iOS 13 - the newest version of the operating system software for iPhones - will be arriving on iPhones on Thursday 19 September. In this article we will run through everything you will need to do to update your iPhone to the new software, including what to do if you encounter problems, like not having enough space, not being able to connect to WiFi, or if you encounter problems once the update starts, perhaps it takes too long or gets stuck. We have the answers below!

It's also worth doing a bit of housework with your phone first, like making sure it's backed up, and clearing some space so that you have enough storage for the new update. We'll run through what you should do first; but you can jump straight to the update process below.

If you aren't sure whether you want to update your iPhone to iOS 13 maybe read our review of iOS 13 first, or you could find out about the new features in iOS 13 - and any problems people are encountering with the software here

A significant change this year is that iOS 13 will be for iPhones while iPadOS will be the version for iPads, and if you were thinking you'd be able to install that, you will have to wait a little longer. We have more information about iPadOS here.

Download iOS 13 for iPhone

How to get your iPhone ready for iOS 13

Before you update to iOS 13, we recommend that you do the following:

  1. Back up your iPhone  - you can do this using iCloud, or using iTunes on a Mac or PC. We explain how to Back up here. In the past people have lost data like old SMS messages and photos during an update, so we can't emphasise enough how important this step is!
  2. Save a copy of iOS 12 - we explain how below. This is in case you have to go back later - but if this is beyond you, don't worry about this step.
  3. Make some space on your iPhone. You will need a fair amount of space available for the update. If you don't have a spare 20GB or so on your phone then delete some apps to make room- you can reinstall them afterwards as you already own them. If you don't have enough space, iOS will also offer to temporarily remove some files for you.
  4. Plug your iPhone into a power supply - iOS 13 won't install if you don't plug into the mains.
  5. Make sure you're downloading over Wi-Fi, not via 3G or 4G, or you may end up running out of data. Also, check it's a safe network. (We don't recommend you do this over hotel Wi-Fi, for instance.) We have some tips on how to download iOS 13 if you don't have WiFi below.

Get iOS 13 on iPhone

How to update to iOS 13

iOS 13 will become available to download on Thursday 19 September, at around 6pm in the UK, 10am in California, 1pm in New York, etc. So the first step is to wait until then! Although, we'd recommend you wait a little longer as inevitably there will be a rush as everyone else downloads iOS 13 and Apple's servers will slow right down.

Here is how to download and install the latest version of iOS on your iPhone: 

  1. Go to Settings > General > Software Update. iOS will check if there's a new version; if there isn't, you'll see the message 'Your software is up to date.' Sometimes there's a bit of a wait until the software becomes available. Is there a iOS update
  2. Assuming there is a new version available, tap Download and Install.
  3. Enter your passcode when prompted, and agree to the terms & conditions if required.
  4. Your device will download the update in the background. You'll see an indication of how much time it is likely to take - in our experience this is very far from the mark! Double it/triple it even! You can at least carry on with other things while the download happens. Once the download has finished you will receive a notification on your iPhone. How long will iOS update take
  5. Now Tap Details on the Notification window. This will take you back to Settings > General > Software Update.
  6. Tap Install Now. (Again, expect this step to take a while - especially if it's on the night the software arrives!)
  7. Alternatively, you can select Later. iOS will offer to update during the night - you just need to make sure the device is plugged in.

How to download iOS 13 if you don't have Wi-Fi

Are you really excited about getting iOS 13 but don't have access to WiFi right now? Or maybe you do, but it's hotel/restaurant WiFi, and you aren't sure you can trust it (stay safe out there!). You might be wondering whether you can update iOS 13 using cellular data or mobile data.

Apple has a download cap, which means you can't download more than 200MB over a data connection in iOS 12. More about downloading apps over 200MB here. However, one of the new changes coming in iOS 13 will be the ability to download larger apps over cellular thanks the the removal of the cap.

