How many years can you use an iPhone before it becomes too slow and unusable?

How many years can you use an iPhone and when does it become too slow for current systems and apps? You might ask yourself this question when purchasing a new or rather a used iPhone from Apple. The question cannot be answered so easily with a number, because several factors play a role. In the following I have summarized some information for you, which you can use as a guide. At the end there is an approximate estimate of the useful life / possible use of the Apple iPhone.

How many years can you use an iPhone before it becomes too slow and unusable? How long does the Apple smartphone last? You can get answers to these questions and a concrete example here!

How many years can you use an iPhone before it becomes too slow and unusable? How long does the Apple smartphone last? You can get answers to these questions and a concrete example here!

How long does an iPhone get iOS updates?

In order to use current functions and to remain compatible with apps, an iPhone needs updates to its iOS operating system. These also close security gaps and make the system more efficient. Usually there are updates for iPhones for five to six years, such as: B. the IOS 14 compatibility shows. The current operating system from 2020 can also be used with the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus from 2015. Important additions, such as iOS 14.5, will also come to these devices in 2021.

Even so, older iPhones still work, i.e. models from 2014, 2013 and so on. For their iOS 12 there were even a few updates recently. However, these did not bring any innovative functions or innovations, but primarily patches for security gaps. They also made that possible Use of the Corona warning app. In addition to the iPhone 12/6 Plus (6), the iOS 2014 system is also compatible with the iPhone 5s (2013). 

How long does it take for the battery to lose power?

Depending on usage, the iPhone battery can become a problem after two to three years. The decisive factor here is, among other things, how many charging cycles it has behind it, whether there were major temperature fluctuations during use, and so on. However, the battery can also keep its performance longer, especially if it is used sparingly - for example, if the device is only used for making calls. Then an iPhone 5s with a good battery can continue to be used nowadays.

Power users who take a lot of photos and videos, are on the go on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok every day, watch videos on YouTube, consume streams via Twitch and maybe also stream Apple tv +, Disney +, Netflix and Co. as well as a lot of music via play the iPhone, you have to charge the battery more often. He's under constant stress. If it has to be charged once or twice a day, it will lose performance more quickly. But: You can have it exchanged.

When does an iPhone become too slow or unusable?

That depends on what you want to use the iPhone for. Even the iPhone 11 (Pro) from 2019 is unusable if we talk about the use of the LiDAR scanner. Because this was only introduced for Apple smartphones with the iPhone 12 (Pro) in 2020. When it comes to the “exact search” function of the AirTags, then iPhone 11 and 12 can thanks U1 chip can be used, but an iPhone XR or XS from 2018 can no longer be used for it.

It is similar with some apps. These require certain components and a certain amount of computing power. From a certain version of apps that have been available for a long time, these are then no longer compatible with the devices for which they were first published. The iPhone is not going to be slow per se, but can no longer keep up with more modern technology offered by more recent models and which is required for apps. Telephony, SMS and other system-specific applications will then work the longest.

An example: iPhone 4s could only be used for telephony in 2017

If you look around the Internet for answers to the question “How long can you use an iPhone before it becomes too slow and unusable?”, You will find a few answers here and there. Some people claim that iPhones can continue to be used (albeit limited), others just give a few numbers. I found a specific example on the Quora question and answer page. Four a user writes (freely translated):

My iPhone 4s was bought in 2012 and was significantly outdated in 2015. In 2016 the battery was so used up that it only lasted about 40% of the original time. In 2017 it was practically only usable for regular calls. I couldn't use any of the most popular apps because their support was discontinued.

Note: The iPhone 4s appeared in 2011 with iOS 5 and could be updated to iOS 9 from 2015, for which there was an update for the last time in July 2019.

So how many years can you use an iPhone?

Older iPhones of the 4, 5 and 6 series are now more or less obsolete. Modern apps or applications updated to current standards no longer work with iOS 9, rarely with iOS 12. However, current devices that also run under iOS 14 have been used for over five years. This will certainly apply to the oldest for another two years, even if they do not receive iOS 15 or iOS 16. From a system perspective, you can count on at least five or six years.

The crux of the matter is the battery. Here it depends on the use of the iPhone. Is it being used excessively or does it only need to be recharged every two or three days? A battery replacement costs nothing if you have booked AppleCare +. Without this service, the new battery including installation costs 55 to 75 euros ( ). Compared to a new iPhone, this is of course extremely cheap. But you have to keep it in mind in the event of a drop in performance. You can find out how your iPhone battery is doing under Settings -> Battery -> Battery condition. 


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  1. Christina Ponting says:

    I like the iphone mini :)

  2. Beatrice Willius says:

    My iPhone 6 still works perfectly except for the battery. This would have to be changed slowly. The only thing I can't use is the Corona app due to a lack of BLE. But it is probably not a loss. I'll use the iPhone until it dies. The newer iPhones are getting more and more expensive.

  3. Jen Kleinholz says:

    I'll post the comment of a reader who unfortunately wrote in another article that had nothing to do with the topic:

    Even an iPhone 4 can still be used, the battery costs around € 12 at IFIXIT and installation is not particularly difficult!
    I still use an iPhone 4 - 32GB for music, photos, WLAN telephony etc.
    And the device still works perfectly.
    At that time I bought a radio alarm clock for this iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4 is put in there, that is the main reason why I still use it because without this old iPhone I could also dispose of the clock radio :-)

  4. Christine Schwender says:

    One question: I've been using an iPhone 2013s 5GB since January 16, which will probably stop its software updates soon - so 8 1/2 years. I'm still paying for an iCloud: 50 GB storage plan of € 0,99 a month, which I'll probably have to increase.
    I am 72 years old and an absolute Apple fan. I would like to buy a new iPhone now and am fluctuating between Iphone SE 2020 64GB and 11 Pro 64GB. Which one makes more sense for me? I mainly use it for phone calls, Whatsapp, Safari and now and then games and youtube. The SE 2020 is nice and small and handy, the 11 Pro is a little bigger but also a little heavier and also much more expensive. I was able to compare both in Media Markt. I'm also considering buying a refurbished iphone. What do you suggest?

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      Hello Christine! This is an interesting selection because the iPhone SE 2020 and the iPhone 11 Pro are very different. If you like the form factor of the SE 2020 (i.e. something small), then I would tend to prefer the iPhone 12 mini. It has better technology in terms of camera and is certainly faster too. The iPhone 11 Pro is a very good device too, and it's not that small. I would tend to take the 11 Pro. If you want to take a used device, I would Flip4Shop recommend. They have good prices and I have - like you in this experience report can read - only had positive experiences.

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