So Apple announced iOS 14 the other day and a variety of devices are supported, the oldest being the iPhone 6s which was released 5 years ago. A 5-year-old phone receiving software updates is unheard of in the industry. But I’m running the developer preview on my 4-year-old iPhone 7 and I have certain opinions about iOS 14’s improvements and performance specifically on older devices like my iPhone 7.

I talk about performance because this is a developer preview and they are known for being glitchy, but this is really smooth throughout. I have not seen any frame drop even when I have stacked multiple widgets on top of each other. In fact, in some places, I even find it faster than iOS 13. Like taking a screenshot feels almost instant now. Shooting a photograph also feels slightly faster than before. Plus now the video format and resolution can finally be changed in the camera app itself. This was earlier only supported by the newer iPhones. But the USP of iOS 14 is widgets and I filled all my home screens with various widgets of different sizes hoping that this would actually slow down animations but they didn’t which I honestly did not expect on a 4-year-old iPhone.

Now when I added widgets even though its all very smooth, everything becomes slightly confusing because all the apps are displaced from there original positions. It also becomes very congested and hodge-podge because the iPhone 7 is already a pretty tiny display and these widgets do take up a considerable amount of space.

And that’s my major concern with iOS 14 on older devices, especially the first generation iPhone SE with a 4″ display. Imagine all these widgets and PIP video playback on the home screen. You can fill up all the widgets you need in just one page with no app icons, but again, what’s the point when you can simply swipe left from the home screen and get all the widgets in one place. It’s polarising and debatable especially on the smaller iPhones which are the older iPhones.

Also speaking of the older iPhones, they do not receive a majority of the new features. In fact for the iPhone 6s and SE (1st gen), iOS 14 is more or less just a visual change. They don’t support any new feature. As far as the iPhone 7 is concerned it also has been stripped out of most of the features but it retains 2 pretty significant ones. First being spatial audio with AirPods and second, NFC app clip.

The weird thing is even though it does support the NFC app clip it does not support car keys, it’s only available in iPhone XR or later, not even the iPhone X. Also now in the camera app, you can separately lock exposure and focus, earlier they were linked together. But this is again only available on iPhone XR or later, not even the iPhone X and that’s kinda weird. Its a basic thing and I don’t think its very hardware demanding. Maybe I’m wrong.

That’s the story of iOS 14 on older devices. It’s basically a major upgrade for iPhone XR and newer devices but for anything older its mostly a visual change. Also even though this beta version is extremely smooth, please don’t install it on your main phone. It has made my battery life worse, considering it was already pretty bad. I personally will be downgrading back to iOS 13.