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The Real System Requirements for Apple’s 2022 Operating Systems

Apple has released new versions of its operating systems to developers, with public betas slated for July 2022 and releases likely in September or October of this year. Unfortunately, some of your older devices won’t get the chance to experience these upgrades. Apple is cutting out a lot of older models this year, and many of the sparkly new features require the latest and most powerful devices.

Let’s first look at the basic requirements for each operating system and then dive into which models support which features.

macOS 13 Ventura Requirements

Here are the Macs that can run macOS 13 Ventura compared to the models that support macOS 12 Monterey. As you can see, Apple has dropped every Mac released before 2017.

Mac Supported in Ventura Supported in Monterey
iMac 2017 and later Late 2015 and later
iMac Pro 2017 and later 2017 and later
MacBook Air 2018 and later Early 2015 and later
MacBook Pro 2017 and later Early 2015 and later
Mac Pro 2019 and later 2013 Mac Pro and later
Mac Studio 2022 N/A
Mac mini 2018 and later Late 2014 and later
MacBook 2017 and later Early 2016 and later

iOS 16 Requirements

The situation is fairly similar for the iPhone models that will be able to run iOS 16. It supports every model released since 2017, other than 2019’s seventh-generation iPod touch, which Apple recently dropped (see “Apple Officially Discontinues the iPod touch,” 11 May 2022). We include the chip powering each iPhone because some features also require specific chip generations.

iPhone Introduced Chip
iPhone 13/mini/Pro/Pro Max 2021 A15 Bionic
iPhone 12/mini/Pro/Pro Max 2020 A14 Bionic
iPhone 11/mini/Pro/Pro Max 2019 A13 Bionic
iPhone SE (2nd generation or later) 2020 A13 Bionic
iPhone XR/XS/XS Max 2018 A12 Bionic
iPhone X 2017 A11 Bionic
iPhone 8/8 Plus 2017 A11 Bionic

The models that support iOS 15 but aren’t compatible with iOS 16 include:

  • iPod touch (all models)
  • iPhone SE (1st generation)
  • iPhone 6s/6s Plus
  • iPhone 7/7 Plus

iPadOS 16 Requirements

For the iPad, system requirements become significantly more complex, although Apple has kicked only two models off the back of the train. The table below lists the iPads that can run iPadOS 16. Note that we’ve broken out the different iPad Pro sizes so we can more clearly show which chips are in play, but at a base level, all iPad Pro models support iOS 16.

Device Introduced Chip
iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st–5th generation) 2015, 2017, 2018, 2020, 2021 A9X, A10X Fusion, A12X Bionic, A12Z Bionic, M1
iPad Pro 11-inch (1st–3rd generation) 2018, 2020, 2021 A12X Bionic, A12Z Bionic, M1
iPad Pro 10.5-inch 2017 A10X Fusion
iPad Pro 9.7-inch 2016 A9X
iPad Air (3rd–5th generation) 2019, 2020, 2022 A12 Bionic, A14 Bionic, M1
iPad (5th–8th generation) 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 A9, A10 Fusion, A10 Fusion, A12 Bionic, A13 Bionic
iPad mini (5th & 6th generation) 2019, 2021 A12 Bionic, A15 Bionic

The iPad models that could run iOS 15 but don’t support iOS 16 are:

  • iPad mini (4th generation)
  • iPad Air (2nd generation)

watchOS 9 Requirements

Of the Apple Watch models that could run watchOS 8, Apple dropped only the Apple Watch Series 3 from the list of what watchOS 9 supports. That’s a little off-putting since Apple continues to sell the Series 3 to this day, meaning that you could buy an Apple Watch in the next few months and not be able to update it to watchOS 9 a few weeks later.

  • Apple Watch Series 7
  • Apple Watch Series 6
  • Apple Watch SE
  • Apple Watch Series 5
  • Apple Watch Series 4

Two watchOS 9 features require specific Apple Watch models:

  • Apple Watch Mirroring, an accessibility feature that lets you control an Apple Watch from an iPhone, requires an Apple Watch Series 6 or later.
  • The onscreen keyboard, which is currently exclusive to the Apple Watch Series 7, supports more languages—French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish in watchOS 9.

