A Statista graph shows for how long the software on iPhones has been supported by Apple, and the good news is that support for the operating systems on older iPhones - including security and usability updates - has continued for years after these phones were sold, especially among the newer iPhones.
For the early phones the support wasn't anything to shout about, but as of the iPhone 4s, which arrived in 2011, Apple's support has lasted for years (and still continues).
The first iPhone, which launched in 2007, was able to run iPhone OS 3, which was supported by Apple up until 2010.
The iPhone 3G, which launched in 2008, was able to run iOS 4.0, which was itself supported until 2011.
The length of support increased with the launch of the iPhone 4s in 2011. That phone was able to run operating systems all the way up to iOS 9. Apple was still supporting iOS 9 in 2019 - it issued a GPS related update on 22 July 2019.
Graph supplied by Staticia
The iPhone 5c runs iOS 10, which also received the GPS related update in July 2019.
The iPhone 5s and iPhone 6 both run iOS 12, which was last updated by Apple in July 2020 - specifically the update was for devices that don’t support iOS 13.
When iOS 14 launches it will run on all iPhones from iPhone 6s onwards. The iPhone 6s launched in 2015 with iOS 9 in 2015 and will still be compatible when iOS 14 is officially released five years later.
When does Apple stop supporting iPhones?
In terms of software that's now a bad showing, but if you have a fault with your iPhone - will Apple be able to provide the parts to fix it with.
Apple will support iPhones (and all devices it makes) for seven years from the last time it sold that particular model. So as long as your iPhone was still being sold by Apple up to seven years ago the company will still service it - in other words: help you fix it (for a price).
This is where Apple list of obsolete and vintage products comes in.
Apple states on its website here that "Owners of iPhone, iPad, iPod or Mac products may obtain a service and parts from Apple or Apple service providers for five years after the product is no longer sold."
The following iPhones are considered Obsolete, which means sales were discontinued more than seven years ago and Apple has now discontinued all hardware servicing.
- iPhone 3G
- iPhone 3GS
- iPhone 4
And these iPhones are listed as Vintage, which means they not been sold for more than five years (but less than seven years). Apple will still service these products.
- iPhone 4s
- iPhone 5
That means that, at least at the time of writing, Apple is still fully supporting the iPhone 5s (2013) and 5c (2013) and all iPhones that followed them, and even the iPhone 4s (2011) and iPhone 5 (2012) get some form of support. Not bad for phones that launched almost a decade ago.
You may also be interested to learn how long Apple supports Macs for.
Is your iPhone slipping into obscurity? Find a great deal on a new iPhone here.