Apple Commits to 5 Years of OS Updates for New iPhones

Written on 06/05/2024
Taylor Bell

Apple will support the latest iPhones for at least five years, less than the seven years guaranteed by Samsung and Google.

  • Apple has confirmed it will provide security updates for a minimum of five years since the iPhone 15 went on sale.
  • This is the first time that Apple has ever committed to a minimum length of software support for an iPhone.
  • In contrast, its competitors Samsung and Google currently guarantee a minimum of seven years of security updates for their respective flagship devices.

If you're willing to spend a few hundred dollars on the best phone available today, one thing you need to consider is how many updates you're going to get. A $1,000 phone only gets updates for three years, so to be safe, you'll want to update your phone after three years. Phone update policies vary widely from brand to brand, but most brands state how long they'll support their devices for.

There is one notable exception, however, and that's Apple. Apple hasn't historically offered a minimum guarantee of software support, but they've often outdone others when it comes to updates. But now, Apple has finally committed to a minimum support period for iPhones that is surprisingly shorter than what some competitors offer.

On April 29, 2024, the UK Product Safety and Telecommunications Infrastructure Regulations (PSTI) came into effect. The regulations require companies that manufacture, import, or sell internet-enabled products in the UK to comply with certain security requirements. The purpose of the regulations is to improve the security of consumer products that can connect to the internet, especially IoT devices. Companies affected by the regulations must submit a declaration of compliance, including the support period for which security updates will be provided.

Because the iPhone is an internet-connected product, Apple must comply with the UK PSTI regulation. The company recently released a declaration of conformity for the iPhone 15 Pro Max, stating that the "defined support period" is "at least five years from the date of first delivery." The "first delivery date" is September 22, 2023, when the iPhone 15 series is released.

According to the text of the PSTI regulation, the "defined support period" is "the minimum period, expressed as a period with an end date, during which security updates are provided." A "security update" is defined by PSTI as "a software update that protects or improves the security of a product, including a software update that resolves a security issue discovered or reported by the manufacturer."

This means that Apple has assured the UK government that it will issue security updates for at least five years from the launch date of the iPhone 15. In other words, security updates for the iPhone 15 are officially guaranteed until September 22, 2028. As Dave Kleidermacher, Google's vice president of engineering for Android security and privacy, points out, this means that Apple no longer offers the best security update policy in the industry. Both Samsung and Google guarantee seven years of security updates as well as Android OS updates for their respective flagship devices, which is two years longer than Apple's guarantee.

However, the fact that Apple has been providing security updates for various iPhone devices for more than five years should be commended. Some iPhones are still receiving security updates more than six years after their initial release, far more support than the vast majority of Android devices receive. Currently, Samsung and Google are ahead of Apple in terms of software support guarantees, but that doesn't mean iPhone users can't keep their phones for the same or even longer. We'll just have to hope Apple doesn't end support for a minimum of five years.