Is upgrade culture out of date?

At Raspberry Pi, we’re interested in all things to do with technology, from building new tools and helping people teach computing, to researching how young people learn to create with technology and thinking about the role tech plays in our lives and society. Today, I’m writing about our habit of replacing devices with newer versions just for the sake of it.

Technology is involved in more of our lives than ever before: most of us carry a computer in our pocket everywhere we go. On the other hand, the length of time for which we use each individual piece of technology has grown very short. This is what’s referred to as upgrade culture, a cycle which sees most of us replacing our most trusted devices every two years with the latest products offered by tech giants like Apple and Samsung.

An illustration of four people using smartphones

How we got to this point is hard to determine, and there does not seem to be a single root cause for upgrade culture. This is why I want to start a conversation about it, so we can challenge our current perspectives and establish fact-based attitudes. I think it’s time that we, as individuals and as a collective, examine our relationship with new technology.

What is the natural lifespan of a device?

Digital technology is still so new that there is really no benchmark for how long digital devices should last. This means that the decision power has by default landed in the hands of device manufacturers and mobile network carriers, and for their profit margins, a two-year lifecycle of devices is beneficial.

Where do you see your role in this process as a consumer? Is it wrong to want to upgrade your phone after two years of constant use? Should phone companies slow their development, and would this hinder innovation? And, if you really need to upgrade, is there a better use for your old device than living in a drawer? These questions defy simple answers, and I want to hear what you think.

How does this affect the environment?

As with all our behaviours as consumers, the impact that upgrade culture has on the environment is an important concern. Environmental issues and climate change aren’t anything new, but they’re currently at the forefront of the global conversation, and for good reason.

Mobile devices are of course made in factories, and the concerns this raises have been covered well in many other places. The same goes for the energy needed to build technology. This energy could, at least in theory, be produced from renewable sources. Here I would like to focus on another aspect of the environmental impact device production has, which relates to the materials necessary to create the tiny components that form our technological best friends.

Some components of your phone cannot be created without rare chemical elements, such as europium and dysprosium. (In fact, there are 83 stable non-radioactive elements in the periodic table, and 70 of them are used in some capacity in your phone.) Upgrade culture means there is high demand for these materials, and deposits are becoming more and more depleted. If you’re hoping there are renewable alternatives, you’ll be disappointed: a study by researchers working at Yale University found that there are currently no alternative materials that are as effective.

Then there’s the issue of how the materials are mined. The market trading these materials is highly competitive, and more often than not manufacturers buy from the companies that offer the lowest prices. To maintain their profit margin, these companies have to extract as much material as possible as cheaply as they can. As you can imagine, this leads to mining practices that are less than ethical or environmentally friendly. As many of the mines are located in distant areas of developing countries, these problems may feel remote to you, but they affect a lot of people and are a direct result of the market we are creating by upgrading our devices every two years.

"Two smartphones, blank screen" by Artem Beliaikin is licensed under CC0 1.0

Many of us agree that we need to do what we can to counteract climate change, and that, to achieve anything meaningful, we have to start looking at the way we live our lives. This includes questioning how we use technology. It will be through discussion and opinion gathering that we can start to make more informed decisions — as individuals and as a society.

The obsolescence question

You probably also have that one friend/colleague/family member who swears by their five year old mobile phone and scoffs at the prices of the newest models. These people are often labeled as sticklers who are afraid to join the modern age, but is there another way to see them? The truth is, if you’ve bought a phone in the last five years, then — barring major accidents — it will most likely still function and be just as effective as it was when it came out of the box. So why are so many consumers upgrading to new devices every two years?

"Nextbit Robin Smartphone" by Bhavesh Sondagar is licensed under CC0 1.0

Again there isn’t a single reason, but I think marketing departments should shoulder much of the responsibility. Using marketing strategies, device manufacturers and mobile network carriers purposefully make us see the phones we currently own in a negative light. A common trope of mobile phone adverts is the overwrought comparison of your current device with a newly launched version. Thus, each passing day after a new model is released, our opinion of our current device worsens, even if it’s just on a subconscious level.

This marketing strategy is related to a business practice called planned obsolescence, which sees manufacturers purposefully limit the durability of their products in order to sell more units. An early example of planned obsolescence is the lightbulb, invented at the Edison company: it was relatively simple for the company to create a lightbulb that lasted 2500 hours, but it took years and a coalition of manufacturers to make a version that reliably broke after 1000 hours. We’re all aware that the lightbulb revolutionised many aspects of life, but it turns out it also had a big influence on consumer habits and what we see as acceptable practices of technology companies.

The widening digital divide

The final aspect of the impact of upgrade culture that I want to examine relates to the digital divide. This term describes the societal gap between the people with access to, and competence with, the latest technology, and the people without these privileges. To be able to upgrade, say, your mobile phone to the latest model every two years, you either need a great degree of financial freedom, or you need to tie yourself to a 24-month contract that may not be easily within your means. As a society, we revere the latest technology and hold people with access to it in high regard. What does this say to people who do not have this access?

"DeathtoStock_Creative Community5" by Denis Labrecque is licensed under CC0 1.0

Inadvertently, we are widening the digital divide by placing more value on new technology than is warranted. Innovation is exciting, and commercial success is celebrated — but do you ever stop and ask who really benefits from this? Is your new phone really that much better than the old one, or could it be that you’re mostly just basking in feeling the social rewards of having the newest bit of kit?

What about Raspberry Pi technology?

Obviously, this blog post wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t share our perspective as a technology company as well. So here’s Raspberry Pi Trading CEO Eben Upton:

On our hardware and software

“Raspberry Pi tries very hard to avoid obsoleting older products. Obviously the latest Raspberry Pi 4 runs much faster than a Raspberry Pi 1 (something like forty times faster), but a Raspbian image we release today will run on the very earliest Raspberry Pi prototypes from the summer of 2011. Cutting customers off from software support after a couple of years is unethical, and bad for business in the long term: fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. The best companies respect their customers’ investment in their platforms, even if that investment happened far in the past.”

“What’s even more unusual about Raspberry Pi is that we aim to keep our products available for a long period of time. So you can’t just run a 2020 software build on a 2014 Raspberry Pi 1B+: you can actually buy a brand-new 1B+ to run it on.”

