Should I update from iOS 4?
September 21, 2012 7:54 PM   Subscribe

I have an iPhone 4 and am still using iOS 4. Should I update, and if so, how?

I've been procrastinating about updating to iOS 5 due to laziness and confusion about whether I'd need to back stuff up or not. Now that iOS 6 is out, I'm even more confused.

Should I update the OS at all, or just stick with iOS 4? I hear the iOS 6 new map app sucks. Is it possible for me to still update to iOS 5, or have I missed that boat entirely?

If I do update, what do I need to do beforehand (i.e. backing stuff up) to prevent mayhem?

Thanks for your boffiny help. I live in London, if that's all relevant to the map situation.
posted by hot soup girl to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You've missed the boat on 5 probably but the only way to find out is by connecting your phone to a computer, doing a backup through iTunes, and seeing if iTunes offers 5.01. My recommendation is yes, upgrade to iOS 6 unless you depend on the existing Maps app. New iOS iterations are more stable and secure. :)
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 8:22 PM on September 21, 2012

Best answer: Yeah, it's pretty much impossible for you to update to iOS 5 at this point. It's possible you could find an ISO of iOS5 somewhere on a Bittorent site and then install it by holding the shift button while clicking "Check for Update" (Alt button for Mac) and selecting the ISO, but really, it's far easier and probably safer to just install iOS6.

If you update to iOS 6, it's always a good idea to run a back-up first. Syncing your iPhone to iTunes first is the best way to do that. It'll back up your important settings, your photos and possibly your home screen set up. I say possibly because I have had mixed success with that for some reason in the past.

As to whether or not you should update, I say emphatically that you should totally update if you're running iOS4. If you were already running iOS5 I'd say it wouldn't really matter, since the iPhone 4 isn't getting a lot of the amazing new features iOS6 is bringing to the table. But iOS5 was a pretty stellar update for the iPhone 4, and since iOS6 brings all those features to your phone and a few more, I think it's totally worth it. Plus, some app developers may start dropping support for iOS4 now iOS6 is out, meaning at some point down the road some of the apps you use now may not work properly anymore (or at all).

The new Apple Maps doesn't suck as much as some people would have you believe. It's far from perfect, but it's not completely awful. Plus you can still install Google Maps to your phone if you really need it.

One thing to note is that iOS6 removes the native YouTube app. If you update to iOS6 and you want to watch YouTune, you'll need to download the new YouTube app from the app store (it's free).

To update, make sure you have the latest version of iTunes (, and once its installed, connect your phone to iTunes and sync, making sure "Backup to This Computer" is selected under the 'Summary' tab of your iPhone. Once the backup is done, you should press the "Check for Update" button and then sit back and wait until the update is done.

Hope that helps!
posted by Effigy2000 at 8:35 PM on September 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

It's possible you could find an ISO of iOS5 somewhere on a Bittorent site and then install it by holding the shift button while clicking "Check for Update" (Alt button for Mac) and selecting the ISO, but really, it's far easier and probably safer to just install iOS6.

You can actually download an iPhone 4 iOS 5.1.1 IPSW (firmware file) directly from Apple anytime you want (if you find the right URL to use), but Apple won't let you restore to it anymore. Every time you update or restore your iOS device, iTunes asks Apple "am I allowed to put this version on this device?" and Apple's answer is only "yes" for the latest version of iOS compatible with that device.

There's a window of approximately one day after the release of a new iOS version where Apple answers "yes" for both the slightly older version and the newest version, but that window has closed for iOS 5.1.1.

In other words, your options are to stick with iOS 4 or go to iOS 6. If you're content with your phone as it is, I wouldn't bother updating yet - wait until the maps situation is sorted out with iOS 6.
posted by dreamyshade at 9:28 PM on September 21, 2012

Even if you find an image on BitTorrent you can't update to iOS 5. The device pings Apple during the update process and it won't authenticate the installation of an old OS. So you'll need to go to 6 or stay where you are.
posted by alms at 9:30 PM on September 21, 2012

I downgraded a phone from iOS 6 to iOS 5 yesterday by downloading the firmware and doing option-click "restore" in iTunes. So unless things have changed in the last 12 hours, it's still possible.

Re maps, here in Oxford (uk) all the roads are in the right place but businesses etc are completely disastrous. Almost all businesses are in the wrong place by 100m or so. And the data is at least 5 years out of date. So I would not update to iOS 6 if you use that aspect of the maps.
posted by beniamino at 12:17 AM on September 22, 2012

Yes, Apple closed the iOS 5.1.1 signing window yesterday.
posted by dreamyshade at 10:20 AM on September 22, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks heaps for your help and advice. I might wait to update to iOS 6 since I'm doing some international travel soon for which the native maps app might be useful (I have Google Maps as well, but sometimes the native app is just more helpful). Thanks again.
posted by hot soup girl at 6:18 PM on September 23, 2012

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