How to Improve Security on iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch

How to get the new iOS update for older Apple devices

What to Know

  • Turn on Wi-Fi and tap Settings > General > Software Update to install the iOS 12.5.4 update.
  • iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air, iPad mini 2, iPad mini 3, and iPod touch (6th gen) can get the iOS 12.5.4 update.
  • The iOS 12.5.4 update contains important fixes for three security issues.

This guide will walk you through the steps for how to update your old Apple device, what models can get the update, and what to do if the update isn’t available.

How to Install the iOS 12.5.4 Update on Your iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch

Apple released the iOS 12.5.4 update in mid-2021 for some older iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch models to fix three security issues that could give other parties access to a device.

Here's what you need to do to install the iOS 12.5.4 update on your old iPod touch, iPad, or iPhone.

  1. Plug your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad into a power source and turn on its Wi-Fi.

    The battery in older Apple devices can run out of power faster than newer models. If this happens during an update, the device could become damaged so make sure it remains plugged in for the entire process.

  2. Open Settings.

  3. Tap General, then tap Sofware Update.

    iOS 12.5.4 update being installed on iPod touch with Wi-Fi, General, and Software Update highlighted
  4. Your device will automatically connect to Apple’s servers and check for an update.

    Tap Automatic Updates to enable your device to download and install new iOS or iPadOS updates automatically in the background from now on.

  5. Tap Download and Install once the option appears.

    Depending on your device’s model, you may be prompted to install an even newer update. If this happens, this is a good thing as it means that you can now get even more security and feature improvements.

  6. When prompted, tap Install Now.

    The installation process could take anywhere from several minutes to over an hour depending on your internet speed.

    iOS 12.5.4 update being installed on iPod touch with "Download and Install" and "Install Now" highlighted

Which Apple Devices Can Get the iOS 12.5.4 Update?

Apple’s iOS 12.5.4 operating system update is available for iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus iPhone models, iPad Air, iPad mini 2, and iPad mini 3 iPad models, and 6th generation iPod touch devices.

If you haven’t updated your iPhone in a while and it’s an iPhone SE, iPhone 6S, or higher, you may receive an update prompt for a much newer operating system such as iOS 14. 7th generation iPod touch devices are also compatible with iOS 14 and will likely receive this update as well.

iPad tablets that are newer than the iPad models listed above will receive a notification for an update to either iPadOS 13 or 14.

Is My iPhone Too Old to Update?

The best thing to do if you’re unsure if your old iPhone can get a new update is to do an update check via the above process. If you know your iPhone’s model number, you can also see if it’s on the list of supported devices for iOS 13, iOS 14, and iOS 15.

Does Apple Update Older iPads?

Apple does keep older models updated for several years. As of 2021, Apple was still updating some iPads from 2015.

Apple’s iPad Air, iPad mini 2, and iPad mini 3 iPad models can receive this new iOS 12.5.4 update. It’s unlikely that they’ll receive any major operating system updates in the future.

While some iPads may no longer get operating system updates, some apps can still update on older devices. Many features will also still work for years to come.

Older iPad models that came out before the iPad Air, iPad mini 2, and iPad mini 3 are no longer receiving updates while newer models will be eligible for updates to iPadOS 13, iPadOS 14, or iPadOS 15.

The easiest way to check if an update is available for your iPad is to check via the update steps shown at the top of this page.

iOS 12.5.4: Why You Should Update Your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad

Updating your device to iOS 12.5.4, if possible, is incredibly important as it fixes three main security flaws relating to memory corruption and management that could potentially allow other parties to remotely run commands and execute code.

Even if you don’t connect to the internet that often, this new iOS update should still be installed, as your device may already be affected by these exploits.

What to Do if You Can't Update Your Apple Device

If your Apple device doesn’t support the iOS 12.5.4 update and can’t be upgraded to another newer operating system, it’s important to understand that it currently lacks the higher level of security protection offered on newer iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch models.

If you have an old iPhone, talk to your carrier. They may be able to give you a newer model at a discount or even for free if you’ve been a customer for a while.

The best strategy in this situation is to limit when you connect the device to the internet to when you need to update apps or download media files. This can be done by turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth or by turning on Airplane Mode.

FAQ
  • How can I improve my iPhone security?

    Some general ways to improve your iPhone security include setting up a passcode on your iPhone, making sure to use Face ID or Touch ID if your device supports it, and enabling Find My iPhone so you can track your device using its built-in GPS. Also, go to your iPhone Settings and select Privacy to set privacy levels for your installed apps. For enhanced security, consider setting set up VPN access on your iPhone either manually via Settings or with a VPN app.

  • How long does Apple give iPhones security updates?

    Historically, Apple has done a good job keeping its older devices included with updates. For example, iOS 15 benefits the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, which originally shipped with iOS 9, meaning these models will see seven iOS versions. (These older devices won't be able to take advantage of all the new iOS 15 features, however). The iPhone 8, which shipped with iOS 11, sees its fifth iOS iteration with iOS 15. The iOS 12.5.4 update, described above, is another example of Apple keeping older devices in the update loop.

  • What is the Apple Security Alert?

    The "Apple Security Alert" is a scam, and it has nothing to do with Apple. It's a fake pop-up alert Mac and iOS users may encounter after visiting a malicious website. It informs you that you've been hacked, your privacy is at risk, and says you should should call a specified Apple Support number immediately. This is a fake error message designed to trick unwitting users out of their money. To get rid of the "Apple Security Alert" try clearing your Safari browser history and data, opt to block pop-ups, and enable fraudulent website warnings.

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