back to article Apple assumes you'll toss the Watch after three years

Apple has dropped a little hint about the expected working lives of its products, suggesting its Watch will only be used for three years. The three year timeframe gets a mention in a document Cupertino released today titled More answers to your questions about Apple and the environment. One section of the document answer the …

  1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Four years?!?!

    My late 2008 MacBook is still going strong. I've also seen people with even older MacBooks too.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Four years?!?!

      2007 iMac, 9 years old.

      I suppose this announcement means Apple recognises that they don't make 'em like that any more and that 10.12 will drop support for older hardware like this.

      1. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: Four years?!?!

        Nonononono. People won't be ditching them because they've stopped working. They'll be doing so because they aren't aesthetically de la mode any more.

      2. Dybmapi

        Re: Four years?!?!

        My iMac is from late 2009, but it was modernised when the HD died, it was 5 years old at that time. I maxed the Ram, put thhe system and applications on an SSD, and data on a new HD (which is in the dvd bay).

        Apart from the lack of usb3, the machine feels up tod ate, and i think it will easily serve another two to three years, hope to get it to ten years before i buy a new one. Even then, i may use it for something else, like a server or a smart tv

    2. chris 17

      Re: Four years?!?!

      Same here, late 2008 MacBook sd & 8gb ram, still going well, despite being officially listed as obsolete. I suspect it'll keep going for a while and be the oldest supported device on new Mac OS's.

    3. paulf Silver badge

      Re: Four years?!?!

      A Mid-2010 17" MBP here (anti-glare not glossy screen). Still going strong after 6 years of use and recently given a new lease of life with a 1Tb SSD. Looking at the other comments I think I can expect many more years of reliable service.

      That said - I can't help thinking the new "It's-all-soldered-to-the-MB" Macs that can't be upgraded or repaired, effectively disposable, would struggle to last four years.

      As for the iPhone - I get two years out of it, then I get a replacement and hand down the old one to my parents who get another two years out of it.

      1. JLV Silver badge

        Re: Four years?!?!

        Ditto. Early 2011, 17". Survived some rather nasty shocks, case still looks pretty decent. Very durable.

        500SSD, HDD switched to CD caddy. Want to bump it up to 16gb ram next - VM work gobbles that.

        Would trade a 1920x1080 17" over a retina 15" any day. What kind of idiot @ Apple thought up that retina is going to do much for bash terminal screens 2 feet away? Or even for surfing the web?

        Sitting on the fence on a new one down the road. Yes to the OS, yes to the build quality. No to the smaller screen and to unchangeable ram. So probably will keep this one for a while. It's plenty fast enough.

    4. Peter Mount

      Re: Four years?!?!

      Yep, I still use my late 2007 macbook for certain things - only thing failing is the battery so using it as a desktop these days. That said as it's a model with a replaceable battery I should really look for a replacement for that.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Four years?!?!

        Batteries are readily available on fleabay. Go for it...

    5. jmandow

      Re: Four years?!?!

      Same here, late 2008 MacBook with new battery, memory, and fan, yet more productive than 2 year old Dell / HP rigs.

    6. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Four years?!?!

      My 2007 iMac is still going strong as well - running Linux, as Apple stopped providing OS security updates about 2 years ago.

      My original AppleTV is also still working - although we only use it for viewing photos now.

      The last time I spent Apple Watch type money on a watch was 20 years ago, and it is still going strong...

      I put an SSD in my 2010 Vaio notebook and it feels nearly as fast as my Surface Pro 3...

    7. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Four years?!?!

      There's not really been much improvement in the last ten years in laptops, Apple or otherwise that a new battery, an SSD and maybe some more RAM can't fix. (Oh, and clean the fluff out of the fans and heatsinks while you're popping the SSD in).

      >>>> mine's the one with some small screwdrivers in the pocket.

    8. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Four years?!?!

      I've got a 2010 MacBook Pro… but that doesn't make me average. Businesses will probably have a higher turnover due to accounting rules and I suspect they'll make up the majority of purchases: including stuff being bought by employees. As Apple kit usually has higher resale values a lot of kit goes on to find new owners.