On the environmental impact of our hardware

“We’re constantly working to reduce the environmental footprint of Raspberry Pi. If you look next to the USB connectors on Raspberry Pi 4, you’ll see a chunky black component. This is the reservoir capacitor, which prevents the 5V rail from dropping too far when a new USB device is plugged in. By using a polymer electrolytic capacitor, from our friends at Panasonic, we’ve been able to avoid the use of tantalum.”

“When we launched the official USB-C power supply for Raspberry Pi 4, one or two people on Twitter asked if we could eliminate the single-use plastic bag which surrounded the cable and plug assembly inside the box. Working with our partners at Kuantech, we found that we could easily do this for the white supplies, but not for the black ones. Why? Because when the box vibrates in transit, the plug scuffs against the case; this is visible on the black plastic, but not on the white.”

Raspberry Pi power supply with scuff marks

Raspberry Pi power supply with scuff mark

“So for now, if you want to eliminate single-use plastic, buy a white supply. In the meantime, we’ll be working to find a way (probably involving cunning origami) to eliminate plastic from the black supply.”

What do you think?

Time for you to discuss! I want to hear from you about upgrade culture.

  • When was the last time you upgraded?
  • What were your reasons at the time?
  • Do you think upgrade culture should be addressed by mobile phone manufacturers and providers, or is it caused by our own consumption habits?
  • How might we address upgrade culture? Is it a problem that needs addressing?

Share your thoughts in the comments!

Upgrade culture is one of the topics for which we offer you a discussion forum on our free online course Impact of Technology. For educators, the course also covers how to facilitate classroom discussions about these topics, and a new course run has just begun — sign up today to take part for free!

The Impact of Technology online course is one of many courses developed by us with support from Google.



Excellent article!

One problem is phone network suppliers (such as EE and others) who let you, essentially, pay for a new phone over, say, 2 years). If you don’t upgrade after that time, they’re coining in the money because they’ve paid off the phone cost while you’re paying over the odds. So people feel pressured into upgrading at no cost to themselves.


Never get a phone+subscription bundle and avoid lock-ins for 12 or 24 months. Always get SIM plan separately from the hardware. Then you can freely keep the hardware as long as you want, and change network provider whenever you want.


For phones (at least in the US), it is particularly obnoxious because what they are getting you to do is upgrade your leased-to-own phone as soon have made enough payments to actually own it.

This keeps you making payments and keeps you subscribing to the phone company’s over priced monthly plans instead of going with one of the much more economical MVNO Plans.


The last time I upgrade was a little over 3 years ago. I had an iPhone 5 that I had taken apart to fix a few times. The battery was dying (it had swollen up to the point that the case was no longer going back together neatly, the camera (both front and back) was full of dust that couldn’t be cleaned and the final nail in the coffin was the digitizer dying (without a fall might I add). I bought a OnePlus3T. Since buying it I’ve already replaced the headphone jack and apart from the battery needing a charge twice a day (with not a huge amount of use) and becoming very slow at times and Bluetooth audio skipping, it still works well.

Personally if there was a phone that could be upgraded/repaired by the consumer or a professional it would be a boon to the industry (think of the PC industry when generic IBM compatibles were released with replaceable ram, harddrives, CPU etc.) Unfortunately the demand for cheap, thin, light pocket sized devices with all the trimmings has resulted in a less a single board design and that is not user serviceable (and in a lot of cases isn’t serviceable at all). Looking at youtube videos of professionals removing chips from iPhones using a router and replacing them is frightening at the amount of effort it takes to replace a faulty part.

I know the EU are adoping a policy on less electrical waste and (ensuring manufacturers provide replacement parts for equipment for 10+ years) but this is limited to larger devices (dishwashers, washing machines etc.). There was talk of restricting proprietary chargers and cables as they do amount to a huge amount of waste everytime somebody replaces a lost mobile device it comes with a new cable and charger, which many consumers already have, reducing the cost of the device by the price of the charger and cable would encourage users to buy the cheaper option and can optionally purchase new ones should they require them.

I also agree with Alan above that there is a pressure to upgrade you device. Marketing campaigns, annual or bi-annual releases and massive global events along with holding back features from one device to put into the next model so that it has newer marketable component. There is a peer pressure on impressionable youth to have the most up-to-date device, and much like the advertising campaigns of fast food, smoking and alcohol that are aimed at this demographic, restricting them might help but since most of these are now internet based that’s getting much harder to do. This should be the responsibility of manufacturers, however they have their own motivation and pressure from shareholders. Perhaps if they were charged for electronic waste per device (or by weight) it would encourage them to manufacture devices that at least could be resold or traded in.


These 2 things don’t make sense:

“…but a Raspbian image we release today will run on the very earliest Raspberry Pi prototypes from the summer of 2011.”


“What’s even more unusual about Raspberry Pi is that we aim to keep our products available for a long period of time. So you can’t just run a 2020 software build on a 2014 Raspberry Pi 1B+: you can actually buy a brand-new 1B+ to run it on.”


By “So you can’t just run […]” Eben means “It isn’t just that you can run […]” – a bit ambiguous, admittedly; is that the not-making-sense you meant?


“So not only can you run a 2020 software build on a 2014 Raspberry Pi 1B+: you can actually buy a brand-new 1B+ to run it on.”

I can see why the words might not read clearly for non-native speakers. If it was spoken you would hear the emphasis on “just” and it would make sense.


First, I agree with most of this this article and give props to Raspberry Pi for trying to make the OS backward compatible. The one inconsistency that really bothers me is the lack of support for Scratch. Scratch 2 never ran well on the Pi and Scratch 3 only runs on the Pi 4 with 2 GB memory so it is on longer a $35 solution to get kids building with Scratch.
We use Scratch to get kids started in coding, then we use it to move them into building circuits. We teach 1000’s of girls every year to code and build using the Pi. We’ve looked at the Pi 4 but, a 30% cost increase is really hard to deal with in a non-profit. So we are now facing lots of resistance from kids that say “wow this is a really old version of Scratch.”
By the time you build out a complete computer with the Pi it is almost the same price as a chromebook + Arduino. I’m also finding lots of companies that are giving away old laptops that are perfect for teaching.
Is anyone else feeling the market pressure to move away from Raspberry Pi?


Unfortunately, the issue with Scratch 2 and 3 is that they are designed to run as web applications, which means that packaging them as standalone Pi applications requires them to be packaged with a complete web browser. There’s very little we can do about this at Pi – the decision to make Scratch a web application was made by MIT, and to a large extent it makes sense in terms of making Scratch cross-platform and accessible to as many people as possible.


