How to Get Older Version iPhones to Update

By Melissa King

Get iOS updates wirelessly or via iTunes.
i Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images News/Getty Images

If you're an iPhone owner, it's important to keep your device up to date with the latest software from Apple. IPhones running iOS 5 or higher can update wirelessly directly from the device or on your computer through iTunes. IPhones with iOS 4 or an earlier version can't update over the air, so you'll need to use iTunes instead. If you have iOS 4, iTunes will erase all content on your phone during the update, so be sure to back up your data before performing the update.

Update iOS 5 and Later Versions Wirelessly

Step 1

Connect your iPhone to a power source, such as a wall outlet.

Step 2

Select "Settings" and "General," then tap "Software Update." Your iPhone will check for available updates.

Step 3

Tap "Download" to get the latest available update from Apple. When the download completes, tap "Install."

Update iOS 5 and Later Versions via iTunes

Step 1

Download and install the latest version of iTunes if you don't already have it (link in Resources).

Step 2

Connect your iPhone to the computer with the included USB cable. When iTunes launches, select your iPhone under Devices.

Step 3

Click "Check for Update" in the Summary section. If iTunes finds an update, click "Download and Update" to install it.

Update iOS 4 in iTunes

Step 1

Install iTunes on your computer if you haven't already done so (link in Resources). Connect the iPhone to your computer via the included USB cable.

Step 2

Right-click your iPhone's name under Devices when iTunes starts. Select "Back Up." This process backs up all contacts, apps, media, messages and mail to iTunes.

Step 3

Click "Authorize Computer" in the Store menu. Type your Apple ID and password, then click "Authorize."

Step 4

Right-click your phone in the Devices menu, then select "Transfer Purchases from (your device name)." ITunes copies all of your purchased content to the computer. This transfer works only with items purchased from iTunes.

Step 5

Click "Check for Update" below Summary, then "Download and Update." ITunes will update the iPhone, restore your backed-up data and restart the device. After the restart, iTunes will sync media content from the library back to your iPhone.