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Four years?!?!

      Ugh... I shudder to think how 'non current' I'd be if I kept Apple kit for 4 years. That's what PC owners do and look at them with their grubby Windows and creaky plastic.

      Apple kit needs to last however long it takes them to get the next generation shiny to my house and for me to get the now woefully embarrassing previous generation unshiny onto eBay.

    10. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Four years?!?!

      Yep me too - early 2008 Mac Pro still going strong and I have no plans to replace it. Dual quad-core 3GHz processors and 16GB memory is more than enough 8 years on.(*)

      I am even running a 2nd Gen iPod touch from 2007 which works perfectly as a music player (including streaming internet tunes if I can find a WiFi hotspot) despite it having been deprecated from the iOS SDK several years ago meaning no more apps or updates for existing apps.

      (* I actually improved the machine's performance significantly by ditching the expensive POS which is the Apple RAID card and fitting newer high-speed 3TB SATA drives using software RAID. There is still scope to improve further by adding a flash drive for caching)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Four years?!?!

        I actually improved the machine's performance significantly by ditching the expensive POS which is the Apple RAID card and fitting newer high-speed 3TB SATA drives using software RAID. There is still scope to improve further by adding a flash drive for caching

        SSHD drives might be good for you too then. eg:

        There are other vendors for them too, though I've only used the Seagate ones personally. (not bad thus far)

  2. hypernovasoftware

    I must not be typical.

    My Macs typically last about 10 years before I get a new one.

    I'll be using my Apple Watch as long as it tells time.

    I still use my original iPad along with numerous later models.

    I do update my iPhone ever 2 or 3 years.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I'll be using my Apple Watch as long as it tells time."

      That's about 14 hours then.

  3. Bad Beaver

    As a service...

    stuff tends to break after 5-6 years :D

    On the other hand, I still habe PPC machines going strong, not to speak of Newton Message Pads that just won't die.

    1. MrBlack

      Re: As a service...

      What time is it on your other hand though ?

  4. phy445

    Use vs last

    I realise that the headline wouldn't be so eye catching, but doesn't that quote from Apple's document actually say that they expect first owners to use/keep their devices for three years, implying that they may well then go into the second hand market?

    Not sure why, but the second hand market for Apple products is incredibly strong.

  5. Oengus Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Fashion accessories only have a limited useful live

    Its not the "life" of the product. Its the time that Apple amortizes the cost over when working out how much they think they can gouge for their overpriced kit. They come up with a number that they think the suckers their customers will see as an acceptable annual value and multiply by their expected fashion accessory life to determine the sale price. After the "life" time the marketing will convince people that they have a hopelessly unfashionable accessory and need to update their look wth the latest gadget.

    Paris because she is the ultimate fashionista...

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Re: Fashion accessories only have a limited useful live

      Your right. I'm amazed by the number of "new" kettles that are double the price of the "old" ones, that are just half a shade redder than last year. Next year they will have a chrome trim, the year after that cream, then back again to repeat the cycle.

      All the time people get rid of the old, for the new and pay the over the odds price because they could not bear to buy one a different colour.

  6. DougS Silver badge


    The Reg author conveniently ignored that part of Apple's statement, because it doesn't fit their narrative about "throwing away" devices after a 3 or 4 year lifetime.

    I have owned my iPhones for between one and three years, but I sold them all for between $200 and $450, and they were in good shape when I did so. They all went on to second and perhaps later third owners.

    1. Bassey


      I'm not sure it is a case of The Reg conveniently ignoring it. Sure, that's what it appears to say but that would make absolutely no sense whatsoever (as the reg points out later). Why would you ignore 2nd hand use when working out a device's environmental life-span? It is in YOUR favour to estimate the device's lifespan as being longer as the environmental impact per year is "total environmental cost" divided by "total lifespan in years".

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: FIRST OWNER

        Shhhhhh not totally ignoring it but not emphasising it.

        After all, we all hate Crapple here don't we eh?

