What It Means When Your Apple Products Become 'Vintage' or 'Obsolete'

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Every tech product you own has a post-release “lifespan.” For example, Apple’s policies guarantee five years of support, starting from a device’s release date (as opposed to whenever you bought it). Once those five years are up, Apple can deem that device “vintage.”

In fact, Apple recently classified three of its products as vintage: the iPhone X (2017), first-generation AirPods (2016), and the first-generation HomePod (2017). That might come as news to you, if you’re still using one or more of these products yourself.

With that in mind, what exactly does it mean for an Apple product to go “vintage,” and what happens when a vintage product goes “obsolete?”

Vintage Apple products

“Vintage” in Apple land doesn’t actually mean a product is “old,” or that you should stop using it—nor does it imply you’ll be able to sell it to collectors for a profit. When an Apple device becomes “vintage,” that product is no longer guaranteed by Apple to be repairable at an Apple Store or authorized service provider. In many cases, Apple will also stop issuing the device routine software updates.

Despite the reduction in support, vintage Apple devices will still work (this isn’t some sort of internal kill switch) and some devices may even receive occasional system updates if they support the latest operating systems or if a major security flaw needs to be patched. It’s even possible you could get one repaired, if the parts are available. Just don’t be surprised if an Apple Genius or an Apple-authorized vendor turns you away.

Apple doesn’t automatically deem a product as vintage five years after the original sale date. Take a look at the newest products on the list: The iPhone X could have been made vintage in 2022, but Apple waited an extra year and a half. Apple’s official definition of “vintage” is a product that is more than five years old, but fewer than seven. AirPods are seven years old exactly, so they’re coming in right at the cutoff. (A list of all vintage and obsolete devices can be found on Apple’s support site.)

However, once a product is more than seven years old, it graduates to a different category: “Obsolete.”

Apple’s “obsolete” list

Like vintage products, devices listed as “obsolete” will operate as normal as long as the hardware is in working condition. However, obsolete products lose virtually all hardware support. The only exception is MacBooks, which may allow for a battery replacement up to 10 years after the product was last available for sale.

An obsolete device, however, may still receive some software support. Don’t expect iOS 18 on an obsolete iPhone, mind you. But Apple did release a security update for iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus back in March, both of which are obsolete.

These shifts in service priority can be frustrating if you’re still rocking older tech and don’t feel like upgrading, but the policy makes sense given the current market realities: At the rate that both hardware and software iterate, diverting resources to keep outdated devices afloat is difficult and costly. However, even if an Apple Store turns your iPhone X away for repair, independent repair shops may still help you out for some time to come—even when the X eventually becomes “obsolete.”

Just don’t expect much repair help with your AirPods: They’re largely unrepairable.

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