I still have a Galaxy S4. It does everything I need. All the Galaxy phones from 3 up can be made to operate on a more up-to-date operating system so there really is no need for Samsung to lock them out from updates other than to force people to buy yet another phone. If you want all the latest specs then that’s fine but many of us can’t afford to do it and companies keep pushing security as an issue. Let us have official updates and the issue of security is much reduced. Many of the security issues are software related and even if there is a problem with hardware, the software can be made to patch it. Look at how Intel rolled a fix out so it isn’t impossible.


I would love it if someone built a laptop* that had a bay/slot in the bottom where either an entire Pi, or at least a compute module could fit. Because ultimately, whilst newer laptops do tend to be lighter and thinner (which *is* nice), the only actual upgrade is performance (so CPU & RAM really). With that, I could probably live with a laptop for 10+ years… especially if the separate parts; keyboard/trackpad, screen, battery were replaceable.

*something that could be used in a business environment… so the bright-lime-green one you may be thinking of, doesn’t suit!


I’m still hoping that someone with the wherewithal will do a Pi Laptop based on Compute Module. I hear this requirement from a lot of people, but I can’t really judge if there are enough.

There are a few pi based tablets kicking around crowdfunder sites.


Upgrade? What’s that then?

My music system is a 25-30 year old Sony stack. All still working – except the cd player which has worn out! Timeously replaced by a brand new HiFiBerry DAC+ which I was lucky enough to win in the MagPi competition!

Dell laptop is 2012 vintage Vostro 1720 running Linux Mint – handy for my book writing and ripping my CD collection.

Video player is a 20 year old Sony. Dvd player is a cheap brand, about 10 years old.

Phone is a Hawei (no, I can’t spell it) P20 to replace the dead Samsung Note 3. I’ll upgrade when it dies and not before.

Etc etc.

I love tech, I hate any kind of waste. I’m fine with not having the latest version of whatever, and get really annoyed at the BBC news showing pictures of Apple fans queuing round the block to get the latest model etc. It’s just bonkers!


Still have my Samsung Galaxy note 8 and plan on keeping it at least another year, it’s a shame that it won’t receive another is update.
Apple is better at updates I’m just not a apple guy, I ditched windows for the most part and have a couple of chrome books that I will install Linux on when they stop receiving updates.
The 64k question is how to make the oems provide more then 2 max 3 os updates when they have no reason to.


In my opinion, the upgrade culture is the result of the digital revolution. We have gone through a period of rapid change to technology and have been forced to upgrade to keep up with changing society. Now Moore’s law no longer stands (perhaps a logistic model would better represent development), technology is no longer advancing rapidly and upgrades are no longer required to keep pace with society.

My last “upgrade” was a month ago, when I bought a Nexus 4 on eBay to play with Ubuntu Touch.

Consumer habits are changing. Phones are being used for longer. People are realising upgrades are not necessary. Speeding up realisation requires advertising to a less technically minded section of society who are in awe of technology. They need to be taught to purchase what they need, and not what they have been told to.

One possible method to achieve this might be to hope on to the grassroots climate change movement, promoting reuse of the mobile phone by advertising the environment cost of production of a mobile phone?


I’ve just reinstalled Raspbian on my original Raspberry Pi B (one of the very earliest ones, with just 256 MB RAM) which I use every day as a low power endpoint. It’s great that we are still seeing support for what turned out to be a very short-lived SKU nearly 8 years later.

As Eben says, this kind of dedication to customer support is really important to building loyalty. Having long-lived, well supported hardware hasn’t stopped me picking up a number of extra Raspberry Pis over the years. In fact, it has increased my faith in the brand. I was actually fortunate enough to be able to visit the Cambridge store on opening day to add to my collection, and even had the opportunity for a brief chat with the man himself.


Once I got my RPi 2B, my first RPi B sat mostly idle (disconnected), until last month when I got an HDMI projector for cheap. The lovely old RPi B is now the heartbeat of my home theater setup (OSMC), and as I type this, it’s playing “The Imitation Game” in super-widescreen on the wall.

Greetings from across the pond!


Reading this post gave me a idea. Since most cell phones run on Arm and are more powerful than Raspberry Pi1, technically the Raspbian can be made to run on these phones.

A small tweak to the hardware abstraction layer HAL and also adding support to the gsm chipset, this can add life to these devices and can get the Raspbian running on most devices. Also can be used by many hardware enthusiasts for IOT projects as a standalone edge computing device.


I feel the “upgrade culture” is mostly forced by the software “culture” nowadays and the commercial incentive to force consumers to buy more. In that aspect, Raspberry Pi did a good job to keep supporting earlier versions. Again, the problem is more on the software side. Typical reasons for people to give up working but older hardware are OS updates that new OS no longer supported on older hardware. Linux is very good on that compare to iOS, MacOS, Windows and Android. Software developers also forced to use newer systems due to the underlying libraries, languages support only given to newer versions of the OS. Users who are happy with an older version of software running on an older hardware can, in theory, froze the systems (do not actively upgrade). But that will be a difficult decision when there is a security update which typically only offered to newer versions of OS and programs.


I agree with Bert and would like to add that it is not only OS suppliers who are to blame. I like(d) to listen to radio on BBC Iplayer. Then due to Apple OS upgrade of Ipad, BBC Iplayer radio would not work with the upgrade. So the BBC produced ‘Sounds’ that would. Then they closed IPlayer radio. Result: in order to feed my appetite for BBC radio broadcasts I was ‘forced’ to buy a new Apple Ipad. The retailer told me that I was one of thousands! Shame on the BBC!


I agree with Bert too.. If they won’t upgrade the software then the device becomes insecure..Kudos to the RaspberryPi team for keeping all the devices supported and secure! I wish other vendors would do the same.


Of all the non-free operating systems you mentioned, Windows is by far the best when it comes to long-term support.


I look at mature technologies vs immature technologies.
For example, conventional watches which do generally time related stuff from a quality Swiss maker. Cost a lot of money but a person can keep one for decades, or life. Compared to an Apple watch, stuffed with digital tech, will be landfill very quickly.

Same with cameras. A decent 35mm SLR (or 120mm) camera towards the end of the 20th century was good for decades of use. A Leica M would hold its value incredibly well. Modern digital camera tech moves along quickly so that a new expensive one feels obsolete very quickly.

But the continual churn of money makes the world go round.


