How Long Does an iPad Last?

David Ruddock
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How long can you expect an iPad to last? While the answer truly depends on the particular model and its intended use, you can reasonably expect an iPad to last 4-7 years. Generally speaking, the iPad is a very dependable mobile computer, and the only notable wear item is the battery. But this is a very rough estimate, and some use cases could require replacement more or less frequently. There are a number of factors worth considering when evaluating an iPad’s useful lifespan, and whether you’ll incur costs in prolonging that lifespan along the way.

iPad Device Management

How to Estimate iPad Lifespan by Usage

There’s no exact science or measurement that will tell you how long an iPad is going to last you. But the particular way you intend to use that iPad is going to be a decent barometer for whether you can use that device for a shorter or longer period. Here are a few example use cases and the lifespan you might be able to expect from an iPad in these scenarios, from shortest to longest.

  • Portable workstation: 2-3 years. An iPad being used for intensive work applications and other daily computing will start to show its age relatively quickly. Battery wear will be substantially higher (as you’ll likely charge it to 100% daily or near-daily), and new workloads could create performance bottlenecks. Incentive to upgrade to a new model for enhanced performance and new features will be strong.
  • Casual laptop replacement: 4-6 years. An iPad in a consumer laptop use case will likely be viable for considerably longer than one used as a personal workstation. Charging will occur less frequently, and performance will only become a bottleneck near the end of life. Incentives to upgrade will also be much weaker, as iPads rarely adopt major new features that greatly enhance their functionality for casual consumers. Replacement will likely be a function of battery degradation and a desire for greater performance.
  • Media device: 5-8 years. If your intention is to use an iPad mostly for consumption of video, games, and other multimedia, its lifespan is effectively a function of its ability to maintain a battery charge and play the media you want. While some super demanding 3D games could incentivize you to upgrade, most games released for iPads are well-optimized for a variety of generations. A better or larger display could also be a reason to upgrade, but likely not one of any urgency. End of OS update support would be the biggest driver of eventual replacement, as games or applications could start to break.
  • Kiosk or POS: 6-10 years. For corporate-owned uses, the iPad is a surprisingly robust hardware platform. Given its long OS update cycle (7 years, typically) and even longer security support window (9-10 years), most businesses can use an iPad for a dedicated kiosk, POS, or other stationary function as long as it doesn’t pose a cybersecurity risk. Mobile kiosks and POS uses may require battery replacements over time, though. The major concern is which generation of iPad you set out with in the first place. Choosing an older model will limit its useful lifespan, because it could already be several years into its software support lifecycle, meaning its EOL (end of life) date will be sooner. Therefore, buying a newer model will generally result in a greater value derived from the asset over its lifetime.

The iPad Hardware Lifespan

Like most modern electronics, the iPad contains no moving parts — it doesn’t even have a vibration motor, unlike the iPhone and Apple Watch. Only the hardware power and volume keys “move,” though it’d be more accurate to say they merely actuate switches (and generally speaking, are not prone to failure). The iPad has no fans and no active cooling system (it uses a passive heatsink that dissipates heat through the iPad’s metal exterior), and, outside very extreme temperatures, does not tend to overheat. 

All of the above is meant to say that, as a computer, the iPad has very few failure points — apart from the large sheet of glass that covers the display. Like a smartphone, the iPad’s screen can be cracked relatively easily in the event of a drop or other acute impact. Apple charges extremely high fees to replace iPad displays — anywhere from $250 to $750, depending on the model. Apple’s fees are often more than the device is even worth unless it’s very new. Third party iPad screen repairs are substantially cheaper (anywhere from $100 to $400).

Physically, it is unlikely that any component of an iPad will fail unless the device is actively misused. For example, repeatedly exposing the charging port to bending and twisting, or excessive dust or moisture could cause it to fail. Using an iPad in an extreme environment — such as sub-zero conditions or outdoors in hot, direct sunlight for many months — could also damage the battery over time. No iPad is rated for dust or water ingress, either. If you get an iPad very wet or immerse it, you risk exposing sensitive internal components to moisture, which can result in irreparable damage leading to device failure without warning.

And while iPads in general have very few component failures, there is one part on an iPad that tends to “wear out” over time: The battery.

The iPad Battery Lifespan

The number one wear component on the Apple iPad is the battery. While the iPad is a very power-efficient computer, its battery needs to be charged relatively frequently, perhaps two to four times per week. This is relevant because the iPad’s battery is only rated to retain 80% of its total capacity for around 1000 charges, after which it begins to lose capacity — often pretty quickly (i.e., battery degradation is not linear). If you charge your iPad four times per week, that’s about 200 charges in a given year, which extrapolates out to around a 5-year lifespan for the battery before degradation begins… in theory. In reality, battery lifespan varies on a number of factors, including: 

  • The typical operating temperature of the iPad (very cold or very hot temperatures can accelerate battery degradation).
  • The individual battery’s unique characteristics (there is no way to know — some batteries last longer than their rating, some shorter).
  • Most importantly, the number of times the battery is charged above 80% (i.e., to full).

The first two factors we’ve listed are difficult to control. The last one, however, makes a real difference in how long an iPad’s battery will last before it degrades. For example, if you plug in an iPad every night to keep the battery full, you are going to considerably accelerate the battery degradation process. While it’s difficult to quantify that figure exactly, charging a lithium battery to 100% repeatedly puts the greatest amount of cycling stress on the battery. Charging to 80% is considered best practice for prolonging the charge cycle life of any lithium battery.

