Massive iPhone Upgrade Coming This Year But These Devices Will Miss Out

Apple is planning a major AI overhaul in iOS 18, with a feature set it is referring to as "Apple Intelligence." However, these new features will not work on older iPhones, even if they do appear on the new operating system's device compatibility list.

iOS 18 Siri Integrated Feature
Apple's initial AI roadmap for iOS 18 is said to come in two parts: Basic AI features that will be processed on-device, and more advanced capabilities that will require communication with Apple's servers.

At the heart of many of the new Apple Intelligence features is a redesigned Siri. To that end, Apple engineers have had to rearchitect ‌Siri‌'s underlying software using large language models (LLMs), the algorithm that underpins generative AI.

According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, this will allow Siri to do things like open specific documents, organize notes in folders, delete an email, summarize an article, email a web link, and more. Apple reportedly plans to use AI to analyze what people are doing on their devices to automatically enable these‌ features.

Apple's own LLM is expected to handle what are deemed basic AI tasks, and it will be entirely on-device. In other words, the model is powered by the iPhone's processor, rather than in the cloud. It's not clear what the criteria for a basic task will be, but the LLM is said to include code that determines if a request can be processed on device or requires Apple's servers.

According to Gurman, the on-device AI capabilities will largely require an iPhone 15 Pro or later to work. Meanwhile, rumors suggest iOS 18 will be compatible with the same iPhone models as iOS 17. Combining the two reports, we should therefore expect the following iPhone models to run iOS 18, but lack support for some of Apple's on-device AI features:

  • iPhone 15
  • iPhone 15 Plus
  • iPhone 14
  • iPhone 14 Plus
  • iPhone 14 Pro
  • iPhone 14 Pro Max
  • iPhone 13
  • iPhone 13 mini
  • iPhone 13 Pro
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max
  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 12 mini
  • iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone SE (2nd generation)
  • iPhone SE (3rd generation)

Both iPadOS 18 and macOS 15 are expected to share many of the same AI features, and Gurman has said that Macs and iPads will need at least an M1 chip for the on-device AI capabilities. In other words, Apple silicon Macs are the requirement for on-device AI in macOS 15 (ruling out Intel Macs), while anything older than the fifth-generation iPad Pro will not support on-device AI features in iPadOS 18.

While it's not entirely clear which hardware factor is the key requirement for Apple's on-device AI, it's worth noting that (non-supported) standard iPhone 15 models have 6GB of RAM, while the supported Pro models have 8GB of RAM. Likewise, all Apple Silicon iPads and Macs come with a minimum of 8GB. Even when scaled back for narrow use cases, LLMs require a lot of working memory due to the sheer number of parameters involved, so this could be where Apple is coming up against the hardware limitations of its own devices.

Related Roundups: iOS 18, iPadOS 18
Related Forums: iOS 18, iPadOS 18

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Top Rated Comments

randomnut Avatar
3 weeks ago
Don’t worry 6gb is just like 12gb as 8 is just like 16gb right Apple? Everything will run on all devices because of magic apple ram
Score: 48 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nt5672 Avatar
3 weeks ago
Will of course not. Apple will never miss a chance to sell more hardware whether the customer needs it or not.
Score: 41 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mebehere Avatar
3 weeks ago
Great. My two year old 14 Pro won’t get the new features. That’s absurd.
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)
brofkand Avatar
3 weeks ago
I remember you needed an iPhone 4S to get turn-by-turn directions in Apple Maps, and you needed an iPhone 6S to have the LCD flash for selfies. Locking software features behind newer hardware is nothing new for Apple.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
abatabia Avatar
3 weeks ago
Cool, I’ll upgrade to a phone other than apple for the second year in a row. Tired of this. So bloody tired of this.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
abatabia Avatar
3 weeks ago

It will most likely get everything but AI.

The reason is clearly related to the neural engine performance and making most features offline/on-device, because generating text and images can take quite a lot of time and become frustrating in the end. Even with these huge servers, I find myself getting frustrated at ChatGPT and DALL-E. I had bought an image generator on my M1 iMac and it was so long to generate (1-2 minutes) that I uninstalled it.
Sounds like I’ll be better off without these features.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)