There are many drivers for this including a) the need for manufacturers & network providers to make money, b) the fact that some parts (such as batteries) DO fail or degrade after a while, and c) technological progress meaning you can genuinely do more with newer products.

Then there are “invented” reasons such as manufacturers’ invented features that lock you in (AirPods, incompatible chargers…) and fashion! – maybe colours or form factors. And somewhere in between the two, new apps that are part fashion, part new feature but won’t run on old software/hardware, usually for good technical or commercial reasons.

Some of these things can be improved by regulation. It would be a shame to legislate against technological progress, and probably impossible to legislate against providers making reasonable profits, but the EU has legislated to standardise chargers, and could legislate to ensure batteries are replaceable and devices are repairable by third parties.

Consumers might have a part to play as well. We have recently noticed that plastic is harming the world: perhaps we might discover that throwing away all these rare elements is bad for the environment, and vote with our money. The pace of technological change in phones is slowing down with super-expensive phones selling less well nowadays, so perhaps the fashion driver is becoming less strong and we are learning to spend our money carefully.


I have a microsoft lumia 535. I have been looking for alternative software for it but to no avail. It seems the models either side of it have options, albeit with reduced functionality. I would like to get something on there and if it had a reasonable functionality I would pay for the initial image. It would be nice to have a Pi Phone :) At the moment I just don’t want to waste a good piece of hardware. Maybe there are solutions out there I am aware of. I am aware of Lineage OS.


I worked with computers, repairing and maintaining them for 20 plus years and could never see the need to update so often as some people do. I have a 2009 tower computer and one of every raspberry pi released except the for the ‘a’ series. I am typing this on a raspberry pi 4 which is faster than my old tower but I do still use that with raspbian on it. All my raspberry pi’s are in use doing various jobs in home automation and a weather station.

I cannot see any need to update so often. I did buy a new phone 2 years ago but my old one was 6 years old and was only replaced as I dropped it and it would not work after it.

Unti it breaks or you need it to do a job why replace it.

Oliver Quinlan

In my experience obsolescence has gotten better with mobile devices. I used to be trapped in the 2 year upgrade cycle and my earlier mobile devices seemed really slow and couldn’t run up to date software by the time I hit that 2 year mark. My current OnePlus 3 has been going for over 3 years now and performance is still fine. I don’t know if this is software being made more efficient or the hardware developing to a point that it’s way beyond what is needed when the phones come out.

The problem you then run up against is repairability. The one part to really degrade on my OnePlus was the battery. I bought a replacement (£10 from eBay) and fitted it but it was much more difficult to do without damaging the phone than it should be, and I am pretty confident messing with electronics. It’s beyond the skills and confidence of the majority of consumers and it shouldn’t be. To bin all those rare metals and perfectly functional parts because a battery is past it’s useful life is awful for the environment, and for your wallet.

We need to put pressure on manufacturers to make repair of devices much more accessible. I am sceptical whether consumers can achieve this with their buying choices, it’s just too difficult to do at the moment. I think we should be pressuring governments to look at these issues and legislate to encourage responsible design around repairability and recycling.

Mac Bowley

I definitely agree, I would trade the overly sleek designs that are so popular today for a phone that I could easily repair without having to unglue all the parts of the phone to get to it.

I think that phone progress now has reached a point of minimum returns, phones now are not that much better than they were 3 years ago, and the difference is much less than if we compared the models from 3 years ago with ones 3 years younger than that.


Phones, tablets, cars. All work perfectly well, but the lease/HP end point triggers us to replace it. I have an original 16GB iPad that I got in 2010. Works perfectly. Except it doesn’t because Apple have made it effectively inoperable because of iOS upgrades, so the RAM crash scenario makes it unusable. Same with a Nokia Windows phone I had last, abandoned by the OS.

We’re told we NEED this that or the other in our lives and because our existing devices don’t accomodate it, we upgrade because we’re frightened of not being “with it” – FOMO at its very worst.

Interconnectivity everywhere. A phone to unlock our cars, make payments or turn our heating on. It’ll all come crashing down one day and we’ll be screwed.


Oh, and we’ve been hoodwinked by the motor manufacturers into thinking we need SUVs over a normal hatchback or estate. They offer no more room, worse economy and cost more than their car equivalent; it’s a lose lose. Are we really that stupid?


Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca admitted that CAFE and CARB killed the station wagon and created the SUV and minivan in the United States. The government enforces stricter fuel economy and emissions standards on cars than on trucks. When station wagons could not meet car regulations, manufacturers redesigned them as SUVs to meet the looser truck regulations. People who wanted to replace a station wagon at the end of its useful life had to settle for an SUV or minivan.

Likewise, people replaced 2G phones when cellular carriers switched off D-AMPS TDMA and cdmaOne in favor of LTE, and they are expected to replace 3G phones when cellular carriers sunset GSM, UMTS, and CDMA2000 in favor of the 5G NR stack.


Excellent article and excellent approach to engineering I love with all Raspberry Pi products. I’m still rockin’ on Nokia 5110 – for 20 years noew – and teaching children how to throw a phone on a meadow (yes, this particular one). I’ve replaced one antenna since (worn a hole in it), a LCD and two membranes. Survived circa 300-400 falls.

I’ve designed the CooliPi heatsink for Raspberry Pi 4 so that it’d last forever – no fan wearout, because the power if Raspi4 is enough for me, I can use it another 10-20 years. I love semi-industrial design. How many failed fans can it save? ;-)

Anyway, the guilty groups:

– consumers, for consuming the Earth. They’re the power which fuels this insane never ending treadmill. They don’t care about manufacturing standards, planned longevity, upgradability. They don’t care about hopeless workers jumping from rooftops onto the street (Foxconn workers et al). They just care about the same chroma saturated colours sold in a new brick. Especially the younger ones (we were the same, mind you).

– manufacturers, who create crap, but in the absence of good regulation, they win against good quality manufacturers. Crap wins. High quality products’ manufacturers need lawmaker’s help (see below). No, you won’t get the manufacturing back under free trade rules Mr. Trump. It’s all about free trade (the one U.S. used to hollow out other countries’ economies, now it’s hurting you back).

– legislators aka lawmakers, who can’t create trading categories for quality stuff. If a good product gets lost amongst the sea of (you know which country I mean) crap, the manufacturer loses. It’s not because the manufacturer is bad, lazy or whatever. It’s because the market works, but doesn’t for quality stuff if you mix trading categories in one basket.

