How Long Can You Keep Using an Android Phone?

Justin Duino / How-to Geek

Smartphones don’t make great strides every year, so more and more people keep their phones for two, three, or even four years. But can the average Android smartphone last that long before problems arise?

This is a difficult question to answer and must be broken down into several parts. First, the phone’s physical hardware has a fixed lifespan, and access to repair and warranty services varies. There are also software aspects to consider, such as operating system updates, critical security patches, and app support. The exact answers to these questions vary, as many different companies make Android phones. a lot.


Most modern smartphones are built to handle drops, falls, and minor scrapes relatively well. The days of screens other than flimsy plastic or Gorilla Glass are pretty much gone for all but the cheapest devices. But what about the internal hardware? Will there be an update soon like Windows 11 that will leave many existing Android smartphones with older versions? Short answer: Most likely not.

Android hasn’t changed its minimum requirements significantly over the years, at least when it comes to hardware. Low-power devices should use Android Go Edition instead. It has some limitations for better performance and uses lightweight system apps. For years, devices with 1GB of RAM or less had to use Go Edition, now all devices with 2GB of RAM (or less) and 16GB of storage (or less) require Go .

Therefore, new Android updates general Don’t make your phone or tablet slow or hard to use. Some devices may feel sluggish over time as you install more apps and fill up the available storage, remove apps you aren’t using (or restore them to factory settings). reset) helps. In my own experience, after using the Galaxy S21 every day for over a year, a factory reset felt a little faster.

As with most portable electronics, the main problem with aging Android smartphones is battery life. Lithium-ion batteries gradually lose capacity over time. With the phone he’s had for over a year, he may find himself needing a charger earlier in the day. Unfortunately, most smartphones these days don’t have easily replaceable batteries. Stores like uBreakiFix and Best Buy offer battery replacement for select Android smartphones in the US, but most of these services are limited to Samsung Galaxy devices. Most other US Android smartphone makers don’t have the connections or infrastructure needed for the same level of support. .

You may also notice that your touchscreen becomes covered in fingerprints over time as the factory oleophobic coating begins to peel off. Easy to repair. You can also pay a shop to replace your windscreen glass, but that’s more expensive and time consuming.

Android system update

This is where things get complicated. Google isn’t responsible for updating all Android devices, only his own Pixel series. For other phones and tablets, pushing system updates is up to the device manufacturer. Take the Galaxy S22 as an example. After Google develops a new Android release, Samsung fixes it with the necessary changes and some additional features and pushes it to devices. Each manufacturer has its own update track record, but Samsung and Google are generally the best in the industry.

All Google Pixel phones come with three years of major Android OS updates (Android 12, Android 13, etc.) and monthly security patches. Pixel 6 and newer are guaranteed 5 years of security patches, but the same number of major OS updates. This warranty support period begins when the phone is released, not when the phone is purchased.

The back of the Galaxy S22
The Samsung Galaxy S22 offers 4 years of OS updates. Justin Duino / How-to Geek

Samsung’s flagship phones and tablets are guaranteed to receive four years of major OS updates from the Galaxy S21 series and newer, Galaxy Z Fold3 and newer, Galaxy Z Flip 3 and newer, and Galaxy Tab S8 series and newer. series device. The company’s other phones come with no specific warranty and are generally limited to 2-3 years of support.

Other device makers are generally bad. For example, OnePlus recently promised that “select” phones released in 2023 and beyond will get four major software upgrades and five years of security patches, but patches will be delivered bi-monthly instead of monthly. will be Motorola only provides his 1-2 years of updates for most phones, and some devices never receive major Android updates.

Are Android updates important?

Most Android smartphones and tablets stop receiving major OS updates and security patches long before the hardware becomes unusable, especially if the battery is replaced. What happens when OS updates stop?

Most services and apps on Android devices are updated independently of the operating system. So are some built-in system applications such as Chrome and Google Play Store. In stark contrast to iPhones and iPads, which require new features in apps like Safari and Apple Music. Full OS upgrade. That means your phone or tablet should continue to work fine for a few more years, even after the device manufacturer has completed the update.

Google has maintained most of its applications and services for years after the Android version was released. For example, Google Play Services underpins many APIs and the Play Store, and is fully supported in Android 4.4, which first came to mobile phones in September 2013. The Facebook app requires Android 6.0 (2015 or newer), while Microsoft Outlook requires Android 8.0 (2017 or newer). Even if you’re stuck with an Android version from a few years ago, you can still use new apps and some system features.

The problem is that new security vulnerabilities are constantly being discovered on Android (just like Windows, iOS, iPadOS, and other platforms), and if a device doesn’t receive the operating system’s security patches, it will gradually become more vulnerable to malware. to become vulnerable. Google Play Protect can protect you from some malicious apps. Google updates both Chrome and WebView (the system component that loads webpages within most apps) for several years after an Android version is released. This protects your device from security vulnerabilities on the web. However, applying regular system security updates to your Android device is the only way to be as protected as possible.

iPhones and iPads get system updates much longer than typical Android phones — the five-year-old iPhone 8 just got iOS 16 — but older models roll out some features. Not. When the official support for iOS ends, Any New features and updates to most of Apple’s apps, and the occasional security update. Feature and security updates last much longer compared to most Android devices, but there is an eventual hard cutoff rather than a gradual ramp to unsupported software.

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