Can You Downgrade From iOS 7?

iOS 7
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Do you hate the iOS 7 upgrade and wish you could downgrade your iPhone back to iOS 6? You're not alone.

Millions of people quickly upgraded to iOS 7 after Apple released it. Many of them were thrilled by the new features and new design. Another group, however, hated the major changes — a new interface and apps — that came with the upgrade. For those in the group that's unhappy with iOS 7, you may be wondering if there's a way to uninstall iOS 7 and downgrade to iOS 6.

Unfortunately, for the average user, there is no way to downgrade from iOS 7.

Technically a downgrade is possible — it's covered later in this article — but it's pretty difficult and requires serious technical skill.

Why You Can't Downgrade from iOS 7

To understand why there's no easy way to downgrade from iOS 7 to iOS 6, you need to understand how Apple releases the iOS.

When you install a new version of the iOS — whether that's a major upgrade like iOS 7 or a minor update like iOS 6.0.2 — your device connects to Apple's servers. It does this to check to make sure that the OS you're installing is "signed" by Apple (many other companies use a similar process). This is a very important step. It ensures that you're installing a legitimate, official, secure version of the iOS and not something that is malfunctioning or that has been tampered with by hackers. If Apple's servers confirm that the version you're installing is signed, the upgrade continues. If not, the installation is blocked.

The key thing here is that if Apple stops signing a given version of the iOS, you won't be able to install the unsigned versions. That's what the company has done with iOS 6.

Whenever the company releases a major new version of the OS, Apple continues to sign the previous version for a short period of time to allow people to downgrade if they want to. In this case, Apple signed both iOS 7 and iOS 6 for a little while, but stopped signing iOS 6 in Sept. 2013. This means that you can't install iOS 6 any longer on any devices because Apple's servers will block the install when your device checks with them.

What About Jailbreaking?

But what about jailbreaking, some of you may be asking. If my device is jailbroken, can I downgrade? The quick answer is yes, but the longer and more accurate answer is that it's pretty difficult.

If your phone is jailbroken, it's possible to restore to older versions of the iOS no longer signed by Apple. But it's only possible in the somewhat rare situation that you've backed up something called SHSH blobs for the OS you want to go back to.

I'll spare you the full nitty gritty on what this means (this site has a detailed technical explanation of SHSH blobs and the downgrade process), but SHSH blobs are pieces of code are related to signing the OS. If you have them, you can essentially trick your iPhone into running code that's no longer signed by Apple. 

But there's a catch: you need to have saved your SHSH blobs from the version of the iOS you want to downgrade to before Apple stopped signing it. If you don't have that, downgrading is pretty much impossible. So, unless you saved your SHSH blobs before upgrading to iOS 7, or can find a reliable source to get them, you can't go back. 

Why You Should Stick with iOS 7

As you can see, if you're on iOS 7 and don't like it, there's not much that can be done. That said, people often object to the idea of change more than the change itself. Give things some time: iOS 7 is a big change from iOS 6 and will take some getting used to. You may find that after a few months that the things you don't like about it now are familiar and no longer bother you.

That may be especially true with some of the major new features introduced in iOS 7, including Control Center, Activation Lock, and AirDrop. It also fixed a ton of bug and added more security features.