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 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 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.
|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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
If you’re excited about the new Stage Manager windowing feature for the iPad, be aware that it only works with recent iPad Pros. Originally, Apple’s plan was to support only M1 (and M2) models, but the company slightly expanded support to include:
- iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation and later)
- iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation and later)
- iPad Air (5th generation)
On the Mac, it will 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m running Monterey on a MacBook Pro early 2015. That’s not in agreement with the list.
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.
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…
Yes, was looking at MacBook, not MacBook Pro
Yes this limiting Stage Manager to M1 iPads, while necessary if you believe Apple’s recent statement on RAM needed, is not good from a marketing perspective.
As they’re effectively inferring to future buyers that iPads have very limited OS updates (under two years old) before they start to omit major features. Hardly a great selling point on iPads costing $1-3K knowing that.
I’m hoping it’s a glitch year in the silicon switchover, rather than a typical one. But only time will tell.
People with older iPads are getting the software update–they’re just not getting one of the new features. As long as the current method of running multiple apps still works, they’re in no worse of a position than before. When there is an OS upgrade, the newest features may not be supported on all machines due to constraints that the older machines have compared to newer ones. If the performance of a feature such as Stage Manager on older machines is bad enough to create a heavy support load, then I see no problem in limiting its availability. I was actually surprised the Stage Manager and Continuity (web) Camera is supported on Intel Macs. [Note: Apple already has a Continuity Camera feature].
I believe that Apple’s obligation here is to assure that as updates are made, a machine can still run all the features it could run when initially introduced at least as efficiently as when introduced. The ability to run additional features, introduced with new devices and in system updates is a bonus. Most of the time, we get that bonus, but sometimes it’s a leap too far.
I think limiting Stage Manager to the M1 iPads is in part technical, but in part aimed at differentiating the iPad Pros (and the last iPad Air) from the low-end models.
What Apple’s saying, in essence, is that if you’re serious about working on your iPad, you need an M1 iPad, in part because that’s where you’ll have Stage Manager.
They’re not getting the major feature…everything else is pretty much minor improvements. And the major feature won’t work on 2 year old iPad Ai 4’s…and plenty of people are doing real work on those to reference a different reply…so the whole “if you don’t have an iPad Pro you’re not doing real work” is kinda of a copout. Limit external displays…that might make sense for RAM or RAM speed issues…but we can already have multiple apps on an iPad and it’s pretty hard to buy the claim that the little bit of extra graphics work it takes to draw Stage Manager on the screen than side by side apps as anything but marketingspeak for “we want you to buy iPad Pro instead”.
For the Stage Manager major feature, I don’t get the M1 iPad requirement, either. External displays maybe, but not the whole SM multi-app feature itself.
But I have the 2020 large iPP, and I’m still completely locked out of the whole SM feature. So it’s not a low-end model, but barely 2-years old high-end model – hardly an old one.
Anyway, I’ll be waiting until the new iteration of machines at the very least, before even considering upgrading. And even then it’s only a consideration, as I still think iPadOS is a toy compared to macOS in overall functionality regardless of the new OS, and it leaves a bit of a bitter taste for Apple to lock-out the young machine I already have.
It’s difficult to evaluate Apple’s decisions to limit a feature to a particular set of hardware requirements. It could be sheer processing power, it could be an attempt to reduce the test matrix, it could be associated with a known (to Apple, but not the world) limitation in older hardware that would hurt the user experience, or it could be a combination of all of the above factors plus a push from marketing to have some features that would encourage new purchases. Regardless, I’m dubious that Stage Manager is going to be a game-changer.
Yes, I accept that. As Apple have done in the past, there’s always the slight possibility they may add non-M1 models to the basic SM feature (maybe without the external screen stuff) in a x.1 or x.2 release. Although I’d guess that’s a slim chance for this one.
But I agree, I’m also sceptical that SM will be a game-changer to the whole iPadOS – it’s more like a sticking plaster, rather than a whole new organ! Though the Files app changes help a little bit, other basic things like the lack of metadata editing in apps like Music, Books, et al. (already annoying on Mac since the split from iTunes) are still major omissions awaiting parity with macOS. Plus a load more.
I’m with you…the iPad is a consumption device for me…email, web, games and occasionally light editing of Notes or remote control to the house server or whatever…but for nothing serious I pick up the laptop. Mail search and retention on the iPad or iPhone still sucks for instance…only a small fraction of your actual IMAP mailbox is on it and it frequently fils to find the emails on the server when it is done searching for instance. Notes is another example…macOS has features that iPadOS and iOS don’t…why?
And I’m irritated that my 2 year old iPad Air 4 can’t use the key feature in iPadOS 16…Apple can use ll the marketing speak they want but just like 1PW the company…this is a forced/influencing upgrade thing rather than any real technical limitation IMO.
I understand why iPad Mail sucks…storage limitations mostly I guess…I just think it was an idiotic decision…even with several hundred thousand emails in my inboxes at various places we are only talking less than 10GB total.
It’s all this “automatic cloud” downloading thing on iOS (and even some macOS, but there’s more option switches on there), where they make the choices for you, rather than you having any control over anything. Why can’t they have settings switches for these on iOS, so that you can select say in Mail settings “Download all messages” and that’s what happens for all folders.
While I understand some users may want the “on demand only” status quo to save storage/bandwidth, but why enforce this for other users who want the opposite and who understand the ramifications? (hence add pop-up warning messages, eg. “Turning on may use considerable storage space.” and “You do not have enough storage space on this device.” or whatever.)
