Apple is finally ready to put down two of its venerable and well loved products: the old-school Thunderbolt display and the first generation of the iPad Air. It’s been a good and unusually long run, but soon users won’t be able to look to Apple for any fixes or repairs on the ageing tech.
MacRumors reported Tuesday based on a leaked internal memo that, by the end of this month, both the Thunderbolt Display and the original iPad Air are being truly put out to pasture. Being declared “obsolete” means users can no longer bring them in to Apple Stores for repairs or service. Currently, the iPad Air — along with the Air 2 — sit on Apple’s Vintage list. This means they have been on sale for more than five and less than seven years, though they can still receive support from Apple or registered service providers.
Both the Thunderbolt and iPad Air were discontinued in 2016. Apple’s support page says products are usually “considered obsolete” once Apple has stopped selling and distributing them for more than seven years. The original iPad Air released in 2013 and sported an embedded M7 Motion chip and a Retina Display (a marketing term for a display that isn’t supposed to have visible pixels). It was a solid choice at the time, being far more lightweight than MacBooks while still having a surprising amount of power (a theme that continues with Apple’s other Air products). The latest version of the iPad Air, which came out in 2022, now supports Apple’s own M1 chip and optional 5G support. It’s an open question whether we’ll see an iPad Air 6 this year, though Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman said we likely won’t see anything more than a spec bump if so.
Why the Airs lasted longer on Vintage than the specified expiration date remains unclear, though Apple has been known to bend the rules for many of its more popular products. For instance, the Cupertino company only stopped selling the iPod Touch in 2022. The fourth generation Touch model still remains on the vintage list despite being released in 2010.
The original 27-inch Thunderbolt Display, first released in 2011, was Apple’s last major external monitor for years before the company released its Studio Display line. Thunderbolt Displays were discontinued in 2016 after a long drought of monitors for sale, which seems to be a theme with Apple as the company has not released a new iMac in a while as well.
The Studio Display is also 27 inches but supports a 5K Retina display and costs near $500 more than the original Thunderbolt did when it was first released. Sometimes, staring at those prices makes one nostalgic for some of the devices now being led to the bargain bin of history.