What to do if your Apple iPhone won’t update [Troubleshooting Guide]

One way to make things work perfectly on your iPhone is to have an updated firmware so firmware updates should work without a hitch. However, we have received reports from users who said that their iPhones won’t update or failed to update.

Installing an OTA update on an iPhone is as easy as making a few taps on the screen. But due to certain factors, this simple process can become complicated. Read on to learn why your phone won’t update and how to solve the problem.

For smartphone owners who found our site while trying to find a solution, try to see if your phone is one of the devices we support. If it is, then visit the troubleshooting page for that device, browse through it to find issues that are similar with yours and feel free to use our solutions and workarounds. However, if you still need our help after that, then fill up our iPhone issues questionnaire and hit submit to contact us.

Troubleshooting an Apple iPhone that won’t update

Before you start troubleshooting, check your phone’s memory status. One of the main reasons as to why a device won’t update is because it doesn’t have enough space to store the update file.

  • To check your iPhone storage, go to Settings-> General-> iPhone Storage menu and then see the amount of available storage space.

If necessary, free up some space by deleting old and unused contents including messages, apps, photos, videos and other files that are no longer useful. If your phone has ample of memory space but still won’t update, check the Internet connection. Unstable or intermittent Internet access is another factor that can cause problems to fail. To check your Internet, open a browser app like Safari or Chrome then navigate through different websites. If all websites are loading properly, the problem isn’t with the Internet. And this is where you need to rule out other software-related factors.

First solution: Soft reset/reboot your iPhone.

Minor software errors and glitches are usually among the first factors that can cause an update to fail. The phone’s network functions may be acting up and so your device fails to access Apple’s update server. As a result, it’s unable to update. To eliminate these random glitches, performing a soft reset on the phone can help.

Follow these steps if you’re using an iPhone X or later models:

  1. Press and hold the Side button and either Volume button until the Power off slider appears.
  2. Drag the slider to power off your iPhone completely.
  3. Then after 30 seconds, press the Side button again to turn your iPhone back on.

If you’re using an iPhone 8, 8 Plus, or earlier versions, use these steps to reboot or soft reset:

  1. Press and hold the Top or Side button until the Power off slider appears.
  2. Drag the slider to power off the phone completely.
  3. After about 30 seconds, press and hold the Top or Side button again to turn the phone back on.

Allow the phone to boot up completely then test your Internet connection by loading different websites on your browser app. If the Internet is working fine, retry updating.

ALSO READ: Facebook won’t open on Apple iPhone XR. Here’s the fix.

Second solution: Clear out all background apps.

Apps that are left suspended or running in the background can also cause conflict especially when they crashed. To eliminate them from the possible triggers, clear out all background apps on your phone and then try to download the update.

If you’re using an iPhone 8, 8 Plus or later models, force closing an app is done with these steps:

  1. Double-press the Home button to view your most recently opened or used apps.
  2. Swipe left or right to navigate through the apps previews.
  3. Then swipe up on an app’s preview to close individual app.

If you’re using an iPhone X or later models, follow these steps to force close background apps:

  1. Go to the Home screen to get started.
  2. Then swipe up from the bottom of the screen and then pause slightly in the middle.
  3. To close the app, swipe up on the app’s preview.

Clearing out background apps is also one way to clean and optimize the phone’s internal memory.

Third solution: Forget Wi-Fi network then reconnect.

Using a corrupt Wi-Fi network can lead to random Internet drops, slow browsing, or worst, no Internet connection at all. If any of these symptoms is happening to your phone, chances are that its online services are unstable. And this could be the main reason why your iPhone can’t and won’t update. To fix the problem, follow these steps:

  1. From your Home screen, tap Settings.
  2. Select Wi-Fi. Make sure that Wi-Fi is turned ON so that you can view all Wi-Fi networks available.
  3. Then tap on the information (i) icon next to the name of the Wi-Fi network that you want to forget.
  4. After forgetting all saved Wi-Fi networks, turn Wi-Fi OFF then reboot your iPhone.
  5. As soon as your phone boots up, head back to Settings-> Wi-Fi menu and then toggle the switch to turn Wi-Fi back ON.
  6. Tap to select the Wi-Fi network that you want to use.
  7. Then tap Join or Connect.

