prices on the iPhone 6 are good but I think that is because apple will no longer be supporting them.   What does this mean? Will the phone still work and be usable time to come or are they basically doomed to not work soon?

It won't "stop working" in the typical sense, but it will be less and less useful over time as it can't run more modern OSes/applications.

My primary concern about out-of-OS-support hardware is the security side.  A few years back, I made the conscious decision to not run any hardware that was out of OS support.  You can, but it's a risk I'm not willing to take on my hardware.

Quote
Would I be better off getting a new model?

What do you use it for?

If it's an infrequently used device, that you rarely access the internet with, it's probably fine for a year or so out of OS support (you do get critical security patches for a while after OS support ends).  If you use it heavily, I wouldn't be comfortable running more than a few months past OS support.

markbike528CBX

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I have a iPhone 3gs.   Works fine as a phone and light browsing over WiFi.
I would not use it for financial reasons, mostly because I hate, hate the iOS interface you're forced to use vs the standard web interface, so two times the user training.

iPhone 6 will run current iOS 12 (with some application exceptions).
It will run 4G (LTE) phone, which isn't going away anytime soon (3G is still supported most places/networks).

I've found https://everymac.com/systems/apple/iphone/specs/apple-iphone-6-a1549-4.7-inch-cdma-verizon-north-america-specs.html   ----useful for seeing what the minimum iPhone that  would be useable for my needs.


ketchup

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My primary concern about out-of-OS-support hardware is the security side.  A few years back, I made the conscious decision to not run any hardware that was out of OS support.  You can, but it's a risk I'm not willing to take on my hardware.
+1  I did the same.

And anyone that doesn't think there are a ton of 0day exploits waiting for the day support ends for a previous version of iOS, Windows, Office, etc. is just asking for trouble.

I keep my stuff up to date.  No more Windows XP/7, no more hokey old phones.  It's not worth my peace of mind.  It's part of why I went Apple in smartphoneland.  I have an iPhone 7 and it'll likely still be supported on current iOS for a number of years.

Same reason we're spending silly money replacing all our Cisco switches at work next year...

Syonyk

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And anyone that doesn't think there are a ton of 0day exploits waiting for the day support ends for a previous version of iOS, Windows, Office, etc. is just asking for trouble.

Yeah.  It would be interesting to see what markbike's 3GS has on it that's not supposed to be there.  The ad networks scare me, among other sources of evil on the internet.

Quote
I keep my stuff up to date.  No more Windows XP/7, no more hokey old phones.  It's not worth my peace of mind.  It's part of why I went Apple in smartphoneland.  I have an iPhone 7 and it'll likely still be supported on current iOS for a number of years.

Agree.  Apple maintains support for longer than other companies, and the updates are prompt.  There's no "Oh, yeah, well, an updated version was released, but... enh, the guy who maintains your phone is on vacation, so... maybe we'll get you the update in 6 months, unless we decide not to..." thing that goes on over in Androidland.  The Google/Nexus/Pixel/(whatever they're calling them this week) devices are OK, but still don't get nearly the same length of OS support that Apple regularly provides.

Now that (on the desktop side) all the devices are pure 64-bit EFI hardware, I'm hoping that we see quite long support there as well.

geekette

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Apple will probably announce which phones will be able to update to iOS 13 at WWDC on June 3. 

markbike528CBX

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Yeah.  It would be interesting to see what markbike's 3GS has on it that's not supposed to be there.  The ad networks scare me, among other sources of evil on the internet.

I'm interested also.  Would anyone describe or point me to the way to find out what is "not supposed to be there"?
Otherwise, I'll assume that Syonyk has had the "must upgrade or die" Apple kool-aid.   Really, where is the boogyman? Convince me please.
I have no password chain software, just a few non-Apple apps -JGFFT Viewer is my fave, a sound frequency analyzer.

As I noted no financial stuff is on the 3gs. 

