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When will your iPhone become obsolete?

All things must come to an end.
By Cecily Mauran  on 
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Image of the front and back of the iPhone 4s

Unlike fine wines, iPhone technology does not age well.

Apple churns out several new iPhones every year, which pushes the older models one step closer towards obsolescence. Declaring a product obsolete might sound romantic, but it's actually a standard business practice that Apple methodically conducts to stay current with supply and demand.

According to the Apple website, products are "considered obsolete when Apple stopped distributing them for sale more than seven years ago." When a product is declared obsolete, it means Apple will no longer offer any hardware service. In other words, if you own a version of the iPhone that Apple stopped selling seven years ago, you won't be able to get service or parts if it breaks.

If your iPhone is on the obsolete list, it might be time to get a new one. But don't worry, there are plenty of iPhone options, like the iPhone 13 or iPhone SE, to choose from if you're looking for an upgrade.


Which iPhones are obsolete?

The current list of obsolete iPhones are the following, which means you're probably out of luck if you need a repair. But definitely give yourself a pat on the back for keeping it alive for this long.

  • iPhone

  • iPhone 3G (China mainland) 8GB

  • iPhone 3G 8GB, 16GB

  • iPhone 3GS (China mainland) 16GB, 32GB

  • iPhone 3GS (8GB)

  • iPhone 3GS 16GB, 32GB

  • iPhone 4 CDMA

  • iPhone 4 CDMA (8GB)

  • iPhone 4 16GB, 32GB

  • iPhone 4 GSM (8GB), Black

  • iPhone 4S (8GB)

Hand holding first generation iPhone
The very first iPhone... feeling nostalgic? Credit: Shutterstock

Vintage iPhones

Then there are the vintage iPhones, which are the iPhones that aren't yet obsolete, but will be soon.

Think of vintage iPhones as existing in the liminal space right before the afterlife. They might be ready to let go soon, but not quite yet.

Technically, this means, "Apple stopped distributing them for sale more than five and less than seven years ago." If you own a vintage iPhone you may be able to keep it alive a little longer, but hopefully you have already begun to make peace with its inevitable end.

  • iPhone 4 (8GB)

  • iPhone 4S

  • iPhone 5

  • iPhone 5C

  • iPhone 6 Plus

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