iOS 13 and the iPhone SE?

May 11, 2019

Update (6/5/2019): The iPhone SE gets a stay of execution for now, as Apple has included it on the list of devices that will get iOS 13.


According to an an article on 9 to 5 Mac, the iPhone SE may not receive iOS 13. They site an article in a French publication and state, “A rumor from out today suggests that iOS 13 will cut off several generations of iPhone. With iOS 12, Apple supported every device that could run iOS 11, boosting performance across all models all the way back to iPhone 5s. If today’s report is to believed, it is the end road for a large chunk of active iPhone models”. I am hoping that this rumor is untrue, and given the fact that I have not seen this rumor substantiated by any other sites or sources, my first instinct is to suspect that this is just a false rumor. The source article does glean its information from a conversation the author had with “a developer friend at Apple and who works in particular on the Apps Plans”. However, this does not necessarily mean that this rumor is true. Let's work through the logic.

Both the iPhone SE and the 6S/6S Plus have 2gb ram and the same processor (A9). I find it hard to believe that Apple would drop support for the SE when it has the same internal specs as the 6S/6S Plus, which were included on the list of iPhones compatible with iOS 13. However, unlike the 6S/6S Plus, the SE does have a 4-inch screen. As such, it is possible that Apple would only want to support the larger screen sizes going forward. However, according to the rumor, the sixth generation iPod Touch should also receive iOS 13, and it also has a 4-inch screen.

Another thing to consider is that the iPhone SE was sold new up until Sept 2018, and it was even sold on Apple’s site in limited spurts in 2019. If Apple drops support at this stage, there would be a number of people with relatively new phones that would be left unsupported.

It could be (and this is purely conjecture on my part) that Apple decides to give the newer, larger iPhones iOS 13, while leaving the SE and 6/6 Plus on iOS 12. Maybe they make this call for performance reasons? This is not necessarily a logical argument, again given the fact that the SE is essentially just a 6S in an iPhone 5's body. If Apple did make the SE incompatible with iOS 13, but they did continue to provide security updates and support for iOS 12 for a few more years, this would also be fine with me. I don’t need the latest and greatest OS features. As long as I get security updates, the OS continues to be stable, and third party apps continue to be updated and function appropriately, I’m good.

The bottom line for me is that as an SE user, I will be watching WWDC very closely this year. I will be extremely disappointed if Apple does drop full support for the SE (i.e. no iOS 13 and no more iOS 12 security updates), especially since I bought mine new in late June 2018. If this comes to pass, I will switch back to Android and sell my Apple Watch as soon as I am able. The Pixel 3A has shown that a competent smart phone does not have to cost a lot of money.

I hope Apple realizes that a move like this would be bad form and would generate a lot of ill will toward a company that is already seen as only caring about privacy for those who can pay their exorbitant prices. I thought the iPhone would be a nice change, and when we moved from T-Mobile to Verizon, I opted for the SE because of the size, price, performance and the assumed ability to receive updates for at least a few years. I can get why they would drop the 5S. It is grossly under powered and has had a very long run of support. But to drop the SE? Seriously, Apple? Please don’t do this.

Table of Contents