How to Update iOS Wirelessly on the iPhone

You don't need a computer to update your iPhone

iOS update on iPhone

Each new version of iOS — the operating system that runs the iPhone — brings new features, bug fixes, and exciting changes to what your phone can do and how you use it. Upgrading to a new version of the iOS used to mean that you had to be in front of your computer, had to connect your iOS device to it, download the update to your computer, and then install the update by syncing with iTunes. Not anymore. These days, you can install iOS updates wirelessly (a technique known as over-the-air, or OTA, updating).

Because the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad all run iOS, these instructions also apply to those devices.

How to Update iOS Wirelessly on the iPhone

Before you begin an update, back up of your data to iCloud or iTunes just in case something goes wrong with the upgrade and you need to restore your phone.

Connect to a Wi-Fi network. While you could download an update over a cellular network, the updates are so big (often 1GB or more) that you'll wait a long time and eat up a ton of your monthly wireless data. Wi-Fi is much easier and faster. Just make sure the iPhone's battery is charged. The download and installation process takes time, so if you have less than 50 percent battery, charge up the battery before you update.

When you are ready:

  1. Tap the Settings app on your iPhone's Home screen.

  2. Scroll down to General and tap it.

  3. Tap Software Update. Your device checks to see whether there's an update. If there is, it reports what it is and what the update adds to your device. Tap the Download and Install button to begin installing the iPhone software update.

    Locating software updates
  4. If you protect your phone with a passcode, enter it to begin the download. You'll see a blue progress bar moving across the screen. When the download is complete, choose to install the update either now or later.

  5. Tap Install Now. The screen goes dark and then displays the Apple logo. A progress bar shows the status of the update. When the iOS update finishes, your iPhone restarts and displays a completion notice.

    Installing software update wirelessly on the iPhone

Tips for iOS Upgrade

Your iPhone lets you know when there's an update even if you don't check for it. If you see a red 1 icon on the Settings app on your home screen, that means there's an iOS update available. You may also receive a push notification.

You may not have enough empty storage space available on your device to install the update. If you're in that situation, read how to update iPhone when you don't have enough room for tips on how to fix this situation.

If something goes wrong with the installation, you have two options for fixing things: Recovery Mode or (if things go badly) DFU Mode. Another result of a failed upgrade is a white screen of death.