Wait for your phone to establish connection and once it’s connected, you can proceed and retry updating iOS.

ALSO READ: How to install and uninstall an app on Apple iPhone XR

Fourth solution: Reset network settings.

To eliminate network-related errors on the phone that might have given you trouble installing over-the-air updates, performing network settings reset can be considered among other potential solutions. This reset wipes out all current network settings and then restores the default network configuration on the phone. Any errors inflicted by invalid network values and options will therefore be deleted too. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Tap Settings from your Home screen.
  2. Select General.
  3. Scroll down and tap on Reset.
  4. Select the option to Reset network settings.
  5. Enter your device passcode when asked to continue.
  6. Then tap the option to confirm network settings reset.

The phone reboots itself when the reset is finished. After it boots up, you will need to re-enable Wi-Fi to reconnect to your Wi-Fi network as if it’s the first time.

Fifth solution: Reset all settings.

If the previous reset failed to fix the problem, then you can go for an all settings reset next. This reset deletes all customized settings including erratic or invalid configurations. Resetting all settings is often needed whenever the phone acts up after installing apps and firmware updates. Unlike a factory reset though, this reset does not affect the internal data on the phone hence it won’t cause permanent data loss. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. From the Home screen, tap on Settings.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Scroll down to and tap on Reset.
  4. Choose the option to Reset all settings.
  5. Enter your device passcode when asked to continue.
  6. Confirm that you want to reset all settings on your iPhone.

Allow your phone to finish resetting and then restarts automatically when done. As soon as it boots up, you can continue enabling the features that you want to use again on your phone. Original options and values are restored after the reset so you will need to re-enable the features that are disabled or turned off by default.

Sixth solution: Delete and then redownload the update on your phone.

If you’ve managed to download a portion of the iOS update but suddenly it failed or did not complete, then it’s possible that a fragment of that update that’s downloaded on your phone got corrupted. As a result, you won’t be able to update your phone on your next attempt. To fix this problem, you will need to delete that iOS fragment from your device first. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. From the Home screen, tap on Settings.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap iPhone Storage.  A list of apps and files will then show up on the next screen.
  4. Locate the iOS update file in the list and then tap to select it.
  5. Once the update file is selected, tap the option to Delete Update. The update file is now erased.
  6. After deleting the update, head back to your iPhone Settings.
  7. Tap General.
  8. Tap Software Update and tap the option to download the iOS update.

See if the update download is successful already.

Still can’t update your iPhone via over-the-air?

If none of the given solutions worked and your iPhone still won’t update wirelessly, update your iPhone through iTunes instead. To do this, you will need to use a computer either Windows or Mac that has the latest version of iTunes app installed. Also ensure that the computer has stable Internet access, sufficient storage, and ample of battery life. Once you’ve met all these requisites, connect your iPhone to the computer then continue with these steps:

  1. Launch iTunes app on the computer.
  2. When your iPhone appears in iTunes, select it.
  3. Then go to the Summary section and click the button to Check for Update. If a new iOS version is available, you will be prompted with an update notification.
  4. Click Download and Update to proceed.
  5. Enter your passcode, if asked.
  6. Then follow the rest of the onscreen instructions to finish downloading and installing new update on your iPhone.

Once the update is finished, reboot your iPhone to apply the recent system changes.

Aside from iTunes, you can also use other iOS data management tools like Tenorshare Reiboot and iMyFone D-Back to fix update errors on your phone. Just download and install your preferred tool on your computer. Once you have to software installed, run it then connect your iPhone to the computer via USB cable/Lightning cable. The rest of the instructions can be carried out through the provided command buttons and controls.

If your iPhone still won’t update after exhausting all prior solutions, then you should contact your carrier or Apple Support to report the issue. It’s possible that you can’t update your phone because the update isn’t yet available for you or it could be that the update server is very congested thus, unavailable at the moment.

I hope that we’ve been able to help you fix your iPhone that won’t update. 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!