Longevity of older iPad models

dante959

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 22, 2018
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I'm contemplating getting either the base-model 6th Gen iPad or the 10.5" Pro. However, with the release of the new Air, I wonder how much longer Apple will continue to support these two models (especially the Pro that has been discontinued). How many years could I expect to get out of these two?
 

BigMcGuire

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Jan 10, 2012
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California
I'm expecting to get at least 2-3 years of heavy usage out of my 6th gen iPad. I use it pretty heavily. Math homework notes (Apple Pencil), 4-5 tabs on Safari, Slack for work communication, email, and reading lots of books. Including posting here. :)

The fact that iOS 12 is still supporting iPad Air (2013), iPad Mini 2 (2013), ... I'd definitely give it a good handful of years.



I think in 2-3 years I'll be looking at a new iPad just because I'll want more ram than 2GB, but I definitely am doing what I do with 2GB just fine right now.

My 2018 iPad is my most used device. I really like it.

My wife has the iPad 9.7 Pro. It's thinner, little faster, and reacts to the Apple Pencil faster. It was also 3x more expensive.
 

rui no onna

macrumors 604
Oct 25, 2013
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I'm contemplating getting either the base-model 6th Gen iPad or the 10.5" Pro. However, with the release of the new Air, I wonder how much longer Apple will continue to support these two models (especially the Pro that has been discontinued). How many years could I expect to get out of these two?
To be honest, I'm expecting another 2-3 years use out of the iPads in our household: Air 2 (2014) and iPad 5th gen (2017 release, 2015 chipset) .

Don't let the fact that the Pro 10.5 has been discontinued bother you. It's got better hardware than the iPad 6th gen so it should continue receiving updates at least same as 6th gen. Also, just because Apple has stopped providing firmware updates doesn't mean you're left with a brick. You can usually continue running the same apps you already have installed and app developers usually support older firmware versions ~1-2 years or more after it's been discontinued.
 
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roadkill401

macrumors 6502
Jan 11, 2015
405
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I am currently using an original iPad Air right now and it is working. I bought one for myself originally, and then ended up buying two more for my parents. I have a 64gb unit, my dad got a 128gb and my mum got the lowly 16gb. My mum has religiously agreed to the upgrades and is on IOS12. It runs like a dog and crashes about 2-3 times a day. Mine I stopped upgrading on IOS10.3.3 and I would say its manageable but does require a reboot once a week. My father didn't upgrade ever and is running IOS 7 and it works perfectly. The problem is IOS BLOAT.

Sadly now Apple caught wind of people not upgrading and having units that work so no need to upgrade, so since IOS9 they now force you to upgrade by the constant NAG in it will pre-download each and every update and gives you the option of upgrade now or upgrade tonight. Only the savvy know to just jump into settings and delete the new version so you can get a week or two without getting bugged again.
 

*~Kim~*

macrumors 6502a
May 6, 2013
659
100
UK
My iPad 3 (2012 bodged release) is just heading towards brick territory now, 2 and a half years after Apple stopped providing iOS updates to it. However, I'm not sure if apps will run on future iOS versions for as long as 9.3.5 (as that seems to be the point at which the greatest number of devices were dropped from support.) Sucks that I'd likely get another year of app availability if I'd bought a week or something later (I just fell outside of the goodwill exchange window where Apple were exchanging recently purchased 3's for 4's.)

It can be laggy at times and reloads Safari tabs (worse on some days an others even with only 2-3 running.) But, it is surprisingly usable considering that I was once trying to avoid the iOS7 upgrade in the belief that it would become intolerable. Articles on some sites just won't load for some reason.
 
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EugW

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Jun 18, 2017
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It would appear that there are several main factors go into the decision to terminate support, IMO perhaps in this order:

1. Age
2. RAM
3. SoC features
4. SoC speed

I'd expect the 2019 iPad Air to get updates for longer than the 2017 iPad Pro, but given that the SoC performance between the two is low and the Pro has more RAM, it may just be a difference of 1 year (not two years).

It should be noted that the latest games these days require 2 GB RAM. Basically that means anything older than the iPad Air 2 is not supported even though iOS 12 still supports older machines. IOW, some of the more demanding apps have more stringent requirements than iOS does.

