Farewell iPhone 4: No iOS 8 upgrade for you

Farewell iPhone 4: No iOS 8 upgrade for you

Summary: The iPhone 4 is the latest handset to fall by the wayside, and will be stuck with iOS 7 when newer models upgrade to iOS 8 later this year. So does this mean iOS fragmentation is starting to be an issue?

TOPICS: Mobility, Apple, Apps
The new iOS 8. Image: Apple

The iPhone 4 is the latest Apple handset to fall by the wayside: the four year old handset won't be getting Apple's iOS 8 operating system upgrade, which will be arriving later this year.

According to Apple, the oldest iPhone model to get iOS 8 will be the iPhone 4s (the oldest iPad will be the iPad 2).

It's perhaps no surprise the now relatively old handset isn't getting the new software – Apple stopped selling it last year and even the burden of running iOS 7 has left some users complaining about performance. And over time Apple has dropped older handsets from upgrades (the iPhone 3GS for example only runs iOS 6). But the iPhone 4 was a major evolution of the device which makes the move more significant.

The iPhone 4 was unveiled at Apple's June 2010 Worldwide Developers Conference and went on sale later in the month.

It was the first to feature Apple's 'Retina display' - a 3.5 inch screen with 960 by 640 pixels - plus a 5 megapixel camera and an A4 processor housed in what the company described at the time as "the thinnest smartphone in the world". Apple CEO Steve Jobs described the iPhone 4 – which arrived running iOS 4 – as "the biggest leap since the original iPhone," and the basic design is the one still used for the latest models.

 The company sold 1.7m handsets in the first three days, which according to Jobs made it the most successful product launch in Apple's history to that point.

For Apple, cutting the ageing phone loose makes sense - one less piece of hardware to worry about when testing software, plus this should kick off the upgrade cycle again for iPhone 4 owners who don't want to be left out.

There's not likely to be much immediate impact on missing out on the upgrade; the phones will still operate as well as ever on iOS 7; however, as developers update their apps to support capabilities only found in iOS 8, iPhone 4 users may find the app selection becoming more limited.

But not supporting older models will add to the fragmentation of the previously monolithic iOS user base.

According to figures from Localytics in October last year the iPhone 4 had a 20 percent market share. While it is likely to have dropped since then, iPhone 4 users will remaina significant portion of the overall.

Apple has sold 500 million iPhones, of which 89 percent are running iOS 7. Not offering iOS 8 on the iPhone 4 will make it harder to keep that united front which could be a pain for developers. Of course, the iOS install base remains far, far more united than the very fragmented Android universe.

Topics: Mobility, Apple, Apps

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • where's the 12 year iPhone

    My Western Electric Phone from 1976 is still going strong... only 3x longer than XP. 3 years for a 600-800 dollar phone is too short... especially when they have 200 billion in cash mostly from the sale of iPhones.
    • You do realize that current iphone original

      iPhone 3, iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 models will not stop working when iOS is released, right?
      • no

        No. Don't let the Apple fanboys posting try to scare you. They are idiots.
  • No big deal.

    My iPhone 4 doesn't have Siri either.
  • Glad I upgraded.

    Yeah, this was very predictable. The iPhone 4 was inching closer to being unsupported with every release. Some features were silently dropped, some features it never got.

    Siri, for example, it never got, even though I'd argue to this day the phone could've easily handled it (Google's Siri competitor works fine with it).

    The biggest problem with the iPhone 4 is lack of Bluetooth Low Energy (LE). This is especially important if you want to mess around in the world of wearables, devices like the Tile, etc. They all use Bluetooth Low Energy in order to keep their battery life up.

    The iPhone 4 is the last device Apple made that doesn't have Bluetooth LE. Which means that it's actually increasingly incompatible with a lot of Bluetooth devices, as more of them opt for LE.

    Also, for some reason my iPhone 4 has issues with GPS :/.

    So, I eventually upgraded to the 5s. The fingerprint reader does make it a lot easier to remain secure; I use a complex passcode now instead of a simple PIN.
    • bluetooth LE cannot be the reason

      As the iPad2 will get iOS8 and doesn't do BT LE.
  • well...

    at least I have several months before having to upgrade.
    I know I don't HAVE to, but everything, apps, browsers, web sites, all will be geared for IOS8. So it would be like trying to Indy race with a Ford Pinto.
    • I don't agree

      I'm sure there are millions of people still using, and will use the iPhone 4. Websites do not design their website based off of iOS. Its based off mobile in general which is not specific to the operating system.

      Apps would also be a fool to lose out on the money from all the iPhone 4 users. Tracfone recently started allowing Verizon iPhone 4's on their service.

      Apple WILL drive customers away by doing this, to an expensive phone.
  • Farewell iPhone 4: No iOS 8 upgrade for you (unless you spend £400)

    I won't be upgrading to another iphone not when the OS takes 1/2 my phone capacity. I have a 16gig why does it take so much away for the US OS? I don't even have OS7 because I had to remove so much from my phone.
    I only got the 4s because the preferred WP7 wasn't available on O2 but now there are even better so it looks like I'll be going back to a system with a better file manage, can play any video format. We'll see what it's requirement are for the upgrade 1st but it looks like it's going to be a PAYG stand by soon
    Kevin Morley
    • What?

      The OS on an iPhone takes up 2 to 3 gigs of space. Whatever you've crammed your phone with, it's not the OS.

      But don't let being wrong stop you from slagging Apple. It doesn't stop the commenters, and it certainly doesn;t stop some of the writers on ZDNet from writing crap about Apple.
  • Yeah right, not

    As long as the iPhone 4 user hasn't upgraded to iOS 7.1 yet, if they have iOS 7.0.X on it, then they can install an untethered jailbreak on it. Something NONE of the other iPhone models can do. Apple will just force everyone do do that now.

    Funny how I even installed KitKat on my Samsung Fascinate phone which is just as old as the iPhone 4, and it works great on it. Apple just decided to add a bunch of unnecessary bloated animations to iOS 7 which slows it down.

    Google on the other hand lets you install any version, at any time you want on your Android phone/tablet. Just go to the XDA forums and see for yourself (Apple fans don't seem to realize this).
    • iphone4 has a hardware vulnerability which Apple hates

      They can never prevent jailbreaks on iphone4 or stop the hacks on activation locks to iphone 4.
      It is this reason they won't support the iphone4 but support the similarly obsolete ipad2.