Become a MacRumors Supporter for $50/year with no ads, ability to filter front page stories, and private forums.

Typical useful life of iPhone

  • 3 Years or Fewer

    Votes: 51 30.9%
  • 3+ Years

    Votes: 44 26.7%
  • Until iOS runs slowly (E.g. features)

    Votes: 6 3.6%
  • Until iOS won’t update (E.g. security)

    Votes: 12 7.3%
  • Until the hardware lets me down (breaks, battery dies, EoL, etc)

    Votes: 24 14.5%
  • GIMME SHINY (yearly, or when phone gets scuffs and dings, etc)

    Votes: 28 17.0%

  • Total voters
    165

leifp

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Feb 8, 2008
413
393
Canada
I’m a bit tired of making suppositions about typical iPhone life and those who use them, so I figured I’d just ask.

For myself, it’s as use-case determines but I would never keep a phone past its last major iOS update. Nor would I replace it because of wear and tear. That said, this year I’ll replace my mini 13 because I’m beginning to consolidate my photography gear. I miss my point n shoot but the convenience of the iPhone exceeds the annoyance I have with its photo quality (I still have my full kit when the mood strikes or I need/want the major quality upgrades it offers) and so I’ll be picking up a “photography” case for the iPhone Pro I end up with (Despite its afterthought status, the longer focal length appeals to me).

For those keeping iPhones past their software update windows, which do you have and why do you keep them?
 

eyoungren

macrumors Penryn
Aug 31, 2011
28,916
27,078
Until they have no other use and become non-functional due to age.

I have a 3GS, a 4, a 4s, a 5, a 6s+ and my 11 Pro Max (my primary phone).

Older phones are useful for things like streaming music over WiFi, desk clocks, older versions of apps, cams, etc.

I keep mine because I like them.
 

akash.nu

macrumors G4
May 26, 2016
10,825
16,944
It's when I want the new one, which has ranged from 1 year to 3 years to now maybe 4 years.

This has been my approach as well. I don’t think about it much. I see the features in the latest device, if I like them, I buy, if I feel like they’re not justified for me then I stick to my old ones.

Having said that the only devices that I’ve kept for more than a year are iPhone 4S, iPhone 6 and iPhone 11 Pro.
 
  • Like
Reactions: zapmymac

reppans

macrumors 6502
Dec 2, 2006
316
187
I generally keep my iPhones longer than Apple will support the iOS. My smartphone history is: ‘08 IP3 > ‘13 IP5 > ‘19 IPXR, all original batts.

I’m not budget constrained - I guess I just set-up/customize my toys/tools just perfect for my needs, so that I procrastinate the hassle of having to do it all over again. I’ll also admit to being a conservationist and battery/efficiency hobbyist (from UL backpacking and camping) and enjoy taking care of stuff and seeing/testing how long it will last.
 
  • Like
Reactions: LenniD and I7guy

Apple_Tiger

macrumors 6502a
Jan 23, 2023
614
857
I used to upgrade yearly. But this time I don’t plan on upgrading. I still enjoy using my 14 pro max. I want to see how long my iphone 14 pro max will last.
 

dmr727

macrumors G4
Dec 29, 2007
10,481
5,335
NYC
Generally 3-4 years, unless something fails earlier (which to Apple's credit, has only happened once). I still use a 12 mini, and will likely keep it for at least another year or so.
 

Duncan-UK

macrumors 6502a
Sep 17, 2006
638
1,219
I'm currently using an 8+ which I bought in Jan 19 to replace a 6+ that I bought in Feb 2015. I'd add that the 6+ still works perfectly!

Realistically I can't see myself getting a new one until say early 2025.
 
  • Like
Reactions: addamas

winxmac

macrumors 65816
Sep 1, 2021
1,207
1,413
I bought an iPhone 14 Pro Max on April 2023 and before that I am using an iPhone 7 Plus that I bought in November 2020 brand new... It is still operational with no history of repair and battery health is 87%

I have older devices that I kept with me for about 2-3 years now, some I think are 5 years with me, and I used them for the older iOS version since at the time I was not able to afford them when they were new... I wanted to experience the old version many years after they were released and it helped me gain first hand experience of iOS changes through the years...

I will be using my iPhone 14 Pro Max probably until 2028 or even 2030 just to fully maximize the amount of money paid for it... I have been using it as alternative/likely replacement of my DSLR camera since it has low light capability and 4K 60fps video recording while my camera is limited to 10 mins max of 1080p 60fps...
 

macbookm1airlover

macrumors member
Jul 9, 2021
88
72
For the longest time, ever since the iPhone SE (my first phone), I would upgrade every version; however, as I got older (and, perhaps, wiser?) I have stuck with the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which does everything I need. Planning to upgrade to the iPhone 15 Pro, or Pro Max if my carrier has appropriate offers.
 

klasma

macrumors 603
Jun 8, 2017
6,264
17,622
Until the next iPhone mini (or equivalent) is released, or until critical apps or features stop working. I used to upgrade every other year, but the new models stopped being compelling.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Lioness~

Novius89

macrumors regular
Nov 1, 2020
248
142
I use a 12 mini for two years, and will keep using this one till it breaks or is not supported any longer.
I will think about a new one, when they release a new mini form factor.