Also note that once iOS support for a device stops, common less demanding apps will keep support for much longer. For example, AFAIK Netflix still supports old machines including the ancient 2011 iPad 2. It uses an older version of the Netflix app, but it still works. The latest version does require iOS 11 though.
 

*~Kim~*

macrumors 6502a
May 6, 2013
659
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UK
I only realised recently that apps impose device restrictions rather than just an iOS requirements. My iPad 3 keeps nagging me to upgrade the Pointless Quiz app even though it isn't compatible. Not sure what could be demanding about a simple quiz app to warrant cutting off older iPads.
 

rui no onna

macrumors 604
Oct 25, 2013
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It would appear that there are several main factors go into the decision to terminate support, IMO perhaps in this order:

1. Age
2. RAM
3. SoC features
4. SoC speed

I'd expect the 2019 iPad Air to get updates for longer than the 2017 iPad Pro, but given that the SoC performance between the two is low and the Pro has more RAM, it may just be a difference of 1 year (not two years).

It should be noted that the latest games these days require 2 GB RAM. Basically that means anything older than the iPad Air 2 is not supported even though iOS 12 still supports older machines. IOW, some of the more demanding apps have more stringent requirements than iOS does.

Also note that once iOS support for a device stops, common less demanding apps will keep support for much longer. For example, AFAIK Netflix still supports old machines including the ancient 2011 iPad 2. It uses an older version of the Netflix app, but it still works. The latest version does require iOS 11 though.
SoC has been the reason for dropping devices more often than not.
  • original iPhone: age (3G with same SoC and RAM got iOS 4)
  • iPhone 3G: likely both
  • iPhone 3GS: likely both
  • iPhone 4: SoC
  • iPhone 4S: SoC
  • iPhone 5: SoC

  • original iPad: RAM (3GS with 256MB still received firmware updates after OG iPad)
  • iPad 2/3: SoC
  • iPad 4: SoC
 
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LauraJean

macrumors regular
Jan 7, 2015
126
119
Denver, CO
My 2012 original iPad Mini, still on iOS 6, works fine as a music player hooked up to bookshelf speakers. It also is a backup of a couple of ancient game apps, if my 2010 iPod Touch ever dies completely.

Yes, I can still sync new music to the Mini because Apple still willingly downloads new purchases to my Snow Leopard MacBook Pro.
 

tps3443

macrumors 65816
Jan 24, 2019
1,301
833
NC,USA
I'm contemplating getting either the base-model 6th Gen iPad or the 10.5" Pro. However, with the release of the new Air, I wonder how much longer Apple will continue to support these two models (especially the Pro that has been discontinued). How many years could I expect to get out of these two?
The 10.5” iPad Pro 2nd gen is already 2 years old. I can bet everyone who owns one, is still loving there 10.5” too. So, that tells me that 4 years from the launch date out of these devices is easy to do! I see no problem with squeezing 5 years out of one after launch date.

5 years is a long life cycle for anything electronic.

Apple seems to support devices for a long time. I wouldn’t worry about it, owning either model will provide a smooth experience for years.
 
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jmgregory1

macrumors 68000
If it's any indication, my original iPad Air is still going strong - it's a little sluggish on iOS 12, but perfectly capable of playing movies, netflix, etc. It's abysmal to browse the web on though.
I’ve got the same, although I just yesterday picked up a new iPad Pro 12.9, so I’m going to trade in the Air today to help pay for the keyboard folio. I was surprised he Air lasted as long as it did, especially given how frustrating it’s been for web browsing. I think if it had even 2gb’s of ram, it would be worth keeping, but as it stands it’s ready for retirement.
 

EugW

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Jun 18, 2017
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I’ve got the same, although I just yesterday picked up a new iPad Pro 12.9, so I’m going to trade in the Air today to help pay for the keyboard folio. I was surprised he Air lasted as long as it did, especially given how frustrating it’s been for web browsing. I think if it had even 2gb’s of ram, it would be worth keeping, but as it stands it’s ready for retirement.
The original Air only has 1 GB RAM, which is precisely why I didn't buy it. It's the iPad Air 2 which has 2 GB RAM, and that is the one waited for.

