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June 25, 2019

Mobile computing devices have come a long way in the last few decades. While the dependable laptop has only gotten better over time, it’s definitely competing with mobile phones in today’s market. If you’re trying to decide which fits your needs better, it might come down to a matter of lifespan. While both devices only last for a finite period, there is a fairly sharp divide between what you can expect from a laptop and what you should expect from a mobile phone. 

Average Laptop Shelf Life

It’s a little tough to judge the shelf life of a laptop, because there are plenty of laptops out there. If you want to figure out how long you can expect a laptop to work at a basic level – to power on and run its native programs – you can find laptops from the 1990s that still work today. If you’re looking at software support, most manufacturers will support an operating system for a little over a decade – Windows, for example, will continue to support the 2009 release of Windows 7 until mid-2020. If your goal is to look at peak performance, that lasts around three years, though it can go as long as five for premium brands. 

Average Phone Shelf Life

There’s a lot to look at in terms of cellphone shelf life. If you’re looking at how long you can expect the device to keep working – that is, how long you can keep turning the device on – you’re looking at somewhere around four and a half years on average. Actual operating system support, which dictates how long the phone can be updated, is a little lower at four years. If you are looking at the average rate at which a user is expected to adopt a new phone, the number drops drastically down to around two years. All of this depends on the brand, of course, as cheaper mobile phones definitely have a shorter expected lifespan than their high-end cousins. 

The Upgrade Factor

While both types of devices have stated lifespans, this doesn’t take into account the rise of new technologies. Both phones and laptops can become outdated when new applications require better hardware specifications. The big difference, though, is that users are able to upgrade laptops. Though it’s not quite as easy to switch out components on a laptop as it is for a desktop computer, it’s still possible. This is not, however, the case when it comes to phones. The hardware specs on a phone can’t be altered, which can lead to an even shorter shelf-life. 

The Battery Problem

Another issue that comes into play is the battery problem. Simply put, laptop batteries are designed to last through the end of a unit’s working life. Cellphone batteries, though, are only designed for peak performance during the early stages of use. This becomes a bigger problem when you look at the process of replacing batteries. It’s all but impossible with most popular cellphone brands, but a fairly easy process for laptops. When you factor in battery issues, the life of a laptop becomes significantly longer and the useful lifespan of a cellphone becomes much shorter.

There’s really no comparison in terms of lifespan when it comes to laptops and mobile phones. Laptops are made for the long haul, while cell phones are made to be replaced biannually. If you’re looking for something that you can keep using for years to come, you’ll want a laptop. Cell phones have their uses, but you shouldn’t expect to find one that will keep working long past its replacement date.