My personal experience – If you spend 3 times more time on a good product or work, you can increase the final price barely 10-20%. And the consumer yells.

We NEED more legislated trading categories first, because conscious consumers would look into them first and get around all those half-baked crappy products.
An example of such system? What about categories designed for 2,3,4,5,10 years of lifetime? What about some tax relief for long-term supported products?

Concerning planned obsolescence, read this:

Quoting from…rminology.html

* Early life failure rate (or infant mortality): This phase is characterized by a relatively higher initial failure rate, which decreases rapidly. The failure rate during this phase is typically measured as “defective parts per million” (dppm).
* Normal life: This phase consists of a relatively constant failure rate, which remains stable over the useful lifetime of the device. The failure rate is described in units of “FITs”, or alternatively as a “Mean Time Between Failures” (MTBF) in hours.
* Wearout phase: This represents the point at which intrinsic wear-out mechanisms begin to dominate and the failure rate begins increasing exponentially. The product lifetime is typically defined as the time from initial production until the onset of wear-out.

What has happened in the industry is optimisation for “Normal life” period to fit tightly in the warranty period. After that, “Wearout phase” of multitude of components start to emerge and kill a product. It has become apparent after Chinese bought many IT divisions of western companies. The race to bottom has finally brought its fruit – 2004 notebooks survive today, >2010 notebooks die after 2 years.

So, my consclusion is that’s the consumers ( who decide to buy the cheapest s**t ) who move the momentum of an industry. And regulators too – if they don’t create trading categories for products with longer lifetimes/warranties, it all falls to the lowest common denominator – to barely survive a minimal legal warranty.
It has eroded car industry too, whatever industry next.

The simplest solution, maybe? Offer tax relief (i.e. VAT) for products based on the warranty period! The simplest solution – all that’s needed is to reward quality and tax crap.


This is a great article. I myself am someone who does not upgrade to the Latest & Greatest just because it’s there… I use my devices until there is a functional need to upgrade them, not just because there is something newer. A few years ago I remember some television manufacturers were trying to sell people on “curved screen” TVs. I was dumbfounded and truly amazed that they couldn’t come up with anything more impressive than that. It was also just a dumb idea unless you were the only one watching the TV… and yet they sold some to people who had to have the newest thing, even if it was idiotic. (My sincere apologies to anyone who bought the hype, I mean no disrespect… I’ve been bitten myself, on occasion.)

But while that motivates some folks to upgrade, there’s a deeper level that can force upgrades, and this comes from a non-consumer standpoint: manufacturing of sub-assemblies and components. For several years I designed and manufactures fuel management and level monitoring systems for bulk lubrication and fueling plants (“Tank Farms”). Often, these systems relied (at that time – I would have used Raspberry Pis had they been on my radar then!) on microcontrollers, LCD displays, and small embedded servers, along with some other modules. These made the design and implementation of my systems very easy and very inexpensive. But when it came to servicing years later, I found that many of the components that were “new to market” when I designed, had reached “End of Life” or were simply not in production any longer when I needed them, and in some instances there was nothing that would replace them effectively. This is what I call “forced obsolescence”.

This unwilling obsolescence is one reason why I am very nervous now about designing anything I want to have stick around for a long time. I am *VERY* pleased with the Raspberry Pi Foundations’ commitment to support and continuation of product. I now design and build very advanced human-mimetic robotic systems. These designs span years between iterations and I am always concerned that at some point components I have baked into my designs may no longer be available. That worry is lessened with Raspberries, but still not completely gone.

What that worry does is to keep me trying to make sure that my code and hardware are up to date (reference Python 2.7 EOL… fortunately I was already fully Python 3 by then). I also tend to buy spares up front in case I find myself in a future with hardware that will no longer support my designs, hardware with a form-factor that no longer will fit in the extensive investment I have in the physical construction of these robots, or hardware that simply ceases to exist.

I would imagine manufacturers of consumer and industrial devices must face the same issues, and this may also be part of the driving force behind the two-year upgrade cycle. A HUGE and well known electronics systems manufacturer recently had to completely redesign a telemetry system because the cell modem used in it (not a 2G/3G/4G issue, something altogether different) went out of production without warning. It cut into the company’s sales because suddenly lead times went to 12 weeks for these systems to accomodate the redesign and recertification. So no one is immune.

On the flip side of planned or forced obsolescence is intelligent obsolescence.

An example of this was Digital Equipment Corporation. They made EXTREMELY high quality computers back in their heyday, with FIFTY YEAR guarantees. The only problem is – who wants a 50 year old computer, other than a museum. Their quality made them very expensive, and as computers came to market that would only last ten years that were a quarter of the price, poor old DEC went right down the tubes.

However, there ARE systems that need to be designed to function for decades, systems that only need to perform certain dedicated functions, unattended, reliably, out-of-sight for the most part. I have automation systems at my house that take care of garden watering and a number of other small tasks like this. They were built by me nearly ten years ago now and they still work. I do have spares of critical components, which is good, because those modules are no longer in production. But once those spares are used up – if they ever are – I will either lose those automated functions, or I will have to design and build an entirely new system.

Deciding what systems need to be built to be replaced in two years, and which need to be built to be replaced in 100 requires careful thought. And as the pace of technology increases, we will eventually face a reality in which by the time a product makes it to market, it is already obsolete. What will drive consumer choices then? What will drive engineering choices then?

I certainly hope with every fiber of my being, that it is not simply profit, and that market forces don’t eventually choke off quality and advancement of technology in meaningful directions.


My last personal phone upgrade was about two years ago. Prior to that, I had been carrying the same phone literally for 10 years. Yes, it was a flip phone, and it still did a great job of making phone calls and texting. I was forced to upgrade because the local mobile carrier was bought out by a national carrier and the phone would cease to function. I replaced it with another flip phone that I like almost as well, but it is 3G, and 3G will cease to function on the Verizon network at the end of the year. I have not yet found a phone I like to replace it with.

The first smartphone I used was provided by my employer, a Droid x2. I used it until a problem with making outgoing calls made it unusable, it would take literally a minute or so to make an outbound call. I’m sure this could have been fixed by a software update or something, but by then it was an old phone and no one cared. Its replacement is a Galaxy Note 4, which still works just fine, but will probably get replaced in the future only due to lack of OS updates and software that won’t work because of it.

