iOS 9: The Basics

Everything You Need to Know About iOS 9

Screens on an iPhone
iOS controls apps in the background. Apple, Inc.

Every year, when Apple debuts a new version of the iOS — the operating system for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch — there's a mad dash to figure out whether your iPhone is compatible with the new software. And then, even if it is, there's the question of whether it makes sense to install the upgrade on an older device since new software on old devices can lead to slow performance and bugs.

When it comes to iOS 9, ​not only are there lots of new features and bug fixes, but ​more devices were supported by the upgrade than in any previous release.​​​​​

iOS 9 Compatible Apple Devices

The Apple devices that are compatible with iOS 9 are:

iPhone iPod touch iPad
iPhone 6S series 6th generation iPod touch​ iPad Pro​
iPhone 6 series​ 5th generation iPod touch​​ iPad Air 2
iPhone SE iPad Air
iPhone 5S 4th generation iPad​
iPhone 5C​ 3rd generation iPad​​
iPhone 5 iPad 2​
iPhone 4S iPad mini 4​
iPad mini 3
iPad mini 2
iPad mini​

Later iOS 9 Releases

Apple released 11 updates to iOS 9 after its debut. Every update maintained compatibility with all of the devices in the list above, though some updates added support for devices and features that hadn't been released when iOS 9.0 was released. These include iOS 9.1, which added support for the iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, and Apple TV 4, and iOS 9.3, which added Night Shift and support for multiple Apple Watches being paired to the same iPhone. ​

For a deeper look at all versions of the iOS, check out iPhone Firmware & iOS History.​​​

Key iOS 9 Features

While generally well received upon its release, iOS 9 was seen as delivering fewer major features than some other versions of the iOS. This version was largely focused on improving core functionality and the stability of the OS, something many observers said was in need after the rapid pace of changes introduced in iOS 7 and iOS 8.

Among the major features introduced with iOS 9 were:

  • Features designed to understand the user's behaviors and proactively suggest tasks and features
  • Support for 3D Touch on iPhone 6S series
  • Night Shift (in iOS 9.3 and up)
  • Low-Power Mode for extended battery life
  • Privacy and security improvements
  • More support for older devices
  • Transit directions in Maps for selected cities
  • Numerous improvements to built-in apps
  • Interface changes on the iPad, including split-screen apps and picture in picture support for videos
  • Public beta program for early access to iOS updates.

What To Do If Your Device Isn't Compatible

If you don't see your device on this list, then it can't run iOS 9. That may be disappointing, but don't despair: iOS 8 is a good operating system.

That said, if your device is so old that it's not supported here, you may want to think about upgrading to something new. You're probably eligible for an upgrade, so shop around and you might be able to get a great deal and some slick new hardware (but always remember to check when the next model is coming out so that you don't buy just before something new is released).

iOS 9 Release History 

  • iOS 9.3.5 release: Aug. 25, 2016
  • iOS 9.3.4 release: Aug. 4, 2016
  • iOS 9.3.3 release: July 18, 2016
  • iOS 9.3.2 release: May 16, 2016
  • iOS 9.3.1 release: March 31, 2016
  • iOS 9.3 release: March 21, 2016
  • iOS 9.2.1 release: Jan. 19, 2016
  • iOS 9.2 release: Dec. 8, 2015
  • iOS 9.1 release: ​Oct. 21, 2015
  • iOS 9.0.2 release: Sept. 30, 2015
  • iOS 9.0.1 release: Sept. 23, 2015
  • iOS 9 release:​ Sept. 16, 2015

iOS 10 was released on S​ept. 13, 2016.