iPhone vs. Android: Which actually offers longer support?

“It’s better to burn out than to fade away!” wailed Def Leppard in 1983, the year that cell phones became commercially available. Given that app stores wouldn’t arrive for another couple of decades, the band can be forgiven for not anticipating how the primary way of obtaining apps would affect how long such devices remained viable. (Besides, one shouldn’t read too much into the words of a band whose lyrics included “Gunter glieben glauten globen.”)

Which major mobile OS platform does a better job of keeping apps available for devices as those devices age? Particularly in this age of sustainability consciousness, smartphone companies are doing more to keep their users up to date. Apple generally supports iOS upgrades for up to six years. And at the launch of the Pixel 8, Google announced that the phone would receive seven years of software support, including OS updates.

iPhone 15 Pro

(Image credit: Future)

Even if the latest software features don’t entice, keeping up to date with security updates can offer peace of mind. And particularly for Apple and Samsung flagship device owners, there’s a healthy market for used devices.  But many of those and other devices grow old somewhere. And even very old phones and tablets can still be used for many tasks that once required dedicated devices. 

To nudge developers to use the latest iOS features, Apple would often tout the high percentage of users using the latest versions, Often, though, iOS developers set high bars for a minimum operating system requirement. Many popular apps require an OS no more than three versions behind Apple’s latest. (By the time Apple released the final 7th generation iPod touch in 2019, many apps wouldn’t install on the 6th generation, released in 2015.)

iPhone 15 Pro Max vs Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

(Image credit: Laptop Mag/Apple)

To compensate, Apple at least allows downloading an older version of a previously downloaded app tif a device can’t run the latest version.. (If you haven’t previously downloaded the app, you can download the latest version from a newer device using the same Apple ID to enable that option on the older device.)

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