        {2009 13in MacBook just upgraded to El-Capitan. Going great.}

        1. fandom Silver badge

          Re: FIRST OWNER

          Yeah, well, except they did emphasised it by putting it in a bootnote

  7. To Mars in Man Bras!

    Built to Last?—Not Any More

    In our gaff, we also have old Apple MacBooks and desktops, which are still going strong, in spite of being bashed, battered and dented [albeit running Debian now, coz they can't handle OSX]. We also have two recent MacBook Airs, which have been mollycoddled; one of which died within a year and the other which is slowly falling to pieces, one glitch at a time.

    Apple gear may once have been built to last. But those days are long gone. If anything, those projected 3 and 4 year llifecycles are a bit optimistic.

  8. Richard Jones 1

    It Probably Cuts Both Ways _And It is Not Just Apple

    There are several factors in play here. Apple is first and foremost a marketing exercise. It is recognising this and whether its life projections are from production to failure or from production to 'selling on' are not a prime interest in the first stage. Fashion items typically have a relatively short life, some a very short life, e.g. women's fashion clothing. So the company's focus will inevitably turn from keeping it working, to up-selling the first purchaser. Looking at those figures in this light makes sense. A purchaser who has had an 'X' for 2~3 years thus becomes a prime target in a market that is likely to be finite with marginal elasticity of demand. If the first mark can sell on their once shiny new toy to ease the purchase of a new one that is a bonus. Just look at the raft of second hand shops, sorry charity stalls and nearly new emporia.

    Some makers object, but others who are more worldly wise see it as part of the marketing model. Sell on your old device to a second tier user at a depreciated price. Let them lust after the better item, (better only because it is the newest fashion item). Then hope that the nagging thought that they only bought second best will make them either be a repeat second hand customer for the next gen item, or more desirably a new first time buyer. Hey Presto you have expanded the market, it is the same for almost all visible consumer items ladies coats, dresses, (shorter cycle times), iThings, even cars, (longer cycle times). (Non visible items, used underwear anyone are probably a very limited niche market, - though quite strong in some export fields I have been told.)

    I tend to watch the evolution of this marketing model from the sidelines. My two cars are an average of nearly 14 years old, my phone is coming up for 10 years old, my most active desk top 6 years old, my portable 8 years old and so on.

  9. Alienrat

    They probably were right

    I have had macs for decades, and other computers too. It *used* to be the case you would upgrade after 3/4 years for the newer faster model, and I did, and it was better / faster / more storage. But since the mid 2000s or so? That cycle stopped. I swapped my 2008 macbook for a 2014 one, and my 2007 iMac was replaced for a 2012 one, which won't be replaced soon. My PC is from about 2009.

    3/4 years no longer gives you faster / better / more storage, the changes are smaller and less important. I only updated my macbook because I had a work one with a retina screen and got used to it. Side by side It was faster but it didn't really feel it in day to day use.

    I think all computer companies are going to have to get used to a slower update cycle, as there really aren't the compelling reasons to update that there used to be.

    Obviously the watch will be different, as it is more a fashion accessory than a technology product, so its market rules are different

  10. chivo243 Silver badge

    I have some oldies but goodies

    Still going strong.. PowerMac G5 (2003) , iMac G5, an old 12"powerbook, still running good ol' 10.5.8.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does Some one Believe Apple is not Dirven by Marketing

    It appears that we have someone who does not believe Apple is a marketing operation, just like every other mass driven large company. I wonder what such a person believes in?

  12. Francis Vaughan


    Lordy, what a crock this article is. As noted above, Apple talk about first owners, not product lifetimes. And more importantly, this is information about environmental impact. Apple are being hard on themselves here. It would be in their interests to suggest longer times, and thus improve the environmental rating of their products. Had they suggested significant;y longer times they could (and should) have been taken to task for trying to soft pedal the impact of manufacturing their products.

