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How to Update an Old iPhone

by on November 09, 2021
in Tips & How-Tos, Computers and Software, Tablets & eReaders, Phones and Mobile, iPhone/iPad Apps :: 0 comments

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While most iPhones can be upgraded to the latest operating system, iOS 15, some are stuck at an earlier generation of the operating system. Apple leaves devices behind when they don't have the hardware that's necessary to smoothly run the new operating system. 

Consult the chart below to find out the latest version of iOS that your phone supports. To identify which iPhone model you own, go to Settings > General > About. There you will find the "Model Name" and "Model Number." If you own an iPhone 7 or earlier model, you can also find the model number on by turning over your iPhone and looking at the very fine print on the back. 

 iPhone model number

The Latest Version of iOS by iPhone Model


Latest Version of iOS

iPhone (2007), Model number: A1203 iOS 3.1
iPhone 3G (2008), Model Numbers: A1324, A1241 iOS 4.2
iPhone 3GS (2009), Model Numbers: A1325, A1303 iOS 6.1.3
iPhone 4 (2010), Model Numbers: A1349, A1332 iOS 7.1.2
iPhone 4s (2011), Model Numbers: A1431, A1387 iOS 9.3.6 
iPhone 5 (2012), Model Numbers: A1428, A1429, A1442
iPhone 5c (2013), Model Numbers: A1456, A1507, A1516, A1529, A1532
iOS 10.3.4
iPhone 6 (2014), Model Numbers: A1549, A1586, A1589
iPhone 6 Plus (2014), Model Numbers: A1522, A1524, A1593
iPhone 5s (2013), Model Numbers: A1453, A1457, A1518, A1528, A1530, A1533
iOS 12.5.5
iPhone 13 (2021), Model Numbers: A2482 (United States), A2631 (Canada, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia), A2634 (mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao), A2635 (Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia), A2633 (other countries and regions)
iPhone 13 mini (2021), Model Numbers: A2481 (United States), A2626 (Canada, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia), A2629 (mainland China), A2630 (Armenia, Belarus, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia), A2628 (other countries and regions)
iPhone 13 Pro (2021), Model Numbers: A2483 (United States), A2636 (Canada, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia), A2639 (mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao), A2640 (Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia), A2638 (other countries and regions)
iPhone 13 Pro Max (2021), Model Numbers:  A2484 (United States), A2641 (Canada, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia), A2644 (mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao), A2645 (Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia), A2643 (other countries and regions)
iPhone 12 (2020), Model Numbers: A2172 (United States), A2402 (Canada, Japan), A2404 (China Mainland, Hong Kong, Macao), A2403 (other countries and regions)
iPhone 12 mini (2020), Model Numbers: A2176 (United States), A2398 (Canada, Japan), A2400 (China mainland), A2399 (other countries and regions)
iPhone 12 Pro (2020), Model Numbers: A2341 (United States), A2406 (Canada, Japan), A2408 (China mainland, Hong Kong, Macao), A2407 (other countries and regions)
iPhone 12 Pro Max (2020), Model Numbers: A2342 (United States), A2410 (Canada, Japan), A2412 (China mainland, Hong Kong, Macao), A2411 (other countries and regions)
iPhone 11 (2019), Model Numbers: A2111 (Canada, United States), A2223 (China mainland, Hong Kong, Macao), A2221 (other countries and regions)
iPhone SE (2nd generation) (2020), Model Numbers: A2275 (Canada, United States), A2298 (China mainland), A2296 (other countries and regions)
iPhone 11 Pro (2019), Model Numbers: A2160 (Canada, United States), A2217 (China mainland, Hong Kong, Macao), A2215 (other countries and regions)
iPhone 11 Pro Max (2019), Model Numbers: A2161 (Canada, United States), A2220 (China mainland, Hong Kong, Macao), A2218 (other countries and regions)
iPhone XR (2018), Model Numbers: A1984, A2105, A2106 (Japan), A2107, A2108 (China mainland)
iPhone XS (2018), Model Numbers: A1920, A2097, A2098 (Japan), A2099, A2100 (China mainland)
iPhone XS Max (2018), Model Numbers: A1921, A2101, A2102 (Japan), A2103, A2104 (China mainland)
iPhone X (2017), Model Numbers: A1865, A1901, A1902 (Japan)
iPhone 8 (2017), Model Numbers: A1863, A1905, A1906 (Japan)
iPhone 8 Plus (2017), Model Numbers: A1864, A1897, A1898 (Japan)
iPhone 7 (2016), Model Numbers: A1660, A1778, A1779 (Japan)
iPhone 7 Plus (2016), Model Numbers: A1661, A1784, A1785 (Japan)
iPhone SE (1st generation) (2016), Model Numbers (A1723, A1662, A1724
iPhone 6s (2015), Model Numbers: A1633, A1688, A1700
iPhone 6s Plus (2015), Model Numbers: A1634, A1687, A1699
iOS 15

