Do iPhones Need Wi-Fi To Update? The Complete Guide

Affiliate Disclaimer

As an affiliate, we may earn a commission from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links on this website from Amazon and other third parties.

Apple frequently releases iOS updates for its smartphones, but it provides a series of recommendations for its customers. Most users prefer updating through Wi-Fi because it’s quicker, but you might be wondering if it’s necessary. Apple updates can be tricky, so is it best to use a reliable internet connection?

iPhones don’t need Wi-Fi to update, but they require a strong internet connection. You can use your cellular data for an iOS update. Click your phone’s settings, choose ‘Cellular Data,’ then set the bar to allow iOS updates when using cellular data. Remember, you can update manually or automatically.

In this post, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about Wi-Fi and iPhone iOS updates. We’ll also show you how to use cellular data to get the job done and tips to force an update to start downloading.

Is Wi-Fi Necessary for iPhone?

Wi-Fi isn’t necessary for an iPhone because it can run on cellular data. If you have a cell phone plan with any primary carrier, you’ll have access to data that runs in most places. You can check your carrier’s data range map or use local Wi-Fi for quicker downloads.

Wi-Fi connections can make your phone run smoother, allowing it to run updates to give your iPhone the best performance it can have, Wi-Fi allows your phone to operate its basic functioning including surfing the web and using YouTube

Needing another battery is the number 1 reason why you need to change your iPhone to discover the other tell-tale signs I recommend you read my dedicated article.

Why Do iPhone Updates Require Wi-Fi?

iPhone updates require Wi-Fi if you have your phone settings adjusted for it. However, you can change it by going to the Settings menu, selecting Cellular Data, then allowing it to update iOS software while running without Wi-Fi. While they don’t require it, iOS updates are almost always much quicker when connected to Wi-Fi.

According to iMyPhone, you can perform this process with any iOS update after iOS 12. Unfortunately, updates before iOS 12 typically require a Wi-Fi connection. But, you can work around this by connecting your iPhone to your computer, opening iTunes, going to the Update/Summary tab, and checking for updates.

Apple used to require Wi-Fi for iOS updates because the data required can be huge. Running an update without Wi-Fi will consume a lot of your cellular data if you don’t have an unlimited plan. Thankfully, many providers have affordable unlimited data plans, which is one of a few reasons Apple removed this requirement.

If you had an iPhone with a Verizon iPhone and want to switch to another carrier I recommend you read my dedicated guide to help you through the process.

Can You Update an iPhone Without Wi-Fi?

You can update an iPhone without Wi-Fi, regardless of how big the update is. There’s no need for Wi-Fi because you can use cellular data for the iOS software update, but I recommend using Wi-Fi whenever it’s possible. Cellular data usually isn’t as fast as Wi-Fi, but it can be worthwhile if it’s your only option.

One of the main reasons people update their iPhones without Wi-Fi is for security purposes. If you’re in a public place without a secure connection, you wouldn’t want to open your iOS to potential hackers. Since cellular data is protected, you don’t have to worry about such issues. Let’s break down the various ways to do it in the following sections.

To stay protected by updating your iPhone during public Wi-Fi connection and enjoying any country Netflix a VPN is a fantastic option, get Express VPN for a bargain- enjoy internet freedom today!.

How Do I Download iOS Update Over Cellular?

To download an iOS update over cellular data, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to the Settings menu.
  2. Look for Cellular Data.
  3. Allow the iPhone to update over cellular data.
  4. Force the update through the software update tab or approve it when prompted to do so.

It’s best to close all other apps before updating your iPhone. Keep in mind that the phone will likely need to restart before you can use it once the update is complete. This process takes much longer than if you had Wi-Fi, but it can be worth it in a pinch.

Have you ever dropped your iPhone and wondered if it caused internal damage? To learn the real facts behind internal damage I recommend you read my dedicated article.

How Do I Force an iOS Update Using Wi-Fi?

  1. Go to your Settings menu.
  2. Click the General tab.
  3. Look for software updates.
  4. Choose Install Now (NexMobility recommends reviewing the file size beforehand).

If you don’t want to force the update, wait until your iPhone suggests the update. Many iOS updates can be rescheduled or set to start during a designated time automatically. Figure out which time works for your schedule and keep your iPhone connected to the Wi-Fi before it starts.

Can I Update My iPhone Using Cellular Data?

You can update your iPhone using cellular data. All iPhones with iOS 12 and up can use cellular data to finish an iOS update. This method is ideal when you’re out in public, out of reach of reliable Wi-Fi connections, or if the bandwidth is overwhelmed on your usual Wi-Fi network.

If you choose to use cellular data to update your iPhone, you should ensure you have unlimited data (or at least over 100 GB per month). MacPaw shows iOS updates can range between 1GB to 2GB or more, which means you’ll need enough space for the update and everything else you do throughout the month.

Want to buy AirPods but are still unsure and need some clarification? See my complete guide on Apple AirPods here.

How Do I Download iOS?

To download iOS, perform these steps:

  1. Much like the previous two examples, you need to go to the general tab in the settings menu.
  2. Choose the software update and click Install Now.
  3. Agree to the terms and conditions, then enter your password if prompted to do so.

You can also connect your iPhone to your computer, open iTunes, then update it through the menu. Either way, you’ll be good to go and enjoy the latest update. You can perform the iTunes iOS update method with or without Wi-Fi on your phone, but both your phone and computer need a reliable internet connection.


iPhones don’t need Wi-Fi for updates, but there’s no denying the numerous benefits of connecting to an internet network. You don’t want to waste your cellular data, nor do you want to wait around for several hours rather than a few minutes. With these suggestions in mind, you can update your Apple phone wherever you want to!


Latest posts

  • Why Isn’t My Fitbit And MyFitnessPal Syncing?

    MyFitnessPal is perhaps one of the most practical and accurate apps on Fitbit that lets you track your daily diet and activity. By syncing your MyFitnessPal account with Fitbit, you can make the most of both these tools and stick to a healthy lifestyle. However, some Fitbit users have complained about Fitbit and MyFitnessPal not…

    Read more

  • Why Is My Fitbit Not Working?

    According to Fitbit, one of the most common reasons a Fitbit tracker is not working is due to syncing issues. These fitness devices sync with Android or iOS devices via Bluetooth, a technology that is not always reliable. Also, the charging problem is another common issue for Fitbits not turning on. In addition to syncing…

    Read more

  • How Wide Are Fitbit Bands? 

    Fitbits are well-known for their accurate activity and sleep tracking ability. But one issue that many users face with these devices is the band’s short lifespan. When it unravels, you have to replace it in order to continue using the tracker. Fortunately, there are many aftermarket bands available for various Fitbits. But, in order to…

    Read more