Unfortunately, no matter how much you love your current laptop, smartphone, or notebook, they won’t last forever. Parts wear out, software slows down, and technology evolves, making older devices harder to use and ultimately obsolete.
In the industry, manufacturers often say that devices reach end of life (or EOL) when they reach a certain age, although there can be some confusion about what exactly is behind this label. This does not mean that you should immediately stop using your gadgets or they will suddenly stop working properly. But you will encounter some issues that you should be aware of.
What EOL means for your gadgets
Tech companies aren’t always good at being consistent with the terminology they use, and that’s especially true with end-of-life status. The concept tends to have different definitions depending on the manufacturer, and sometimes they break the term down into more specific steps. Apple, for example, calls the products “vintage” five years after it stopped selling them, and “obsolete” two years later.
While there may be variations in how companies use these terms, and even between individual products under the same brand, certain general themes almost always apply. For example, once a device reaches EOL status, you will generally not get any more software updates for it. Likewise, manufacturers usually discontinue any type of repair or other support service that users have accessed for that model.
[Related: When to repair your computer and when to replace it]
Going back to the Apple example, you will not be able to bring an outdated product to an Apple Store for repair. You may be able to get them to fix a vintage product, but that will depend on the specific device you have, which makes it hard to generalize. Sometimes there are exceptions, but if in doubt, you can always ask.
When it comes to their Pixel smartphones, Google doesn’t mention EOL, but it does provide a comprehensive overview of how long you can expect software and security updates. With newer devices, including the Google Pixel 7 Pro, you get at least three years of Android updates and five years of security patches from the handsets launch date. This guaranteed support window is something you should definitely look for when buying new technology.
Unfortunately, not all hardware manufacturers are as transparent as they should be when it comes to the lifespan of their products. In fact, end-of-life data is often hard to find, and sometimes you won’t get it at all. Some companies, like Microsoft, for example, constantly release information to help you decide what to buy next. But if you don’t know where to look for it, start with endoflife.date, which is a useful database of hardware and software products that you can refer to.
Your device has reached end of life. Now what?
You’re not necessarily going to get a big flashing message on your device when it’s reached its end-of-life period. Plus, chances are you almost certainly won’t. As we mentioned above, you may be able to find this information in advance from official or unofficial sources, but your best bet is to keep an eye out for daily tech news, so you stay up to date. latest announcements.
Once you find out that a device you’re using has reached its EOL stage, you don’t have to do anything specific except think about getting an upgrade. Your gadget will not stop working immediately, but as it falls behind on software updates, you will notice that you will no longer be able to update certain apps. This can be annoying at first, as you won’t get access to new features and redesigns, but eventually it can prevent you from fully using your apps, hampering your user experience.
But that’s the least of your worries. Security is the biggest issue because you won’t get regular patches for your hardware and the software will gradually become more and more outdated. Fully updated software is by no means invulnerable, but hackers often target their attacks on older code that has not been properly patched, putting you at higher risk of various threats.
[Related: These simple upgrades could save you from having to buy a new computer]
Repairs are another issue. Your existing gadget may continue to work, but you will find that the problems will continue to accumulate over time. The problem is that you rely on third-party companies who may or may not be able to help you, so your options will be limited.
The speed at which you should think about upgrading your devices varies depending on the hardware you have. While bad actors are unlikely to target your first-generation Fitbit tracker or old iPod, your phone or laptop is a whole different story. If this is the type of device that reaches end-of-life status, you may need to upgrade sooner than you initially thought.