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Around 1.2 billion iPhones have been sold since the first model hit the shelves in 2007 – that’s roughly the population of Africa. Yet, despite its unrivalled popularity, questions remain about the device’s lifespan. How long should an iPhone last?
Can you keep using your battered 6s for another three years? Will the new iPhone 8 and iPhone X keep going happily for two years or will you have to upgrade as soon as the iPhone XI hits the shelves?
The internet is full of contradictory life expectancies and even Apple has offered two different predictions. We’ve sorted through them so you don’t have to.
Okay, a decade with your iPhone might sound like wishful thinking (or a living hell), but former Apple employee Chuck Rogers argues that it’s possible with a bit of tinkering: “Since the battery can be replaced (by Apple or an Authorized Repair Center), an iPhone could conceivably be used for ten years or more,” he wrote on Quora.
However, the operating system is a sticking point: “Apple only supports a particular iPhone model with the most current version of the iOS for about five years,” added Rogers.
“So if you buy a brand new model after the next iPhone comes out this fall , expect that Apple will keep supporting it with system upgrades through at least 2021 or 2022. Most people would consider this the productive lifespan of an iPhone.” If you’re still using your iPhone in 2022, perhaps to watch the World Cup in Qatar, drop us a comment below…
The new iPhone 8 and iPhone X have already captured the imagination of some fans. Others, however, are less convinced: a gigantic question mark still hovers over the issue of the devices’ lifespans – and that’s no small matter when the 64GB iPhone X costs £999.
In its iPhone 7 Environmental Report, released in September 2016, Apple explained that it “conservatively assumes a three-year period for power use by first owners… based on historical customer use data for similar products.”
Three years certainly sounds like a reasonable target and return on your investment, but the company has since distanced itself from that claim during a high-profile court case in California…
Nope, Apple says one year
The class-action lawsuit against Apple came after customers experienced “touch disease” (this causes the screen to become less responsive and eventually freeze) on their iPhone 6 or 6 Plus – after just a year.
The plaintiffs argued that “consumers reasonably expect that smartphones will remain operable for at least two years when not subject to abuse or neglect because the overwhelming majority of smartphone users are required to sign service contracts with (mobile) carriers for two-year periods”.
But Apple wasn’t having any of it, arguing that customers shouldn’t have expectations beyond the one-year warranty period. “To hold Apple’s Limited Warranty substantively unconscionable simply because Plaintiffs expect their iPhones to last the length of their cellular service contracts would place a burden on [Apple] for which it did not contract,” the firm argued.
This has led to accusations of so-called “planned obsolescence”, a charge that has also been levelled at other smartphone manufacturers. This strategy involves the lifespan of products being deliberately being shortened in time for a new, shiny product.
However, the fact that thousands of users are still running old iPhones somewhat undermines this argument. Indeed, before making the move to Android, I ran a low-end iPhone 5c for three years without difficulty (well, apart from dust-related problems).
iPhone Upgrade Programme
If you’re an Apple devotee who is worried about the lifespan of your brand-new iPhone, and don’t mind paying extra, it may be worth signing up to the iPhone Upgrade Programme. For £37.95 per month (for the iPhone 8, with the figure rising to a huge £56.45 for the iPhone X), you can trade in your old device and get the new iPhone as soon as it’s available. Every year.
Alternatively, for people who want to make the most of their smartphone, Apple offers two-year insurance for the iPhone called AppleCare+. This gets you “expert telephone technical support and hardware coverage, including up to two incidents of accidental damage”, according to the Apple website, and begins on the day you purchase your phone.
Header image: perzonseo.com via Flickr