Tech longevity

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What do you consider to be an adequate amount of time to keep a tech product for?

It is a difficult question, but another way to put it may be to ask- when you buy a new product, in your head how long are you expecting to keep it for?

When I bought my iMac at the end of 2011, I did not expect it to still be my main computer in March 2017, but it is still going strong and does everything I need. For £999, which seemed a lot at the time, it has been a bargain in my opinion and when it does finally die I will of course buy an iMac.

Phones are different for me and I have tended to upgrade every year, mainly because I need to write about the latest features for freelance work. If, however, I did not need to do that, I suspect that 2 years would be my optimum time for each phone, but I am fairly sure that I could get 3-4 years with ease.

Tablets I would say 4 years, but only for an iPad. I simply would not expect an Android tablet to last that long and still be usable to the point that it was not incredibly slow.

Smart watches are similar in my mind to tablets. 3-4 years seems reasonable, but again Android Wear worries me in terms of longevity.

Maybe it is an Apple thing in my mind, but I do tend to expect Apple products to last longer and people I know tend to hold on to their iPhones for much longer than Android people I know. The iPhone 5s still seems common and I know a couple of people with an iPhone 4s. I do not know one person with an Android phone from the same period.

Also, it could be that my trusty iMac influences everything else and that Apple should think about their overall image when it comes to reliability. Macs are proven to work for many years and the lack of investment in them recently is a real shame. I just hope that one more really good iMac will be released so that I can run it until 2023.

So, what longevity scores would you give for the various tech products available today?

15 thoughts on “Tech longevity

  1. I’m still using my 2011 iMac too, but the hard drive is starting to make strange noises, and I fear it is going to fail soon. I have multiple backups, but it may be the end of the line.

    1. Get an SSD. I put one in my 2009 MacBook Pro and it’s like a new machine. Except there’s no Retina display, it’s heavier, and I can’t upgrade to Sierra. But it’s perfectly usable and boots in about a third the time.

        1. Besides the obvious backups/clones, make sure you get one that suits the hard drive interface. Depending on the size of your MacBook, you may need an adapter. I didn’t for my 13″, but I did for my wife’s 15″. But who knows how they changed.

        1. A lot cheaper than what Apple wants for them. And now, of course, they’re hardwired. In fact I think they’re flash memory, no hard drive case at all.

  2. I think a good pairing with this question is “and what factors cause you to upgrade”… to some extent it’s “the quest for new and shiny”, which isn’t great but not as bad as some people say out.

    Ideally it’s “this new thing lets me do something I couldn’t do before”, or doing it much better. For laptops that’s kind of rare for me these days- and so getting the battery replaced has extended the usefulness of my 2013 MacBook Air. (And the new Macbook clearing out ports diminishes the appeal and offsets the terrific form factor)

    Phones – they’re subject to more wear and tear. Mine has definitely seen some water damage too – from a few days of band events during deluge. (Had one of those Monday, a political protest rally in the rain with my tuba, and for the rest of the day the phone didn’t recognize the headphones being unplugged from it.) Plus, “oh but this camera is REALLY keen” seems like an excuse for every generation, even though iPhone camera have been absolutely great for a number of years.

    Anyway, I guess I’m trying to aim for 3 with my iPhone 6, and maybe should try selling this SE experiment…

    Tablets… won’t upgrade the iPad Mini ’til they get one that size with Pencil support. And by the bedside I have a fullsize Pro that might last forever because of how light its usage is… the odd movie and “Draw Something” and occasional other art project.

    Come to think of it, wear and tear is one of the biggest factors. Your iMac is long lived because A. mid-tier desktops have been adequate for their tasks for some time, and MacOS is pretty good at getting good use of old hardware B. There’s no battery to degrade, so must of the solid state stuff can have good longevity C. it’s perched on a desk so doesn’t even get battered around like an otherwise well-taken care of laptop will.

  3. It depends on expectations and what I use it for. I lived through Windows from 3.0 through Windows 7, although I have Windows 10 running in Bootcamp. Often it was a case of having to upgrade the hardware to run Windows. Other reasons were because apps grew to defeat the latest performance upgrade. And I wanted to play graphically intense games.

    I bought my Retina iMac in late 2014. I expect at least 5 years out of it although I’m already seeing that I can’t run the latest games even on high, even though they do run quite acceptably. I still have my old macBook Pro bought in 2009. It still runs well but I don’t use it much. I upgraded it to an SSD and now it performs well enough for what I need it for. Likewise the iMac has an SSD.

    For phones, it’s been every 2 or 3 years when my contract runs out. I now have an iPhone 6S. I probably won’t bother with the 7S or 8 or whatever they call it. Or even the next one. It still does what I need and is fast enough.

    I bought new iPads for the first 3 years, then bought an iPad Mini 2. It’s noticeably slower than the phone of course, but I mainly use it for reading, so it’s hard to justify something new, although the new iPad is tempting at that price.

    As for my Apple Watch, it’s a Series 1 and is fine. It would be hard to justify anything new for a good few years. In fact the main reason would be that I’m used to having it.

  4. My latest phones have lasted me 2-3 years no worries. I didn’t really need to upgrade, but I changed contracts and decided on getting a slightly bigger and more high resolution screen.

    My tablets folowed the same reasoning as above. Once I got a bigger screen phone I gave my Nexus 2 tablet to my son. I’ve recently bought the Yoga Book, and I’m expecting 2-3 years of solid use out of it.

    My work laptop lasted me about 7-8 years before I broke the screen, and they’ve given me the exact same one as a replacement. I don’t use it much at all, it’s just too big and bulky and I use it more like a desktop, when there is an absolute need to fire it up!

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