But right now you are running iOS 12, which means that there is a cap and you can't download iOS 13 over data - but there is a workaround as long as you have a Mac.

Before you start - make sure you don't use up all your data for the month! Even unlimited data isn't always completely unlimited and you might be penalised later on.

To download iOS 13 using mobile data (or cellular data) follow these steps:

  1. Create a Hotspot from your iPhone - this way you can use the data connection from your iPhone to connect to the web on your Mac.
  2. Now open iTunes and plug in your iPhone. 
  3. Click on the icon in iTunes that represents your iPhone.
  4. Click on Check for Updates.
  5. Run through the options to download and install iOS 13.

Download iOS vis iTunes

Your Mac will proceed to download iOS 13 using your data connection from your iPhone. iTunes will then install iOS 13 on your iPhone.

Alternatively, if your Mac happens to be connected to the internet via Ethernet, or another way, you could download iOS using iTunes in exactly the same way as above. (Note that when Apple resigns iTunes with the arrival of Catalina the Finder will manage things like software downloads).

How to download iOS 13 if you don't have space

Downloading via iTunes is also a great way to install iOS 13 on your iPhone if you don't have enough space on your iPhone, so follow the steps above.

Alternatively, You could try these steps to make some more space on your iPhone.

Will iPhone update erase my data

Understandably, if you are low on space you may be worried that you will lose some of your data if you install the new iPhone update. It's understandable that some people are concerned about this, because it's happened in the past. However, it should be the case that once the iOS 13 update has installed all your data will be intact, and if it isn't, well you have a backup don't you?

Make sure you backup your phone before updating.

Why won’t my iPhone update

You may be wondering why your iPhone isn't showing the iOS 13 update as availability. There are a few reasons why this might be the case.

  • You might just be too eager - there can be a delay before the iOS 13 update appears. We say to expect it at about 6pm on Thursday 19 September (in the UK), but it could take longer to appear on your device. Inevitably someone you know will see it sooner.
  • Your phone might be too old to run iOS 13. Find out if your iPhone can get iOS 13 here.
  • You might not be connected to WiFi - as we said above, you need WiFi, but there are workarounds.
  • You might not be plugged in - you need to be plugged in or Apple will stop the installation happening (just in case you run out of battery half-way through).

If those points don't apply to you, try installing via iTunes as we detailed above.

iPhone update is frozen

So, you followed all our advice and yet the update is taking AGES! Perhaps your iPhone appears to have frozen, or the update is stuck near the end. What should you do?

We explain what to do if iOS won't install here: What to do if you can't update your iPhone.

How to upgrade iOS from a beta version

If you previously tried out a beta version of iOS ahead of its full release, you should note that in order to get upcoming non-beta iOS releases you will need to remove the Apple configuration profile from your device.

You can do this by going to Settings > General > Profile and selecting iOS Beta Software Profile, then choosing Delete Profile and entering your passcode to confirm the change. From now on you will receive official updates (rather than beta updates) as normal.

How to get a copy of the old version of iOS

If you change your mind later and want to downgrade to iOS 12. (Note that downgrading is really tricky, so we can't even guarantee that having the old version will mean you can revert to iOS 12.)

  1. On your Mac open the Finder.
  2. Go to Library then find the iTunes folder. If you can't see this, hold down the Option/Alt key in Finder and selecting Go > Library.
  3. Select the Software Updates folder for your device if it's there. (It won't be if you have never downloaded an iOS update on your Mac, but you can rectify that by opening iTunes, plugging in your iPhone and running through the steps to download iOS 12 on your Mac).
  4. Alternatively, launch your web browser and go to IPSW.me and find the right one for your device.

We have an article that goes through how to revert to iOS 12 or earlier here.

If you have already started the update and are finding that there are problems, read what to do if you can't update iOS.

And if your iPhone doesn't run iOS 13, you might want to check our roundup of the Best iPhone deals so you can save money while bagging yourself a shiny new device.