How to fix an Apple iPhone XS that cannot update iOS, system update failed [Troubleshooting Guide]

One of the main reasons as to why updates won’t install is insufficient storage on the phone. Update files need sufficient memory space to be installed. Thus, update likely failed for devices that are running low on memory. But this isn’t likely the case with the new iPhone XS handset. Aside from the fact that it’s new, this phone also sports high-storage capacity even more than enough to allocate heavy apps.

Nevertheless, other iPhone XS owners were still having trouble installing the latest iOS update and ended up with a system update failure. Read on to find out what other factors that can prevent the iOS update from installing on the new iPhone XS and determine the best possible solution.

Now, before anything else, if you have other issues with your phone, make sure you drop by our troubleshooting page for we have already provided solutions to hundreds of problems reported by our readers. Odds are that we may have already provided a solution to the problem you currently have so try to find issues that are similar with yours on that page and feel free to use the solutions we suggested. If they don’t work or if you need further assistance, fill up our iPhone issues questionnaire and hit submit to contact us.

How to troubleshoot iPhone XS that can’t update its operating system

Before troubleshooting, check your Internet connection and make sure your phone has Internet access. Network connectivity errors can be a factor that halts the device from updating at the moment. If you’re getting a message that says something about Apple server that’s busy, try updating your iPhone at a later time. The server may be very congested with high volume of update request. This may result to your request placed in the last queue. Otherwise, try performing the following workarounds to rule out network problems and software-related errors from the underlying causes.

First solution: Check and restart your Internet connection.

There are many ways to restart your Internet connection. But the ideal way is to start working on the main source of the Internet and that is your wireless router/modem. Rebooting (power cycle) the wireless router/modem helps clear out minor firmware errors on that caused Internet problems on the receiving devices from slow browsing to Wi-Fi connection drops and no Internet connect at all. Thus follow these steps to reboot or power cycle your wireless router/modem.

  1. Find the Power switch or button on the router/modem the press or flip it to turn off.
  2. While it’s turned off, unplug the AC adapter from the power source. Keep it unplugged for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  3. After the elapsed time, plug it back in to power then turn on again.

Restart/soft reset your iPhone XS afterwards, wait until it is connected to Wi-Fi and then retry installing iOS update.

Another way to restart wireless internet connection on your iPhone XS is by toggling the Wi-Fi feature off and then on again. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Go to Settings-> Wi-Fi menu.
  2. Toggle the Wi-Fi switch to turn the feature OFF.
  3. Reboot your iPhone XS.
  4. Then head back to Settings-> Wi-Fi menu.
  5. Toggle the switch again to turn Wi-Fi back ON.

Reattempt to update iOS once your device is connected to Wi-Fi again.

Second solution: Toggle Airplane Mode on and off.

The Airplane mode trick has been proven effective in dealing with various types of network-connectivity issues affecting iOS devices. Performing this trick somehow eliminates network errors that caused adverse symptoms or Internet problems to occur. If you think network problems barred your phone from updating iOS, then you can try performing the Airplane mode trick. Here’s how it works:

  1. Go to Settings-> Airplane Mode menu.
  2. Toggle the Airplane Mode switch to turn the feature ON. This will disable all wireless radios on the phone including Wi-Fi networks and Bluetooth connections.
  3. Reboot your iPhone XS to clear corrupted cached files from the memory and to refresh the phone system.
  4. Then go back to Settings-> Airplane Mode menu to turn Airplane Mode OFF again.

Wait until your iPhone reconnects to your Wi-Fi network. Once connected, retry downloading OTA updates and see if it’s already working. If you found no luck from the Airplane Mode trick, then continue to troubleshoot.

Third solution: Reset all settings on your iPhone XS.

There may be some customized settings or options that halted your iPhone from download new updates and so this must be taken care of as well. Reverting the settings back to the original values and default options is therefore recommended. To get this done, follow these steps to reset all settings on your iPhone XS to delete all customized settings including any invalid or incorrect configurations:

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

Your iPhone should restart when the reset is finished and then loads the default options. Enable Wi-Fi and reconnect your iPhone. Once it’s online, reattempt to download iOS update wirelessly.

Fourth solution: Factory reset your iPhone XS in iTunes.

The previous settings reset may not be able to deal with the problem if it’s attributed to major system errors and bugs. In this case, performing a full system reset is usually needed. Thus you can try a factory reset as your next option. But before you do so, back up all important files you saved on the internal memory as they will also be deleted in the process. Once you’re all set, follow these steps to reset your iPhone XS to its factory defaults:

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

When the reset is finished, your iPhone reboots and loads the default settings. You may then continue to set up your iPhone XS as new.

Fifth solution: Delete and re-download the iOS update on your iPhone XS.

If your iPhone XS still failed to download and install the latest iOS update after exhausting all possible solutions, then try downloading the iOS update again. Here’s how it works:

  1. Navigate to Settings-> General-> iPhone Storage menu.
  2. Find the iOS update file in the list of apps.
  3. Tap to select the iOS update when you find it.
  4. Then tap the option to Delete Update.
  5. When the update is deleted completely, go back to Settings-> General-> Software Update menu and re-download the latest iOS update.

If that doesn’t work and the iOS update download still failed, try updating your iPhone XS through iTunes on a computer instead. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Get a Windows or Mac computer with the latest version of iTunes ready.
  2. Connect your iPhone to the computer using the supplied USB cable or Lightning cable.
  3. Open iTunes then select your iPhone XS when it appears.
  4. Click the Summary panel on the left corner of iTunes.
  5. Then click the button to Check for Update. This prompts iTunes to scan for new iOS updates.
  6. If an update is available, click Download and Update.
  7. Enter your passcode if prompted.

Follow the rest of the onscreen instructions to complete the iOS update download and installation through iTunes.

Seek more help

Escalate the problem to Apple Support or call your carrier for further assistance and other recommendations. Verify and ensure if your device is eligible for the update.


Connect with us

If you need more help with the use of certain functions and features of the Apple iPhone XS 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. 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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