iOS 17 adoption moves at a trickle


iPhone with an iOS 17 logo
Odds are your iPhone doesn't run iOS 17. Adoption of Apple's latest mobile operating system is downright anemic.
Photo: Cult of Mac

In the weeks since iOS 17 launched, just a small percentage of iPhone owners have adopted it, according to an analytics firm. This is despite the fact that the new version is freely available for every iPhone going back five years.

Users may have been made cautious by Apple’s need to rush out three patches to fix bugs since the big update.

Users shun iOS 17, for now

Immediate, broad availability of operating system upgrades is a significant advantage that iPhone has over Android. Apple releases new iOS versions for every recent model, while Samsung and other companies take time to modify the OS updates Google introduces. Many Android devices get few or no updates.

But despite the advantage, iPhone users seem slow to adopt iOS 17. Many are sticking with one of the later versions of iOS 16, at least for now.

A total of 23.1% of iPhones use one of the four iOS 17 versions released since September 18, according to the latest data from Mixpanel. Compare that to the 42% of iPhones that still run one of the last two versions of iOS 16, especially iOS 16.6.1

It’s likely a significant percentage of the devices running one of the newest versions are from the iPhone 15 series, which launched in September with iOS 17 preinstalled.

iOS 17 Adoption on October 6, 2023
iOS 17 Adoption on October 6, 2023
Chart: Mixpanel

Missing out on new features … and bugs

Those still using iOS 16 do not get to take advantage of the changes in the most recent major upgrade. This includes an enhanced Messages app, Contact Posters in the Phone app, video messages on FaceTime, smarter autocorrect and NameDrop.

But those holding off on the newer version also don’t have to put up with new bugs. The original release was buggy enough that Apple had to rush out three patches since its debut. iOS 17 also reduces the battery life of many older iPhone models, though this may have been fixed by iOS 17.0.3, which Apple released Wednesday.

Slow iOS adoption is not a new trend

iPhone users haven’t suddenly become suspicious of major system software updates. The reluctance has been building for years.

For comparison, 18 days after the release of iOS 16, adoption stood at only about 29% of iPhones, according to Mixpanel. It took almost four months for iOS 16 to reach 70% of devices.

But people used to be more trusting. Back in 2018, 75% of iPhones had iOS 12 installed after a bit over two months.


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