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Apple expects you to use your iPhone or iPad for 3 years

As part of an ecology-related assessment of product life cycles, Apple suggests owners of iPhones will hang onto their devices for three years. The same is true, it says, for the Apple Watch.

It's unclear how long people with shattered screens hold onto their iPhones, but Apple pegs average use for new owners at three years.

David Carnoy/CNET

My father put to rest his iPhone 4S last month and picked up an iPhone 6S. He had that 4S, which came out in the fall of 2012, for almost four years. That's about a year longer than Apple assumes most consumers will hold onto their phones, according to a webpage on Apple's site that answers questions about Apple and the environment.

In answering the question, How does Apple conduct its Product Greenhouse Gas Life Cycle Assessment? Apple talks about modeling customer use and measuring "the power consumed by a product while it is running in a simulated scenario." It adds that daily usage patterns are specific to each product and are a mixture of actual and modeled customer-use data.

Then we get some more specific numbers. "Years of use, which are based on first owners, are assumed to be four years for OS X and tvOS devices and three years for iOS and watchOS devices."

Because Apple is referring only to its operating systems, it's unclear what the breakdown between iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch models is, since each of them is an iOS device. An Apple spokesperson clarified that the three years applied to the first owner's use of the product, not its actual lifespan. Often iPhones and iPads are passed on to secondary owners.

I personally tend to hold onto my Macs for longer (five to seven years) and my iPhones for two years (I'm on the S cycle, having had the 4S, 5S and now the 6S). I know plenty of others who upgrade to the latest model every year. But there are also people like my father, who have no problem skipping a few generations, so it's not surprising that three years is Apple's "assumed" average number.

The question is, Will that number remain stable or balloon a bit as devices become more powerful and there's less reason to upgrade. I'm thinking I could easily go three years with the iPhone 6S, especially if I replace the battery after two years. And some Twitter users have suggested that if Apple eliminates the headphone port in the iPhone 7, the 6S will be "the last iPhone I ever own."

How about you? How long do you tend to hold onto your iPhones and OS X devices (or Android or Windows devices for that matter)? Let us know in the comments section.

Updated 3:10 PT with comment from Apple.

(Via Cult of Mac)