Nobody is as obsessed with security and privacy as Apple, and that’s why we see the company tightening up its platforms year on year. With 2020’s iPhone 12 series, it moved to a second-generation Secure Enclave for the A14 chips. The security gains from this 2nd gen Secure Enclave might be notable, which is why Apple has secretly upgraded some of its older iPhones with the same.
In one of Apple’s Platform Security Document dealing with Security Enclave noted by Andrew Pantyukhin on Twitter, it was found that Apple quietly upgraded the Security Enclave on its older iPhones running on the A12 and A13 platforms. The 2nd gen Security Enclave is said to be applied to all A12 and A13 equipped iPhones and iPads that launched in Fall 2020.
Apple secret security upgrades for old iPhones, iPads and Apple Watch
“Note: The A12, A13, S4 and S5 products first launched in fall 2020 have a 2nd generation secure storage component; while earlier products based on these SoCs have a 1st generation secure storage component,” says the document.
Based on the statement, it seems that the iPhone 11 generation, iPhone SE 2020, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPad Mini 5, iPad Air 3, and the iPad 8th Gen have got the Secure Enclave upgrade. Given that no new device with these chips was launched in late 2020, the “launched in fall 2020” could refer to all devices manufactured in that time period.
The Secure Enclave upgrade also makes it to the Apple Watch SE, Series 5, and Series 4, given that these devices utilize the S4 and S5 chip.
The Secure Enclave is a dedicated space on the Apple chip that stores all sensitive information, such as passwords, device passcode, TouchID data and FaceID data. The feature has been around since the first devices started shipping with the Apple A7 chip and got a second generation upgrade last year with the A14 Bionic.
While Apple is yet to give out a statement behind this security upgrade, it seems nice for potential buyers of the older iPhone models. Despite the iPhone 12 series launching last year, it was the iPhone 11 and iPhone SE 2020 that sold the most across global markets. The iPhone SE is currently the most affordable iPhone model one can buy, with the iPhone XR being the next upgrade.