I place a lot of the blame on the shoulders of the manufacturers. Take a look at the top of the line phones of today (and most others), they are very clearly made to break and be un-repairable and therefore disposable. The two biggest issues with a phone not lasting a long time is the battery going bad and the screen breaking. The vast majority of smartphones being made today do not have a removable back, so replacing the battery is un-necessarily challenging and above the abilities of nearly everyone. Yes, you can take it to a store to have it replaced, but there is still the risk of breakage, not to mention the much higher price tag for something you should be able to easily do yourself. Then there are huge screens that go right to the edge. Yes, they look pretty, but that leaves no room for give if they are dropped, thus greatly increasing the likelihood of a screen getting broken. And how about those curved edges that are practically impossible to protect? I recall looking at a used Droid x2 phone some years back. It had clearly been dropped and had a dent in the plastic corner, but the screen was still just fine, because it had a bit of a plastic buffer to absorb the impact. And how about those phones with a glass back? What purpose does that serve other than to look pretty (and get covered with a case anyway!), make it more difficult to repair, and encourage replacement when it breaks? And when a screen does break, they are usually more costly to repair than getting the latest phone on another payment plan. It amazes me that no one seems bothered by these issues! Then the other issue is software and updates – after two years or so they are no more and if you keep using an otherwise perfectly good phone, you could be at risk due to security flaws. Why can’t these phones run a more generic operating system (think generic Linux or Windows or even vanilla Android) that isn’t reliant on the carrier to provide an update? And then of course there is the issue of carrier lock-in, precious few phones can be changed from one carrier to another, so a new phone is required if you wish to change.

In the early days of smartphones, the technology was advancing so rapidly that after two years or so, an older phone was struggling to work as well. New phone models were a huge advancement from the prior ones. Today, the changes are quite small and I don’t see hardly anyone getting excited about the latest model. I think for the most part, our consumption habits are no longer the issue, outside of our hands being forced due things just noted.

I’m honestly not sure how you fix the problem. I suppose you could legislate replaceable batteries, well-protected screens, and longer software update periods, but I don’t think most people (myself included) would be too interested in such a heavy-handed and limiting approach. Education of the issue (great job of starting the conversation by the way!) is certainly a good starting point, but the problem is that as a consumer, I just don’t have any good options available that avoid the issues I’ve just preached from my soapbox about.


I place the guilt on shoulders of all three groups – see my previous post – consumers, manufacturers and the legislators. Each of them can do something to alleviate the problem – something the other groups can’t do efficiently.

Consumers DON’T have to buy. They can reject some product for any reason. They can boycott it. Say some device, or even a manufacturer who consistently delivers bad quality, bad software, backdoors etc.

Commercial manufacturers are FORCED to create profit, at least here – it’s their sole reason of existence. No word of quality in our laws, just this. This means – create profit or die. Only a handful of companies will survive in a global free trade system – without borders.

U.S. president Trump is trying to break down free trade (the one U.S. used to destroy other states’ economies) and even force a state-run boycott (see Huawei cause). This is not because of this and that, but merely because “they” got better and could grab the market share.

Legislators can use many instruments to shape the market. They also have the unique position to enforce some policy on manufacturers. The trading embargo, state coordinated defamation campaigns and selective tariffs are a bad example – an example of protectionism. But there are more fair policies, agnostic to where it came from – taxing some aspects of the products sold. My proposal – tax alleviation based on warranty period – would work without some drastic measures. Some other examples may be recycling taxes – if these were high, it’d be cheaper to buy durable products.

The most fair scheme – between the customers and manufacturers – would be something like this:
A manufacturer could gain extra money for saving our environment, based on operational lifetime of the device sold. It wouldn’t be practically realisable, but imagine the manufacturer gets some small fee every day the device works and therefore saves a customer from buying some other one. This could theoretically work for all the goods – you’d buy not the product itself, but also some type of warranty. If the product was manufactured to last, its respective manufacturer should get awarded with some percentage of the price of saved resources.

This is just a theoretical concept – a description of a problem’s fair solution – which could stop the manufacturers exodus. In practice, it wouldn’t be enforceable – so we should seek the next solution which works out of the box, using existing instruments, both legal and financial. The VAT alleviance I’ve proposed earlier is an example of a practical implementation. It wouldn’t work for super high end stuff – because it costs a lot, won’t sell a lot and VAT alleviance wouldn’t be enough. An example could be some extra durable stuff, designed to last. Guess what I’m talking about … from my own personal experience (as a manufacturer).

What can the consumers do? Don’t consume, read about it before you buy, make personal judgement. Try to calculate long term costs. For example, for how long you’re guaranteed to get updates to software. Because that’s a super big portion of the device’s long term usability. Whether the software is opensource, allowing to fix problems.

Regarding Raspberry Pi, I value it super high, because it has great value, long term support, is open source and it’s cheap. All of this is partly possible because it’s designed by a charity, and mostly that it’s run by a group of great, enthusiastic people. Thanks !


A boycott of one or two manufacturers doesn’t work so well if all manufacturers “consistently deliver[] bad quality, bad software, backdoors etc.” Consumers can’t just boycott smartphones entirely for two reasons: needing a mobile phone for work or to arrange rides to and from work, and “Verify your mobile phone number” roadblocks on websites used for work or to find work, ostensibly for 2-factor authentication and/or fraud prevention.


I agree with a lot of what was said already, especially the points about technology maturity.

I run a convention registration system for a gaming con that gets around 1800 people. When the first Pis came out, I fell upon them with glad cries of glee and promptly tested one to see if it could be used as “workstation” to enter at-the-door registrations. The answer was, yes, it could. So I fairly promptly (there are plenty of people who recall the early supply as distribution issues…) got 5 more and had them operational at the con in Feb. 2013.

I was getting ready to update them to Model B+ Pis, not because of general capability, but because the power issues around hot-swapping USB devices had been sorted out. About the time I was ready to start buying them, the Pi2B came out. So I shrugged and went with the Pi2Bs. Those are still in use. While I’ve considered upgrading them to Pi2Bv1.2 boards, I haven’t done so. The one thing that would probably push me into an upgrade would be a BCM2711 version of the Pi2B, call it a Pi2Bv1.4, with 2GB RAM and–the more critical point–Ethernet not running through the USB hub (the GbE would be nice, as well).

