iOS 5: The Basics

Everything You Need to Know About iOS 5

image credit: Francis Dean/Contributor/Corbis News/Getty Images

Every time Apple introduces a major new version of ​the iOS operating system, owners of older models of the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad hold their breath as they wait to find out if their device is compatible with the new OS.​

Sometimes the news is good: their device is compatible. Sometimes it's mixed: their device can run the new OS, but can't use all of its features. And, inevitably, some models won't work with the new iOS, forcing their owners to decide if they want to upgrade (find out if you're eligible for an upgrade).

For owners of iOS devices, those questions arose in spring 2011 when Apple first demonstrated iOS 5 to the public. To find out if your device is compatible with iOS 5, and to get more detail about the OS, read on.

iOS 5 Compatible Apple Devices

iPhoneiPadiPod touch

iPhone 4S

3rd Generation

4th generation
iPod touch


iPhone 4


iPad 2


3rd generation
iPod touch


iPhone 3GS




Later iOS 5 Releases

Apple released three updates to iOS 5 that fixed bugs and added new features. All three of these updates—iOS 5.01, 5.1, and 5.1.1—are compatible with all of the devices listed above.

To learn more about what each version of iOS 5 included, check out this history of iOS versions.

iOS 5 Features

With iOS 5, Apple introduced a number of key features to the iPhone and iPod touch. These are features that later users take for granted, including:

  • Notification Center
  • iCloud
  • PC-free activation: prior to iOS 5, you had to connect your iPhone to a computer in order to set it up

Implications for Older iPhone and iPod touch Models

Older models of the iPhone and iPod touch not in the chart above are not compatible with iOS 5.

Owners of the iPhone 3G and 2nd generation iPod touch could use every version of the iOS up to iOS 4, but not iOS 5. Owners of the original iPhone and iPod touch could not upgrade beyond iOS 3.

iOS 5 Release History

  • iOS 5.1.1 release: May 7, 2012​
  • iOS 5.1 release: March 7, 2012
  • iOS 5.0.1 release: Nov. 10, 2011
  • iOS 5 release: Oct. 12, 2011

iOS 6 was released on September 19, 2012.

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