If you don’t use iCloud Photo Library and have an older Apple ID, you can still enjoy the photo stream – so you can have the last 1000 photos synced across all your Apple devices.
This worked in the past sometimes better and sometimes worse and sometimes with a significant delay, but still. Currently, however, Apple seems to want to bully out older devices in the same synchronization ring (as is already the case with Apple Watches and older iPhones): the older devices sometimes no longer get photos displayed.
The reason is as follows: in the iPhone, you can set whether photos and videos should be recorded in the most modern format HEIF and HEVC or in the more widespread and familiar JPG format. If the option is set to compatibility, there are no problems. However, if the modern format is selected, Apple currently saves the conversion to JPG for older devices – the photos simply do not appear at all.
The situatino may be one of Apple’s friendly passive leverage to push you to newer devices. Not that you have to go along with it: You just don’t have to wonder why photos might be missing in the stream on some devices from now on.