I had been using a Mac G5 until January 2019, and I felt pretty safe, being a whole chip architecture back, and 9 MacOS revisions back.
Edit to get quotes right.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2019, 12:13:30 AM by markbike528CBX »

frugaldrummer

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I have an iPhone 5, still running IOS 10. I haven't updated it out of fear it'll mess up the phone. However, I've recently run up against the first problem with this. Bought tickets for an event that were electronic tickets - BUT- had to have IOS 11 to put them on your phone in such a way that didn't require a good internet connection on your phone at the gate. Was able to work around but could have been a problem. I don't want a new phone because mine is nice and small and still has the regular type of headphone jack, which I use.

robartsd

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Yeah.  It would be interesting to see what markbike's 3GS has on it that's not supposed to be there.  The ad networks scare me, among other sources of evil on the internet.

I'm interested also.  Would anyone describe or point me to the way to find out what is "not supposed to be there"?
Otherwise, I'll assume that Syonyk has had the "must upgrade or die" Apple kool-aid.   Really, where is the boogyman? Convince me please.
I have no password chain software, just a few non-Apple apps -JGFFT Viewer is my fave, a sound frequency analyzer.

As I noted no financial stuff is on the 3gs. 

I had been using a Mac G5 until January 2019, and I felt pretty safe, being a whole chip architecture back, and 9 MacOS revisions back.
Edit to get quotes right.
He wasn't talking about userland apps. You could have 3rd party background processes installed using a security exploit without your knowledge. Most serious exploit would be accessing your personal data on the phone - since you don't use it for financial account access, next highest target is likely your address book. You also may have some extra trackers on the device (but ad networks have figured out ways to track most people without illicit device access anyway).

I personally use TenFourFox and leopard-webkit to have reasonably updated network apps on my PowerBook G4 without worrying all that much about OS security. Network access is always behind a NAT and almost always on a reasonably trusted local network, so I don't have to worry much about the base OS security as long as the network apps are good. I also use uMatrix to restrict scripts and other active content in my browser (helps with both performance and security). I'm happy to have my x86 based machines (currently a Core 2 Duo desktop and a notebook that more clunky as my PowerBook) on Debian stable (LXDE desktop environment). I initially chose Debian because PowerPC Macs were still officially supported when I was looking at Linux distros - but I didn't switch my PowerBook because the linux driver for my trackpad didn't support 2 finger scrolling (I use iScroll2 in Mac OS X).

Cassie

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I bought a android phone from a AT&T store and didnít know it was a older version and it wasnít cheap. 18 months later had all sorts of problems with it and they basically said you need a new phone. I bought it out of town and didnít know it wasnít a company store so they had no recourse.

Enigma

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https://www.macrumors.com/2018/07/05/yet-another-iphone-slowdown-class-action/

Apple has been known to start throttling back the older phones.  Also pushing software that makes the phone appear to have less space.

markbike528CBX

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Yeah.  It would be interesting to see what markbike's 3GS has on it that's not supposed to be there.  The ad networks scare me, among other sources of evil on the internet.

I'm interested also.  Would anyone describe or point me to the way to find out what is "not supposed to be there"?
Otherwise, I'll assume that Syonyk has had the "must upgrade or die" Apple kool-aid.   Really, where is the boogyman? Convince me please.
I have no password chain software, just a few non-Apple apps -JGFFT Viewer is my fave, a sound frequency analyzer.

As I noted no financial stuff is on the 3gs. 

I had been using a Mac G5 until January 2019, and I felt pretty safe, being a whole chip architecture back, and 9 MacOS revisions back.
Edit to get quotes right.
He wasn't talking about userland apps. You could have 3rd party background processes installed using a security exploit without your knowledge. Most serious exploit would be accessing your personal data on the phone - since you don't use it for financial account access, next highest target is likely your address book. You also may have some extra trackers on the device (but ad networks have figured out ways to track most people without illicit device access anyway).

I personally use TenFourFox and leopard-webkit to have reasonably updated network apps on my PowerBook G4 without worrying all that much about OS security. Network access is always behind a NAT and almost always on a reasonably trusted local network, so I don't have to worry much about the base OS security as long as the network apps are good. I also use uMatrix to restrict scripts and other active content in my browser (helps with both performance and security). I'm happy to have my x86 based machines (currently a Core 2 Duo desktop and a notebook that more clunky as my PowerBook) on Debian stable (LXDE desktop environment). I initially chose Debian because PowerPC Macs were still officially supported when I was looking at Linux distros - but I didn't switch my PowerBook because the linux driver for my trackpad didn't support 2 finger scrolling (I use iScroll2 in Mac OS X).
I felt the need to upgrade from my PowerMac G5 (desktop) because some financial websites like Vandguard wouldn't accept TenFourFox( a Mozilla 45 build).
The 3gs phone is my first self-owned ( 2018)  cell phone.  It has minimal contact info on it. Location finding is OFF.
It works great for streaming internet radio ( KEXP, WACKEN, KAPA- Hawaiian)

Return to question, how do I determine what/if bad stuff is on it.

