Does your iPad suddenly feel a lot heavier? The once-streamlined design no longer impresses you, and as for the lack of app choice… your iPad has been left behind.
Make sure you don’t get stuck on an unsupported device: here are a few telltale signs that it’s time to replace your iPad.
This is not a question with a simple answer. In many ways, it depends on how regularly you use the device.
In terms of hardware and battery life, an iPad that used only occasionally is more likely to last. But there are also operating system, app, storage, and hardware issues to consider.
We look at these issues below to help you determine if it’s time to replace your iPad:
- iOS compatibility issues
- Apps crashing
- Low storage
- Incompatible accessories
- Poor battery life
- Display issues
- Unresponsive buttons
As a rule of thumb, if your iPad is more than five years old, you’ve probably noticed slower performance. On the other hand, you could be happily using an iPad from six or seven years ago with no major problems.
To get an idea of how long your iPad should last, start by identifying your iPad model. You should then be able to gauge when you’ll need a new iPad.
Need help? Let’s look at the key signs that tell you it’s time to replace your iPad.
All operating systems need to be upgraded from time to time. These issue security patches, add new features, and sometimes remove old features. The iPad’s operating system (known as iPadOS since September 2019 and iOS prior to then) is no different.
If your iPad is too old for the latest version of iPadOS, you could be missing vital security patches and handy features. For example, at the time of writing, 2019’s iPadOS 13 runs on devices going back to the iPad Air 2, which was released in 2014.
If you have an older model, and can’t upgrade to the latest iPadOS version, it’s probably time to get a new iPad.
As new iPad models become more sophisticated, so too do apps and games. Upgrading your device is the only way to stay on the curve.
Sadly, it’s a fact of technology that as operating systems are updated, older software stops working. For instance, an app originally designed for iOS 7 might have been updated by the developers for iPadOS 13. But if your iPad can’t run the latest OS, you won’t get such updates on your device.
As with having the latest version of iOS, keeping your apps up-to-date brings new features, bugfixes, and security. If your iPad apps are crashing regularly, maybe consider a new iPad.
Another sign you’re ready for a new iPad is running out of storage regularly. Running up against your storage limit once or twice is par for the course in some ways, but if it happens more often, you may have an issue.
But if your iPad is regularly bursting at the seams, the size of your installed apps could be to blame. If these are tools you use regularly, uninstalling isn’t an option. Often, app updates are larger than the previously released version. Consequently, you could end up needing to use apps on your iPad that doesn’t have the capacity to install and run them.
If space is a concern and the tips to clear your iPad storage haven’t helped, it’s definitely time to get a new iPad.
Regular accessories for the iPad include cases and chargers. But when changes to the iPad’s design are made, you’ll find incompatibility is a problem.
For example, if your old 30-pin charger has worn out, it might be difficult to find a genuine Apple replacement. Most retailers only stock the modern Lightning charger. There’s also the issue of docking stations and speakers.
Alternatively, you might spot a great new case for your iPad Air, only to find later that it is too small. You might have also found that screen protectors are incompatible with your old iPad.
If this happens often, your iPad is getting old. You could scour eBay and Amazon carefully for suitable accessories—or just upgrade.
iPads ship with a rechargeable Li-Po battery that offers a considerable amount of usage time, but you’ll find that the battery doesn’t last so long after years of usage.
Li-Po batteries degrade over time; each battery has a finite number of charge cycles. So the older the device, the more cycles it has gone through. Extreme heat and cold temperatures can also negatively affect batteries, as can fully discharging the cell.
Is your iPad dropping a lot of charge charge within a few hours, even when you’re not running any apps? If so, it looks like an upgrade is the answer.
A fully working touch-sensitive display is required for you to use your iPad. If the display stops detecting touch and gestures, or if it stops displaying screen elements correctly, then you’ve got a problem.
Like TVs, laptops, and other LCD screens, older iPads can end up with dead or stuck pixels. While massaging the display can alleviate this, repeated discovery of stuck pixels indicates that it’s time for a new iPad.
A display with scratches, cracks, or even chips in it will struggle to respond to contact. Even if you aren’t using an antiquated iPad, a device with a damaged screen is certainly on borrowed time.
While you can get around issues with volume and rotation controls, an inability to access the home screen is another matter.
One solution is to replace the Home button with an on-screen alternative using Settings > Accessibility > Touch > AssistiveTouch. Note, however, that when buttons aren’t working correctly, this can indicate issues with other hardware.
Rather than finding yourself unable to switch on or operate your iPad, it’s a better idea to look for an upgrade. Unresponsive buttons are a key sign that your iPad is wearing out.
If you’re considering a new iPad, it’s important to know what models are currently available. The roster of devices changes every few years, with five currently available:
- iPad Pro 12.9-inch
- iPad Pro 11-inch
- iPad Air
- iPad Mini
These devices are tailored for different budgets and uses. For example, the iPad Pro devices are intended as laptop replacements—high-productivity devices that are portable enough to go anywhere. Meanwhile, the standard iPad is affordable enough to give as a gift to a loved one, while the iPad Air offers a mix of battery life and portability.
Each model has a key limitation, however. Low storage is a common culprit, especially among the lower-tier models. Be sure to carefully research each model when it’s time to buy a new iPad.
With such good reasons to upgrade your iPad, you might be happy to forget your old one. But you shouldn’t overlook it just yet: you’ll find that it still has some use. Consider it for in-car entertainment or repurpose it as a digital photo frame.
If you don’t give it away, selling is also an option, especially if you’ve kept your iPad in good condition.