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Science And Nature

Why Isnt It Possible to Downgrade an iPhone?

Closeup of an iPhone on a white tabletop with the Apple logo and software upgrade progress bar visible on screen.
Tran Thu Hang/

Apple tightly controls which software could be installed on the iPhone and iPad in ways not seen on its Mac desktop computers. So is Apple to prevent you from installing older versions of iOS or iPadOS on a whim, or is this a good example of corporate overreach?

New Software SHOULD BE Actively Signed By Apple

To set up software on the iPhone or iPad, software should be signed by Apple. Which means that other os’s like Android or Linux can’t be installed on Apple smartphones or tablets, only Apple-approved software.

Furthermore requirement, the program should be actively signed, meaning that Apple must approve the installation utilizing an online check before it could be installed on an iPhone.Apple is only going to actively sign software for a restricted time. Whenever a new version of iOS or iPadOS is released, there’s just a short window of time where in fact the previous version can be installed prior to the company will minimize signing it altogether.

The signing window is really a temporary time period where software could be installed. So long as Apple is signing a specific version of iOS, it could be installed on your own iPhone utilizing the Settings > General > Software Update menu, Finder on macOS, or iTunes for Windows (and previous versions of Apples desktop OS).

iPhone Software Update

Which means that it really is technically possible to downgrade iOS to the prior version, but limited to an extremely short window of time. You are able to do this utilizing the IPSW file and Recovery Modewith a Mac or PC so long as Apple continues to be signing the program. Its extremely hard to get this done on these devices directly.

Following the signing window has passed, the older version of the program is not any longer designed for installation. The only method to update the program on your own device would be to install the newer, actively signed version. This bars iPhone and iPad owners from installing older versions of iOS and iPadOS, even though they will have the IPSW software file stored locally.

THIS TECHNIQUE Is wonderful for Security

Among the major great things about Apples restrictive operating-system policy is that it prevents folks from installing versions of iOS and iPadOS which have known exploits. By fixing these flaws in new versions of software, Apple can effectively remove threats posed by outdated software.

Its worth remember that only works in the event that you regularly update your device. Youre absolve to leave the flawed version of iOS on your own iPhone so long as it takes one to install the update as well as your device will undoubtedly be at risk and soon you do. But once youve installed a fresh version of iOS, theres no heading back to a previous version.

The iPhone lock screen

The signing window gives Apple adequate control over newly discovered exploits, as was observed in August 2022 when Apple released iOS and iPadOS 15.6.1 to repair two actively exploited security vulnerabilitiesdiscovered in iOS 15.6. Inside a week of release, iOS 15.6 was no more being signed and anyone upgrading from earlier versions was bumped onto the fixed release because of Apples system.

IN ADDITION, IT Helps Apple Combat Jailbreaking

Another reason Apple is indeed thinking about restricting which versions of iOS and iPadOS could be installed on an iPhone or iPad would be to prevent jailbreaking. This is actually the act of evading Apples restrictions by exploiting vulnerabilities to perform custom code. Once jailbroken, an iPhone or iPad may be used in an array of techniques Apple forbids.

This consists of installing banned applications like torrent clients, sideloading software from legitimate and not-so-legitimate sources, and making changes to just how Apples os’s work. It will come as no real surprise that Apple actively fights from this practice, rendering it as difficult as you possibly can that you can jailbreak your device.

Through the use of a dynamic signing window, Apple can prevent folks from rolling back their devices to earlier versions of software which were successfully jailbroken. Many jailbreaking advocates encourage those that desire to jailbreak their devices never to update to the most recent version of Apples operating-system in a bid to benefit from jailbreaking loopholes in old software that Apple has closed in newer releases.

unc0ver jailbreak for iOS 11.0 to 14.8

As the pressure to update might seem as an anti-consumer move, Apple has legitimate known reasons for closing these loopholes from the security standpoint. Since jailbreaking removes Apples restrictions by giving an individual with root or admin-level permissions, removing the opportunity to downgrade to jailbreak protects your device from others.

For instance, authorities may potentially exploit this capability to jailbreak your device and circumvent security measures to get usage of your device and the info stored onto it. Removing the opportunity to jailbreak inconveniences a small % of users to benefit almost all the ecosystem (from the security standpoint).

Apple Benefits in DIFFERENT WAYS

Getting the ecosystem constantly continue when it comes to software version (minus the option of going backward) has broader advantages to Apple and its own ecosystem. Apple still issues some security updates for past versions of its os’s, even the ones that are deprecated, but they are for the advantage of older devices that not support the most recent versions.

New features arrive with new operating-system versions, which offer an incentive that you can upgrade. Youve likely noticed how often Apple reminds you when updates can be found, and also offers to set up the update (though this involves consent when it comes to entering your passcode).

iPhone reminder to update iOS

By locking users out of older versions of the operating-system, Apple has less work to accomplish with regards to maintaining compatibility across its selection of services. Its easier for Apple to keep up a frequent user experience across generations of devices after the substitute for downgrade is removed. Developers can target the very least version of iOS, realizing that users cannot downgrade to a version that their app doesnt support.

Apple publishes iOS usage statistics on its Apple Developer website. During writing this short article in September 2022, 89% of iPhone devices introduced within the last 4 years were utilizing iOS 15. 82% of most devices in the open had moved to iOS 15.


Locking users out of old versions of the OS has big benefits when it comes to security and development, but its not just a perfect system. Many apps have fallen by the wayside and been lost because of changes manufactured in new versions of iOS. A notable example is when Apple dropped support for 32-bit apps with the arrival of iOS 11 in 2017.

This constant march forward quite definitely depends upon software developers maintaining their apps, that is beyond Apples control. In the event that you bought a casino game a decade ago on your own iPhone 4S, theres no guarantee it’ll focus on your iPhone 13. Additionally you cant downgrade your device to be able to play it.

Some users also complain that new versions of iOS harm performance, mostly on older devices. Following the signing window has closed, youre stuck. The upshot is that youll get security updates, better compatibility online thanks to a more recent version of Safari, and all of the other benefits a major iOS upgrade brings.

RELATED: How exactly to Update Your iPhone to the most recent iOS Version

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