Mac, iPhone, and iPad Compatibility By Feature

Accessibility

The Live Captions feature, which automatically generates text transcripts for any audio (see “Apple Previews Upcoming Accessibility Features,” 17 May 2022), requires:

  • iPhone 11 or later
  • iPad with A12 Bionic or later
  • Mac with Apple silicon

Detection Mode in the Magnifier app, which can identify objects like doors, requires:

  • iPhone 12 Pro or iPhone 13 Pro
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (4th and 5th generation) or iPad Pro 11-inch (2nd and 3rd generation)

Camera and Photos

Machine learning will let you lift the subject of a photo from its background in Photos, Quick Look, Screenshot, Safari, and other apps. That will require an iPhone or an iPad with at least an A12 Bionic processor. It’s supported on all Ventura-compatible Macs.

You’ll be able to use Live Text with videos, and there is a new Live Text quick actions feature. It’ll require at least an A12 Bionic on an iPhone or iPad and works with all Ventura-compatible Macs.

The Camera app in iOS 16 will let you blur the foreground in Portrait photos and improves the quality of Cinematic mode videos for the iPhone 13 lineup.

Continuity Camera

The capability to use an iPhone as a webcam requires an iPhone XR or later.

To use Center Stage or Desk View—which lets you show the other party your messy desk—requires an iPhone 11 or later.

Another new feature, Studio Light, dims the background and lights up your face to simulate external lighting, but it works only if you have an iPhone 12 or later.

Health

The iPhone’s Health app has new medication-tracking capabilities that work with watchOS 9’s Medications app. One of its features is the capability to scan medicine labels, which requires an iPhone XR or later.

Home Hub

When Apple ships the new Home app later this year, you will no longer be able to use an iPad as a Home hub to connect to your HomeKit accessories while away from home. Only an Apple TV or HomePod will be able to act as a hub. While this move may disappoint a few HomeKit fans, it’s for the best. Restricting hubs to plugged-in devices that don’t travel makes sense.

Image Search

Spotlight search in iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 can search for images in more apps, including Files, Messages, and Notes. It lets you search for images by location, people, scenes, text, and contents. The feature requires an iPhone or iPad with an A12 Bionic or later.

Improved Dictation

The new dictation experience, which lets you use dictation alongside the onscreen keyboard, requires an A12 Bionic processor or later on an iPhone or iPad.

Dictation can add automatic punctuation if you’re using an iPhone 11 or later, an iPad with an A12 Bionic or later, or a Mac with Apple silicon.

You’ll also be able to use dictation to insert emojis, which will require an iPhone or iPad with at least an A12 Bionic or a Mac with Apple silicon.

iPad Display Scaling

iPadOS 16 lets you shrink user interface elements to be smaller (increase the pixel density of the display) so you can cram more onto the screen, but it requires an iPad with an M1 processor, which includes the iPad Air (5th generation), iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation), and iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation).

iPad Virtual Memory Swap

Virtual memory swap has been a standard feature on desktop operating systems for years. It temporarily offloads some of the contents of memory to local storage to free up RAM. iPadOS 16 will support virtual memory swap, providing up to 16 GB of memory for demanding apps, but it’s available only on M1 iPads: the iPad Air (5th generation) with a minimum of 256 GB storage, the iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation), and the iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation).

Metal 3

Apple made a big deal out of Mac gaming at the WWDC keynote when it introduced the Metal 3 API for hardware-accelerated graphics. On the Mac, Metal 3 requires Apple silicon, AMD Radeon Pro Vega series, AMD Radeon Pro 5000/6000 series, Intel Iris Plus Graphics series, or Intel UHD Graphics 630. Practically speaking, as games adopt Metal 3, they’ll have to specify which Macs they support.

Reference Mode

Video professionals will be able to use a 12.9-inch iPad Pro with Liquid Retina XDR display as a color-grading display to ensure accurate colors. It can be paired with an Apple silicon Mac through Sidecar to serve as a reference monitor.

Siri

If you’ve ever wondered what actions Siri can perform in an app, you’ll be able to ask Siri, “What can I do here?” You’ll also be able to use Siri to hang up calls and insert emojis in texts. Apple also expanded offline support, so you can control HomeKit accessories, access the Intercom feature, and interact with Voicemail without an Internet connection. These features require an iPhone or iPad with an A12 Bionic, but they won’t appear in macOS 13 Ventura.

Stage Manager

If you’re excited about the new Stage Manager windowing feature for the iPad, be aware that it will only work with M1-equipped iPads, which means the iPad Air (5th generation), iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation), and iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation). On the Mac, it’ll work with all Ventura-compatible models.

Visual Lookup Improvements

Visual Look Up adds recognition of birds, insects, and statues. It’ll work on all Ventura-compatible Macs, along with iPhones and iPads with at least an A12 Bionic processor.

