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2012’s iPhone 5 needs an urgent software fix

Apple’s 2012 smartphone, the iPhone 5, needs an urgent software update seven years after it first went on sale. If the update is not made by November 3, it’ll struggle to function as anything more than a glorified mp3 player.

The issue, Apple explains, is down to the GPS time rollover which impacted other devices earlier this year. “iPhone 5 will require an iOS update to maintain accurate GPS location and to continue to use functions that rely on correct date and time including App Store, iCloud, email, and web browsing,” Apple writes.

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It’s serious enough an issue for Apple to send out notifications to affected devices covering the entire screen, with a big chunky “update now” link which will bring the iPhone 5 kicking and screaming up to version 10.3.4. It launched in September 2012 with the brand new iOS 6.0.

That said, it’s not the end of the road for devices that simply can’t be updated for whatever reason. It’s just the process will be a whole lot more fiddly, involving you hooking up your ageing phone to a Mac or PC for a restore, just like you used to back in 2012 when the handset was originally released.

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Other older bits of hardware are also impacted, including the iPhone 4s, the first-generation iPad mini, the iPad 2 and the iPad 3, but for all of these, the consequences of not updating are pretty mild: the GPS will simply cease to function. 

Of course, it’s an open question as to how big a problem this is in general terms. There simply aren’t that many people using the iPhone 5 or earlier any more, because using a seven-year-old phones tends to be an increasingly unpleasant experience with each passing day. 

Apple’s most recent data shows that just 9% of all devices out in the wild use iOS 11 or earlier making the number of iPhone 5 users on an outdated version of iOS 10 a fraction of a fraction.

Still, it’s decent of Apple to take the step to update a long outdated operating system for the handful of people who have stuck through the iPhone 5 for all these years.

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