    As any owner knows, Apple stuff tends to be very well built, and outlasts kit from just about anyone else. Further, it keep its value way longer than other kit. You can argue why it might, but the reality is that it does. As products that are viewed from the standpoint of environmental footprint Apple do very well.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Spin

      In some cases kit will be sold on after three years.

      In some cases kit will be broken by that time.

      In some cases kit will have been left in a cupboard because the owner has bought a newer (better?) replacement.

      In some cases kit will be sat in a drawer because the owner just stopped using it.

  13. Dan 55 Silver badge


    They've corrected it to OS X. We can all calm down now.

  14. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Support cycles

    As a matter if interest.

    BBC Radio 4 (You and Yours) has been covering the way that some connected technology ( e.g. Samsung "Smart" TVs) can be dumped at the whim of the makers after a few years.

    1. /dev/null

      Re: Support cycles

      Did they also mention the infamous Nest Revolv IoT hub, all due to be rendered useless on 15 May?

  15. Tim 11

    Immature product

    I agree with the comments about OSX devices having a long service life, but those are basically mature and stable products.

    The apple watch is basically a first generation very immature product and, if the whole smart watch concept is viable at all, developments need to be so rapid that the current product is a laughing stock within a 1-2 year time frame.

  16. firu toddo

    Another non story.

    A clickbait headline and a story with more spin than a whip and top!

    In truth this story is about how a company calculates an enviromental impact for different classes of products.

    The years they use to calculate this are simply an arbitary number, they could use 2 or 5 years and it would change nothing apart from the enviromental impact score.

    It certainly wouldn't change the life expectation of a device or my refresh cycle.

  17. Marcus Fil

    The Ghost of Tommy Cooper

    El Reg:

    "But why measure only the environmental impact of one user?"


    " I've just bought a watch, its guaranteed for life. When the mainspring fails battery explodes, it slashes your wrist!!"

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: The Ghost of Tommy Cooper

      Or Terry Pratchett's

      Light a man a fire and you'll keep him warm for a night. Set a man on fire and you'll keep him warm for the rest of his life

  18. Ole Juul Silver badge

    not a real watch anyway

    I've got two I use. One was made in 1935, the other in 1966. Neither requires batteries. Both will surely be valued by someone many years from now and fetch a price much higher than when new. Both tell the time. (although you have to look at them)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: not a real watch anyway

      I have one from 1969. It works, but it needs a service to minimise mechanical wear (dust from the tritium-degraded phosphor can get into the works). Many mechanical watches benefit from servicing every few years. At the time it cost £19, but with its chain mail strap (what Apple call Milanese) it cost £23.

      I have a more modern quartz watch too, batteries need to be replaced every four or five years but this is a much cheaper operation (by a third party - I'm not fussed about it retaining its 200M water resistance - if I found myself at that depth, my watch would by the last of my worries).

      1. Simon_E

        Re: not a real watch anyway

        Phosphor goes where? And here I thought GTLS tubes had the coating on the *inside*...

        Unless there's a mixup and you're on about old-school Radium-enhanced markers or the newer glow in the dark type? (and the new stuff is impressively bright...)

      2. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: not a real watch anyway

        My Seiko Kinetic is supposed to get a £70 service every year. About three or four years back the storage cell started to lose its effectiveness, so that I have to wear it most of the day to keep it running, which the service would sort out. But so far I've used it for eight and a half years without a service, which is near enough £600 I've saved, far more than the cost of a replacement.

  19. jake Silver badge

    Folks I know who use Apple kit ...

    ... typically replace it within 9-18 months.

    Fad toys are fad toys, end of discussion.

    Just sayin'

    1. the-it-slayer

      Re: Folks I know who use Apple kit ...

      Hello fandroid. What a fanatically ridiculous comment. Considering you probably don't know anyone with Apple kit.

      There are the few that want to replace all of the phone/tablet/watch stuff on every release, but that's a good minority now-a-days considering how many of those products get sold every day/week/year. For laptops/desktops; the ones that replace those regularly are probably heavy users for their job/career. Every MacBook owner I know pushes it until it's last breath. One of my friends pushed a 2008/2009 white MacBook to the point the rubber bottom was coming off and therefore degraded the motherboard quickly.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Folks I know who use Apple kit ...