Or a fliphone, saw a Galaxy flip in use at my Gf's cousin and to be honest, i felt the urge for a flip phone.
I absolutely dislike android (i am forced on my work phone) and too far in the Apple eco system to move to a galaxy flip now.
But i was checking prices after this family weekend, i must admit.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Lioness~ and klasma

adrianlondon

macrumors 603
Nov 28, 2013
5,164
7,789
Switzerland
3GS - 5S - 6S - 11

3GS given away, 5S had a few h/w issues but got great part-ex from Apple, 6S is my backup phone and has a different country SIM in it that I need.

11 is doing well. I'll probably get the 16, move the 11 to backup and no idea what I'll do with the 6S. Tempted to somehow use it as a bike computer (with the Cyclemeter app).
 
  • Like
Reactions: Lioness~

Alpha Centauri

macrumors 65816
Oct 13, 2020
1,272
992
My 2016 SE (64GB) was just recently replaced with a 13 Mini. That, I purchased with 512 GB as I'll be keeping it for 4+ yrs and really won't have to watch storage space anymore.

Edit: the SE got a fresh battery 1 yr ago but a verion of iOS 15.x chewed it up heavily. Well now it's a spare and/ or WiFi remote.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Lioness~

subjonas

macrumors 603
Feb 10, 2014
5,725
6,142
Until hardware fails or there is a “must have” new feature which is rare. Last iPhone lasted for 6 years before hardware failed and I couldn’t get it fixed. Last must have feature that got me to upgrade was Apple Pay; before that was Touch ID.
 

ukms

macrumors demi-god
Apr 21, 2015
1,044
1,079
Dubai, UAE
Every year, keep it in decent condition, sell it and buy the next release, cost to change for me is reasonable (iPhones hold their value well).
 
  • Like
Reactions: Yuuuki

BugeyeSTI

macrumors 604
Aug 19, 2017
6,913
8,773
Arizona/Illinois
Was religiously every two years until my iPhone X. Going on six years with it and possibly a seventh. My next phone will be a Pro Max 15 or 16 as I want a bigger screen plus a very noticeable difference in performance/features..
 

kanga1622

macrumors regular
Sep 21, 2016
181
117
We go case by case. I’ve had phones for 5 years (7+ to 12) and been happy other than having to charge it too often.

Now that both my kids have phones also, Hubby and I will likely upgrade every 2-3 years and pass the old phone down to the kids to upgrade their 4-5 year old ones. Right now the adults have 13s and the kids have 12s. One of the 12s needs to either be replaced or get a new battery.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Lioness~

msackey

macrumors 68030
Oct 8, 2020
2,552
2,965
I don’t have a pattern yet but I think when my iPhone’s hardware is no longer sufficient (too slow, breaks, etc.) then I would change it. The only other time I can think of upgrading is if an iPhone model comes out with a significantly improved camera, then I may upgrade.

My first iPhone was the iPhone 4 and it was a hand-me-down from my husband.

I later upgraded to the iPhone 6 because we erroneously thought that the iPhone 4 did not work in Asia. Turns out, it was the cell service company’s problem — TMobile. We were in Asian with the iPhone 4 and it wouldn’t work even though all the settings on the TMobile account was correct and we confirmed online with TMobile reps that all the necessary settings on their end were correct. So we bought an iPhone 6 later and when we tried to use it again on the next trip to Asia, it wouldn’t work! Turns out, there’s a setting on the TMobile end that they forgot to disable. So…the upgrade to the iPhone 6 was not really necessary but it was already done.

Next upgrade was to an iPhone Xs and this was because the 6‘s battery needed replacing 2 times as it kept expanding after less than a year. Finally instead of shelling out more money for an aging phone, I opted to buy the Xs.

Well, the Xs died after 2 years. Wouldn’t power up one day and Apple said it was dead. Instead of shelling out money to repair, I opted to buy my current 12Pro in 2020. Wasn’t planning to upgrade at all. Hopefully this 12Pro lasts for many more years or unless I find the next iPhone’s camera that enticing….
 

xxray

macrumors 68040
Jul 27, 2013
3,080
9,327
I really don’t have a solid answer for you because I’ve been all over the map. The longest I’ve ever kept a phone is 3 years, so I answered “3 years or fewer.” I’ve mostly been a frequent upgrader, especially in the early smartphone days when things were a lot more interesting.

