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Here's how long Apple supports older iPhone models

There are multiple reasons why the iPhone is so popular among smartphones users—sleek design, cutting-edge camera, or Apple's robust marketing—but the one reason that continually stands out, particularly because it's a great measuring stick against Android, is the constant software updates.

When Apple introduces an iPhone, customers who buy one of these new devices are guaranteed upwards of four years of major iOS updates, if not more. That number has only increased with the latter iPhones released, shows data from Statista.

Since the iPhone 4s, every major iPhone has received at least five major iOS updates before they are cut off. The iPhone 6 (and 6 Plus), the most recent Apple smartphone to be cut off from yearly updates with iOS 13, reached five updates. The model before it, the iPhone 5s, got to six updates before it was cut off last year with iOS 12.

That number obliterates the number of updates Android devices get, who are lucky to see three major updates during their lifetime. That's none more evident than in the distribution numbers.

As of May, the latest version of Android (9 Pie) is installed in 10.4% of devices while iOS 12, the last major iPhone software upgrade, is installed in 87%{.nofollow} of devices. That's a big difference.

The constant updates ensure the older iPhones are up to date with the latest features Apple offers in newer devices. This also adds to the value they retain and is a reason why people hold on to them for so long.

This year, Apple extended the iOS 13 update all the way back to the iPhone 6s, a smartphone that was release in 2015. And owners who use these phones don't have much to complain about if they are cut off next year. They went five years with updates and at that point, they are due for a new smartphones that will most likely see a similar lengthy lifetime of updates.

When it comes to software upgrades, Apple is wiping the floor with Android. Obviously buying a smartphone comes down to more than just software upgrades, but if that matters to you, it's pretty clear which devices you should be buying.

Everything you need to know about iOS 13

4 Comments
  • They should have given 6/6 Plus one more year. It was the most popular phone; the model that switched a lot of android users to iPhone as well.
  • My mother had an iPhone 6 until this week. It was a great phone, but it really was on its last legs, so upgraded to an iPhone 8 Plus. Same with my father's iPhone 5S, who will probably upgrade as well soon. It is only reasonable that Apple drops support for the 5S and 6. People will accuse Apple of planned obsolescence, but it is why people like my parents will not buy anything but iPhone and iPad. They know they can buy it and it will last them 5-6 years with the latest software updates. Also, people in the media are so focused on the high end and will criticise Apple for its prices, but still sell devices like the iPhone 7 and 8, which are still very capable devices for a fraction of the cost, or an iPad that starts at around $300, you don't have to spend over $1000 on the Pro. The only thing I would criticise Apple on, is making more affordable Macs, like a laptop starting around $500 or something.
  • I don't think there's any planned obsolescence, especially given some of the later iOS releases have actually increased the performance of older devices. iOS 12 provided a big speed boost for older devices and I believe iOS 13 has some optimisations as well which should do the same thing. The only thing I want Apple to change (at least I think it works this way) is that when an app stops supporting older iOS versions, you can no longer download it, I think it would be better if you could just download the last supported version of the application. You're very right in that nobody has to buy the latest devices, and people shouldn't feel forced to upgrade, it makes me happy when I see people with older iPhones that are still working perfectly fine. I'd like to see a cheaper MacBook although I don't think it'll happen, Apple will try to get users looking for a cheaper device onto an iPad, providing it's capable of doing what they need it to do
  • One of the reasons I love my iphones and ipads. Updates. The other is it is the smoothest experience available. I did love my Windows 10 mobile phones. However, Microsoft dictated I move to apple.