The “back end” has been a bit more complex, even through less hardware change. Prior to cheap SBCs, it was a system I built in the Fall of 2002. It weighs 40 pounds. Dual Opteron-240, 2GB ECC RAM, 3 10Krpm 36GB WD Raptor drives. It cost $2000 to build and it runs on SuSE 9.2 (the first 64-bit distro commercially available). The initial replacement of that system was a pair of Cubieboards with 60GB SSDs. That was in 2013. The choice of the Cubieboards was because they have a SATA-II port on board. One of them was replaced about a year later with a Cubieboard 2 (dual core, woohoo!).

This year–after the con that starts in less than two weeks–I’m going to replace the Cubieboards with Pi4B4s. This is because the Pi has matured to the point of having fast enough I/O–in the form of USB 3–with Ethernet separated from the USB hub as a nice addition. (Those with long memories will probably recall any number posts of mine on the subject “future Pis” calling for faster I/O. This is why.)

I cannot think of any feature that could be added in the future that would drive replacing Pi4Bs for this. The Pi4B, at least in this instance, is now a “mature” technology.

This is not to say that there aren’t upgrades to Pis that might tempt me to upgrade (running cooler would head the list), but nothing that would make me say that they *must* be upgraded.

As for phones, I do not now, nor ever have owned a “smart phone.” I refer to my flip phone as a “dumb phone”. The only thing I can think of that would tempt me to get a smart phone would be to use it as a PDA, and nearly any phone from the last 5 to 8 years could do that with the greatest of ease.


You sound like a candidate for a Planet Gemini or Cosmo running Sailfish OS. A PDA with a Psion keyboard, that works well as a phone too. (They come with Android installed, but Sailfish is a proper linux and doesn’t leak all your private information to Google.)


I’m the last person to update anything. Why fix what isn’t broken? I have yet to set up my Raspi4 since my Raspi0 works just fine. :)
I’ll set it up soon since I’ll need it fir my YouTube videos. But I’m not in a hurry.


Hi Mac and Eben!

Well what a coincidence – yesterday afternoon I sent a question to you on this very subject! :D
I asked “I’ve been trying to find information about the supply chain for the Raspberry Pi and official accessories but I’ve been struggling. I’m interested to know if you use conflict-free, fairtrade or recycled materials in their manufacture and how it is ensured that the people involved in the whole supply chain earn a living wage.
For your information, I’m a hobbyist with an interest in sustainability and as far as I know the “gold standard” for ethical sourcing of electronics is done by Fairphone, if that helps you understand why I’m asking.”

So, can you give more detail on this? You mention raw materials a little bit above, but can you give more specifics? Have you investigated how much extra it would add to the cost of your products to use Fairtrade gold, for example? What about fair wages? The reply I got to my email said that all material sourcing needs to meet Sony’s green procurement rules but they only address harmful substances, not the ethical sourcing of the required raw materials.

Basically, I want an excuse to buy more Raspberry Pi gear and if I knew that you were doing as much as Fairphone to ensure your supply chain was fair, ethical and limiting environmental impact as far as reasonably practicable, then that would be all the excuse I would need! ;)

To answer your questions:

When was the last time you upgraded?
– My phone? Two years ago. My laptop, well I never did, I just used my wife’s instead which was bought refurbished 3-4 years ago. My desktop was first built >10 years ago and last got upgraded ~3 years ago, but all upgrades for the past few years have been secondhand or refurbished.

What were your reasons at the time?
– Phone, irrepairable* failure of the previous one which was 4-5 years old and had been repaired a few times already. Laptop, irrepairable* failure of the previous one. My desktop upgrades were performance and capacity upgrades. *Replacing the mainboard would have fixed these problems, but finding reasonably priced secondhand ones took too long.

Do you think upgrade culture should be addressed by mobile phone manufacturers and providers, or is it caused by our own consumption habits?
– It is caused by our own habits, but it is not helped by the current design trends of mobile phones. My current phone is basically glued together whereas my previous one (Nokia Lumia) was clipped and screwed together and with the right screwdrivers fairly easy to disassemble.

How might we address upgrade culture? Is it a problem that needs addressing?
– There are three ways to address upgrade culture in my opinion: 1) Make it easier for owners to disassemble and replace parts themselves, 2) Make spare parts available widely and for a suitable price, 3) Provide long term software support *or* the ability to easily replace the software with something else if the owner wants to.

So, where is this leading? Should we expect a first-party Pi-Phone in the near future? :D

Will :)


After 12 years of service, I’ve recently upgraded from a Windows 7 laptop to a Raspberry Pi 4; doing so only because Win7 is no longer supported by Microsoft.


I totally agree with your comments about upgrading electronic devices. They chime with articles and reviews in Nov/Dec issue of Ethical Consumer, where repairability is also flagged up as an issue. Fair phone 3 is applauded for, in addition to addressing issues associated with sustainability addressed in your article, including a screwdriver tool to replace spare parts available on the company website.


For me, devices suffer from software obsolescence more than hardware. For example, my Nexus 5 last received an update in October 2016. It was launched just three years prior to that (march 2013), which doesn’t seem very long. For the money, I don’t need Google to support it indefinitely but at least enable others to do so. Samsung are particularly bad at this: typically you will get just one OS update, which is why I avoid their products.

Having said that, faster hardware with more storage and features can be valid motivators. The fingerprint sensor makes authentication simple and fairly secure. I now try to sell my old gear rather than have sit in a draw / landfill. Anyone want a Nokia 770 ;-) ?


I’ll be that “friend/colleague/family member who swears by their five year old mobile phone”, since mine is a 2014 Samsung Galaxy S5 mini that a colleague was upgrading after two years of use and happy to give me. Not only does it “still function and be just as effective as it was when it came out of the box”, it’s superior to pretty much every new equivalent on account of being small enough to actually fit in my pockets and being IP67.
It’s one of the last, however, to have a back that pops off and lets me drop in a replacement battery – it’s on its third battery. Making batteries effectively impossible to replace (or making it more expensive to replace the battery than buy a new phone) is the most obivous planned obsolescence, surely?


Ever since my family started having cell phones, we’ve usually only upgraded when the phones were showing their (age 3-4 years). For smartphones, the automatic software updates gradually fill the memory to where space for pictures and apps becomes less available – but the phones still work as long as you manage how many pictures you store on it! I’m pushing close to 5 years with a Motorola phone from Virgin Mobile and they harass me to upgrade.


