How to fix an Apple iPhone XS Max that cannot update iOS via over-the-air (wirelessly) [Troubleshooting Guide]

The fastest way to update your phone is via over-the-air (OTA). In order to install OTA updates, your device must have fast and stable Internet connection. Network connectivity issues from slow browsing to Wi-Fi drops or no Internet access at all are major culprits and therefore must be resolved beforehand.

Once the Internet is back up and running smoothly again, you’re all set for update wirelessly. But aside from network problems, there are also other factors that can prevent your device from installing OTA updates. And to give you some clues on how to deal with them, I’ve mapped some helpful procedures that should serve as troubleshooting reference. Read on to find out what to do if you cannot update your iPhone XS Max the latest iOS version through via over-the-air or wirelessly.

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.

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How to troubleshoot iPhone XS Max that can’t update firmware over the air

Before troubleshooting software issues that might have prevented your iPhone XS Max from updating iOS wirelessly, check the current memory status of your phone. Insufficient storage is among the possible reasons as to why a phone is unable to install new updates, thus you need to rule that out first. While your iPhone XS Max certainly sports high storage capacity, there may be some apps that can fool the system to think that the available memory is running out. So be sure to check on that beforehand. Most importantly, verify and ensure that the iOS update is already available for your iPhone. Not all OTA updates are instantly available even when it’s already announced. If you’re certain that the update is already up for grabs but for some reasons your iPhone XS Max is unable to download or install it wirelessly, then you can try any of these workarounds to eliminate system errors among the possible hindrances.

First solution: Toggle Wi-Fi off and on again.

The simplest way to refresh Wi-Fi internet connection on your phone is to turn Wi-Fi and off and then back on. This can be done through the control center and the settings menu. To ensure new changes are properly applied, turning Wi-Fi off and on through settings menu is recommended. Here’s how:

  1. From your Home screen, tap Settings.
  2. Select Wi-Fi.
  3. Toggle the Wi-Fi switch to turn the feature OFF.
  4. After a few seconds, toggle the switch to turn Wi-Fi back ON.

Wait for your iPhone XS Max to reconnect to your Wi-Fi network then go back to Settings-> General-> Software update menu and retry updating.

Second solution: Reboot your iPhone XS Max (soft reset).

Software errors caused by random bugs and system glitches may also affect the phone’s wireless network functions. To make sure these aren’t barring your device from downloading and installing OTA updates, perform a soft reset with 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.
  3. Drag the power off slider to the right.
  4. After 30 seconds, press and hold the Power/Side button again until the phone boots up.

Allow your device to finish restarting then wait for it to reconnect to your Wi-Fi network. When it’s connected, retry downloading software update and see if it’s working already.

Third solution: Forget Wi-Fi network then reconnect.

To rule out corrupted network from the underlying cause, try deleting or forgetting your Wi-Fi network from the phone and then set it up again as new. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Launch the Settings app from the Home screen.
  2. Tap Wi-Fi.
  3. Navigate to the list of Wi-Fi networks then tap the information “i” icon next to the Wi-Fi network you want to forget.
  4. If prompted, tap the option to Forget This Network.
  5. Then tap Forget to confirm. The selected Wi-Fi network will then be deleted.
  6. Follow the same steps to delete any other saved Wi-Fi networks on the phone.

Restart or soft reset your iPhone XS Max after deleting Wi-Fi networks then reconnect to Wi-Fi with these steps:

  1. Navigate to Settings-> Wi-Fi menu.
  2. Toggle the switch to enable Wi-Fi, if necessary.
  3. Then wait for the Wi-Fi network to appear on the screen. Select the preferred Wi-Fi network you want to join or connect to.

When your iPhone is connected, open a browser then navigate to different websites to see if you can access. If you can browse through and access websites, it means that your iPhone is connected to the Internet. With that, you should be able to install OTA updates available for your iPhone XS Max.

If you’ve set up other Wi-Fi networks, then disconnect from your current network and connect to the other Wi-Fi network. This will help you determine if the problem is with the current Wi-Fi network in use.

Fourth solution: Reset network settings on your iPhone XS Max.

To rule out other network-related issues including invalid network settings from the underlying causes, reset network settings on your iPhone XS Max with these steps:

  1. Tap Settings from the 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 proceed.
  6. Then tap the option to confirm network settings reset.

Your iPhone will reboot when the reset is finished and then loads the default network settings and options. To reconnect to the Internet, enable Wi-Fi then connect to your Wi-Fi network. Once connected, retry downloading OTA updates and see if the problem is gone.

Fifth solution: Reset and restore iOS through iTunes.

This is one of the last options you can try on if you wish to further troubleshoot system errors on your iPhone that may be barring OTA updates. At this point, use iTunes to reset and restore factory default settings on your iPhone XS Max on your computer. Restoring your iPhone XS Max to factory settings through iTunes allows you to erase the information and settings and then installs the latest iOS version available.

  1. Open iTunes on a computer. You can use either a Mac or Windows PC that runs on a compatible operating system with iOS 12.
  2. Connect your iPhone XS Max to your computer using the supplied USB cable or Lightning cable.
  3. If prompted on your iPhone to Trust This Computer or to enter the device passcode, follow the onscreen instructions to continue.
  4. Select your iPhone XS Max when it shows up in iTunes.
  5. Navigate to the Summary section on the left panel and then click the Restore [iPhone] button.
  6. If prompted, read and review the information to confirm iPhone restore.

Then iTunes will start erasing your device and then installs the latest iOS version available. You will know when the system reset and iOS restore is finished if your phone restarts. By then you can set it up as new. Your iPhone software should now be updated.

Seek more help

Contact your device carrier or Apple Support for further assistance and official recommendations if none of these methods is able to help update your iPhone XS Max to the latest version. It’s possible that the new update isn’t yet officially rolled out in your area, hence it doesn’t show up on your phone’s OTA update menu. You can ask your carrier to verify that information on their system then. Also check for any temporary outages that may be affecting network services. To make sure that the problem isn’t due to the Apple server that’s temporary unavailable or congested, ask Apple Support to check on their end.

Connect with us

If you need more help with the use of certain functions and features of the Apple iPhone XS Max smartphone, feel free to visit our Tutorial Page. There you can find a list of how-to contents, step-by-step tutorials, as well as answers to FAQs regarding iPhone XS Max. If you have other concerns or encountered some troubles while using the phone, you can reach us through this form. Just be sure to tell us more details of the problem or device issue(s) you may have and we will be more than happy to assist you further.

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