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Comments About The Real System Requirements for Apple’s 2022 Operating Systems

Notable Replies

  1. Small error in the article: the iPad Virtual Memory Swap feature requires an M1 but the Tidbits article lists the 4th generation iPad Air, when it is the 5th generation which has an M1.

    I’ve seen this same mistake on other sites, so I assume Apple originally published the wrong information. Footnote 19 on the “All new features” page now says iPad Air 5, as expected.

  2. So basically, with a few exceptions, Apple is no longer offering improvements for devices older than 5 years. That seems a bit disappointing for a company that brags about environmental friendliness of their products. :thinking:

    I do hope they will continue to offer bug- & security updates for older OS-es for at least 3 more years. I think devices should have a useful lifespan of 10 years or more, especially if you call them environmental friendly.

  3. Fixed, thanks!

    This sort of thing is devilishly easy to mess up. For instance, on the iPadOS 16 Preview page, Apple has footnotes for 7 and 8, but I can’t find either in the text with a search, and 8 talks about needing an A13 Bionic, whereas nothing on the All New Features page lists that chip as required.

    My guess is that Apple will keep with the basic policy of security fixes for the last two versions of macOS, and occasionally security fixes for versions of iOS and iPadOS on non-vintage products that can’t upgrade to the current version.

  4. This article has an update on the bottom that says that the footnote did once say iPad Air 4 with 256 GB of storage, as you suspected.

  5. That should be counted up to the end of the OS release cycle, not the start of it, since new features and the full set of bug fixes continue for that year. That makes the minimum “full support” window six years from introduction for Macs, iPhones and iPads dropped by the upcoming OS versions, apart from the 2017 MacBook Air which only gets 5.3 years (it was the same core as the Early 2015 model, with changes to storage configuration and a faster CPU in some models).

    The Apple Watch hasn’t reached the six year mark yet: Series 3 will get 5 years. iPod Touch never got more than 4 years, and the 7th generation is worse at about 3.3 years.

    Looking at recent history, I’d say that macOS Ventura has cut the Mac support timeframe back by about one year, since most models dropped in the last few years got at least 7 years by the same measure.

    This might be a one-off cull to drop support for older Intel processors: all Intel Macs supported by macOS Ventura apart from the iMac Pro have at least a 7th generation (Kaby Lake) processor, all dropped models have older generations. One reason to require Kaby Lake is that it has dedicated or improved hardware support for some variants of H.264 and HEVC. It also raises the minimum standard for graphics controllers.

    The iMac Pro has a Skylake (6th generation) Xeon, but Xeons are usually a special case, plus this model has a T2 chip so video encode/decode can be handled by the T2.

    Looking ahead, macOS in the next year or two could raise the minimum to “Intel Macs with a T2 chip”, which would include the Late 2017 iMac Pro and all 2018 and later Intel models apart from the 2019 iMac. That would allow dropping support for the last Macs with internal hard drives and Fusion drives, and allow macOS to depend on features which only exist in Apple Silicon or T2.

    Late 2023 (macOS 14) seems too early to be dropping support for the 2019 21.5-inch 4K Retina iMac and 2017 entry level 21.5-inch iMac, since those models were discontinued in mid and late 2021 respectively. That leaves hope that macOS 14 might drop few if any models, bringing the Mac full support minimum back up to 7 years.

  6. I believe it’s the SharePlay gaming feature that requires the A13, but they mark it with an asterisk instead of a number. This article was incredibly tedious to write because of the way Apple lists these system requirements. On the upside, I guess it keeps us in business!

    Thank you! It didn’t make sense to me when I was putting it together, but I simply regurgitated what Apple said. I figured it was possible on that model due to the higher RAM.

  7. I’m running Monterey on a MacBook Pro early 2015. That’s not in agreement with the list.

  8. Hmm? The table says for Monterey “Early 2015 and later.” your MacBook Pro just barely made the cutoff and won’t be supported in Ventura.

  9. Yeah…especially as one of the supported iPhones has the same chip as one of the unsupported iPads according to something I saw. The only iPad feature that excited my bride was Stage Manager…which won’t run on the Air 4. I’m sure that Apple will put the blame on ‘unacceptable performance’…but there could easily be a switch to enable it if one wanted to see the performance hit for yourself…but planned obsolescence and push to upgrade is certainly also in their minds. They exist to make money…and the Air 4 shipped in Sep 2020…so it hardly seems all that antiquated to me…and we ar u likely to upgrade solely for Stage Manager. Seems like something in between what we have now and the full on M1 Stage Manager experience would be doable technically and not essentially abandon 2 year old hardware for a new feature.

    But I’m cynical…

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