Syonyk

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I'm interested also.  Would anyone describe or point me to the way to find out what is "not supposed to be there"?
Otherwise, I'll assume that Syonyk has had the "must upgrade or die" Apple kool-aid.   Really, where is the boogyman? Convince me please.
I have no password chain software, just a few non-Apple apps -JGFFT Viewer is my fave, a sound frequency analyzer.

Apple doesn't expose anything in the way of APIs you could use to determine if it's running bonus background software.  It's one of the problems with iOS - while pretty robust, there's no way to tell if robustness has failed.

You can assume what you want about me, but I have solid technical reasons for refusing to run things out of OS support at this point (Meltdown, Spectre, Foreshadow, the recent load/store buffer issues, etc - admittedly Intel/x86, but that's the bulk of the machines I admin).  Practically speaking, staying in the realm of hardware support isn't a major factor in my budget, and the amount of time I've spent trying to keep older hardware up to date was significant.  You can make it work on most computers, but it gets increasingly time consuming.  It's cheaper to just buy something lightly used and not worry about it.

However, if you're on a 3GS, you're stuck on 6.1.6 or so - here's a list of vulnerabilities impacting 6.1.6: https://www.cvedetails.com/vulnerability-list/vendor_id-49/product_id-15556/version_id-204207/Apple-Iphone-Os-6.1.6.html

FireEye has a vuln that works on 6.1.6 to monitor everything going on: https://www.fireeye.com/blog/threat-research/2014/02/background-monitoring-on-non-jailbroken-ios-7-devices-and-a-mitigation.html

And I'm sure there are others.  If you're comfortable running something vulnerable to that laundry list, fine.  I'm not.

Apple has been known to start throttling back the older phones.  Also pushing software that makes the phone appear to have less space.

I'm generally OK with that, as one impacted.  My 6S will crash if cold, and the throttling fixes it.  Even with a replacement battery, I still have problems below about 30% state of charge if I'm trying to use the camera.

Return to question, how do I determine what/if bad stuff is on it.

On that age of a device?  You exploit it yourself and see what you can find that's not supposed to be there.

Tris Prior

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iPhone 6 will run current iOS 12 (with some application exceptions).

Like, what exceptions? I have a 6 and I've been putting off and putting off upgrading out of fear that I'll end up with a brick. I don't even know which iOS I have on it, probably 10? My banking apps stopped working unless I upgrade, or else I would leave it be. I'm nervous about killing my phone with this upgrade.

markbike528CBX

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iPhone 6 will run current iOS 12 (with some application exceptions).

Like, what exceptions? I have a 6 and I've been putting off and putting off upgrading out of fear that I'll end up with a brick. I don't even know which iOS I have on it, probably 10? My banking apps stopped working unless I upgrade, or else I would leave it be. I'm nervous about killing my phone with this upgrade.

Per https://everymac.com/systems/apple/iphone/specs/apple-iphone-6-a1549-4.7-inch-cdma-verizon-north-america-specs.html
"This model is fully supported by the last version of iOS 9 as well as the last version of iOS 10 with the exception of the minor Raise to Wake feature. It is supported by iOS 11 with the exception of the minor "Appointment confirmation" feature. It is supported by the current version of iOS 12, as well, with the exception of the Memoji, Camera Effects, ARKit 2, and Siri Suggestions features."

So basically, only apps introduced with the later iOS won't work, the iOS should run fine.

Penelope Vandergast

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Depends on what you want to use it for. Phone calls, photos, texting, and maybe a little map searching or email? Old phone is fine. I got my teenager an iPhone 4 for $20 on Craigslist and it's been great for almost 3 years. (Now of course teenager wants an app that doesn't work with their old OS, but. We'll see if that phase passes.)

