With the launch of MacOS Monterey, Apple plans to ditch support for a slew of machines, including all MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops released prior to 2015.
Things are rosier on the mobile front, with Apple committing to ship its latest-and-greatest iOS 15 on the first-generation iPhone SE, iPhone 6s, and larger iPhone 6s Plus. Each of these devices was released in 2015.
Apple has historically provided support for iOS devices long after their initial release, in start contrast to how most Android vendors do business. Although some come close (with Samsung and Fairphone both good examples), these are rare exceptions.
It makes sense for Apple to provide long-term support for the SE and 6s family specifically considering the lengthy period in which it sold the devices. Apple continued to sell the iPhone 6s and SE as new until 2018. In India, where consumers are more price sensitive, sales continued until 2019.
Cupertino has a unique strategy when it comes to legacy handsets. Rather than discontinuing older models with each refresh cycle, it instead has tended to position them as budget devices for those looking to enter the iOS ecosystem without committing to a wallet-crushing 24-month contract.
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However, on the Mac front, Apple took a carving knife to several older machines, culling support for pre-2015 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops, as well as iMac computers released before that point.
The 2013 “trashcan” Mac Pro – which Apple continues to sell to this day, albeit refurbished – will receive an update to MacOS Monterey, as will all Mac Mini devices released after 2014.
We note the existing version of MacOS, Big Sur, was compatible with all MacBook laptops released after 2013.
Also notably, Apple has said the 2015 12-inch MacBook will miss out on MacOS Monterey.
Despite the 2015 MacBook's newer vintage, this news has come as less of a surprise. Performance has always been its Achilles heel, in part thanks to the inclusion of a passively cooled Intel Core M processor. Matters weren't helped by the inclusion of a first-generation butterfly keyboard, which was uncomfortable to type on and notoriously fault-prone.
Owners of these machines can take solace in knowing that Apple will at least provide security updates for the coming year or so. MacOS 10.13 High Sierra received at least three year’s worth of patches. It wouldn't be unreasonable to expect the same for Catalina and Big Sur. Users won't be left completely high and dry, even if they lose out on the latest features.
We can expect third-party patches to sneak MacOS Monterey onto these unsupported devices, although questions remain about how soon this might happen and what performance will be like. ®