How To Update Your iPhone

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by Jack Taylor | Last Updated:  December 3, 2019

Apple is always refining it’s flagship product, the iPhone, by updating it’s operating system. With each update additional security measures and features are released making it even more valuable. But how should you update your iPhone?

It is important to keep your iPhone updated to the latest version of IOS to ensure that you are employing the latest security measures, bug fixes and new features. Additionally, updating to the latest version of the operating system will optimize the battery life on your device.

In this article, I will show you why you need to keep your iPhone updated, and the benefits of doing so. Together, we will go through each step required to back up your iPhone in preparation for the update. Finally, I will show you two ways that you can update your iPhone, offering step-by-step instructions.

Why You Need to Update Your iPhone

My wife is notorious for not updating her iPhone and it drives me nuts. After IOS 13.2 had been released, I snuck a peak her at her iPhone and found that she was still on IOS 12, so I promptly installed the update for her while we were engrossed in a movie sitting on the couch together. She never knew I updated her phone.

The reason why you need to update your iPhone relates directly to the benefits of updating your phone, which we will cover in more detail in a minute. It has to do with security, battery improvement, bug fixes and new features that may be released with each update.

It is important that updates are carefully tested to ensure that everything is better after the update has been released. They are careful to ensure that an update to one part of the operating system will not adversely affect another part of the operating system, or programs within IOS.

IOS Adoption Rate

According to Apple, 50% of all iPhone models in use have been upgraded to IOS 13, while 38% are still using IOS 12, and 7% are using an older version of IOS.

What is most impressive, however, is that the adoption rate to IOS 13 only took 26 days from the release of IOS 13 for 50% of all iPhone users to update to the latest operating system. This is huge.

Benefits of Using the Latest Version of IOS

Security

Why should one be so concerned about updating their iPhone to the latest version of the operation system? Let’s say that a security flaw was found in IOS, one that could potentially violate your privacy or the integrity of the device. Once that security flaw is fixed, (usually within a day or two of being discovered), the update will hit the masses quickly, securing both your privacy and the integrity your device.

As just mentioned, you can rest assured, having the latest security measures deployed to your device. Some of the best hackers in the world are employed by Apple who’s sole job is to try to hack into IOS for the purpose of exposing security flaws. Once discovered, they are quickly patched and bundled into the next version of IOS.

If fact, so confident is Apple regarding the security of IOS, they have introduced a “Bug Bounty” program where they will pay hackers up to $1 million dollars if they can find an exploit in IOS and report it to Apple through proper channels.

This program started in August of 2014, and at the time, Apple offered up to $200,000 to anyone who could discover a single technique that a researcher discovers and shares discreetly with Apple. As of August 2019, that number has been bumped up to $1 million.

Suffice it to say, Apple values your privacy and they put their money where their mouth is.

Better Battery Life

Their has been 4 iterations of the iPhone since the release of the iPhone 8 Plus and it still has a remarkable battery life. With IOS 13, you can get up to 14 hours of video playback, up to 60 hours of audio playback and get up to a 50% charge in 30 minutes with an 18 watt charger.

Today, with the iPhone 11 Pro Max, running IOS 13, you can get up to 20 hours of video playback (that’s an increase of 43% over the iPhone 8 Plus!), up to 80 hours of audio playback (that an increase of 20% over the iPhone 8 Plus!), and get up to a 50% charge in 35 minutes with an 18 watt charger.

Bug Fixes

Even though each IOS update is thoroughly tested, both internally and externally through the beta program, unfortunately, bugs can still find their way into a release. However, at the same time, existing bugs are squashed with each update as well.

Over time, these bugs have gotten smaller and smaller, and the operating system as a whole has become more mature and user-friendly. When you update your iPhone, you squash existing bugs allowing for a better overall user experience.

New Features

Every once in a while, long awaited new features are made available with an update, usually when a major update is released, like IOS 13. For example, when IOS 13 was released, Apple gave us these new features:

Additionally, IOS 13 offers enhancements to all of the following:

If you are still using an older version of IOS on your iPhone, you miss all of the new features that are available to you for free. These new features are provided to you at no additional cost and just may make things a lot easier for you.

Preparing For the Update

Before you update your iPhone, however, you really should make a backup. To back up your iPhone, I have written a complete step-by-step guide on, “How to Back up Your iPhone“, offering three different methods of backing up your iPhone.

If your iPhone was backed up on the last 24 hours, however, you can skip the backup, but if you have not backed up your phone within the last 24 hours, you definitely will want to do so now before moving forward.

2 Ways To Update Your iPhone

There are two ways that you can update your phone. You can do so manually by plugging it into your computer to download and install the update, or you can simply change a setting on your phone so that it downloads the update automatically for you. Once downloaded, you will then be asked if you want to install the update.

PRO TIP
Of the two options, the preferable method is to allow the phone to update itself. In fact, an update may be released that you are unaware of, and by allowing your phone to update itself, you ensure that you are always running the latest version of IOS and you won’t need to remember to update it yourself.

How to Update Your iPhone Without a Computer

If you allow your phone to update itself, it will only do so when it is plugged in, connected via Wi-Fi, and not in use. Generally speaking, this will happen over night while you are sleeping. Keep in mind, however, that it will not actually update the phone, it will simply download the update so that it is ready to be installed. After it is downloaded overnight, you will receive a notification before updates are installed so that you can determine when the update is installed. The update will generally take 20 – 30 minutes, but even so, you are in full control.

If you wish to manually update your phone without plugging it into your computer, simply tap the Settings App > General > Software Update. If there is a Software Update available, it will show that there is an update asking if you would like to install the update. From here, you can also tap Automatic Updates and then toggle the Automatic Updates to the ON position (green).

If there is an IOS update available for your phone, you will see a red “1” on the Software Update section as indicated in the image below.

You can still choose to update your phone when your phone is not plugged in, however, your phone must be connected to Wi-Fi, and your battery level must be above 50% before it will allow you to perform the download.

How to Update Your iPhone With a Computer

You can update your iPhone on the Mac or PC. If using macOS Catalina or later, simply open up Finder and select your iPhone on the left hand side and click General. If you are using an an earlier version of macOS, you will need to use iTunes.

If you have connected your iPhone to a PC using Windows, you will need to click the button near the top of the iTunes window and then click Summary.

Now that you are in the right place, simply click Check For Update. If an update is available, click Update and follow the on-screen instructions. It’s that simple.

Closing Thoughts

Regardless of the iPhone model you have, be it an an iPhone SE or an iPhone 11 Pro Max, you should update your iPhone now to ensure that your device can take advantage of the latest security measures. Additionally, an updated iPhone resolves any known bugs and occasionally offers new features. Updating your iPhone also ensures that your device will be able to squeeze every last ounce out of your battery.


Jack has been helping people with computers needs for several years, and he loves to help people succeed. He brings a wealth of wisdom and insight from an entrepreneur's perspective and enjoys freelance writing. In fact, when he's not writing an article or working on his YouTube channel, you might find him binge-watching Suits or formatting his computer . . . again, just for fun. To learn more about Jack, click here.
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