Shocker: Your phone has built-in expiration date


Your phone is dying as you’re reading this. Like milk, bike helmets and condoms, phones are sold with a built-in expiration date. 

At the low end, we’re talking just a couple years, but most are supported for three to four. It’s not because the hardware will go kaput (though that can happen); it’s all about how long the manufacturer will offer support.

Let’s dive into how to find out your phone’s expiration date, plus tips to make sure it lasts as long as possible.

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The average is really mean

Here are the average lifespans for some of today’s most popular phone brands and makes:

  • Apple iPhone: 4 to 8 years
  • Samsung: 3 to 6 years
  • Google Pixel: 3 to 5 years
  • Huawei: 2 to 4 years

These are averages, meaning your mileage may vary. 

iPhone Apple

Cellphones, like many other things you buy, come with their own built-in expiration dates. (Fox News Digital)

What’s your number?

Your phone’s lifespan clock starts ticking from its manufacture date, not when you purchased it, so knowing when it was built is the key. Here are ways to find out:

  • Look around: The manufacture date is often listed on the package. If you tossed it, check the “About” section in your phone’s settings for a date or serial number.
  • Serial number: Many manufacturers encode the manufacturing date within these numbers. The site SNDeepInfo can help you decode yours.
  • Dial secret codes: Special codes and menus can reveal manufacturing information. Dialing *#06# might show your phone’s serial number.

Yeah, I know. This looks like way too much work.

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Hallelujah, there’s an easier way

Instead of taking the steps above, head to endoflife.date. This handy site lists the end-of-life (EOL) dates for devices, software programs and others. Some quick links for you to check your phone’s EOL:

The links below aren’t for phones, but you might want to check the EOL for your other tech:

This is an excellent site to check before you buy any used tech. If it’s about to hit its EOL date, don’t buy it.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra smartphone is seen in South Korea

You can easily check online how long your phone – and other devices – are set to last. (SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

This is serious stuff

Using tech past its EOL date is bad for a bunch of reasons.

  • No important updates: Sure, you won’t receive the latest features, but, more importantly, you also won’t get any new security updates.
  • Hackers love you: Cybercriminals can break into your outdated tech much more easily to exploit unfixed bugs and security issues. We’re talking about unauthorized access on your phone to your bank accounts, health data, and even your voice from calls and voicemails.
  • Bad battery life: As phones age, their battery performance degrades because lithium-ion batteries lose capacity over time.
  • Slow down: Older phones struggle to run newer apps and operating systems.

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So, how do you make it last the entire lifespan?

Maybe you’re a year in on your phone and thinking, no way this thing is going to last four years. With a little maintenance, it can.

Keep it updated: Updates can not only keep your device running smoothly and safe from bugs, but they can often speed things up on the performance side, too. On iPhone, go to Settings > General > Software Update. On Android, it’s under Settings > About Phone > Check for Updates.

A man holds an iPhone

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to maximize your phone’s mileage and ensure it lasts its entire lifespan. (Photo by Silas Stein/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Replace the battery: This is one of the most effective upgrades you can give your phone. Aim to replace the battery every couple of years — though you should get the professionals to do it. Contact Apple, Samsung or Google directly for options. You’ll pay less than $100.

Use a case: Keeping your phone “naked” is too risky. Get an OtterBox if you’re a butterfingers. Spigen makes slim, military-grade cases if you like the sleek look. Smartish has wallet cases, grippy options and lots more.

Look after the battery: Phones do best in temps between 32 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep your phone out of the sun when it’s hot and in your pocket when it’s freezing out. If it’s burning up, turn it off or put it in a shady spot for a while. Putting it in the freezer is a bad idea.

Delete the junk: Phones work faster with plenty of free storage, so delete any apps and files you don’t use. A quick cleanup: Open the Files app on Android, then tap the Clean tab. On iPhone, go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage to see which apps can get the boot.

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