Here’s what iPad upgraders are doing with their old iPads, instead of trading them in

An iPad sat on a white table acting as a digital photo frame
(Image credit: Future)

The new iPad Pro (2024) and iPad Air 6 landed just two weeks ago, which means many people will soon be wondering to what to do with their old tablets. Well, some new data has revealed what most iPad owners do in that situation – and surprisingly, the vast majority hang onto their Apple slates.

A new report from the Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP), which tracks the behavior of repeat iPad buyers in the twelve months up to the end of March 2024, reveals that a whopping 67% of iPad owners kept their old tablet rather than trading them in.

Within that 67% group, the report found that 31% gave their old iPad to a friend or family member, highlighting the longevity of Apple's tablets and their potential for reuse. That's also very different from iPhone owners – in the same period, only 11% of iPhone owners gave their old phones to family or friends.

The other big difference between iPad and iPhone owners is the number who trade in their old device when upgrading. For iPad owners, just 6% take advantage of Apple Trade In or other resale sites, compared to 42% of iPhone upgraders.

A graph showing what people do with their old iPad and iPhones

The new data from CIRP (above) shows the surprising differences between what people do with old iPads compared to iPhones. (Image credit: CIRP)

This suggests that iPad owners are holding onto their devices for longer, leaving them with a negligible resale value. Or it simply shows that you can do more with an old iPad than you can with an iPhone. 

While most iPad owners either kept their tablet or treated it as a hand-me-down, a significant chunk (23%) were also forced to upgrade because their iPad was either lost, stolen, or broken. That's a slight surprise given that the equivalent figure for iPhone owners is just 6%, but iPads do have more screen real estate for you to crack or break accidentally.

What can you do with an old iPad?

An iPad screen showing a grid of photos in the Photos app

It's possible to turn an old iPad into a digital photo frame, using a combination of accessibility settings and the Photos app (above). (Image credit: Future)

If 67% of iPad owners keep or pass their old tablet on to friends and family, what exactly are they doing with them?

For many, old iPads will simply become travel TVs, gaming devices, or e-readers. Or if they're really old models, others may sadly become expensive drinks trays. The original iPad Air, for example, may still look relatively modern for a ten-year-old tablet, but Apple stopped supporting it in 2019. It's stuck on iOS 12, which most app developers subsequently stopped supporting.

But if you have a more recent iPad, you can do more interesting and creative things with it. One option is to turn your iPad into a digital photo frame, which can be achieved by fiddling with its settings (for example, switching the 'Auto-Lock' mode to 'Never') and using the Photos app.

If you do want to continue using an old iPad, it's important to keep an eye out for important security updates, as Apple still occasionally pushes out patches for devices that are close to a decade old. 

But whether you're buying one of the best iPads new or keeping an eye out for second-hand iPad Pro bargains, there's certainly a lot you can do with your old tablet. Another popular option is turning it into a digital recipe book (with added Facetime) for your kitchen.

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Mark Wilson
Senior news editor

Mark is TechRadar's Senior news editor. Having worked in tech journalism for a ludicrous 17 years, Mark is now attempting to break the world record for the number of camera bags hoarded by one person. He was previously Cameras Editor at both TechRadar and Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine. As a freelancer, he's contributed to titles including The Sunday Times, FourFourTwo and Arena. And in a former life, he also won The Daily Telegraph's Young Sportswriter of the Year. But that was before he discovered the strange joys of getting up at 4am for a photo shoot in London's Square Mile.