Updating iOS is generally easy, but there are a few things that can go wrong. Perhaps your friend has already installed the latest version of iOS but you still aren't seeing it as an option in Software Update, maybe you tried to update iOS but it refused to install, maybe your iPhone got stuck while the installation was happening, or even worse, your iPhone might have crashed or run out of power mid-install causing you to lose data.

In this article, we will look at the most common problems people have when updating their iPhones.

iOS 13 isn't available to me

Right now there is a simple reason why iOS 13 isn't available - it's not launched yet! Apple will make iOS 13 available on Thursday 19 September at around 6pm UK time. So if that's still in the future then you won't be able to download is (unless you download the beta).

If we're past the date and time when Apple is making iOS 13 available there are a few reasons why it might not be available to you:

  • When Apple first launches a new version of iOS it can take a while for the update to become available. Sometimes your friend might get an alert before you do. Be patient and keep checking Settings > General > Software update on your iPhone.
  • It might be that your iPhone isn't capable of running the software, in which case you won't see an alert at all. Find out which iPhones get iOS 13 here. If your phone is an iPhone 6 or older, you are out of luck this time.
  • You are trying to install it on an iPad: This year only the iPhone will get iOS 13. iPads will get iPadOS, and that won't be available until some time in October 2019.

My iPhone won’t update software  

There's possibly a simple reason why your iPhone 6 won't update the software: iOS 13 will not run on any iPhone older than the iPhone 6s or iPhone SE.

The following devices will run iOS 13:

  • iPod touch (7th gen)
  • iPhone 6s
  • iPhone 6s Plus
  • iPhone SE
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max

If you have an iPhone 6, 5S, 5C, and iPhone 5 or anything older than that you will be out of luck! iOS 13 will not run on your iPhone. This could be good news if you're looking for an excuse to retire your old handset, peruse our roundup of the Best iPhone deals so you can save money while bagging yourself a shiny new device.

In addition, as we said above, you won't be able to run iOS 13 on an iPad. For the iPad you will need iPadOS, coming in October.

If you want to find out more about iOS 13, read our iOS 13 review here.

The iOS 13 update is slow

We had a complete nightmare installing iOS 7 in 2013 - it took us all night. We had hoped things might go a bit smoother in 2014 with the launch of iOS 8. But unfortunately not. We weren't the only ones: many faced installation dramas because Apple's servers seemed unable to cope with the sheer number of people trying to access them to get the download.

Things have got somewhat better over the years, but if this is your experience, it's not a huge surprise, and you shouldn't feel like you're alone.

One thing is for sure: if you choose to update as soon as a new version of iOS launches you're probably in for a long wait because the first few hours of an update are always the busiest time on Apple's servers.

Whenever a new iteration of iOS comes out, we recommend giving it a few days just to let the clamour die down and any bugs get ironed out before you put it on your device.

If you are installing the update a few months after the launch there should be no problems with busy servers or long delays. In that case, if you are having issues with the download time, it may be that your WiFi network isn't performing. Read this: How to fix problems with WiFi on iPhone or iPad.

iOS 13 won't download

If iOS 13 is there in Software Update but your iPhone or iPad just won't download it, or it seems to be hanging, follow these steps:

  1. Force quit the Setting App. Then reopen Settings and try downloading the software again.
  2. You'll need to be connected to a WiFi network or the iOS 13 update will not download. This is so that you can't run the risk of going over your data allowance. So make sure you are connected to WiFi.
  3. It's also possible that iOS 13 won't download because you aren't plugged in to the mains. You need to make sure your iPhone is plugged in, because the iOS 13 update won't install otherwise (Apple wants to be sure that you don't run out of battery in the middle of things). 

Not sure how to Force Quit?

  • To Force Quit on an iPhone without a Home button, swipe up from the bottom of the screen so that you see all the open apps and then swipe up again on the Settings app to close it.
  • If you have a Home button, double press the Home Button so that the app switcher appears and swipe up on the Settings app.

iOS download freezes

If your iPhone stops responding during the download, it may be that it has hung. While it's worth waiting a while longer in case it's just taking a long time, if you are convinced that the phone has crashed then you could reset it.

The process to reset your iPhone depends on the model you have.

If you have an iPhone 8, iPhone X or later:

  1. Quickly press the release the volume up button
  2. Quickly press the release the volume down button
  3. Press and hold the Power button (on the other side) until you see the Apple logo
  4. Enter your passcode at start up, even if you usually use a fingerprint for ID
  5. This should force your iPhone to restart.

If you have an iPhone 7 or later:

  1. Press and hold the on-off switch at the side of your iPhone or iPad and the lower volume control switch on the other side at the same time.
  2. Keep both buttons pressed while your iPhone turns off.
  3. Wait for it to restart before letting go of the buttons. 

If you have an older iPhone or an iPad:

  1. Press and hold the on-off switch at the top or side of your iPhone or iPad and the Home Button at the same time.
  2. Keep both buttons pressed while your iPhone turns off.
  3. Wait for it to restart before letting go of the buttons.

Now try starting the download process again.

Stuck on Verifying Update

Once iOS 13 is downloaded on your device it will be verified by Apple. If your device gets stuck on this screen it may be because your Wi-Fi connection has dropped, so check your internet connection.

If that's not the culprit then try resetting your device as per the steps above.

There's not enough space on my iPhone or iPad

All that presumes you had enough space on your iPhone to start with. A common problem when updating your version of iOS is to find that there isn't room on your device for the install file. One solution is to delete lots of files from your iPhone and make room, then put them back afterwards. Another option is to update iOS via iTunes on your Mac.

If you don't need to free up a lot of space you may be happy to delete a few images from your Camera Roll or some of your music. You might find it useful to read our guide to saving space on your iPhone here.

We explain this relatively painless process in a separate article: How to update iOS using iTunes on your Mac.

iOS update problems and fixes

You may also encounter some problems following an iOS update. Let us know if you encounter any.

Alarm doesn't work after update

Apple is keen for more users to install incremental iOS updates that provide fixes and small improvements. One way it encourages this is by offering the chance to install them for you overnight while you're sleeping. If you're prompted to update your iPhone while you're using it, Apple now lets you choose 'Later,' which will then specify a time period during which it will update automatically for you if you've got your iPhone plugged in to a power source, which most people do overnight anyway.

When Apple prompted Macworld's own Ashleigh Macro to update to iOS 9.1 and offered that 'Later' option, she decided to make the most of the convenient new feature. She expected to wake up in the morning as usual to an updated iPhone. And indeed she did, but she woke up more than an hour after her alarm was scheduled to go off. The update had worked brilliantly, but her alarm had been deactivated, causing her to be late for work.

She's not the only one. Users have taken to social media and forums to express their annoyance with the issue, which we consider to be a bug, and many have been late for important meetings and school.

Therefore, we'd only recommend choosing the later option if you don't have to wake up at a particular time in the morning, or if you can set another alarm on a different device!

My battery is draining really fast!

After upgrading to iOS 12 many people thought their battery was draining really fast. If that happens to you it might be due to a bug in the software, in which case you might just have to wait for Apple to issue an update to the software (as yet we are unaware of any specific problems related to the battery though).

However, it is often the case that following an iOS update people do complain about reduced battery life. If you are finding that to be the case, it could be that some of the settings you had that were preserving battery life have been changed, such as Background App Refresh and some of the Mail settings. Read: How to improve iPhone and iPad battery life for more ideas.