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How to fix an Apple iPhone XR that cannot download and install OTA update, unable to update iOS [Troubleshooting Guide]

Updating wirelessly is supposed to be done by a few screen taps but due to certain factors such simple things become a bit more complicated. A common reason why a smartphone won’t and can’t install new updates is because of insufficient storage space. It’s the same thing when downloading new apps and contents. Updates, particularly major iOS versions usually come in huge file sizes and that also denotes the need for more storage from the receiving device.

Another factor that can cause update download and installation to fail is a slow or no Internet connection on the phone. If you’re attempting to update your phone wirelessly, then a fast and stable Wi-Fi internet connection would be necessary. In case you would bump into some trouble while trying to update your iPhone wirelessly, I’ve mapped out some helpful workarounds that you can use to troubleshoot software problems and network errors that might have halted the process. Read on to learn what to do if you cannot download and install OTA update on your iPhone XR.

If you have other problems however, visit our troubleshooting page as we’ve already addressed some of the most common issues with this device. Browse through the page to find issues that are similar with yours and feel free to use the solutions we suggested. If you still need our help, fill up our questionnaire and hit submit to contact us.

First solution: Reboot your iPhone (soft reset).

Minor software glitches on the phone are usually the primary culprits. If this is your first update attempt and that it fails, then your phone could be just glitching and therefore needs a restart. In this case, you can either soft reset or force restart your iPhone XR. If your device is responding normally, then you may go for a soft reset but if it’s acting up or not responding, then a force restart would be necessary. To soft reset your iPhone XR, simply follow these steps:

  1. Press and hold the Side/Power button and either Volume buttons simultaneously for a few seconds.
  2. Release the buttons when the Slide to Power Off command appears and then drag the power off slider to the right.
  3. After 30 seconds, press and hold the Power/Side button again until the phone reboots.

To force restart an iPhone XR, carry out these steps instead:

  1. Press and quickly release the Volume Up button.
  2. Press and quickly release the Volume Down button.
  3. Then, press and hold the Power button on the side of the phone and then release when the phone reboots.

Allow your device to finish booting up and reconnects to your Wi-Fi network. Once connected, retry heading back to Settings-> General-> Software Update menu and then attempt to download and install new update via over-the-air.

Second solution: Refresh your Internet connection.

To rule out minor Wi-Fi internet problems on the phone, you can restart your iPhone’s Internet connection by turning Wi-Fi off and on, using the Airplane Mode trick, or forgetting Wi-Fi network then reconnect. Here’s how each of these is done on your iPhone XR.

To turn Wi-Fi Off and then back On, go to Settings-> Wi-Fi menu and then toggle the Wi-Fi switch to turn it OFF for a few seconds and then tap to turn Wi-Fi ON again.

To carry out the Airplane mode trick, simply follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings-> Airplane Mode menu.
  2. Tap the Airplane Mode switch to the ON position. Doing so enables Airplane mode and disables all wireless features of your iPhone.
  3. Restart/soft reset your iPhone while Airplane mode is ON.
  4. After the restart, go back to Settings-> Airplane Mode menu.
  5. Then toggle the switch to turn Airplane Mode OFF and likewise to enable your phone’s wireless functions.

Wait for your iPhone to re-establish connection to your Wi-Fi network and once it’s connected, retry updating iOS via OTA and see if the problem is gone already.

Alternatively, you can also try forgetting your Wi-Fi network and then set it up again. This usually helps if the problem is attributed to a corrupted Wi-Fi network in use. Should you wish to try it, then here’s what you should do:

  1. Go to Settings-> Wi-Fi menu.
  2. If necessary, toggle the switch to turn Wi-Fi ON.
  3. Find your Wi-Fi network (SSID) then tap the information (small i) icon next to the name of your Wi-Fi.
  4. Select the option to Forget This Network.
  5. If prompted, tap Forget Network to confirm action.

The selected Wi-Fi network will then be deleted or forgotten from the list. At this point, restart your iPhone to clear out its memory cache and then set up your Wi-Fi network and connect to it as if it’s the first time you do.

Once connected, retry updating iOS wirelessly and see if it’s working now.

Third solution: Reset network settings.

To rule out major network problems from the possible triggers, you can try resetting the network settings on your iPhone XR. This will help fix the problem if complex network errors are to blame. All your Wi-Fi connections, server settings, APNs and relevant information will be deleted in the process, so be sure to take note of your Wi-Fi passwords beforehand. Once you’re all set, follow these steps to reset network settings on your iPhone XR:

  1. Tap Settings from your Home screen.
  2. Select General.
  3. Scroll down to and then tap on Reset.
  4. Select the option to Reset network settings.
  5. If prompted, enter your passcode to proceed.
  6. Then confirm network settings reset.

Allow your device to finish resetting the network settings to defaults. Your iPhone will then reboot when the reset is done. As soon as it boots up, set up your Wi-Fi network to reconnect to the Internet then retry updating.

Fourth solution: Reset all settings.

If the previous reset doesn’t work and your iPhone XR still failed to update iOS wirelessly, then you can proceed with this reset to clear all customized settings including those that might have caused conflicts. Unlike a factory reset though, this reset doesn’t affect any saved information on the phone memory thus you won’t lose any critical data from doing so. If you wish to continue, then here’s how it’s done:

  1. From the Home screen, tap on Settings.
  2. Select General.
  3. Scroll down to and then tap on Reset.
  4. Select the option to Reset all settings.
  5. If prompted, enter your passcode to proceed.
  6. Then confirm all settings reset.

After the reset, your iPhone should reboot automatically and then loads all the default values and original options. To get back online, set up your Wi-Fi network and reconnect. Once connected, retry downloading OTA update on your iPhone XR and see if the problem is gone.

Fifth solution: Use iTunes to update iPhone manually.

This would be your last resort, if all else failed to fix the problem. OTA updates may be unavailable at the moment, so if you can’t wait, then you would need to update your iPhone manually. To get started, you will need to secure a Windows or Mac computer that has the latest version of iTunes software installed. Once you’re all set, refer to the given steps to begin updating your iPhone XR through iTunes.

Note: Your computer must be connected to a stable Wi-Fi network and must have fast and stable Internet connection for iTunes to access Apple’s update server seamlessly.

  1. Plug your iPhone into the computer using the Apple-supplied USB cable or Lightning cable. Make sure that the connection is secured.
  2. With your iPhone XR connected to the computer, open iTunes.
  3. Then select your iOS device when it appears in iTunes.
  4. Go to the Summary section then click the button to Check for Update.
  5. If a new iOS version is available, click Download and Update to continue.
  6. Enter your device passcode, if prompted.

Then follow the rest of the iTunes prompts to finish downloading and installing iOS on your iPhone XR. If the update is successfully installed, you can disconnect your iPhone from the computer and then give it another reboot to apply the recent system changes and refresh its memory.

Seek more help

If none of that helps and your iPhone XR still failed to update iOS wirelessly, then you may have to resort to third-party iOS management software instead. These tools generally work the same as iTunes does but can vary on the user interface and actual features. Just download and install the most credible and compatible software with your computer and your iPhone XR.

For further troubleshooting assistance and official recommendations, contact your iPhone carrier or Apple Support. There may be some technical problems with the Apple servers, which could potentially halt OTA update downloads at the moment. If you suspect that the problem is attributed to network problems, then you should contact your Internet service provider instead.

I hope that we’ve been able to help you fix the problem with your device. We would appreciate it if you helped us spread the word so please share this post if you found it helpful. Thank you so much for reading!

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