Old iPads are a staple in US homes, long after they've gone obsolete

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in iPad

While nearly every user gets rid of their old iPhone when they get a new one, iPad owners are more likely to repurposes older devices for uses beyond their original intended function.

iPad with keyboard case, displaying various apps and notifications on its screen. Tablet is on a wooden table with green plants in the background.
Many Apple users keep their old iPads despite new releases



In the twelve months ending March 2024, 67% of repeat iPad buyers retained their old iPads, compared to only 41% of iPhone buyers who kept or handed down their previous iPhones. The behavior highlights unique aspects of iPad usage and customer loyalty.

Many old iPads find new life with family members or friends. Approximately one-third of old iPads are handed down, compared to about 10% of old iPhones.

The necessity of replacing old devices also differs between iPad and iPhone users. About 23% of iPad upgraders replaced their device due to loss, theft, or damage, compared to only 6% of iPhone upgraders. The new data from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) suggests that iPads are less frequently replaced out of necessity, further reinforcing their longevity and usefulness.

CIRP horizontal bar chart showing disposal methods for iPad and iPhone: family/friend, kept, lost/stolen/broken, sold, trade-in, other.
Previous iPad and iPhone Usage Trends (Twelve Months Ending March 2024)



The trend suggests that older iPads remain functional and desirable even as new models are released. For many, the need to upgrade to the latest iPad isn't as urgent, allowing the older devices to serve more roles in households.

Another critical factor is the trade-in and secondary market for iPads versus iPhones. Less than 10% of iPad upgraders trade in their old device, compared to almost half of iPhone upgraders.

The difference indicates that users value keeping their old iPads more than selling them. Moreover, the retained value and utility of old iPads often outweigh the benefits of trading them in for a small financial return.

Apple's iPad remains a versatile and valuable device long after its initial purchase. The tendency of users to keep or repurpose their old iPads highlights their lasting usefulness. Whether as a hand-me-down or a repurposed tablet, old iPads continue to find meaningful use.



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    baka-dubbsbaka-dubbs Posts: 177member
    I have passed down multiple iPads to my parents/brother, both are still in use.  I'm currently on the newest mini, but hoping we get an updated mini with M2(or mini pro with M4), just to be able to dock it and use it for productivity.  I already do this on rare occasions, but I think stage manager is going to keep getting improvements as more and more apps are offering a full experience on iPad OS, and the mini sadly doesn't support it.  
    gregoriusmjahbladeBart Ywatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 22
    randokrandok Posts: 1member
    I've often thought that, as part of its deserved environmental boasting, Apple should do more to emphasize the longevity of its products' useful lifetime. (And do more to prolong that lifetime.) Of course, it goes against a business model that hopes to induce upgrades every cycle or two, but it's a fact that Apple products have much longer useable lifetimes than many non-Apple products. I'm writing this on an "Early 2014" MacBook Air, which I use as my daily computer, and I can do almost everything I want (except visit a few stubborn banking sites). Apple should embrace the truism that longevity is an environmental win and make more of it. 
    VictorMortimerMisterKitroundaboutnowwilliamlondonbyronlgregoriusmbaconstangBart Ywatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 22
    hmlongcohmlongco Posts: 550member
    I have passed down multiple iPads to my parents/brother, both are still in use.  I'm currently on the newest mini, but hoping we get an updated mini with M2(or mini pro with M4), just to be able to dock it and use it for productivity.  I already do this on rare occasions, but I think stage manager is going to keep getting improvements as more and more apps are offering a full experience on iPad OS, and the mini sadly doesn't support it.  
    Actually looking instead for a faster, 120Hz ProMotion display.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 22
    Sounds like the problem is people not keeping iPhones going.

    But iPads are just toys anyway, as long as they keep playing solitaire there's no need to replace them.

