Did you install the iOS 16 beta update or did you get started with the iPadOS 16 beta , but regret it? In this article, you can read everything about downgrade iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 to the previous iOS version.
Downgrade iOS 16 to iOS 15
iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 are available as developer betas, with public betas coming soon. You can then try all the new iOS 16 features early. You may have already installed the beta and regret it because, for example, the battery life has decreased significantly. No problem! If you don’t like the beta, you can easily downgrade from iPadOS 16 and iOS 16 . Keep in mind that you are going back to the old situation, when you still had iOS 15 . You may lose any newly added data since your last backup.
iOS 16 downgrade
Apple will give you the option to downgrade from iOS 16 to the most recent stable iOS version throughout the beta period and a few weeks after (approximately October 2022) . At the moment that is iOS 15.5 .
Downgrading is done as follows:
- First, check whether there is new data on your iPhone that you want to keep and that it is not already on iCloud . This can be, for example, photos or files that you took after installing iOS 16. Manually copy this content to an online storage service or an external drive. If you use iCloud Photo Library , the photos will already be stored online.
- Connect your iPhone to the Mac with a cable and open Finder.
- The iPhone appears in the sidebar. Click here.
- Put your iPhone in recovery mode. Here’s how to do this: Briefly press the Volume Up button, followed by the Volume Down button. After that, press and hold the side button until the recovery mode screen appears. This is an image with a laptop and a plug.
- A message will appear on your Mac that an iPhone has been found in recovery mode. Click Restore .
- Now the most recent version of iOS 15.x will be installed. You are no longer in the beta.
- Follow the steps on the screen.
- When you are done you can restore a previously made backup. Note that this must be a backup made under iOS 15.x. So you may lose some recent data and photos. You can also copy the data and photos from step 1 to your device.
For Windows users and older versions of macOS , this works the same way, except you use iTunes instead of the Finder.
Have you installed betas and don’t want to receive them in the future? You can then easily unsubscribe from Apple’s beta program . You will then remain on the current version, but will no longer see new betas.
Downgrade iPadOS 16
You can also downgrade the iPad from iPadOS 16 to iPadOS 15 . The steps are similar, with the main difference being that putting the iPads into recovery mode is slightly different.
- First, check whether there is new data on your iPhone that you want to keep. This can be, for example, photos or files that you took after installing iOS 16 and that are not in iCloud . Manually copy this content to an online storage service or an external drive.
- Connect your iPad to the Mac with a cable and open Finder.
- The iPad appears in the sidebar. Click here.
- Put the iPad into recovery mode. You do this as follows:
iPad with Face ID: Short press the Volume up button, then short press the Volume down button. Then press and hold the on/off button for the device to reboot. Keep holding the button until you see recovery mode. This is an image of a laptop with plug.
iPad with Home button (Touch ID) : Press the power button and the home button simultaneously. You’ll see the Apple logo appear over time; keep holding until you see the recovery screen.
- A notification will appear on your Mac that an iPad has been found in recovery mode. Click Restore
- Now the most recent version of iOS 15.x will be installed. Follow the steps on the screen.
- Afterwards you can restore a previously made backup and possibly copy the content that you saved in step 1 back to your iPad.
What is downgrading?
Sometimes you run into all kinds of problems after installing an iOS update. Your battery is draining faster, the new functions are not working properly or your device has become slow. Or you installed a beta that still contains bugs.
Downgrading means going back to an earlier iOS version. But don’t wait too long, because Apple only gives you a few days or weeks with most iOS versions. This does not apply to betas: as long as the beta is still running, you can always go back to the previous stable iOS version .
Downgrading to an older iOS version is therefore not always possible. This has to do with the fact that Apple stops digitally signing older iOS versions over time. That digital signature is an extra security step to make sure you’ve got your hands on the original iOS installation file and not a tampered with copy.
Keep in mind that in many cases you cannot restore a backup from a newer iOS version to an older iOS version. For example, you can’t restore a backup made with iOS 16 to a device with iOS 15 .
Alternative steps to downgrade iOS
We explained above how to go back from beta to the most recent stable version. It is also possible to install any older iOS version on your device, provided it is still signed by Apple. This works as follows:
- Download the necessary firmware file from Apple’s website, IPSW.me , or this site . They point to the download files on Apple’s servers, so you know you’re in the right place. Never download from third party servers! The file name ends in .ipsw. Check carefully whether you have downloaded the correct file for the correct device. Save the file in an easy-to-find place, such as your desktop.
- Open Finder or iTunes, connect the iPhone and wait for the device to appear in the side menu.
- Mac: Hold down the Alt/Option key while clicking the Restore button with the mouse. Windows: Hold down the Shift key while clicking the Restore button with the mouse.
- Browse to the newly downloaded IPSW file.
- Confirm that you want to install the chosen firmware.
- The chosen iOS version will now be installed. Please wait patiently.
- After installation, you can restore a backup from iTunes .
It is always wise to make a backup before installing a major update
Will I lose data such as photos if I restore an older backup?
If you go back to an earlier version, you will need to restore a backup of the previous version. Downgrading between versions of iOS 15.x isn’t a problem, but bigger jumps between version numbers can cause problems. If you go back from iOS 16 to iOS 15.5, you can only use a backup made with iOS 15.x. You will then lose data that you have created in the meantime. Any apps that you had installed in between will no longer be available on your device. Fortunately, you can re-download them from the App Store at no cost .
If you use iCloud Photo Library , you won’t lose photos, even after restoring from an older backup. After all, the photos are not only on your device, but also in iCloud. The same goes for other data synced through iCloud, such as contacts, calendar, messages (thanks to iMessage in iCloud ), notes, and reminders. If you make a backup of WhatsApp via iCloud , you can also restore it.
Restore vs Downgrade
Restore and downgrade are two terms you will often hear when it comes to installing iOS versions. With iPhone restore , you install exactly the same iOS version back on the device. This is a clean installation. You usually restore it because your iPhone no longer functions properly, or if the battery runs out quickly.
This is quite a lot of work. Before you get started, it can often help to try less drastic solutions, such as restoring the (network) settings . If this has no effect, it may make sense to completely reinstall the iOS version . This is called a restore and it takes you back to the factory settings of your iPhone . All photos and personal data will be erased, but if you make a good backup to iCloud beforehand, you can restore all that data in a few minutes.
Downgrading means going back to an older iOS version. This is done for four reasons:
- Because people regret an update. This could be the case with iOS 15.4, for example, if you don’t like the improvements. You will then temporarily revert to an earlier version. But in the end you will have to believe in it, otherwise you will miss future functions.
- Because you have installed a beta version. This is for example the case with the iOS 16 beta . People have installed the beta out of curiosity but notice that it is not very stable yet or their favorite apps are not working properly. You can then go back to the most recent, most stable version.
- Because you have an older iOS device and you notice that the latest iOS update makes your device slow. An older iOS version will work better. You may miss the latest functions, but your device is nice and fast again. This is also not always possible.
Downgrade from very old iOS versions
If you have a very old iPhone with an ‘antique’ iOS version lying around, it’s good to know that Apple has been signing the firmware files since iPhone OS 3.1.3. Since then, you can no longer just downgrade to an older firmware. With older devices with an A4 chip such as the iPhone 4, you can still go back to an older iOS version if you have the SHSH data of the firmware you want to downgrade to. However, you will usually not have this SHSH data, unless you have been active in the jailbreak circuit for a long time.