I have an iPhone 5 that I bought for I think $75 or something. Works great, I use Ting. I don't have any interest in putting my refrigerator on the internet or whatever, and I don't do anything financial with it (I don't even have Facebook on the thing) so for me it's completely adequate. I'm actually thinking about going back to my old flip phone or getting some obsolete Blackberry to be honest.

Penelope Vandergast

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I should add that I got teenager a case for his phone that is also an auxiliary battery, so he doesn't have to worry about his old phone dying after a couple of hours.

markbike528CBX

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I'm interested also.  Would anyone describe or point me to the way to find out what is "not supposed to be there"?
Otherwise, I'll assume that Syonyk has had the "must upgrade or die" Apple kool-aid.   Really, where is the boogyman? Convince me please.
I have no password chain software, just a few non-Apple apps -JGFFT Viewer is my fave, a sound frequency analyzer.

Apple doesn't expose anything in the way of APIs you could use to determine if it's running bonus background software.  It's one of the problems with iOS - while pretty robust, there's no way to tell if robustness has failed.

You can assume what you want about me, but I have solid technical reasons for refusing to run things out of OS support at this point (Meltdown, Spectre, Foreshadow, the recent load/store buffer issues, etc - admittedly Intel/x86, but that's the bulk of the machines I admin).  Practically speaking, staying in the realm of hardware support isn't a major factor in my budget, and the amount of time I've spent trying to keep older hardware up to date was significant.  You can make it work on most computers, but it gets increasingly time consuming.  It's cheaper to just buy something lightly used and not worry about it.

However, if you're on a 3GS, you're stuck on 6.1.6 or so - here's a list of vulnerabilities impacting 6.1.6: https://www.cvedetails.com/vulnerability-list/vendor_id-49/product_id-15556/version_id-204207/Apple-Iphone-Os-6.1.6.html

FireEye has a vuln that works on 6.1.6 to monitor everything going on: https://www.fireeye.com/blog/threat-research/2014/02/background-monitoring-on-non-jailbroken-ios-7-devices-and-a-mitigation.html

And I'm sure there are others.  If you're comfortable running something vulnerable to that laundry list, fine.  I'm not.

Apple has been known to start throttling back the older phones.  Also pushing software that makes the phone appear to have less space.

I'm generally OK with that, as one impacted.  My 6S will crash if cold, and the throttling fixes it.  Even with a replacement battery, I still have problems below about 30% state of charge if I'm trying to use the camera.

Return to question, how do I determine what/if bad stuff is on it.

On that age of a device?  You exploit it yourself and see what you can find that's not supposed to be there.

Thanks for the response Syonyk. 
Since you are an admin for many Intel/x86 users, I can well see your point of view. 
Given my uses, I don't care enough. The kool-aid comment was click/response bait, sorry about that.

I am curious on how to "exploit" my phone. It sounds kinky, therefore my curiosity.

I've looked at the CVEDETAILS, and note that most of the list affects pre-iOS 11 and 12, so even much newer devices are vulnerable also.
Edit to note link reading.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2019, 01:24:22 PM by markbike528CBX »

Syonyk

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I am curious on how to "exploit" my phone. It sounds kinky, therefore my curiosity.

Find a jailbreak that works on it.  You should be able to find one.

Then poke around and look for anything out of place.  A clean reference install would be helpful to compare against.

It's probably clean, but there have been plenty of remote exploits against earlier iOS versions.  The early jailbreaks were browser based - you literally go to a website, it breaks security on the device and installs the persistent jailbreaks.  That's not a good thing from a security perspective.

I deal with enough x86 boxes that I've been experimenting with ARM desktops for personal use.  They have separate issues, but at least aren't going to be leaking things through Javascript.  A strong physicalization effort helps with isolation as well (using physically separate machines for different tasks - Raspberry Pis are cheap enough to do this with fairly easily).

robartsd

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It's probably clean, but there have been plenty of remote exploits against earlier iOS versions.
I don't think I've ever heard of an iOS (or Mac OS X) exploit that worked without either physical access or user interaction with a questionable website/software; so I agree that markbike528CBX probably does have a clean iPhone 3gs (especially if he was able to refresh it to a known clean system when he acquired it). Still, it only takes one exposure - if prior owners were careless with visiting sites/installing software and a clean system was not restored, there is no telling what could be on it.