    I've got an original mini that's absolutely great for a couple 32-bit games that never got updated.
    pulseimages
  • Reply 5 of 22
    kmareikmarei Posts: 193member
    yes i learnt my lesson
    i don't jump IOS versions anymore
    i had a perfectly working ipad 2, updated ios and it could not even load the yahoo homepage
    sluggish and unusable
    so now i go to the latest of the iOS that came on the device
    so if i had iOS 15 i go the last version of that, say 15.9
    and never jump to iOS 16

    ipads works for ages as they have large all day batteries
    so even when they get old, they still work for many hours
    great for browsing, checking sports results, streaming etc
    the majority of which don't really need the latest and greatest to work
    other than gaming and maybe photo/video editing you don't really need  an M4 super max ultra to work
    i am still using my 2ng gen ipad pro 11" works great, cuz its still on iOS 15.7.2
    i use FB, instagram , some silly games, and browsing.
    i rarely, if ever, need to turn on my laptop now
    williamlondonbaconstang
  • Reply 6 of 22
    Anilu_777Anilu_777 Posts: 552member
    kmarei said:
    yes i learnt my lesson
    i don't jump IOS versions anymore
    i had a perfectly working ipad 2, updated ios and it could not even load the yahoo homepage
    sluggish and unusable
    so now i go to the latest of the iOS that came on the device
    so if i had iOS 15 i go the last version of that, say 15.9
    and never jump to iOS 16

    ipads works for ages as they have large all day batteries
    so even when they get old, they still work for many hours
    great for browsing, checking sports results, streaming etc
    the majority of which don't really need the latest and greatest to work
    other than gaming and maybe photo/video editing you don't really need  an M4 super max ultra to work
    i am still using my 2ng gen ipad pro 11" works great, cuz its still on iOS 15.7.2
    i use FB, instagram , some silly games, and browsing.
    i rarely, if ever, need to turn on my laptop now
    You have a point. I keep updating my 2017 10.5” iPad Pro and on iPadOS 17.5.1 it’s slow. Has been for a year or more. 
    tht
  • Reply 7 of 22
    I have an original iPad that is now my Christmas iPad. It has a bunch of Christmas related crap (music, books, photos, etc.) on it. It sits in the basement for most of the year but gets its chance to shine come late November.
    pulseimagesjahbladeBart Ywatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 22
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,740member
    Still using the first 12.9" iPad Pro from 2015 as my home music hub. The battery only holds a couple hours of charge at this point, but I just keep it plugged in all the time.
    Bart Ywatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 22
    9secondkox29secondkox2 Posts: 2,835member
    Old iPads go on the walls to run HomeKit. 

    It’s great. Like Star Trek in the house. No Nest or anything in the home. 
    edited May 22 jahbladeBart Ywatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 22
    jdwjdw Posts: 1,373member
    Unlike vintage Macs though, iPads and iPhones have a life tied to their batteries.  My 2012 iPad was repurposed for many years, and I even approached Apple about a battery replacement, but they said it was fine.  But eventually the battery swelled during a charge so bad that it popped the display out of the frame, thereby ending its life.

    While very old Macs can be "battery bombed" by their PRAM batteries (I am talking about 80's Macs mostly here), that doesn't happen if you keep the PRAM battery removed, and the Macs are still usable without it.  This makes vintage Macs superior to devices like the iPad, when it comes to repurposing old tech for DECADES.

    And so, the point here is that "repurposed for years" has the caveat of iPads being a ticking time bomb due to their internal battery, without which they cannot operate.  Give us battery tech that doesn't swell and kill the electronics, or give us the means to more easily self-swap batteries without fancy tools or special technicals, and then and only then will battery-operated Apple devices like iPad have the ability to truly be repurposed FOR DECADES like very old Macs.
    entropysbeowulfschmidtwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 22
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,476member
    Anilu_777 said:
    kmarei said:
    yes i learnt my lesson
    i don't jump IOS versions anymore
    i had a perfectly working ipad 2, updated ios and it could not even load the yahoo homepage
    sluggish and unusable
    so now i go to the latest of the iOS that came on the device
    so if i had iOS 15 i go the last version of that, say 15.9
    and never jump to iOS 16

    ipads works for ages as they have large all day batteries
    so even when they get old, they still work for many hours
    great for browsing, checking sports results, streaming etc
    the majority of which don't really need the latest and greatest to work
    other than gaming and maybe photo/video editing you don't really need  an M4 super max ultra to work
    i am still using my 2ng gen ipad pro 11" works great, cuz its still on iOS 15.7.2
    i use FB, instagram , some silly games, and browsing.
    i rarely, if ever, need to turn on my laptop now
    You have a point. I keep updating my 2017 10.5” iPad Pro and on iPadOS 17.5.1 it’s slow. Has been for a year or more. 
    I had the same exact experience with my iPad 2 and iPhone 4s I repurposed as a iPod Touch. One too many operating system updates rendered it nearly unusable. 

