How long will you keep your Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad? Apple reckons three years

Apple has set out the expected first-owner lifespan of its devices in its environmental questions page.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer on
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Apple estimates the Watch's years of use from product testing, based on power consumed and daily usage patterns.

Image: Apple

If you spent between $300 and $17,000 on an Apple Watch, you might be intrigued to know that Apple only reckons with the device being in use for three years.

Apple outlines the expected first-owner lifespan of the Watch in its environmental questions page, which it updated with the Thursday launch of Apps for Earth, where Apple is donating sales from participating apps to the World Wide Fund for Nature.

The environment page answers a range of questions about Apple and the environment, from internal leadership, to materials, and performance measurement.

The Watch's primary-user life expectancy appears in a section dealing with steps Apple takes when assessing a product's life cycle.

"Years of use, which are based on first owners, are assumed to be four years for OS X and tvOS devices and three years for iOS and watchOS devices," the company says.

The estimate is derived from product testing it conducts based on power consumed and daily usage patterns.

That three-year figure isn't really a surprise, given people keep smartphones for about that length of time before replacing them. But it does give some credence to the argument that Apple Watch is not a watch, especially when compared with luxury timepieces that one could expect to last a lifetime.

At least that was what Tag Heuer general director Guy Sémon had to say in an interview with Wired after it announced a smartwatch partnership with Intel and Google last year in response to the Apple Watch.

"Apple Watch is not a watch, it is a connected device on the wrist. There is a big difference. Why? Because this one looks good," said Sémon, holding up Tag Heuer's new $5,450 Carrera Heuer-01.

"Better finishing, design. This is not an iPhone. You buy an iPhone and in three years you put it in the trash. But not a watch. You have to keep a watch," he continued.

On the other hand, consumers do clearly see it as a watch, which is reflected in falling sales of conventional watches.

As Bloomberg reported in December, Swiss watchmakers in 2015 saw the biggest decline in exports to the US in six years. That was for a range of reasons, but the Apple Watch was having an impact on the lower end of the watch market.

On a separate note, there was some excitement among Apple fans about a reference in the environmental page to MacOS, which has been widely interpreted as a hint that Apple is planning to ditch the OS X name. The above statement taken from Apple's site on Friday yesterday read MacOS.

As 9to5 Mac pointed out at the time, it would appear to make sense for Apple to change OS X to align with iOS, watchOS and tvOS.

It still doesn't rule out a name change in the future, but any trace of it has now been removed from the page.

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