When people ask how long do iPhones last, what they really mean is how long Apple supports iPhones with software updates. The answer will surprise you because Apple supports its products for a much longer time than most other consumer electronics companies.
In fact, one of the best reasons to buy an iPhone is its longevity.
For instance, I have an iPhone 7 released five years ago in 2016, but it will still get the latest iOS 15 software upgrade. In comparison, I also have a 2018 Android phone, but its software is already outdated and not upgradeable to the latest version.
So, smartphones lasting as long as iPhones usually do is pretty remarkable, and it’s something that sets Apple apart from its competitors. In this article, we’ll look at an infographic that gives a clear picture of the historical iOS compatibility of iPhones. Let’s check it out.
How long does Apple provide updates for iPhones?
It’s essential to understand that Apple supports iPhones in two ways, namely hardware and software.
Hardware support refers to the possibility of getting your iPhone fixed in case of damage and other problems. Apple offers hardware support for about five to seven years.
Software support by way of regular updates fixes any bugs and security flaws while keeping things running smoothly. Apple offers software support to iPhones for almost a decade, and this is visually represented in the infographic below.
As you can see in the graphic, Apple supported the first iPhone launched in 2007 until 2010 and the 2008 iPhone 3G until 2011.
With the launch of 2011’s iPhone 4s, the length of support increased. The iPhone 4s could run operating systems all the way up to iOS 9. This was last updated in 2019 when Apple issued a final GPS-related update.
The iPhone 5c runs iOS 10, which also got a GPS-related update in July 2019.
Further, the iPhone 5s and iPhone 6 run iOS 12, last updated in July 2020. That update was specifically for devices that don’t support iOS 13.
What are vintage and obsolete iPhones?
When we consider how long does apple support older iPhone models in terms of hardware, here’s what Apple’s website states:
“Owners of iPhone, iPad, iPod, Mac or Apple TV products may obtain a service and parts from Apple service providers, including Apple Retail Stores and Independent Repair Providers, for a minimum of 5 years from when Apple last distributed the product for sale.”
This support may extend to up to seven years, depending on parts’ availability.
So if your iPhone was still being sold by Apple up to seven years ago, you could most likely get it fixed if you face any issue. This is where we need to consider Apple’s list of obsolete and vintage iPhones.
Obsolete iPhones are those whose sales were discontinued by Apple more than seven years ago, so hardware servicing is no longer available. Here’s a list of iPhones that are obsolete in 2021:
- iPhone 3G and 3GS
- iPhone 4 CDMA and GSM
Similarly, Vintage iPhones are those that have not been sold for more than five years (but less than seven years). Apple can still service these devices, provided it has access to parts needed. Here’s a list of vintage iPhones in 2021:
- iPhone 4s
- iPhone 5
- iPhone 5C
So, Apple still fully supports the iPhone 5s (2013). Moreover, Apple may support the iPhone 4s (2011) and iPhone 5 (2012) if it has access to parts. That’s pretty great for smartphones launched almost a decade ago!
What is the oldest iPhone Apple still supports?
The oldest handset supported by iOS 13 is the iPhone 6s, which also got iOS 14 and now, the latest iOS 15.
It’s good to know that Apple supports the last three versions of iOS for bug and security updates. So, you’re covered if your iPhone runs iOS 13 or later. In terms of device models, that’s the iPhone 6s or newer.
How does Apple manage to run its iPhones for so long?
Apple is a leader in the smartphone market because it makes customers happy. This has a lot to do with its extended support for all its devices. Getting software and hardware updates on your smartphone for five-seven years is pretty remarkable, and Apple offers this to ensure your iPhone (or other Apple device) lasts you a long time.
It may cost more upfront, but it pays off when you consider the years of use you’ll get out of the product. And when it’s finally time to upgrade or replace your device, you’re more likely to choose Apple again, thanks to the great experience you’ve had.
That’s why Apple makes sure it offers you a good deal in terms of hardware and software updates for several years that will keep your device in excellent working condition.
What are your thoughts about this? Which iPhone do you own, and does Apple still support it? Share in the comments below?