I think overall I really do enjoy the change, having something new and shiny, and having the newest tech possible. But here are my overall reasons for upgrading in recent years:

  • iPhone 6+ to iPhone 7: iOS 11 was a disaster for my 6+ and made it so slow I hated using it. I was also interested in downsizing.
  • iPhone 7 to iPhone 7+: I quickly regretted downsizing as I noticed battery draining a lot more quickly, and I didn’t realize how much I propped up my phone to watch videos on. Doing that on a 4.7” screen just isn’t great.
  • iPhone 7+ to Galaxy S9+: I was getting frustrated with some of Apple’s ecosystem limitations (a lot of which have now been removed) and wanted to try Android again. This was after I switched from a MacBook Pro to a Dell XPS too. Though I really wanted a MBP, a similarly specced XPS was literally a $1,000 less than the MBP. I think this opened me up to trying Android again too since I was using Windows again. I also was very sick of the 6/6S/7/8 design and wanted a nice display with small bezels, but I wasn’t convinced of iPhone X at $1000 price point and wanted a bigger screen/battery.
  • Galaxy S9+ to iPhone XS Max: I missed iOS and the Apple ecosystem a lot pretty quickly. Also, Apple delivered on a larger version of the iPhone X.
  • iPhone XS Max to iPhone 13 Pro: The large body of the XS Max started to become fatiguing to me (I used it one-handed quite a bit) which made me want to downsize. I was planning on the 13 Mini but decided at the last minute that the new features of the 13 Pro were more important to me than the Mini size. A lot of the features I had been waiting for had finally come (ProMotion, big battery life increase, brighter screen, better and more efficient 5G modem).
  • iPhone 13 Pro to iPhone 14 Pro Max: iOS 16 ruined the great battery life on my 13 Pro, causing me to jump to the larger size again. I also wanted the 14 Pro features and had the disposable income to be able to afford it.
I’m probably leaning towards skipping the iPhone 15 this year as the rumored upgrades seem like they will have little to no impact on my daily experience. I also have splurged on other tech items already this year, so it’ll be getting into the territory of feeling irresponsible if I upgrade this year, especially since you typically save so much more money waiting two years to upgrade to an iPhone rather than one year.

I also hate the process of selling my phone. It’s stressful. I’m always afraid I’m going to get scammed, and Apple’s trade-in offers aren’t usually worth it. Then there’s the fact that I’d have to buy a new case and screen protectors too.
 
Last edited:

0339327

Cancelled
Jun 14, 2007
634
1,931
I’m a bit tired of making suppositions about typical iPhone life and those who use them, so I figured I’d just ask.

For myself, it’s as use-case determines but I would never keep a phone past its last major iOS update. Nor would I replace it because of wear and tear. That said, this year I’ll replace my mini 13 because I’m beginning to consolidate my photography gear. I miss my point n shoot but the convenience of the iPhone exceeds the annoyance I have with its photo quality (I still have my full kit when the mood strikes or I need/want the major quality upgrades it offers) and so I’ll be picking up a “photography” case for the iPhone Pro I end up with (Despite its afterthought status, the longer focal length appeals to me).

For those keeping iPhones past their software update windows, which do you have and why do you keep them?
I rely on my phone for business and take advantage of some of the newest features, but not all. I have a 13 Pro and will probably update to the 15 Pro. I have not upgraded every upgrade cycle but often enough to not worry about battery drain. Even with my current phone, I use it so much that my phone needs to be charged throughout the day.
 

bradl

macrumors 603
Jun 16, 2008
5,940
17,433
Until they have no other use and become non-functional due to age.

I have a 3GS, a 4, a 4s, a 5, a 6s+ and my 11 Pro Max (my primary phone).

Older phones are useful for things like streaming music over WiFi, desk clocks, older versions of apps, cams, etc.

I keep mine because I like them.

this. I still have my 3G, 4s, 6s, and 11 Pro (which is my primary phone). All of them still serve a purpose (apps that won't run on newer OS releases, alarm clocks, something to fall back on in case my current phone fails, etc.).

The biggest thing for these is that each on of them (especially my iPad mini 4) runs a version of iOS < iOS 10.3.6. The reason for that is that iOS 10.3.x is the last version to support 32bit apps, and there are a few games I have on those that I love to play that will not receive an update on iOS 11. So I keep those available on those devices.

BL.
 

Insidious

macrumors regular
Dec 6, 2017
133
127
5s, 6+, 6s+, 7+, 7s+, 8+, SE 3

You can tell I upgraded yearly until the 8+. I was on a lease for years and decided to pay off my lease and keep the 8+. It served me well for 5 years until it started having issues, then I decided to get an iPhone SE 3. Home button for the win! I will stick with the SE 3 for at least 3+ years.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.