Unfortunately, Apple does not offer a user-controlled way to tell the iPad to stop charging at 80%, unlike the iPhone — where such an option does exist. It’s not clear why this is the case. The iPad can limit its charge state to 80% when it is connected to a power adapter for an extended period of time, however, such as when used as a kiosk or stationary terminal where the display is always on.

Once an iPad’s battery starts to lose significant capacity, it will eventually reach a state where the tablet isn’t very practical for continued use disconnected from a power adapter. Replacing the battery in an iPad can be done, but usually requires the help of an Apple Store or other device repair shop. Apple charges between $99 and $119 for iPad battery replacements out of warranty. Once the battery is replaced, your iPad should regain 100% of its battery capacity as when it was new — though not necessarily the battery life it had when it was new. Software updates to iOS and accumulated applications tend to demand more processing power over time, meaning that even with a new battery, your old iPad may not last as long as it did when it was fresh out of the box.

Do iPads Slow Down Over Time?

The short answer is no, iPads do not slow down over time. The longer answer is: The things you do with your iPad may start to feel slower over the years, but this is a complex and multifaceted process, some of which is down to perception.

Think about your car. It may have felt speedy when it rolled off the lot 10 years ago, but the moment you get behind the wheel of something brand-new, suddenly you may decide your car is actually kind of… slow. (And perhaps with some wear and tear, your car has become slower — but likely imperceptibly so, unless it’s legitimately in need of repair.) Likewise, with any computer, a new point of comparison can quickly make your old device feel sluggish. Once you see how quickly and smoothly the new iPad zips through apps, you start to notice all the moments your old iPad chugs and hesitates doing those same things. And then you decide it’s time to upgrade.

In parallel, there are legitimate reasons your iPad may start to feel slower over time. One major factor is operating system updates. With every new iPadOS release, Apple integrates more features and functions, some of which may require additional computational resources. On newer iPads, those features and functions were likely baked into that device’s performance envelope, ensuring that they don’t introduce lag, stutters, or freezes. On older iPads, though, that may be much harder to guarantee. Similarly, the applications on your iPad also update over time, and they may add new features that increase their processing power requirements. Perhaps the biggest culprit for such “performance creep” is the web: Modern web pages are loaded to the gills with scripts and interactive elements, and often tend to be poorly optimized for older hardware. But without getting extremely technical, it’s best to sum up this phenomenon by saying: It’s not that your iPad gets slower, it’s that the software running on it tends to get more demanding over time.

Theories that Apple intentionally “slows down” older iPads and iPhones to encourage customers to buy new devices are unsubstantiated. The reality is that computers have existed in this vicious cycle for decades, with software constantly trying to push hardware to the limit. The difference in the smartphone and tablet era is that software is vastly easier to update than it was in years past, meaning that users feel the pace of that evolution on end devices much more frequently. There are benefits to this — software and operating systems are more secure and bugs are fixed faster — but it’s undeniably contributed to the much-loathed upgrade cycle in which consumers feel forced to buy devices more often than they’d like.

How Long Do iPads Receive Software Updates?

iPads tend to receive around 7 years of major software upgrades from Apple, and upwards of 10 years of security updates. But Apple does not publish explicit commitments to software support lifetimes for any device. In general, Apple contends that it updates its devices as long as it can assure they function and perform in a way that provides a “good” user experience.

For example, the iPad Air 2 was released in October 2014, almost 10 years ago. Apple still technically supports the iPad Air 2 today, in 2024. However, Apple stopped providing major OS upgrades to the iPad Air 2 after 2021, with iPadOS 15. In the meantime, Apple continues to give the iPad Air 2 security support, ensuring that it’s not vulnerable to known exploits. With Apple, though, not all OS update support is equal — while an iPad may receive a given OS upgrade in name, some features may not be included; whether because of hardware support constraints or because Apple does not deem the experience performant enough on an older device.

The importance of update support is difficult to overstate. Once an iOS or iPadOS device no longer receives major OS updates, that begins something of a “doomsday” countdown for the apps on that device. Over a relatively short time, that older OS version will no longer be supported by Apple, and developers of apps will not be able to target that OS for their app updates. Apps may stop functioning entirely over time. That said, if you’ve gotten 8 or more years of life out of your iPad, you’re likely due for an upgrade anyway, app support aside.

Once an iPad is no longer receiving even security updates from Apple (there’s a list of such devices here), it’s definitely time to upgrade. The risk of security exploits and vulnerabilities rises quickly once a device is unsupported, and hackers are acutely aware when such systems reach unsupported status.

Looking for iPad Device Management?

Esper has you covered. From robust management tools to app delivery without the App Store, we simplify iPad/iOS device management, Android device management, and even mixed fleets of both — all from a single pane of glass. Book a demo today to learn more.


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David Ruddock
David Ruddock

David's tech experience runs deep. His tech agnostic approach and general love for technology fueled the 14 years he spent as a technology journalist, where David worked with major brands like Google, Samsung, Qualcomm, NVIDIA, Verizon, and Amazon, reviewed hundreds of products, and broke dozens of exclusive stories. Now he lends that same passion and expertise to Esper's marketing team.

David Ruddock
Learn about Esper mobile device management software for Android and iOS
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