Syonyk

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I don't think I've ever heard of an iOS (or Mac OS X) exploit that worked without either physical access or user interaction with a questionable website/software; so I agree that markbike528CBX probably does have a clean iPhone 3gs (especially if he was able to refresh it to a known clean system when he acquired it). Still, it only takes one exposure - if prior owners were careless with visiting sites/installing software and a clean system was not restored, there is no telling what could be on it.

Here's the problem, though: What's a "questionable website"?  Any website that shows ads can be malicious, if the advertising provider isn't paying close enough attention.  There's quite a track record of advertising being used to serve malicious content, often without the advertising company's awareness.

There's been malware spread through generally reputable websites.  https://blog.malwarebytes.com/threat-analysis/2016/03/large-angler-malvertising-campaign-hits-top-publishers/

Which of the following is questionable?

msn.com
nytimes[dot]com
bbc[dot]com
aol[dot]com
my[dot]xfinity[dot]com
nfl[dot]com
realtor[dot]com
theweathernetwork[dot]com
thehill[dot]com
newsweek[dot]com

They've all been used to deploy malicious code - through the advertising networks they used.  You don't have to go to some sketchy download site to get hit - and the browser on iOS 6 is positively ancient.

So if the browser is used, even if you only go to a handful of sites, it's possible that the device was exposed to malicious content.

Again, it's probably fine, but I still think it's a bad idea to use out-of-OS-support devices when connected to a network at all.

Syonyk

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Relevant rumors are that iOS 13 drops support for the iPhone 6 and the iPhone SE.

My 6S is in need of increasingly more work.  The replacement battery I got a year ago is junk and still won't power the phone if it's below about 30% state of charge and somewhat cold.  Plus the lens cover is shattered, which is non-trivial to replace.

ketchup

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Relevant rumors are that iOS 13 drops support for the iPhone 6 and the iPhone SE.

My 6S is in need of increasingly more work.  The replacement battery I got a year ago is junk and still won't power the phone if it's below about 30% state of charge and somewhat cold.  Plus the lens cover is shattered, which is non-trivial to replace.
I really hope this is wrong about dropping SE support.  It has the same guts as the 6S so they'd both probably go at the same time.  My dad, my sister, and my mom all have SEs since I told them Apple would support it for so long. :o)

Car Jack

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https://www.macrumors.com/2018/07/05/yet-another-iphone-slowdown-class-action/

Apple has been known to start throttling back the older phones.  Also pushing software that makes the phone appear to have less space.

.....and the way to avoid that is to never update.  My iPhone 4s was blazing fast compared to all my office mates with wizz bang newer phones.  I refused to go beyond IOS 7.1.

Not only that....the battery outlasted everyone else easily. 

Syonyk

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.....and the way to avoid that is to never update.  My iPhone 4s was blazing fast compared to all my office mates with wizz bang newer phones.  I refused to go beyond IOS 7.1.

Not only that....the battery outlasted everyone else easily.

Sure, and you're a bit of bad advertising away from running God knows what on your phone.

If you're OK with a phone that's trivially vulnerable to remote exploitation, and can't run any halfway modern variety of application, that's a valid path, but I don't know why you'd do that instead of just having a flip phone at this point.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2019, 04:17:08 PM by Syonyk »

markbike528CBX

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.....and the way to avoid that is to never update.  My iPhone 4s was blazing fast compared to all my office mates with wizz bang newer phones.  I refused to go beyond IOS 7.1.

Not only that....the battery outlasted everyone else easily.

Sure, and you're a bit of bad advertising away from running God knows what on your phone.

If you're OK with a phone that's trivially vulnerable to remote exploitation, and can't run any halfway modern variety of application, that's a valid path, but I don't know why you'd do that instead of just having a flip phone at this point.

Flip phones are hard to come by at this point, and they sometimes have even more outdated OS's.

I don't care about modern variety, just apps that I want, most of which were/are available for ancient OS's.
Gamma detector, sound analyzer( Fast Fourier Transform ), tone generator as geeky examples.