Can my iPhone and iPad get iOS 9? I want to update to iOS 9 but I don't know if they're too old.

Apple took to the stage at WWDC 2015 to show off iOS 9, and with the unveiling of the new mobile operating system came the announcement about which iPhones, iPads and iPods will be able to get it when it's released in autumn. Although iPhones and iPads are top of the range (or near the top) when released, as the years go by and new iterations of iOS are released, devices become slow and sluggish; and sometimes they get dropped from compatibility with new iOS updates. But not this year. See also: Android M vs iOS 9 comparison.

Here's a list of every Apple device that supports iOS 9:

  • iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad Air, iPad Air 2 (and iPad Air 3 and iPad Pro if and when they launch)
  • iPad mini, iPad mini 2, iPad mini 3 (and iPad mini 4 if and when it launches)
  • iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus (plus iPhone 7iPhone 6s and iPhone 6c when and if they come out)
  • iPod touch (fifth generation)

So if you've got an iPad 2 or later, and iPad mini of any kind, an iPhone 4s or later, or a fifth-generation iPod touch, you can get iOS 9, for free, when it launches in September. It's good news for everyone!

We discuss the categories in a little more detail below, and then go on to discuss the iPhones and iPads that can run iOS 8 further down.

Read next: iOS 9 review | iOS 9 vs iOS 8 | iOS 9 release date and new features | iOS 9 tips & tricks | How to update to iOS 9

Can my iPhone update to iOS 9?

So, the question on everyone's lips is "will my iPhone be able to run iOS 9?" Now we know for sure, and it turns out that the reports claiming that the iPhone 4S is safe for another year were right! All of the iPhones compatible with iOS 8 are also compatible with iOS 9.

We can expect autumn's new iPhones to come with iOS 9 preinstalled, of course - any and all of the following: iPhone 7; iPhone 6s; iPhone 6c.

In other words, the following iPhones can update to iOS 9:

  • iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus (plus iPhone 7iPhone 6s and iPhone 6c when and if they come out)

Will my iPad get iOS 9?

Will your iPad be able to update to iOS 9? Same with the iPhones: if it can run iOS 8 then the answer is yes.

Unlike iPhones, iPads last a while longer at the bottom of the iOS update table, with the original iPad lasting three iOS updates before it was culled. A great example of this is the second-generation iPad, the iPad 2, which was launched in early-2011 and is still supported on iOS 8. However with this being said, people are suffering with speed issues with the iPad 2 running iOS 8, so we thought its days might be numbered. However, Apple is making all of the iPads compatible with iOS 8 compatible with iOS 9 too.

We'll have to wait and see if it makes devices feel sluggish, but early rumours suggest that iOS 9 is extremely streamlined and efficient, and might even make some older devices feel a touch quicker.

The same goes for iPad mini, so despite our predictions the iPad 2 and original iPad mini will get iOS 9, as well as their successors. Here are all the iPads that can get iOS 9:

  • iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad Air, iPad Air 2 (and iPad Air 3 and iPad Pro if and when they launch)
  • iPad mini, iPad mini 2, iPad mini 3 (and iPad mini 4 if and when it launches)

Macworld poll: Will you update?

Okay, now you know if you can update your iPad or iPhone to iOS 9 when it launches in September. Do you think you'll take the plunge?

Let us know by answering our poll:

Forget iOS 9. Which iPads and iPhones can get iOS 8?

iOS 9 isn't coming until later this year, and it's entirely possible that you're sitting there with a device running iOS 7, and wondering if you can update to iOS 8. If so, read on to find out more about compatibility with iOS 8, Apple's current mobile operating system.

When a new version iOS is launched, promising exciting new features and a polished (or entirely revamped) interface, many Apple fans on slightly older devices are forced to make a hard decision: abandon their cherished old iPhone or iPad - which may get an incomplete feature set, run slower or fail to run the new iOS at all - or miss out on the new iOS update. Well, iOS 8 is here, along with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and it's jampacked with great new features. Obviously the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus run iOS 8, but can your iPhone or iPad run iOS 8? And has the time come to upgrade your hardware in order to make the software upgrade?

Some Apple fans will be crushed to learn that their devices won't be able to run the iOS 8 operating system. But there's good news for iPad 2 owners. Here's the official list of iPhones, iPods and iPads that made the cut, and can run iOS 8 (information from Apple's website):

Here's a list of every Apple device that supports iOS 8:

Can my iPhone or iPad run iOS 8? List of compatible devices

Which iOS 8 features will older iPads and iPhones miss out on?

Mostly the Continuity features. They're available on the iPhone 5 or later, iPad 4 and later, both iPad minis and the 5th-gen iPod touch. The iPhone 4, iPad 2 and iPad 3 miss out, in other words.

