How long can modern smartphones last?

Screen Shot 2011-10-11 at 5.22.35 PM

I'm amazed at how long certain phones are still kept in the product pipeline. For instance, the iPhone 3GS pictured above (and to the far right) has been around in Apple's iPhone lineup since the June of 2009. 

It might not be as speedy as the iPhone 4, or any comparison to what the iPhone 4S will be come this Friday, but Apple is still supporting it, even two and a quarter years after it was originally introduced. That's four months longer than the typical carrier contract, which means that, theoretically, someone could be still using their 3GS as a typical device. 

It seems that more and more devices are being able to hold their own for longer. But why is this? Read on to find out my thoughts.

In the case of the iPhone, which is a closed ecosystem, the cause is Apple itself. It wants its users to be inside that walled garden as long as possible, even if that means supporting older hardware so those users can buy more apps, versus losing them altogether. 

But in other situations, namely Android devices, the longevity comes in large part from the hacker community surrounding them. For example, I know people who still use the original T-Mobile G1 as their daily driver; thanks to the openness of Android, those G1s are still very, very functional. And those are even a year older than the 3GS.

It really all depends on how the manufacturer of the phone makes money. Apple, for example, gets money from both the iPhone and the apps that run on it. Samsung, on the other hand, would get money for only the phone, not the apps that Google sells. For Google, it's vice-versa; it make tons of money from apps, but not the sales of hardware from its partners. 

I would like to ask you one simple question: what's the oldest smartphone that you use daily? It'll be fun to see who likes to cling on to hardware the longest. 

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Calob Horton

Calob Horton is an associate editor at Pocketables. He loves all technology, no matter which company it comes from. This unbiased view of the tech world allows him to choose the products that best fit his personal needs and tastes: a Microsoft Surface Pro, a Samsung Galaxy Note 3, and a third-gen iPad.Google+ | Twitter | More posts by Calob | Subscribe to Calob's posts

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