When you buy an iPhone, you expect it to work for a decent amount of time, given the high cost. But how long do you expect the iPhone to last? This depends on several factors.
Let’s take a look at the average life of an iPhone so you can plan your purchases carefully.
The Most Important iPhone Age Factor: Software Updates
Technically speaking, as long as your iPhone is turned on and working, it is within its life span. But in practice, there are several ways to determine if your iPhone is still in its lifespan; The most important one is how long you receive iOS and security updates from Apple.
Every eligible iPhone gets software updates soon after they become available, whether it’s a major revision, like iOS 15, or a minor bug fix, like iOS 15.0.1. Installing these not only brings new features to your iPhone but also fixes security issues to keep your device safe.
Over time, Apple is abandoning support for older iPhone models. Spending the time to make sure that a new version works on an old device that few people use is not worth it for any company. In addition, the weaker devices of older iPhone models cannot keep up with the requirements of newer iOS versions.
Apple uses the “antique” and “obsolete” marks for its older devices. An Apple device is considered old when the company stopped distributing it for sale more than seven years ago – note that this differs from the initial release date.
At this point, Apple does not provide hardware or device support, and service providers cannot order replacement parts for them. As of this writing, iPhone 4S and earlier are considered obsolete.
Once your iPhone has stopped receiving security updates, it’s time to upgrade. While it is highly unlikely that your device will fall victim to an attack once it loses support, it is not a good practice to use an unsupported device for an extended period. If any major security holes appear, Apple will not fix them for your phone.
Average iPhone life through iOS updates
We can take a look at past trends to estimate how long iPhones generally last. iOS 15, released in September 2021, is compatible with the following iPhone models:
iPhone 13 . series
iPhone 12 . series
iPhone 11 series
iPhone XS, XS Max and XR
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 this list are the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, released in September 2015. These phones, which come with iOS 9, hold the record for supporting most versions of iOS on a single device; They worked with seven different versions of iOS.
iOS 14 worked on all iPhones that supported iOS 13, while iOS 13 of 2019 dropped support for the iPhone 5S (2013) and the iPhone 6 line (2014). Thus, based on recent trends, it is fair to say that the iPhone should get iOS updates for five to seven years.
Apple now supports older iOS versions too
With the release of iOS 15, Apple changed the policy to support older versions. In the past, once the latest iOS version came out, you had to upgrade to keep getting security patches. This is because Apple generally stopped supporting previous iOS versions when a new version became available.
But Apple changed this as of 2021. If you’re using iOS 14, when you visit the Update your iPhone option, you’ll see a prompt to download the latest iOS 14, as well as a prompt to upgrade to iOS 15.
As it turns out, this isn’t entirely new. Apple quietly released iOS 12 security updates throughout 2020 and 2021, to support devices that can’t run the latest version.
The company hasn’t said how long this support will last, but it’s nice to have the option to stay on your current iOS version for a while. In the future, iPhones that don’t support the latest iOS update can still count on another month or even a year of support.
Depending on the apps you use, you may also have to worry about the apps stopping support for older iOS versions. For example, at the time of writing Chrome for iPhone requires at least iOS 14, but Spotify works on iOS 12 and above.
Other Factors Affecting iPhone Life
Whether your iPhone is running a supported version of iOS is the most important factor in its lifespan. But it’s not the only practical measure of iPhone age; Other points can play a role.
Thinking about the signs that it’s time to upgrade your iPhone can help you estimate how long your next iPhone will last.
Batteries are consumable components so they are usually the first part of a device to have problems. After years of charging cycles, the battery will not hold as much as it once was, even when it appears to be at 100%. You shouldn’t start seeing a lot of degradation in performance until at least a couple of years later, depending on how you charge your device.
You can check the health of your iPhone battery to see how it is performing. If the maximum capacity is less than 80%, you might consider paying Apple for a new battery. This isn’t cheap, but it’s a lot less expensive than paying for a brand new device. And if the battery is your only problem, a brand new battery can give you years of extra life for your device.
Limited storage space
Even if your iPhone is running a current version of iOS, you may run out of storage space if you keep a lot of photos, videos, and apps on your device. Especially if you choose a model with less space to save money on your iPhone purchases, it’s easy to reach a point where you have to juggle what’s on your device constantly to avoid “low storage” warnings. This can prompt you to upgrade when you don’t need to otherwise.
Fortunately, Apple sometimes increases the basic storage capacity of the iPhone. For example, the iPhone 13 line for 2021 starts at 128GB – eliminating the base 64GB option.
Your usage will determine the amount of iPhone storage that affects the life of the device. If you don’t download music offline, don’t use many big apps, and don’t record high-quality videos, you can probably get away with less storage for years. Other than that, it’s wise to spend more money up front to get more storage, so you can keep your phone for longer.
The final major factor in an iPhone’s lifespan is how you take care of its hardware. It is very easy to drop your device and crack its screen, destroy the speaker by harshly spraying it with water, or the like.
Physical damage to your iPhone can range from minor inconvenience to preventing you from using your device. You might not mind having a secondary chip in the screen and continue using the device for years after such an incident. But serious damage may make you need a new phone sooner than you thought.
iPhone repairs are expensive, so if you think you’ll damage your device, consider adding AppleCare+. This plan lets you bring your device to Apple twice every 12 months for repair or replacement, only charging you a fee instead of the full repair payment.
Otherwise, be careful where you place your iPhone, and put it in a protective case to minimize potential damage. Being proactive will keep your phone running at its best for as long as possible.
This is how long your iPhone should last
Now you have a good idea of how long your iPhone should last. You can expect between five and seven years of major iOS updates, as well as potential security patches after that. Your battery performance will degrade over time, but as long as you have enough storage space and keep your device from physical damage, it should last you a long time.
And since Apple devices carry their value, you will likely exchange or sell your device to earn some money at the end of its life.
There are a lot of reasons why your iPhone may be running slow. Fortunately, most of them are easy to treat.
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