I had to upgrade my wife’s computer to get windows 10 for work. It breaks my heart that the upgrade was software driven. Her old machine now runs Linux Mint as a spare for me.
I remember buying trash PCs from Goodwill and installing Ubuntu on them to make a valid working PC out of a throw away.


I’m still using my 6 year old Nexus 5 phone. It replaced a perfectly good HTC phone 3 or 4 years old which started misbehaving (crashing when address book used) randomly about a year after I rooted it to enable the Titanium backup app. I probably could have installed a fresh ROM but haven’t had the energy or time to find & wade through all I’d need to know. Of course, I only ever pay cash and use SIM only subscriptions.

Am very keen on making things last. It’s why I use & prefer older Lenovo ThinkPad laptops. You can get them for very little and they last and last. My X200 is on its 3rd fan, 3rd hard drive and 2nd keyboard. I have several Pi computers and w no moving parts expect they’ll last a very long time.

Upgrade culture will not be addressed by manufacturers and probably not by consumers, except in a recession. The best approach is, I think, legislation to incentivise incremental change. Such as charging for disposal / recycling, taxing the use of non-recycled scarce elements, requiring a standard charger, outlawing efforts to prevent servicing by 3rd parties or consumers, as well as constraining the practice of deliberate obsolescence (by, eg, refusing to provide software updates so as to make a product no longer safe to use).

I stopped using commercial software and enjoy great peace of mind from the fantastic simplicity of combined OS and software updates with Linux (Mint in my case). It goes on getting better year after year at no cost, though I donate every month and enjoy doing so. I would CERTAINLY be willing to subscribe to an open source hardware project that provided an option to purchase or exchange recyclable products at intervals. And that is something legislation could help enable too.


I personally like to name the culprits (*Apple*) who have created an entire developer infrastructure which forces 5-year-old computers, phones and iPads into early retirement since they won’t allow updates. Newer Xcode versions simply won’t allow a developer to compile/sign an app which will work on earlier devices; they must choose between new and old support (and must compromise by participating in this forced-retirement scheme). An “older” iPhone still has beefy specs and could in theory be converted into an IoT device if it weren’t otherwise tightly controlled by Apple.


Nice topic. I would argue that it might be better to reduce your lifespan for your products to match your business market. It is again SBC and for consumers and only for education. Most of the vendors i have seen (cisco, dell, emc, netapp, huawei….. Etc) stops selling the same product within 7 years (EOS). It seems that you exceeded this for consumers products and you still maintain your productiin lines and agreements with manufacturers. It might affect you from fast development. I can see it clearly from the competition. It was only you when i purchase my first Pi maybe in 2015 or 2016. Now there are many many more. Of course it is natural to have more now but it seems you give them a lot of space for competition.


I’m a ‘stickler’ and proud of it – so I don’t mind admitting that I only upgraded my phone about six months ago after I dropped my ancient S3 Mini one more time than it could stand and now have a second hand S7 (with a better case). At home my workstation is over five years old, my file server is about three times older than that, and I have had my calculator since it was new in 1977! It isn’t that I don’t like spending some serious money on technology, I just don’t like doing so very often.

Shorter release cycles and product life times isn’t just restricted to computers, but I don’t think this is the suppliers fault as they are just doing what they need to do in order to stay competitive.

The difficulty we have in recycling old technology means that I think the upgrade cycle is a problem. Devices need to be easier to fix and supported for longer but I don’t think that this is going to change unless we change the way we behave, and I also think it means that we are going to have to fundamentally alter the way we measure success and reward it.

Manufactures will only do the ‘right thing’ if it is the right thing for them to do in order to compete successfully and be profitable.


I’ll just leave this here:
Plastic Pollution : What are the sustainable alternatives?
From the YouTube channel Just Have a Think
The video also includes alternatives for single-use packaging plastic.


For as long as the hardware works it should be supported by the developer/manufacturer! Without mentioning names, I had a laptop that was still going strong after 10 years, but I couldn’t get the battery anymore. While 10 years might not be a bad milestone to upgrade I really didn’t have to if I could have still gotten a replacement battery. I mean hardware lifespan is something companies should be bragging about and thriving to improve on to outshine the competition. Be proud you still support that 5-10 year old hardware. We should be giving out awards for this kind of support! Lean consumers towards longest lasting hardware and supported technologies.

I would go as far to say that it should be illegal to cease hardware support if the hardware, in large parts, still works. Same for software developers actually; from my POV they’re in the same basket. No longer supported software ever force you to upgrade the hardware so you can get the new software to continue your work? We’re being robbed of the use of our own, paid for, devices & software by unethical policies. They’re literally taking them away without physically stepping into our homes. Terms need to be redefined and new laws to enforce them.

Quite a world I’ve dreamt up here. I know it’s a tall order, but not impossible. Thanks raspberrypi for taking the higher road!!!


. I love technology, but you only need to upgrade if it gives you something that your old device doesn’t.
. You are forced to upgrade when manufactures/ software stop updates and stop the functionality or your existing device. Eg. my iPhone2 won’t run software because it is frozen with os3…windowsxp..7 etc.
. You are coerced to want, when you don’t need it through your subconscious, –their marketing.
. Solve the materials by recycling the old machines/batteries.
. Upgrade batteries, not the machines for energy efficiency.


Speaking of planned obsolescence, one question I’ve had for a little while (but haven’t been able to find answers for online): what dictates the Raspberry Pi foundation’s Obsolescence Statement which says various Raspberry Pi models, “will remain in production until at least January 2026”?

I’m super stoked that each board has such a long life cycle (the Raspberry Pi 1 Model B+ clocks in at an impressive 11 1/2 year lifespan!), but have mainly been curious: is there a specific reason that particular date was chosen?


It’s the worst case of all of the current availability guarantees of all of the major components on the board. It doesn’t mean we’ll definitely EOL anything then, but that’s the furthest in the future we’re able to see component availability, so that’s what dictates the date in the statement.


Good to know! Thanks so much for the info, Liz! :)


If for some reason we are upgrading and have any old models. Do you have recommend place to donate them to or a recycling scheme where any money goes back in too the foundation?


We looked into that, but it was so expensive and complicated to administer that it didn’t make sense for the charity to set up a scheme like that. Instead we recommend you donate any old hardware to a school or a kid you know who you think would get a kick out of it!


My experience: I wanted to keep my iPhone 5S, but the problem was the 16 GB of capacity. The same apps I had from the first day, grew in dimensions update after update.
So, app developers in my case decided a 16 GB device was obsolete.

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