A potentially bigger issue is how well your older device's processor will be able to handle the increased demands that iOS 8 will put on it.

What? Will my iPhone or iPad get slower if I upgrade to iOS 8?

It might. Lower-end iPads and iPhones may struggle with performance issues when upgrading from iOS 7 to iOS 8. This was a cause of considerable frustration last year - the iPhone 4 was the oldest iPhone that could run iOS 7, and it ran noticeably slowly compared to iOS 6. (Apple addressed this in iOS 7.1, but only partially.)

We're hearing a fair few reports that iOS 8 slows down the iPhone 4s to a noticeable degree, including sometime Macworld contributor Orestis Bastounis:

Ars Technica's testing concluded that an iPhone 4s took almost 50 percent longer to complete some tasks on iOS 8 as it did on iOS 7, and Gottabemobile agreed: "Speed and fluidity in iOS 8 has clearly taken a hit... There's an overall sluggishness and it makes using the iPhone 4s a chore. Animations are slow, transitions are slow, apps open up slow, it's a mess."

Should I update my iPhone 4 to iOS 8?

We'd recommend that you don't, unless you're so desperate for one of the new features (and not Continuity, which you won't get) that you're willing to take a speed hit. 

What about the iPad 2?

Again, it's probably not worth the negatives. Indeed, some iPad 3 owners are reporting slowdowns. Your mileage may vary, of course.

iOS 8 review | iOS 8 features wishlist: the changes iPhone and iPad users want in Apple's iOS 8 | PLUS: here's how to install iOS 8 without deleting anything

My iPhone or iPad isn't on the list of compatible devices. What happens to older models? What should I do now?

If your iPad or iPhone isn't on the list above you won't be able to download any further updates to iOS (with the exception of security patches). This isn't the end of the world, and your device will continue to work and run as safely as before - you just won't get to enjoy the new features in iOS 8 (and iOS 9, and so on). Some apps specify a minimum iOS version, but you will probably find your ageing device's processing power limits your choice of apps much more than the fact that you're still on iOS 7, at least for a while.

Now may be the time to upgrade your device. But if you don't want to, or can't afford an upgrade, you can quite happily continue to run your iPhone 4, say, or original iPad - assuming you are satisfied with their speed. Don't feel pushed into an upgrade just because your device is no longer supported for iOS updates.

Which iPads and iPhones ran iOS 7 and previous versions of iOS?

If you're interested in iOS history, here's a list of the devices that supported previous versions of iOS. We used these to observe the trends and make our predictions before the official iOS 8 announcements.

  • iPhone OS 3: iPhone 1 and later; iPad 1 and later; iPod touch 1G and later
  • iOS 4: iPhone 3G and later; iPad 1 and later; iPod touch 2G and later
  • iOS 5: iPhone 3GS and later; iPad 1 and later; iPod touch 3G and later
  • iOS 6: iPhone 3GS and later; iPad 2 and later; iPad mini 1 and later; iPod touch 4G and later
  • iOS 7: iPhone 4 and later; iPad 2 and later; iPad mini 1 and later; iPod touch 5G

Which Apple devices will support iOS 8: our original predictions, and how we did

As we can see above, iPod touch support has tended to move up at the rate of one generation of iPod per version of iOS; at this rate we'd expect iOS 8 to only be available on a speculative sixth-generation iPod touch. But such a device doesn’t exist yet. One could conceivably be unveiled alongside iOS 8, but we think it’s more likely that iOS 8 will be supported by the 5th-gen iPod touch only. That's an easy one to start with. Update: we got this right - but it was pretty obvious!

How to prepare for the iOS 8 launch: Save your blobs, check the small print, read the reviews and join the beta (maybe)

iPad support has dropped off more slowly: the iPad 1 was launched while iPhone OS 3 was still (just) the current software, yet was able to run iOS 5 two versions later.

The iPad 2 has been the bottom rung for both iOS 6 and iOS 7, and may well be removed from the list of iOS 8-compatible hardware (especially as Apple no longer sells this tablet). Our prediction is that iOS 8 will be compatible with the iPad 3 and later. Update: nope - the iPad 2 survives.

It's possible that the iPad mini 1 won't be able to run iOS 8 but, with the device still on sale and only two possible mini models for buyers to choose from, we think this is unlikely. Update: correct.

iPad Air

iPhones have been moved downwards on the iOS ladder at the rate of one model every one to two versions of iOS. Which suggests that the iPhone 4 might survive, and it might not (it's only been on the bottom rung for a single version). But given the performance problems that have beset iPhone 4 models running iOS 7 (slightly alleviated, admittedly, by iOS 7.1), we think it will almost certainly be removed from iOS 8 compatibility. Our prediction is iPhone 4s and later. Update: correct. Three out of four, then.

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