Apple might block older iPhones from using iMessage, FaceTime, and other services

iPhone 5S
It might be time to upgrade your old iPhone 5S (Image credit: Future)

Those of you using an older Apple device might want to think about upgrading your tech, as a new leak suggests the company may soon cut you off from its online services.

Come early May, those of you using an iPhone running iOS 11.2.6 or earlier, an Apple Watch running watchOS 4.2.3 or earlier, a Mac running macOS10.13.3 or earlier, or an Apple TV running tvOS 11.2.6 or earlier, could see your access to Apple services restricted, if leaker StellaFudge’s tweet is to be believed.

This would see you lose access to almost every Apple service, including iMessage, FaceTime, Maps, and others – with iCloud expected to be the only exception. 

If StellaFudge is correct, affected users should be sent a warning message by Apple encouraging them to update their devices where possible. Those of you still running iOS11, watchOS 4 or tvOS 11 should be able to update your systems – as every device that's compatible device of those operating systems is also compatible with newer versions – though there are a fair few Macs launched between 2009 and 2011 that can’t be upgraded beyond macOS 10.13 (High Sierra).

This leak follows an update posted to Apple’s official support website that instructs you what to do if you get a notification telling you that your software version no longer supports Apple services. 

Is it time for an upgrade? 

As with all leaks you should take this news with a pinch of salt – while StellaFudge has correctly leaked Apple details in the past, such as information about AirTags and the M1 iPad Pro, there’s no guarantee this leak is accurate.

That said, whether Apple does limit online service access for older devices or not, if your iPhone runs on iOS 11 it might be time to upgrade. And we don’t just mean because a newer iPhone would offer better features and hardware – though it would – but because you’ll also benefit from improved security. 

Person holding a Google Pixel 6 handset

Google might soon stop you from sideloading old apps to get around security measures (Image credit: Google)

The longer that software is available to the public, the higher the likelihood that a hacker will find a vulnerability in it. By continuing to run outdated and unsupported software you run the risk of your phone being exploited by bad actors. 

It’s for this very reason that Google limits apps that rely on older versions of Android. Newly listed Play Store smartphone apps must be compatible with Android 12 or later (or Android 11 and later if they're built for WearOS) to be allowed into Google’s official app store – and it’s expected that Android 14 will impose restrictions that make it much harder to unofficially sideload apps built on Android 5 or earlier.

So if you’re now looking to upgrade your old tech, check out our buying guides to help you find the best iPhone, best iPad, and best Macbook and Mac for your needs.

Hamish Hector
Senior Staff Writer, News

Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.