5 iOS 17 features that require iPhone 12 or later

Every year, some features of major iOS software updates require specific chipsets to operate smoothly. So, it’s no surprise that some iOS 17 features that rely on the latest machine learning algorithms require newer chips to work well.

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Also, some features are designed around a specific hardware component, such as the LiDAR sensor. So, if you plan to install iOS 17 when it launches in fall 2023, you should be aware of the following new features that require at least an iPhone 12.

1. Standby is meant for always-on displays

Floating clock face in standby mode on iOS 17

With StandBy, your iPhone becomes a smart dashboard with information visible while charging on a MagSafe mount in landscape orientation.

You can customize StandBy by adding widgets and Smart Stacks, choosing from clock styles, adding photos and more. Large notifications, prominent buttons, and the always-on display make on-screen information viewable from a distance.

StandBy works on all iPhones capable of running iOS 17, but only the low-power screens on iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max provide an uninterrupted experience. On devices without an Always-On display, you need to tap the screen to see StandBy.

2. Point and Speak requires Apple’s LiDAR scanner

Point and speak on iPhone by identifying microwave labels
Image credit: Apple

The Point and Speak accessibility feature in Magnifier’s sensing mode allows blind and visually impaired users to point their finger at buttons or labels on everyday objects viewed through the camera, such as home appliances, to have them described or read aloud .

Since the LiDAR scanner is required for this feature, it only works on iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max.

3. Gesture reactions in FaceTime

Group FaceTime with augmented reality reactions
Image credit: Apple

iOS 17 brings familiar iMessage effects like hearts, balloons, fireworks, confetti, laser beams, and more to FaceTime calls. These augmented reality effects fill the camera frame and work in compatible third-party video conferencing apps, including Zoom and WebEx Meetings.

You can invoke a real-time reaction manually or with a simple hand gesture, like the thumbs up. However, gesture responses are limited to iPhone 12 or newer when using the front camera. On older models capable of running iOS 17, such as iPhone 11, iPhone XS, iPhone XR, and iPhone SE (2020), you’ll need to manually activate them through the iOS Control Center.

4. Online typing predictions are not available on older iPhones

The iOS 17 keyboard online predictions in the Notes app
Image credit: Apple

Machine learning in iOS 17 analyzes every keystroke to predict what you might type next, allowing you to finish words or entire sentences. Press the space bar while typing text in apps like Messages or Notes to use the grayed out predictive text recommendation.

This feature can significantly speed up text entry, but it only works on iPhone 12 and later when using the English keyboard. Getting inline suggestions for completing words and sentences isn’t supported on iPhone 11 and earlier. Also, this feature doesn’t work in third-party keyboard apps like Google’s Gboard and Microsoft’s SwiftKey.

5. Advanced auto-correction is limited by language and device

iPhone keyboard icon
Image credit: Apple

The iOS 17 AutoCorrect feature has been rebuilt around “a state-of-the-art on-device machine learning language model for word prediction,” according to the Apple Newsroom post.

In addition to greater precision, corrections are temporarily underlined to show the changes: press any correct word to quickly undo the change. The new language model also helps the feature correct more types of grammatical errors in entire sentences than before.

iOS 17 Enhanced AutoCorrect is language limited for Arabic, Dutch, English, French, German, Hebrew, Korean, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, and Thai. Most importantly, the improved autocorrect in English, French, and Spanish is limited to the iPhone 12 and newer models.

Why don’t some iOS 17 features work on older iPhones?

Person holding iPhone 11 mockups in different colors

The features we listed above rely heavily on machine learning and artificial intelligence. Apple’s Neural Engine coprocessor allows iPhone to run AI algorithms independently of the CPU or GPU in a battery-efficient way without requiring the power of the cloud.

However, not all neural engines are created equal. To ensure a smooth experience, some iOS 17 features won’t work without the 2x faster Neural Engine featured in the iPhone 12’s A14 Bionic chip. Additionally, the A14 features Apple’s second-generation machine learning matrix accelerators that they are 10 times faster than those of the iPhone 11’s A13 chip.

Should you install iOS 17 on your iPhone?

While Apple devices are known to hold their value over time, the older your iPhone, the more features it becomes limited or unsupported. You can count on at least five years of updates before your iPhone ends up on Apple’s vintage list.

But if you happen to own an older iPhone that doesn’t support all the new features in iOS 17, upgrading to a newer one would be a sensible move.

Buying a used or brand new iPhone 12, you won’t miss out on the gesture reactions, improved autocorrect, and other iOS 17 features we mentioned. But if you don’t care about those features, you can keep your current iPhone for at least another year.

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