One of the biggest advantages iPhone owners enjoy over their Android counterparts is stellar software support. The current version of iOS is available on the iPhone 6s, which was released in 2015, while Android 12 is only available going back to the Pixel 3 from 2018 if you stick with Google's own devices.
Now, iOS 14.5 appears to be paving the way for even lengthier software support for iPhones. The team at 9to5Mac uncovered evidence in the beta suggesting that security updates could be split out from feature updates, potentially allowing iPhone users to safely use their phones even longer (via Tom's Guide).
- iPhone 13: Price, release date, specs and more
- iPad Pro with mini-LED display expected as soon as April — date may be pushed back
- Best cell phone deals in March 2021
While having your phone receive the latest feature updates for years is great, there is a point of diminishing returns where the hardware is no longer able to properly run the new OS update at an acceptable speed or without major ramifications on battery life.
This is much less likely to be the case with a security update, which should not be putting anywhere near the computational load on the phone as new user-facing features. Android actually already does this; there are monthly security updates for Android phones (whether they actually get them monthly can be a different story).
If there's one potential downside from this move it's that security was a motivating factor for Apple to push feature updates to those older devices. With that removed, it's possible the company would cut off feature updates earlier than it does at present while extending the security updates. It's already necessary for them to strip features from updates for older devices, so it would make things much cleaner to simply limit it to security updates for those legacy phones that can't run the latest features well.
The public release of iOS 14.5 should be soon as the beta release is now on version 4 and we expect to see the full release sometime in the spring.