How Long Are Second-Hand Phones Supported With Updates?

Besides accidents and wear and tear, there’s another factor that determines how long your smartphone is likely to last. It’s the software that the smartphone runs on and how long it offers protection from threats. Your smartphone’s security lies in its software, and regular updates protect it from the villains of cyberspace: scammers, hackers, bugs, malware and other malicious agents.

When your phone stops receiving updates, it continues to work, but the experience is often compromised. Apps may fail to function properly, or you may be unable to update to the latest versions of them. As security threats emerge and evolve, your smartphone’s software won’t be developing along with them in order to keep up.

This raises a particular concern when you’re shopping for used smartphones. How long does a second-hand phone receive security updates, and how long can you trust its level of quality?

If you’ve already spent time browsing all the different smartphone options on the market, you may have already noticed that refurbished smartphones are a little different to standard used phones. They’ve been put through a long testing process by the seller to make sure every component still works, and they’re more likely to still get security updates.

Before you part with your money for a used smartphone, it’s useful to know how long a second-hand phone receives security updates. 


What is a Security Patch for a Phone?

So why do we need security updates on smartphones? If manufacturers could just neutralise all security threats before new smartphones were rolled out, things would be a lot easier.  Yet cybercriminals are always looking for new ways to exploit flaws and weaknesses, and smartphone companies have to keep unravelling new security measures in response to freshly discovered threats.

Sometimes, urgent issues arise between regularly scheduled security updates, and manufacturers find it necessary to release security patches. When a security patch is rolled out, it’s because other users were hacked because of the vulnerabilities, and the company was informed about it. Like all security updates, security patches can only take effect once the user consents to install them.  

How long second-hand phones receive security updates (including security patches) depends on variables including the manufacturer, the age of your phone and what kind of state the second-hand model is in. iPhones, Samsungs and other Android models all differ in how long their second-hand phones receive security updates. 


How Long Can You Safely Use an Old iPhone?

A white iPhone being held in a hand covered by a white knitted jumper sleeve with a coffee and book in the background.

iPhones don’t last forever, but their lifespans aren't as brief as some think. Apple doesn’t have a fixed approach but instead issues security updates for a year or two after software updates end. Most users replace their iPhones every three to four years, but battery updates can make them last for five or six. Beyond that, it’s recommended that you replace your iPhone to stay on top of security requirements. After seven years, iPhones are considered obsolete. You’ll find refurbished iPhones support updates for variable lengths of time depending on their ages.


Refurbished iPhones receive updates for as long as new ones, with older iPhones that have fewer years left on their lifespans available at heavily reduced rates. Luckily, Apple releases new iPhones so frequently that it often only takes several months to a year for a freshly released iPhone to end up on the refurbished market. A refurbished iPhone can support updates for just as long as a new model and lives up to its level of quality in most other ways as well. Apart from maybe a few surface-level imperfections, a refurbished iPhone can appear basically indistinguishable from a new Apple device.


How Long Can You Safely Use an Old Android Phone?


Android updates come in two main types: major operating system updates, which tend to happen once a year, and security updates, which occur more regularly. Security updates deliver smaller changes, while OS updates involve rolling out the next phase of the operating system.


Samsung and Google Pixel are two of the most popular Android devices and two of the most highly protected. Samsung releases so many smartphones that the company has a website to keep track of how long all its current models are security-supported. Currently, Google phones like the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are supported all the way up to October 2030, while older models like the Pixel 6 and Pixel Fold are supported for Android updates for three years and security updates for five years.


Although you’ll be notified of updates when they become available, you can also check for Android updates and make sure your phone is as well-protected as possible.


How Long Do Other Phones Last?


Smartphone manufacturers realise that security updates are an important factor for buyers, much like battery life and camera quality. While all major smartphone brands prioritise security, the details still differ. Fairphone, for example, provides smartphones with security updates for up to five years, while the handsets themselves can last for up to a decade.


In many devices, it’s normal to receive system updates for at least two years and security updates for at least three.


There are more smartphone companies out there than the household-name brands that the average shopper knows and recognises. From Huawei to Oppo to Motorola, all have their own security update timelines depending on the individual device, its release date and its price. A second-hand phone’s security updates are just as reliable as a new phone’s, but the standards that vary from brand to brand still apply. is a useful website that can tell you exactly how long your smartphone is expected to last. You can check a second-hand phone’s security updates by heading there before you decide what to buy.  


Where to Buy Safe Refurbished Phones

A Samsung phone standing upright on a wooden deck.

For refurbished iPhones and Androids that support updates just as well as new models, take a look around the OzMobiles website.


You can take your pick from our range of refurbished Samsung Galaxy phones, refurbished iPhones and other Android phones available for hundreds of dollars less than new models. One of the biggest benefits of buying refurbished phones through OzMobiles is the sheer amount of choice on offer. You can browse through our selection of smartphone brands and find something that suits your needs and comes with security updates to support you in the long term.


All of our devices are fully functional, plus they are sold with 12-month warranties and 30-day money-back guarantees. This includes battery life, which we make sure is at least at 80% capacity. For more information about our second-hand phones that support security updates, contact the team at OzMobiles


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