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Is iOS 7 an evil plot to obsolete your old iPhone?

While Apple fanatics are celebrating the birth of a new iPhone, owners of older models reluctant to drop money on an upgrade don’t have much to cheer about.

When a new generation comes out, it brings a new operating system, or OS. For iPhone 4 and 4s users, iOS 7 means crucial functions may take up to twice as long [3]. That’s a drag, but for iPhone 3GS users, it means something worse: Their phone is now officially obsolete and eventually, when new apps coming out demand iOS7 in order to be installed, they’ll be left out.

Apple’s pattern has been to eventually cut older devices off from new updates, largely because their aging hardware can’t handle the demands of the operating system’s new features, says J.D. Williams, a regional manager for the iPhone repair company iFixYouri. That likely means that this is the last operating system upgrade iPhone 4 devices will get.

“I would think that the next operating system, the iPhone 4 will not be upgraded to,” Williams says. “They just push the hardware to its limit. If it can handle it, they do it. If it can’t, it can’t, and I’d say that iPhone 4 is just on the back end of being able to handle iOS 7.”

Also, it’s expensive to keep designing apps that work on older devices as new ones sprout bigger screens and faster components, Williams says. And Apple can’t let accommodating older phones hold back the development of its cutting edge models if it wants to keep its place at the top of the smartphone heap.

If that seems unfair to iPhone 4 owners (full disclosure: that’s the smartphone I use), other manufacturers are much less accommodating of older devices, says Williams.

Many times, devices running on Android never get an operating system upgrade from their manufacturers and are obsoleted much more quickly as new models are created. Owners can sometimes upgrade Android software on their own, but it’s generally more complicated. So while it may seem unfair that Apple is pulling the rug out from under your phone, obsolescence is the price of rapid technological advancement, Williams says.

“It’s just because of the speed at which hardware and software changes in the electronics industry,” Williams says.

So basically, if you don’t like it, blame science. And I don’t, so I will … stupid science [4].

If you do decide to upgrade your iPhone 4 to iOS 7 (or you have a faster phone and this isn’t an issue for you, to make things go smoothly) make sure you’ve got the time to go through the whole process. And you might want to wait a little while before doing it. Millions of iPhone users worldwide trying to upgrade at once puts huge pressure on Apple’s servers, and if the data is interrupted, that could cause big problems. Plus, more time can give Apple a chance to work out any bugs that may pop up with the new software.

What do you think? Is iOS 7 a nefarious plot to obsolete your iPhone 4 and force you to upgrade, or just technology moving forward?