As much as Apple will want you to buy the iPhone 14, your old phone is probably serving you just fine, even if the company doesn’t officially support it anymore. But the bigger problem with aging tech isn’t necessarily the lack of official software support, it’s when third-party developers stop making apps for your device. You might not need the latest iOS features from Apple, but if Instagram or Snapchat stops working on your iPhone, you start to run into some functionality dead ends.
On Android, it’s easy to install older versions of apps on your device through sideloading. However, iOS tends to lock things to the App Store, in the name of user safety (and, of course, money). If an app no longer supports your device, you’ll likely see yourself blocked from downloading it. But as it happens, iOS has a built-in solution for this issue—one it doesn’t advertise.
To download old versions of apps that will run on your unsupported device, open the App Store, then tap your profile icon in the top right, and go to Purchases. Here, you’ll see a chronological listing of every app you’ve ever downloaded from this Apple ID (which you can use to figure out the first app you ever downloaded, if you’re curious). Scroll back until you find an app you’d like to have on your device, but is technically not supported, then tap the adjacent iCloud download symbol.
After you wait for the system to load, you’ll see an alert telling you the current app is not supported on your device, but an older version is. From here, tap “Download,” and an older, supported version will install on your iPhone or iPad. After that, you’re in.
What happens, though, if you didn’t already buy the app in the past? After all, trying to download the app now for the first time results in rejection—but there’s a workaround. If you have access to a second, newer Apple device, use it to log into your Apple ID, then download the app. Return to the older device, and you’ll find the app at the top of your Purchases page, ready to download.
This trick will not work 100% of the time, though. While the app itself needs to be compatible with your device, so, too, does the service. Netflix, for example, may let you download a “compatible” version of the app to an old device, but the streaming service only supports what it supports. If your device isn’t supported on their side, no version of the Netflix app will truly work.
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