We now have two of them in the house, for the kids. I expect them to be viable for up to 3-5 more years (unless they get destroyed by the kids), despite the fact the iPad Air 2 is already 5 years old. It will probably only get updates for 1-2 more years though I'm guessing.
 
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rui no onna

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Oct 25, 2013
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The original Air only has 1 GB RAM, which is precisely why I didn't buy it. It's the iPad Air 2 which has 2 GB RAM, and that is the one waited for.

We now have two of them in the house, for the kids. I expect them to be viable for up to 3-5 more years (unless they get destroyed by the kids), despite the fact the iPad Air 2 is already 5 years old. It will probably only get updates for 1-2 more years though I'm guessing.
Interestingly enough, while the RAM is a pain for web browsing and multitasking, UI sluggishness is likely in large part also due to the Apple A8X having 2.5x the GPU performance of the Apple A7. The A8X was a pretty massive leap from A7. :p

We always take a wait and see approach on updates. Might just stick to iOS 12 on the Air 2 if succeeding updates have significant performance penalty. Gotta say though, Air 2 on iOS 12 still works surprisingly well for typical usage (web surfing, video streaming, online shopping, online banking, social media, etc) so at the very least, I see 2 more good years out of it.
 
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Greenmeenie

macrumors 65816
Jan 14, 2013
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Hey, I am still using my 5 1/2 year old ipad mini 2. It has got a cracked screen, a broken home button and is noticeably slower now...but i still use it for basic web surfing stuff when out & about. So i think you’ll be good if you go with an older ipad to save some $. It should last you a good long while. Either way, new or old, ipads are a good investment.
 
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EugW

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Jun 18, 2017
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The other factor to consider is the non-Apple competition.

According to Geekbench, ALL of the competing Android tablets and phones are slower than the iPad Air (2019), and only the very latest and fastest Android phones are just marginally faster than the iPad Pro 10.5 (2017).

Furthermore, my iPad Pro 10.5" already benches about 35-40% faster for CPU than my 2017 MacBook Core m3, which I have no intention of upgrading for the next several years, because its performance is already very good. It's my main mobile work machine (with 16 GB).
 

Gaelic83

macrumors newbie
Feb 4, 2017
24
8
I'm expecting to get at least 2-3 years of heavy usage out of my 6th gen iPad. I use it pretty heavily. Math homework notes (Apple Pencil), 4-5 tabs on Safari, Slack for work communication, email, and reading lots of books. Including posting here. :)

The fact that iOS 12 is still supporting iPad Air (2013), iPad Mini 2 (2013), ... I'd definitely give it a good handful of years.



I think in 2-3 years I'll be looking at a new iPad just because I'll want more ram than 2GB, but I definitely am doing what I do with 2GB just fine right now.

My 2018 iPad is my most used device. I really like it.

My wife has the iPad 9.7 Pro. It's thinner, little faster, and reacts to the Apple Pencil faster. It was also 3x more expensive.
[doublepost=1553274899][/doublepost]I have the original iPad Air and it works fine. I have no desire to replace kit yet but probably will as soon as the regular iPad comes with facial ID.I have no fingerprints so can't use that feature. I use the tablet as a substitute for my MacBookPro when I travel lout of the country. I also use it to read books from Apple Bookstore. I prefer the small Kindle for the ease of outdoor reading. So you can see I don't use my iPad for a lot but it is still ticking very well.
 

rui no onna

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Oct 25, 2013
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The other factor to consider is the non-Apple competition.

According to Geekbench, ALL of the competing Android tablets and phones are slower than the iPad Air (2019), and only the very latest and fastest Android phones are just marginally faster than the iPad Pro 10.5 (2017).

Furthermore, my iPad Pro 10.5" already benches about 35-40% faster for CPU than my 2017 MacBook Core m3, which I have no intention of upgrading for the next several years, because its performance is already very good. It's my main mobile work machine (with 16 GB).
Yep, exactly.

Honestly, I haven't upgraded any of my computers in years. I switched to SSDs and 8GB RAM on my builds around 2010 and 16GB RAM around 2013 (Ivy Bridge/Haswell). I don't do anything that requires more performance. I recently had to replace a Nehalem desktop with a busted motherboard and while I have niggles with Windows 10, the replacement build certainly didn't need 32GB RAM to work well.

I just don't see why iOS would need more resources than Windows 10 in order to run well considering how bloated Windows is.
 
