Phone users being put at risk due to poor support

mobile phone
(Image credit: Shutterstock / ImYanis)

Phone users across the UK are unknowingly putting themselves at risk by using unsupported or insecure mobile devices, new research has said.

A study of more than 15,000 Which? members found that many users keep their phones for up to six years, despite most manufacturers not being able to fully guarantee software and security support for this period.

Some brands are only able to offer support for around two years, meaning users could be leaving themselves at risk of attack.

Phone support

In its study, Which? looked to calculate the ‘estimated lifetime’ of popular tech,based on the age of respondents’ current working mobile phones and how long they kept their previous one for.

It found huge gaps between the length of time people are holding on to their phones and the duration of security updates provided by manufacturers. 

Overall, handsets from brands including Apple, Samsung and Huawei were found to be capable of lasting six years or more before needing to be replaced due due to faults or issues with performance. 

Over a third (35%) of Apple users replaced their device before four years of use, however 49% of Google users did so, along with 45% of Samsung users and 72% of Huawei users.

However while Apple provides software support for five or six years, some Android brands only offer these vital updates for two or three years. This could mean many users are unaware their device may be lacking the proper protection, particularly if buying and using a refurbished or second-hand device.

Which? found that only a handful (7%) of users reported a lack of ongoing support as the reason they had replaced their phone. 

“Expensive hardware should be built to last and while our research shows that mobile phones have the potential to last longer, millions of users continue to be at risk of serious consequences without manufacturers doing the right thing when it comes to security support," said Kate Bevan, Which? Computing editor.

“Which? is calling for manufacturers to be clear about what customers can expect when it comes to the lifespan of their products. The government’s security legislation and mandated transparency will go some way to tackle digital obsolescence but more needs to be done."

Mike Moore
Deputy Editor, TechRadar Pro

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.