iOS 15 review: forget quantity, focus on quality | GeekComparison

Screenshot of smartphone interface.
enlarge A few apps that received major updates in iOS 15.

Samuel Axon

Every year, Apple releases a major update to its operating systems for the iPhone and iPad, paving the way for a year of changes. This year, iOS 15 brings new FaceTime and Messages features, tweaks to existing apps and notifications, and most importantly, a new way to manage apps and notifications called Focus.

Honestly, this is a relatively modest update compared to what we saw last year. That’s compounded by the fact that some key features that Apple initially announced in June didn’t make it to the initial release of iOS 15. But today we’ll explore whether a modest update means a bad one. Should you bother to upgrade to the new version of iOS if it’s mostly a tune-up and a fresh coat of paint?

As always, let’s start by looking at which devices are still supported.

Supported Devices

Sometimes Apple stops supporting an older iPhone model or two with the release of a new version of iOS. But that won’t happen this time; iOS 15 supports the same phones as iOS 14 last year. The same goes for iPadOS and the supported tablets.

Here’s the full list of supported devices for both iOS 15 and iPadOS 15. (We’ll focus on the iPhone in this article, but we’ll be posting a short addendum moving to the iPad in the coming days.)

Supported iPhone Models

  • iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max
  • iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini
  • iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 6S
  • iPhone 6S Plus
  • iPhone SE (1st and 2nd generation)

Supported iPad Models

  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (1st and 2nd generation)
  • iPad Pro 10.5-inch
  • iPad Pro 9.7-inch
  • iPad (5th, 6th and 7th generation)
  • iPad mini (4th and 5th generation)
  • iPad Air (2nd and 3rd generation)

Supported iPod Models

  • iPod touch (7th generation)

Functional limitations

While iOS 15 can be installed on all of the above devices, a handful of specific new features and improvements only work on certain iPhones. Here’s the list.

iPhones with A12 chip and newer

  • FaceTime: portrait mode
  • FaceTime: Speech Isolation
  • FaceTime: Spatial Audio
  • FaceTime: broad spectrum mode
  • Maps: Interactive Globe
  • Maps: Detailed New City Experience
  • Maps: Immersive Hiking Routes
  • Weather: Animated Wallpapers
  • LiveText
  • Siri: Speech processing, personalization and on-device performance improvements
  • Siri: Offline Support
  • Keyboard: On-Device and Continuous Dictation

iPhone 8 and later

  • Health: stable walking

iPhone 7 and later

  • Music: Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking

Devices used for this review

The screenshots, information, and impressions in this review were based on using iOS 15 RC and iPadOS 15 RC, as well as the public releases for both. Devices used included iPhone XS, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max, and the 2021 11-inch iPad Pro. We have not tested iOS 15 on an iPod touch.

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