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On Apple's Supposed "Planned Obsolescence"

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: “Apple just releases updates to make your phone obsolete so you have to buy a new one.”

I get this statement more often than I feel is reasonable. There are a surprising number of people out there who seem to think that Apple is out to get you. They want to trick you into updating your phone because their updates never support older phones. This feeling that Apple’s iOS updates are scams to sell new phones is out there in a very real way. I’ve brushed these comments off as silliness, but I got that statement again yesterday and I just had to do something.

Yes, Apple does eventually drop support for older iPhones. They have to! I don’t think anyone is expecting them to be releasing iOS 9 on the original iPhone. But the impression is that Apple drops support earlier than other phone makers. Again, I felt this was dubious, so I looked it up.

This fall we will see the release of iOS 9 and Android M, major updates to Apple and Google’s mobile platforms. I collected all the information I could about which phones from Apple, Samsung, HTC, LG, and Google’s own Nexus phones would be getting updated to the new versions. This chart is based on the oldest phones each company has confirmed will be getting updated in the fall.

I did the best research I could, but please let me know if I have made any factual errors. This cHart could easily be used as fanboy fodder, but that is not my intention (especially if it is factually wrong in any way).

I have to admit, I thought it would be closer than that. I even gave some of these guys the benefit of the doubt. HTC hasn’t said last year’s M8 will get updated to Android M, but I want to think they will. Samsung hasn’t even even confirmed that last year’s Galaxy S5 will make the jump. I am giving them the benefit of the doubt and am assuming they will.

So the next time someone tells you that Apple is using “planned obsolescence” to make you buy new stuff, you can feel confident letting them know that Apple is leading the way with legacy device support.

And for fun, I made a chart with what iPads will get iOS 9 and Macs will get OS X El Capitan.