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Find out if your old Apple devices qualify for repair

Know the difference between vintage and obsolete.

You may be able to breathe new life into that old iPhone ($899 at Amazon) rattling around in a desk drawer or an old MacBook ($495 at Amazon) collecting dust in the back of a closet. Before you write off your out-of-commission Apple devices as obsolete and beyond repair, it might be worth your while to check if they are considered vintage and, thus, possibly eligible for repair.

According to 9to5Mac, Apple will soon launch a "Repair Vintage Apple Products Pilot" program that could extend a product's eligibility for repairs from five years to seven years. Here's what you need to know about how Apple classifies old products and how to check the status of yours.

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Obsolete vs. vintage

There's a big difference between "obsolete" and "vintage" in Apple's eyes. Vintage products have not been manufactured for more than five years but less than seven years. Obsolete products have not been manufactured for more than seven years.

Currently, Apple will repair a product only if it's less than five years from when it was last manufactured. On its current vintage and obsolete products page, Apple lists a few exceptions for vintage products qualifying for repair (basically, you're out of luck unless you bought a Mac in Turkey or a Mac, iPhone or iPod in California between five and seven years ago).

According to 9to5Mac, more vintage products will soon qualify for repair by Apple or an authorized service provider. The iPhone 5 and mid-2012 MacBook Air models are vintage products that will soon be eligible for repair. Additional models will be added to the eligible vintage repair list, starting with the iPhone 4S and MacBook Pro ($672 at Amazon) (15-inch, Mid 2012) on Nov. 30, followed by MacBook Pro models from 2012 and 2013 on Dec. 30. Apple will not guarantee repairs for vintage products but will base them on part availability. 

MacRumors points to an internal document at Apple that outlines the new program and the products it will include. Here's the rundown of vintage Apple products that will soon qualify for repair.

At launch of the Repair Vintage Apple Products Pilot program:

  • iPhone 5
  • MacBook Air (11-inch and 13-inch, Mid 2012)
  • iMac (21.5-inch and 27-inch, Mid 2011) -- US and Turkey only

On Nov. 30:

  • iPhone 4S
  • MacBook Pro (Non-Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2012)

On Dec. 30:

  • MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Late 2012)
  • MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Early 2013)
  • MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2012)
  • MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Early 2013)
  • Mac Pro (Mid 2012)

How to check the age of your old Apple devices

On an iOS device, go to Settings > General > About and locate the line for Model. Google the model number to see which model you have.

On a Mac, click the Apple icon in the top-left and click About This Mac. On the Overview tab, your Mac name will be listed along with its screen size and the year it was released.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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