    Apple is still sending out mixed messages when it comes to the iPad product line. Is its purpose in life to be the world’s best personal mobile media, entertainment, social networking, and gaming platform or is it a productivity tool for people using it for real work, including drawing, kiosks, mobile sales and support, etc? The base functionality like email, web access, messaging, etc., are just that, base functionality.  

    Don’t get me wrong, the iPad is all the computer a heck of a lot of people will ever need. However, a lot of those keynote technodrool worthy features are lost on a lot of people who bought into the iPad Pro as being something they absolutely needed. A lot of those features are forever dormant on a lot of iPads. I’ve taken fewer than 10 photos using iPads since my first iPad 1. Of course some people can use any one of the last few generations of iPad Pro to make a real, full length and sellable movie, documentary, TV show, etc. 

    If I had a say in the matter I would keep the iPad as a primarily content consumption device with all the latest connectivity options and social media apps while holding the line on price as much as possible. Invest most of those productivity resources that would be allocated to “Pro” focus to the MacBook and iPhone product lines, and someday, Vision Pro. 

    I think Apple got ahead of themselves with the Pro and some higher end features, possibly in an attempt to boost average selling price or to turn the dead bones of their early competitors into a fine dust. Was it worth the time, money, and effort? For some customers, hell yeah, but for a lot of people still holding on to their older iPads the answer is not so obvious.

    Finally, by positioning the iPad Pro as a high end productivity tool when it’s really a tweener device somewhere between the iPhone and the Mac, the iPad Pro is going to be constantly criticized for what it can’t do rather than praised for all of the things it does so magnificently.
    edited May 22 elijahgwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 22
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 2,368member
    randok said:
    I've often thought that, as part of its deserved environmental boasting, Apple should do more to emphasize the longevity of its products' useful lifetime. (And do more to prolong that lifetime.) Of course, it goes against a business model that hopes to induce upgrades every cycle or two, but it's a fact that Apple products have much longer useable lifetimes than many non-Apple products. I'm writing this on an "Early 2014" MacBook Air, which I use as my daily computer, and I can do almost everything I want (except visit a few stubborn banking sites). Apple should embrace the truism that longevity is an environmental win and make more of it. 
    They could go further and create a subscription-based lighter OS for older devices. Included with AppleOne or paid iCloud tiers. That light OS would be cut down version of the current or maybe previous version so app developers only need to target the last handful of OS to cover the full range of devices.  As long as it is capable of Web, Kiosk type apps for uses like HomeKit store display, sign in sheets or a many other common uses these days I think it would keep a lot more devices in use before recycling. Would be good for older Macs to stey working as extra screen space for a more powerful device.


    williamlondongregoriusmwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 22
    chasmchasm Posts: 3,371member
    randok said:
    I'm writing this on an "Early 2014" MacBook Air, which I use as my daily computer, and I can do almost everything I want (except visit a few stubborn banking sites). Apple should embrace the truism that longevity is an environmental win and make more of it. 
    Those banking sites are trying to tell you that your computer IS. NOT. SECURE. You should take that warning VERY seriously. You’re no longer receiving any kind of updates, security or otherwise. I typically retire my machines at that point and buy a new or newer one.

    I would strongly suggest you “semi-retire” that older machine to “offline activities only,” like I’ve done with my beloved 2012 MBP. It’s pretty much a games and database machine now, and that’s just fine with me (I modded it for a larger SSD and additional RAM, and it still runs like a champ for its vintage).

    Your 2014 is a ticking time bomb on the net. It is really important to use a new/newer machine for activities that need online security, and that’s not just banking stuff. Really old machines can still be useful, but should absolutely NOT be online.
    williamlondongregoriusmFidonet127Applejacswatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 22
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 3,094member
    Old iPads go on the walls to run HomeKit. 