From a hardware point of view, while the M1 is based on the design of the A14 (which powers the iPad Air 4), when Apple announced the M1 Air 5, they noted that it has 60% faster CPU performance and 100% faster GPU performance compared with the Air 4, and I believe that benchmarks have shown that to be true. Also, the M1 iPad models have 8 or 16 GB of RAM, while the Air 4 has 4 GB (and the older non-M1 Pros had up to 6 GB with the A12Z). Apple said that Stage Manager requires the virtual swap technology, which grants 16 GB RAM to each process, and trying to use 16 GB of swap with a 4 GB device, along with scaled display on a device with half the RAM and half the GPU performance - I’m not all that shocked that Apple found that the performance was inadequate for this particular task.
I think that if Apple was just drawing a line to say that Pro features require a Pro model, they would have done exactly that and drawn the line so that the Air 5 also did not get that feature. It seems more likely that this is just a hardware performance line rather than a cynical marketing line.
I also have an iPad Air 4. At the time that I bought it, I was choosing between that and the approx. $150 more expensive M1 iPad Pro, and I decided that I just didn’t need the extra performance and features for the way that I use an iPad. That remains the case. If the Air 4 eventually gets the stage manager feature - fine. But I really don’t need it.
Also, I’ll always recall that my first iPad, the 3rd gen iPad, received updates up to iOS 9.x, but performance was so bad on iOS 9 (and wasn’t fantastic on iOS 8, either) that the device probably should never have been updated that far. That was so frustrating.
Apple Watch 3 and WatchOS
Different part of this topic: @jcenters noted in the article that Watch Series 3 will not receive the WatchOS upgrade even though Apple is still selling Watch 3 (as the “bottom end” of the line from what I can see on apple.com). The upshot is that anyone purchasing a new Watch 3 is likely to be ignorant of the fact that it has reached the end of the line for software upgrades, and did so before they purchased it.
I purchased mine in 2018, and my experience with WatchOS releases is that they seem incremental in regard to features. I’m sure there have been changes apart from more and more watch faces, but unlike any other Apple hardware I’ve used over the years, none of those intentional changes come to mind. The Alarms toggle switch muck-up this year is the only time I’ve run into a really annoying glitch, and I’m glad it was fixed.
So, my iPhone 11 is paired to this Watch (and my spouse has the same setup with her own Watch and iPhone 11). Both Watches function and charge properly, and are cellular models so they are associated with our cell plan.
What happens when iOS releases a new major version?
This device is designed as a companion to iPhone, and I’ve seen how symbiotic their relationship is over these four years. Will iPhone eventually leave it behind?
Gruber passing on Apple’s statement to Rene Ritchie about why Stage Manager requires an M1.
My thinking is that AW needs the WiFi, processing power and memory of an iPhone to get most apps to work quickly and efficiently. It wouldn’t be able to do stuff like managing photos, streaming Music, getting directions, etc., etc. effectively on its own. And without pairing with an iPhone, the tiny battery of an AW would burn up lickety split.
My guess is that eventually Apple Watch will be able to leave iPhone behind, but it will probably be way, way down the line. The more and better features and apps for Watch, the more processing power it will need. Especially for Watches, size counts.
Older versions of watchOS work fine with newer versions of iOS. I keep my Series 2 as a watch to wear when I’m doing something vigorous (I am wearing it now, in fact, after chain sawing today) and on watchOS 6, it remains paired with my iOS 15.5 phone.
It’s the opposite that doesn’t work. For instance, if you buy a brand new watch this fall with watchOS 9, it will require a phone with iOS 16 in order to pair.
I get that. Really my question was about the other side of the equation: would successive waves of iOS updates eventually leave a Watch with earlier versions of watchOS in the dust? The original question may have been worded a little ambiguously, which is par for the course on Mondays.
Yes, that’s a data point for the question.
Thanks to you both!
A very interesting question! Apple has been good about supporting its devices over time:
“With all of that having been said and out of the way, how long does Apple actually support older iPhone models? The first iPhone got two updates before support discontinuing, but the trend over the past ten years has shown that Apple has steadily increased the period of time during which people might just be able to keep using their phones. Newer models are often updated to five or six new versions of iOS before support is discontinued, something that indicates that the tech giant is becoming more lenient with users that are using older models because of the fact that they want these users to stay loyal to their favorite brand.”
Apple does have a better track record than Samsung, etc. in supporting elderly models. And check out Apple Watch’s global market share:
I’m still using my trusty iPhone 8+, and am very glad to see it’s still eligible for upgrades.
I have wished for this. Recently I was completely without cell service, and here is Ookla’s test result. (And that’s from the successful speed test. Another one failed completely.)
Of course, at that point, it was rather late to download a message.
My take from the keynote was “Meh. Move along, nothing exciting here”
Apple says that Stage Manager simply didn’t work well enough on pre-M1 iPads.
Apple is now saying that you can continue to use an iPad as a Home hub in iPadOS 16, but it won’t support Matter.
We don’t usually update articles after they’ve been sent in an issue—much less months after publication—but Apple has slightly loosened the iPad requirements for Stage Manager prior to the release of iPadOS 16. Given that we refer to this article often, I thought it only made sense to update it for accuracy.
Bugger, supports iPad Air 5th gen and I have a 4th gen. Ah well, I don’t use it much anyway. I honestly can’t see myself ever buying an iPad again. I bought mine primarily as a large screen for my drone but now I have a dedicated controller with screen I may as well sell the iPad.
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