        "Hello fandroid."

        If you are assuming I'm a google fan, you'd be wrong. Very wrong.

        "What a fanatically ridiculous comment."

        Just telling it like I see it, with my own eyes, on a daily basis.

        "Considering you probably don't know anyone with Apple kit."

        I live in the Northern part of the San Francisco Bay Area. Damn near all the yuppies up here are constantly flashing their latest bit o'Apple kit to be seen with. I just laugh and/or point & giggle at the mindless sheeple.

        On the bright side, they pay me an arm and a leg to fix their B0rken BSDOSX systems when they get in over their neatly coifed heads.

      2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

        Re: Folks I know who use Apple kit ...

        @the-it-slayer: upvoted for calling our dear jake a 'fandroid'. That was a real LOL moment for me.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The iWatch was toss from the outset

    Toss worn by tosspots

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The Guardian also goes with the blatantly incorrect clickbait headline of:

    "Apple only expects your iPhone to last three years"

    and only later in the article does it clarify that Apple actually say's the FIRST owner typically USES the product for that long. No doubt they know the average Facebook sharing goon, only reads headlines and that's all that will appear in their Timelines.

  22. djstardust Silver badge


    I have worn my Casio CD-401 every day since 1983 and it works perfectly and looks great. The apple watch is expensive and will last a fraction of that time.

    Oh, and I have a 2009 Mac Pro desktop upgraded with a couple of SSD's and running windows 7 ultimate. Best machine I have ever had.

  23. Clive Galway

    "[iDevices] are typically used for four years before being Shut Down for the last time"

    What part of "Years of use, which are based on first owners" do you not understand?

    Three years is the figure they expect the original purchaser to own it, before selling it.

  24. Richard Roe

    Four years?

    My iBook G4 lasted nearly ten years before the hard drive failed.

  25. J J Carter Silver badge

    You never actually own an Apple Watch

    Obviously their business plan is to move to a rental model.

  26. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    Way ahead

    of you, Apple - I didn't buy an iWatch in the first place...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Way ahead

      Why would Apple care if you did or didn't buy an iWatch? They make no such named product anyway...

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What !?

    That will go over really well with people who bought the stainless steel case / sapphire face editions, let alone those who bought it in gold. Do they not wear watches at Apple? Good ones are suppose to last eons.

  28. Zebo-the-Fat


    Never understood the point of an Apple watch, you pay £300 for it and it does nothing if you don't have an Iphone to go with it. How hard is it to pull a phone out of your pocket anyway?

  29. 58kiwi

    What about the gold Apple Watch?

    Last time checked the Apple web site here in Australia, the highest price Apple Watch Edition was A$21,000. So after three years you just buy a new one?

  30. SeanD

    Apple DID NOT say how long product lasts, just how long first owners keep them

    Apple DID NOT say how long product lasts, just how long first owners keep them. Reports on line either distort this truth on purpose or through neglect.

  31. LaunchpadBS

    So what you're saying is...

    Spend MORE money on stuff you'll have to throw away sooner?

    Sounds like a solid marketing plan! Go Apple!

  32. Ilsa Loving

    Dunno whateve everyone is so upset about

    It's not as if it's battery is gonna last that long anyway. Out of the box, the device only lasts maybe a couple days at best. And as everyone knows, LIon batteries don't last forever, their lifespan reducing gradually on it's own. If the device is used heavily or under environmental stress like high heat, it wears out that much faster.

    The only way an Apple Watch would work (without battery replacement) after 4 years, would be if you used it as a desk clock.

  33. jelabarre59 Silver badge

    toss my way

    Hey, if the Macheads want to toss out their 4-year-old kit, they can throw it *MY* way. It'll be newer than anything I've got currently (I *might* even run MacOS on it, or just run Linux like I do on everything else).

  34. jelabarre59 Silver badge

    a tenner or less

    I can go to WallyMart and pick up a watch for $10 or less, and then I don't care if it gets broken, lost, whatever.