    It’s great. Like Star Trek in the house. No Nest or anything in the home. 
    Ayup. I am looking at a second generation iPad mini that I use as a wall clock. Another is repurposed to be a controller for home sharing of my music library on a HomePod mini. It isn't that iPads are toys, they are just simple consumption devices for me. YMMV.

    jahbladewatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 22
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 3,094member

    chasm said:
    randok said:
    I'm writing this on an "Early 2014" MacBook Air, which I use as my daily computer, and I can do almost everything I want (except visit a few stubborn banking sites). Apple should embrace the truism that longevity is an environmental win and make more of it. 
    Those banking sites are trying to tell you that your computer IS. NOT. SECURE. You should take that warning VERY seriously. You’re no longer receiving any kind of updates, security or otherwise. I typically retire my machines at that point and buy a new or newer one.

    I would strongly suggest you “semi-retire” that older machine to “offline activities only,” like I’ve done with my beloved 2012 MBP. It’s pretty much a games and database machine now, and that’s just fine with me (I modded it for a larger SSD and additional RAM, and it still runs like a champ for its vintage).

    Your 2014 is a ticking time bomb on the net. It is really important to use a new/newer machine for activities that need online security, and that’s not just banking stuff. Really old machines can still be useful, but should absolutely NOT be online.
    You know...there is something to this, and it is something of a sore point with consumers. Why is it that something sold with some representation of being secure and safe, ages to the point of being unsafe to use? There are precious few consumer products sold with the representation that they become dangerous to use after some design lifetime. Some will understand the tech reasons for this (likely most of AI readers) but to most lay consumers, this is mere corporate money-grabbing. "You need to pay more now because this device can no longer be trusted to do what you bought it for because we want more of your money, and this is how we do it." 
    dewme
  • Reply 16 of 22
    jace88jace88 Posts: 38member
    I've only sold/traded in a couple of iPads over the years because for the most part, even when I upgrade, the old one is still genuinely useful. It's only once they no longer get software updates and can't get the latest updates to apps that they become a bit of a paperweight but by then, they truly aren't worth anything more than a couple of bucks.

    With two young kids (<6) now, there's no way I'm letting either of them play with my 12.9" iPad Pro... and with the massive market of kid-friendly "protective" iPad cases, the old ones make a great entertainment/learning device for them with Reading Eggs and Netflix/Youtube.
    Bart Ywatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 22
    alexjennalexjenn Posts: 16member
    The fact an iPhone is actually a phone doesn't mean nothing?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 22
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,476member
    It might be interesting if someone, with Apple’s blessing, developed a “super app” that could turn an older iPad into the equivalent of the Amazon Echo Show 15”. There was or maybe still is an iDashboard app that did some of what I’m talking about, with limitations. To make it much more useful it would need tie-ins to Apple Home, weather, time, Apple News, FaceTime, Photos, (shared) Calendar, and Siri it may be quite interesting sitting on your desk, kitchen counter, or on the wall. To pull it off on an older iPad everything not related to the app’s necessary functionality would be have to be stripped out and the iPad configured to launch directly into the super app on startup. Of course there would have to be a way to get into a stripped down Settings app for device configuration and some features would not be available on very old iPads due to lack of hardware support. Being able to repurpose an old iPad as an information portal appliance could easily extend its useful lifetime to a decade and maybe more. 
    edited May 23 watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 22
    nubusnubus Posts: 443member
    alexjenn said:
    The fact an iPhone is actually a phone doesn't mean nothing?
    Sure - to some iPhone is a personal accessory. All the focus on colors and the positioning of lenses are so you can tell others that you have the latest and most expensive model. iPad is just iPad and to a lot of parents a digital pacifier for their kids.

    I wonder if people stop using iPads causing the number of active users to drop. I stopped using mine like 6 months ago after having used iPads from day 2 and created +30 apps for the platform. I'm just tired of the OS, the latest iPhones are fast and have large displays, and the battery time is much improved on Mac. iPad is the device I don't need.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 20 of 22
    DrRobDrRob Posts: 1member
    I wonder if it would be possible to have a setting where the battery wouldn't be charged at all while the iPad is plugged in? So it wouldn't cause an old battery to overheat and swell? I realize it's not good for a battery to sit fully discharged either, but would that work? I guess that would depend on how the power is directed to the iPad when plugged in. Does it always go to the battery and then from the battery to power the iPad? Is that why an iPad won't work with the battery removed?
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
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