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joeblow7777

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Sep 7, 2010
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SoC has been the reason for dropping devices more often than not.
  • original iPhone: age (3G with same SoC and RAM got iOS 4)
  • iPhone 3G: likely both
  • iPhone 3GS: likely both
  • iPhone 4: SoC
  • iPhone 4S: SoC
  • iPhone 5: SoC

  • original iPad: RAM (3GS with 256MB still received firmware updates after OG iPad)
  • iPad 2/3: SoC
  • iPad 4: SoC
First they will drop 1 GB ram devices after that there still should be few more years for 2GB ones.
The original Air only has 1 GB RAM, which is precisely why I didn't buy it. It's the iPad Air 2 which has 2 GB RAM, and that is the one waited for.

We now have two of them in the house, for the kids. I expect them to be viable for up to 3-5 more years (unless they get destroyed by the kids), despite the fact the iPad Air 2 is already 5 years old. It will probably only get updates for 1-2 more years though I'm guessing.
The old, ‘RAM vs. processor’ debate...
As Rui pointed out above, it seems that more often than not Apple drops support of certain processors. For instance, dropping all A7 devices at once even if they have different amounts of RAM. Given that A7 devices like the original iPad Air and the iPhone 5s are actually still supported and running smoothly, I think that A10 devices like the 6th Gen iPad still have a few years of support and decent performance in them.
 

rui no onna

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Oct 25, 2013
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The old, ‘RAM vs. processor’ debate...
As Rui pointed out above, it seems that more often than not Apple drops support of certain processors. For instance, dropping all A7 devices at once even if they have different amounts of RAM. Given that A7 devices like the original iPad Air and the iPhone 5s are actually still supported and running smoothly, I think that A10 devices like the 6th Gen iPad still have a few years of support and decent performance in them.
It's A5 devices that were dropped all at the same time despite having differing amounts of RAM. Afaik, all A7 devices have 1GB (iPad mini 2/3, iPad Air, iPhone 5s).

Will be interesting to see what happens with A8:
  • iPhone 6: A8/1GB
  • iPhone 6+: A8/1GB
  • iPad mini 4: A8/2GB
  • iPad Air 2: A8X/2GB
 
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EugW

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Jun 18, 2017
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It's A5 devices that were dropped all at the same time despite having differing amounts of RAM. Afaik, all A7 devices have 1GB (iPad mini 2/3, iPad Air, iPhone 5s).

Will be interesting to see what happens with A8:
  • iPhone 6: A8/1GB
  • iPhone 6+: A8/1GB
  • iPad mini 4: A8/2GB
  • iPad Air: A8X/2GB
Yeah it will be interesting to see. We specifically bought the 6s and the iPad Air 2.

Your table above is incorrectly listing the Air as having the A8X with 2 GB.
 
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Falhófnir

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Aug 19, 2017
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It's A5 devices that were dropped all at the same time despite having differing amounts of RAM. Afaik, all A7 devices have 1GB (iPad mini 2/3, iPad Air, iPhone 5s).

Will be interesting to see what happens with A8:
  • iPhone 6: A8/1GB
  • iPhone 6+: A8/1GB
  • iPad mini 4: A8/2GB
  • iPad Air 2: A8X/2GB
I'm also interested to see what they will do with this conundrum. The only reason I can see that the Air 2 and mini 4 might get a stay of execution (nominally due to 2GB RAM) is actually due to the mini 4 hanging around so long. The fact it's only just been discontinued makes me wonder whether they would immediately cut off anyone who bought one since iOS 12 launched... otoh, that's probably not all that many people? While the announcement will be in June, actual support won't end until September, and iOS 12 should have a useful life of at least a couple of years after that as well. So in usual circumstances, I would say the A8 generation of devices will all be going as that seems to be how Apple (now) prefers to do things. They called out the iPhone 6 plus last year as a device which will benefit from iOS 12's optimisations, which makes me think at least the iPhones will definitely be gone (and presumably the iPod touch 6 (A8/1GB) which despite the pretty solid evidence of a successor is even now on sale!). In effect the A7s got an extra 'bonus' year of support with iOS 12, and going by the 1 generation per iOS version, you'd have expected the A8s to be dropped this year anyway.