    And it will actually, hey get this... Tell me the TIME!!!!

  35. Jinen

    My wife and I each have an iPhone 4S that we bought when they were introduced in October 2011. They work fine with iOS 9.3.1, battery life is still fine and they suit our needs so there is no need to replace them. We only replaced our iPad 2 tablets last year after four years of use because of accident damage. I expect to keep my four year old 27 inch iMac for many years to come.

  36. Queasy Rider

    Truth, whole truth, nothing but the truth

    Firstly, full disclosure: I cannot put into words how much I hate and despise Apple.

    Secondly, I find it interesting how many of you crow about how old your Macs are, and how you have upgraded them, but not one single one of you has told how much money you have sunk. Add up initial cost, overpriced new hard drives, overpriced new memory, overpriced new batteries, not to mention the cost of any additional overpriced software, and you sure as hell better love (as in ejaculate all over) your Macbook because you could have bought new Windows laptops every 3 or 4 years(or more often if you sold your used machines) for the same outlay.

    I have a friend who is a wizard who can fix anything. I have witnessed him repairing motherboards by desoldering and replacing components, but I couldn't even give him my iBook. He wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole, so I threw it, a decade ago, with its dead battery, and borked screen into the dumpster. I can't say as I ever missed it because over the year I had it I used it less and less, till I was finally completely back on my Windows machine.

    Thirdly: I paid $20 for a refurbished LG dumb phone 18 months ago that works fine with a touch screen, camera, Bluetooth, etc. At that price I could afford to replace it EVERY MONTH.

    ( As you all down vote me please note I have refrained from using condescending terms like f*nb**s, Cr*pple, K**l**d, W*nbl*ws etc)

    1. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: Truth, whole truth, nothing but the truth

      "Firstly, full disclosure: I cannot put into words how much I hate and despise Apple."

      It's strange. There are always people going on about Apple "fanatics", "worshippers", all that nonsense. And I've never known anyone matching that description. But here we have one self-confessed hater. And what a hate. With that mental blockage you can't expect him to understand that some people just like _nice things_. And Apple makes _nice things_.

    2. Lamont Cranston

      Re: Truth, whole truth, nothing but the truth

      My old man was a road sweeper, and he used the same broom for 20 years. 17 new heads and 14 new handles, it had.

  37. Paul

    Now most Apple kit is sealed, anything with a battery will only be useful whilst the battery has capacity or Apple are willing to service it.

  38. nilfs2
    Big Brother

    How long until your watch can take blood samples?

    Because personal information is so yesterday, DNA info is where it is at!

  39. Someone_Somewhere

    Apple assumes you'll toss the Watch after three years

    Oh, I think they'll be doing it a /lot/ sooner than that; iWatch wearers aren't going to be able to resist the urge for /that/ long - they're /born/ tossers.

  40. John Tserkezis

    Four years is impressive...

    ...Compared to my bloody Samsung watch that went for a year before the battery fail.

    Only batteries available from fleabay were still priced beyond economical repair.

    So I went back to my Casio which has been through one battery change in the million years of life so far.

    Sure, it lacks a few features, but going on purchase price along with regular battery replacements, fuck that for a joke.

  41. David Lawton

    I would love a new shiney, but my 2012 Macbook Air still runs as well as the day i got it, despite being on 500 cycles the battery is still great, get over 5 hours out of it. Would love a 2013 onwards model as the battery improved significantly on them, but i just cannot justify replacing it.

    What do Apple put in the laptop batteries? They are magical. I know people who have bought non Apple laptops after me and they have had to replace them already and they did not last that long to start with.

  42. Brian Scott


    It could just be my old, faulty memory but I thought MacOS was the predecessor of OS/X. This would put the last release (Mac OS/9) somewhere around the turn of the century. I'm too lazy to look it up exactly but that would mean it was all obsolete about 10 years ago.

    I don't know anyone still running a pre-OS/X mac. I have one (Mac plus running OS/7) but I certainly don't fire it up and do work with it. It still works though.

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