Apple users are keeping their iPads for a very long time

in iPad

Over the last few years, Apple customers have extended their upgrade cycles for iPads, possibly making the new models an appealing choice for those ready to purchase.

11-inch iPad Pro with colorful wallpaper and app icons displayed on a wooden surface.
11-inch iPad Pro

Apple announced on May 7 the long-anticipated new iPad models. The new iPad Pro is thinner than ever and has a new M4 chip, while the iPad Air is larger.

Analysis of iPad buyer behavior over the past three years indicates that customers are extending the life of their devices. In the most recent 12-month period, nearly two-thirds of new iPad buyers who previously owned an iPad had kept their old devices for at least two years.

The numbers are an increase from 2022 when only half of the buyers had kept their iPads for that long, according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP).

Most notably, there has been a rise in consumers who retained their iPads for three or more years before purchasing a new one. The segment grew to 40% of recent buyers, up from 28% in 2022.

Customers typically upgrade when their current device experiences issues such as battery life degradation, insufficient storage, or general usability problems. However, some hold out for new models that offer compelling features or performance improvements.

Bar chart displaying customer loyalty by years, with percentages from 2022 to 2024, categorized by tenure intervals: less than 1, 1-2, 2-3, 3+ years.
Age of previous iPads (annual period ending in March)

People also changed their spending behavior due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is not addressed in Wednesday's report. During the lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, many consumers upgraded their Apple devices, including iPads.

The extended upgrade cycles can also be attributed to the high quality and longevity of Apple's products, which have set a high standard for durability and performance.

The pattern highlights the importance of innovation in driving sales in the tech industry. Consumers need compelling reasons to replace their devices, mainly when existing models perform adequately.

Apple's challenge has always been consistently delivering features that justify investing in a new device. Looking ahead, the iPad market is poised for a resurgence as users waiting for the right moment to upgrade finally make their move. The introduction of new models will likely rejuvenate interest. What it does for long-term replacement cycles remains to be seen.

Read on AppleInsider



  • Reply 1 of 28
    9secondkox29secondkox2 Posts: 2,778member
    Can confirm. I still have and regularly use the original 12.9” iPad Pro. Runs like a champ and looks brand new. 
  • Reply 2 of 28
    mike1mike1 Posts: 3,301member
    I'm on my second iPad. First was an iPad 2, Currently still using a 9.7" iPad Pro. No complaints at all for the years of use.
    Battery degradation and limited storage have me eyeing the 11" iPad Air.

  • Reply 3 of 28
    cincyteecincytee Posts: 410member
    Still using my iPad mini ... my original iPad mini with cellular. Biggest complaint is web designers who build unnecessarily complicated pages (mostly to serve ads) which that version of Safari can't handle. Email, Facetime, YouTube all still OK.
    edited May 15 VictorMortimerelijahglolliverdewmebeowulfschmidtwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 28
    davebarnesdavebarnes Posts: 370member
    We are keeping our iPads until the point arrives when iOS cannot be upgraded.
    In practice this means 6+ years. While we can easily afford to buy every few years, we just don't see the need.
    We only use our iPads for consumption, so a faster CPU is somewhat meaningless.
    We only use the front camera for Facetime calls with family. We never use the back camera (we have iPhones for those types of photos).
    What we want in new iPads, Apple is not providing:
    * lighter weight
    * higher screen resolution
  • Reply 5 of 28
    y2any2an Posts: 191member
    Still using my iPad mini 4. It does what I need of it well. Battery life is a little shorter but still acceptable for my media tablet use. Web pages are a bit slower due to unnecessary complexity, but they still render fine. I’m holding out on a change as this form factor is great for me; the newer mini is too small and a baby full iPad is too inconvenient for my usage. 
  • Reply 6 of 28
    bobf4321bobf4321 Posts: 5member
    Older iPads are useful for viewing multiple streams of live events.  Also, I have an old iPad Mini in a magnetic mount on my fridge door… useful.
  • Reply 7 of 28
    No surprise, iPads are just toys anyway, and will only be toys until they get normal software installation.
  • Reply 8 of 28
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 2,719member
    No surprise, iPads are just toys anyway, and will only be toys until they get normal software installation.
    Users are also keeping their Windows PC's and Macs for a long time as well.  I guess by the same logic, they're also toys.  /s
    lolliverdewmered oakmike1Anilu_777watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 28
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,956member
    I have a gen 2 12.9" iPad Pro. Starting to show it's age, primarily in the battery department but is a touch slow at some things. The real point is that iPadOS hasn't progressed much beyond where it was when I got my iPad Pro so why should I upgrade the hardware?
  • Reply 10 of 28
    chasmchasm Posts: 3,337member
    What we want in new iPads, Apple is not providing:
    * lighter weight
    * higher screen resolution
    Errr ... did you not pay attention to the new iPad Pro and Air announcements? Their big features are
    * lighter weight
    * higher screen resolution
    * higher peak brightness
    * thinner (thus lighter)
    * faster (way faster, depending on what model you're upgrading from)

    Now perhaps I've misinterpreted your comments -- they make sense if you're only talking about iPad and/or iPad mini.

