Are you wondering how long your iPhone will last before you have to upgrade it? In this article, I will examine the average iPhone lifespan to answer the question.
When you purchase an iPhone, you would expect it to work for a decent amount of time, given the high cost. However, how long can you expect your iPhone to last? Well, it depends on a few factors.
The Most Important iPhone Lifespan Factor – The Software Updates
To be put simply, as long as the iPhone turns on and functions, it is within its lifespan. However, practically, there are a few ways you can determine if your iPhone is still within its useful life; the most important among them is how long it receives iOS as well as security updates from Apple.
Every eligible iPhone gets software updates shortly after they become available, be it a major revision, like iOS 15, or just a minor release to fix bugs, for example, iOS 15.0.1. Installing the updates not only brings new features to your iPhone but also patches security issues to keep the device secure.
As time passes, Apple drops support for older iPhone models. Spending time to make sure a new release works on an aging device that a small minority of people use is not worth it for any company. On top of that, the weaker hardware of older iPhone models cannot keep up with the requirements of the newer iOS versions.
Apple uses the “vintage” as well as “obsolete” labels for older devices. An Apple device is considered obsolete when the company stops distributing it for sale over seven years ago. Note – This is not the same as its initial release date.
At this point, Apple does not offer hardware support, they don’t even offer the device, and service providers cannot order parts for them. Currently, the iPhone 4S along with older releases are considered obsolete.
After your iPhone is no longer receiving security updates, it is time for you to upgrade. While your device isn’t likely to fall victim to attacks immediately after it loses support, it is not a good practice to use an unsupported device for long. Say any major security flaws appear, then Apple will not fix them for your phone.
The Average iPhone Lifespan Through iOS Updates
iOS 15, released in September 2021, is compatible with the models mentioned below:
- iPhone 13 series
- iPhone 12 series
- iPhone 11 series
- iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR
- iPhone X
- iPhone 8 and 8 Plus
- iPhone 7 and 7 Plus
- iPhone 6S and 6S Plus
- iPhone SE, 1st and 2nd generation
The oldest devices on the list are the iPhone 6S as well as the 6S Plus, which were released in September 2015. These phones were released with iOS 9, they hold the record for supporting the most versions of iOS on one device; they have worked with seven different iOS releases.
iOS 14 worked on all iPhones that supported the previous iOS 13, while iOS 13 dropped support for the iPhone 5S (2013) as well as iPhone 6 line (2014). Thus, taking the trends in context, it is fair to say that an iPhone will likely receive iOS updates for between five and seven years.
Does Apple Support Older iOS Versions?
With the release of iOS 15, Apple has changed its support policy for older iOS versions. Before this, once the latest version was released, there was no other option but to upgrade to continue getting security patches. Because Apple generally stopped supporting past iOS versions when a new one was launched.
However, Apple has changed this as of 2021. If you are on iOS 14, when you visit the option to update your iPhone, you will be able to see a prompt to download the latest iOS 14 version, as well as the addition to the prompt to upgrade to iOS 15.
Apple had quietly released security updates for iOS 12 throughout 2020 as well as 2021, thus, supporting the devices that cannot run the latest version.
The company hasn’t stated how long the support will last; however, it is nice to have the option to continue using your current iOS version.
Based on the apps you use; you might have to worry about apps dropping support for older iOS versions. For example, as of now, Chrome for iPhone requires at least iOS 14, whereas, Spotify works on iOS 12 and later.
Batteries are consumable components, so they are usually the first part of a device that begins facing problems. After years of charging cycles, a battery will not hold as much charge as it used to, even when it indicates 100%. You will not see much degradation in performance until at least two years in, it also depends on how you charge your device.
You have the ability to check your iPhone battery‘s health to see how it is performing. If the maximum capacity is below 80%, you should consider a new battery. While this is not cheap, it is a lot less expensive than paying for a brand-new device. And if the battery is the only issue you’re facing, a new battery could add years of additional life to your device.
Limited Storage Space
Even if your iPhone is on a current version of iOS, you might have run out of storage. You might have a lot of photos, videos, as well as apps on your device. Limited storage space is a definite problem especially if you opted for a model with less space to save money on your iPhone purchase. You might constantly have to juggle what’s on your device to avoid “Low Storage” warnings. This could lead you to upgrade when you might not need to.
Thankfully, Apple has increased the base storage for the iPhone, the iPhone 13 line, starts at 128GB, finally eliminating the inadequate 64GB base option.
The usage will determine how much iPhone storage affects the device’s lifespan, if you do not download music offline, do not use many large apps, and do not record high-quality video, you could probably get away with lower amounts of storage for a long time. If not, it is wise to spend a bit more money upfront for more storage, in order to keep your phone for longer.
Another factor in an iPhone’s lifespan is how you take care of its hardware. It is too easy to drop your device and crack the screen or destroy the speaker with water, or some other physical damage.
Physical iPhone damage ranges from just a minor inconvenience to preventing you from using the device. You might not mind a minor chip in the screen and continue to use the device for years, however, serious damage could cause make you to need a new phone sooner than planned.
iPhone repairs are expensive, so if you feel that damage to your device is inevitable, you should consider adding AppleCare+. The plan lets you bring in your device to Apple twice every 12 months for a repair or even a replacement, while only charging you a deductible instead of the full payment.
Otherwise, be wary of where you place your iPhone, and also use a protective case to reduce potential damage.
So, How Long are iPhones built to last?
After you’ve read the article, you should have a good idea of how long your iPhone should last. You can expect somewhere between five to seven years of major iOS updates, along with security patches beyond that. Though the battery will decrease in performance over time, as long as you have enough storage and manage to keep your device from physical damage, it should last you long.
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