How to update an old iPhone

There are two ways to update your old iPhone. You can update it wirelessly over WiFi or connect it to a computer and use the iTunes app. 

How to update an old iPhone wirelessly

Back up your iPhone. Make sure your iPhone is connected to WiFi and then go to Settings > Apple ID [Your Name] > iCloud. Make sure iCloud Backup is turned on and select "Back Up Now." You'll receive a confirmation when the backup is complete.

Three screenshots of iPhone settings from the left. Screenshot 1 shows the settings home page with the apple ID (pointed out), Airplane Model, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Cellular, Personal Hotspot, NPV, Notifications. The 2nd screenshot show Apple ID page with Name, Phone Numbers, Email; Password and security, Payment & Shipping, Subscriptions, iCloud (pointed out), Media & purchases, Find My, Family Sharing. The 3rd screenshot shows the iCloud page with Reminders, Notes, Messages, Safari, News, Stocks, Home, Health, Wallet, Game Center, Siri, Keychain and iCloud Backup (pointed out),

Check for and install the latest software. To check for the latest software, go to Settings > General > Software Update. Your iPhone will then check for a software update. On the screen, you'll either see your current version of iOS and the message "Your software is up to date," or if your software is not up to date, you'll see the option to "Download and Install." 

Three screenshots of iPhone settings. The first shows the main settings screen with Bluetooth, Cellular, Personal Hotspot, VPN, Notifications, Sounds & Haptics, Focus, Screen Time, and then General pointed out. The second screenshot shows the General page with About and then Software Update pointed out. The third screenshot shows the Software Update screen with  an option to turn on Automatic Updates and it shows iOS has been updated to 15.1.

How to update an old iPhone using your computer

Back up your iPhone. Connect your iPhone to your computer with your Lightning cable. (You may see a message asking for your iPhone passcode or for your to "Trust This Computer." Follow the directions.) On a Mac with macOS Catalina 10.15, open Finder. On a Mac with macOS Mojave 10.14 or earlier, or on a PC, launch iTunes. Locate your iPhone in iTunes and click on it. You'll then see an option to "Back Up Now." Click on the "Back Up Now" button, and you'll receive a confirmation when the backup is complete.

Screenshot of iTunes iPhone backup. On the right under the phone type there is a box showing the current version of iOS and a button with the text check for update, which is pointed out. In the box entitled Backups underneath, in the right column there is an option to manually back up and restore. In that section the button to back up of now is highlighted.

Check for and install the latest software. On a Mac with macOS Catalina 10.15 or later, open Finder. On a Mac with macOS Mojave 10.14 or earlier, or on a PC, open iTunes. Then, connect your device to your computer. Locate your device on your computer. Click "General" or "Settings," then click "Check for Update." Click "Download and Update." You may be asked to enter your passcode.

Updated on 11/9/2021 with iOS 15 information

[Image credit: iPhone 5c with headphones via BigStockPhoto, screenshots via Techlicious]

For the past 20+ years, Suzanne Kantra has been exploring and writing about the world’s most exciting and important science and technology issues. Ten years ago, she founded Techlicious, which serves the role of that tech-savvy friend you can count on to share tips and tricks to get the most out of technology; whether that’s saving time in our hectic schedules, discovering new ways to enjoy our personal interests, or keeping up with the latest technology trends and styles. Before that, Suzanne was the Technology Editor for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, where she hosted the radio show “Living with Technology." Previously, she served as Technology Editor for Popular Science Magazine. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, and NBC.

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