Did you just get an iPad or have had one for a few years? Wondering how long do iPads last? Here’s what you need to know!
The iPad wasn’t the world’s first tablet, but it was the first tablet adopted en masse by consumers. And to this day the iPad is the world’s most popular tablet. Originally introduced in 2010, there are now at least 23 generations of the iPad as of 2021.
These generations include everything from the original iPad to the iPad Air, the iPad mini, and the iPad Pro. Depending on which iPad you have, it’ll either have a plain old Home button, Touch ID, or Face ID. Its screen sizes and designs will also vary wildly.
But one of the most common things people want to know about their iPads is how long will they last?
That is, if they buy an iPad today, how many years of use will they get out of it before they need to upgrade?
The question seems straightforward, but the answer is a little tricky. But fret not, we’ve got you covered. Read on.
How Long Do iPads Get Software Updates For?
When people ask, “How long do iPads last?” they usually mean one of two things. The first is their question actually means “how long do iPads get software updates for?”
This question of software updates is pertinent to them because many users feel that when their device no longer gets the latest software update, that device no longer counts as being useful.
In a way, that’s true–but not completely (we’ll talk about this later on).
But the ability to receive the latest software updates are very important. Not only do new software updates mean your iPad gains new features, it also means your iPad get the latest security patches too. This is when many people feel once an iPad doesn’t get software updates anymore it is “outdated.”
So how long do iPads get software updates for? Longer than they used to. Right now there are 8 iPads (out of 23 models) that no longer get software updates. These are those iPads and the amount of time (in years and months) they got the latest software updates:
iPads That No Longer Get Updates
- iPad (original): 2 years 5 months
- iPad 2: 5 years 6 months
- iPad (third-gen): 4 years 5 months
- iPad (fourth-gen): 4 years 10 months
- iPad Air (original): 5 years 10 months
- iPad mini (original): 3 years 10 months
- iPad mini 2: 5 years 10 months
- iPad mini 3: 4 years 11 months
As of May 2021, these are the ONLY iPads that have stopped getting software updates.
Any iPad that came after these is still supported with the latest iPadOS. And the good news is the oldest iPad that supports the current iPadOS is the iPad Air 2, which came out in October 2014.
The iPad Air 2 still is capable of running iPadOS 14. It will likely NOT support iPadOS 15 when it ships this September. But that means the iPad Air 2 will have been supported by software updates for 6 years and 11 months.
Almost 7 years!
And it’s likely every iPad that follows will be supported for at least 6 or 7 years now too. So that means if you buy a new iPad today, in 2021, it should at least continue getting software updates until 2027.
That’s pretty cool.
How Long Do iPads Last Before They Die?
The second thing people actually mean when they ask “How long do iPads last?” is how long will an iPad physically last until its internal components die and it’s just not possible to turn it on anymore.
The good news is: we don’t have an answer for this yet.
That’s because plenty of people still have the original iPad that came out in 2010 and they can still use it just fine. Of course, this original iPad is locked in at running the iOS 5 operating system, which means it’s missing tons of modern features.
However, iOS 5 still allows them to send and receive emails, text messages, and browse the web. If the original iPad lasts at least 11 years before it dies, it’s likely any iPads made after the original iPad will last as long too (if not longer).
And this is a great reason to buy a refurbished iPad; you’ll save around 40% on it and get an iPad that is just as functional as a new one.
Of course, using an iPad that no longer supports the latest iPadOS isn’t that practical. These outdated iPads are best used as “junk tablets”–the ones you keep in the bathroom (we know you do) or the ones you give away to people who just want a basic device to get online with.
But still, the fact that an iPad can still run and be used as a basic computing device after 11 years is pretty extraordinary.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the signs your iPad is dying?
Your iPad might be dying if:
- It shuts off for now reason
- The battery only lasts a few hours even after being fully charged.
- Your display flickers or is very dim even at full brightness.
Q: Are old iPads useless?
Not necessarily. You can still use an old iPad to browse the web, send emails, and even play some games. Many times people will give older iPads to charities or their grandkids so they have a simple device to use to browse the web.
Q: What should I do with my old iPad?
If you have an old iPad you can keep it as a spare, give it away to charity, or just keep it in a guest bedroom so guests have a device they can browse the web with.
Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.