    But rest assured some of these qualities will filter down into the next refresh of the regular iPad and iPad mini. I expect that will happen sometime this year.
  • Reply 11 of 28
    chasmchasm Posts: 3,337member
    After listening carefully to the new iPad Pro and Air presentation, I'm surprised to say that my next iPad is likely to be an Air (I'm an 11-inch Pro user right now).

    Simply put, as much as I'd enjoy that tandem OLED screen, what Apple is doing with the iPad Pro is a) genius but b) not what I use mine for.

    I'm amused that on on the one hand I'm "sad" that I'm won't be really a "Pro" iPad user when I get around to upgrading, but very "happy" that I'll be getting a machine that will 100 percent meet my needs and is 100 percent a step up from my current 11-inch Pro, all for way less money than I expected.

    I currently use my iPad Pro mostly for writing, some photo editing, and other "light/away from home" type stuff. The Pro was always overkill for that, but when I got it it was fast and lighter than lugging my MBP all over the world, fit nicely in an economy seat on a plane, and in combo with the Magic Keyboard really upped my productivity when away from my desk at home.

    My MacBook Pro is also starting to head towards falling behind (it's five years old, an Intel-based machine), and I'm pretty dumbfounded that apart from the smaller number of ports (a fixable issue), the MB *Air* is probably all I actually need in a Mac these days (again, saving a crap-ton of money!). It's astonishing how far Apple's chips have come since they were introduced, really incredible.
  • Reply 12 of 28
    timpetustimpetus Posts: 34member
    My newest iPad is an Air 2. It would be 100% sufficient if only it had more than 16GB of storage. Otherwise, it works great for what I use an iPad for: content consumption, music stand software, and some light gaming. My wife has an iPad 8, which is also more than she needs. It's effectively just a small TV that fits on her desk all the time. Newer iPads have amazing hardware, but almost everything I do on the go requires something that fits in my pocket, and if it doesn't then I use my MBP.
  • Reply 13 of 28
    charlesncharlesn Posts: 883member
    This is really not surprising. The reviews for the new Pro models tell an iPad story that's been the same for a looong time now: hardware improvements without an OS to justify them. So, for most iPad users, might as well keep what you have. We'll see if this year's WWDC will finally change that narrative. 
  • Reply 14 of 28
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,771member
    No one is going to upgrade an iPad that is less than 5 years old for being too slow. There are essentially zero new hardware features in modern iPads vs old ones aside from speed bumps which make little real-world difference; even battery life is identical to iPad 1. "But thinner! Yay!". iPadOS has not materially improved over the last 5 years, so no one is going to upgrade for that, either. So why would anyone upgrade from anything less than 6 or 7 years old? 

    I would love an iPad, if I could install what I wanted, could compile software and it could connect to as many USB peripherals as Macs. That's not going to happen, therefore an iPad is not for me. Steve said it's better for your products to cannibalise each other, than a competitor eating into your sales instead. It's obvious Cook is keeping the iPad as little more than a basic MS Word-pad so it doesn't eat into Mac sales.
    edited May 15 MplsPbeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 15 of 28
    gilly33gilly33 Posts: 437member
    I have the 5th gen 12.9 iPad Pro. So this new one sounds quite appealing to me. I’m looking forward to checking out that screen. And the power doesn’t hurt. Admittedly, never really used the rear camera so won’t miss the ultrawide camera. 
  • Reply 16 of 28
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,417member
    I was using my iPad 2 to control my AV receiver up until a couple of years ago. It worked great. It still works, but I’ve upgraded my receiver and reconfigured my WiFi for WPA3 which is incompatible with really old iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touches. For some reason the affected Apple devices won’t work with WPA3/WPA2 mixed mode. 

    Most of these ancient Apple devices can still do what they did when we bought them. If they’re still being used  for what we bought them for … no problem until they actually die or pop their lid from a bloated battery. The iPad 2 just keeps on going and going. Unfortunately, there are a few old geezer Apple devices that were forever crippled by one too many OS upgrades that rendered them pretty much useless. 
  • Reply 17 of 28
    red oakred oak Posts: 1,093member
    The trend is pretty clear estimating iPad unit sales that the average device life is heading to 6+ years.  About when Apple stops software upgrades

    Same thing I believe is happening with Macs.  7+ average life 

    Best thing Apple can do is keep adding new users to the installed base.  Eventually, units sales will increase as the average device life plateaus 
  • Reply 18 of 28
    davebarnesdavebarnes Posts: 370member
    chasm said:
    What we want in new iPads, Apple is not providing:
    * lighter weight
    * higher screen resolution
    Errr ... did you not pay attention to the new iPad Pro and Air announcements? Their big features are
    * lighter weight
    * higher screen resolution
    Still 264 dpi
    Weight for 7 year old iPad Pro is 437 grams and latest iPad Air (M2) is 462 grams. That is an increase.
  • Reply 19 of 28
    davebarnesdavebarnes Posts: 370member
    I wrote yesterday morning: "We are keeping our iPads until the point arrives when iOS cannot be upgraded."
    I lied.
    Yesterday afternoon we bought a new iPad Air (M2).
    1. We had the money.
    2. We bought a model with 256GB. We are also getting a $100 trade-in with Apple for an old iPad Pro (9.7)

    We figured that we would have to by a new one within a year or so. So, we bought now.
  • Reply 20 of 28
    dutchlorddutchlord Posts: 223member
    Still waiting for the M4 27 inch iMac to be released.
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