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How to Upgrade Your iPhone Over the Air OTA

Note: Check out an updated version of this post with iOS 7 and beyond screenshots and instructions.

Apple today released iOS 5.01 – a minor update to iOS 5 that includes:

  • Fixes bugs affecting battery life
  • Adds Multitasking Gestures for original iPad
  • Resolves bugs with Documents in the Cloud
  • Improves voice recognition for Australian users using dictation 1

As this is the first time for most people to be able to use over the air (OTA) updating instead of having to update via iTunes, I thought I’d post the steps to do the update. 2 3

Find Settings.app

It has the gear style icon:

Settings.app

General

Scroll down until you see the General section:

General

Software Update

Assuming you’ve got 5.0 properly installed you should see a Software Update item:

Software Update

Checking for Update

The iPhone will ping Apple’s servers to see if there’s an update:

Checking for Update

iOS 5.01 Download and Install

You should see the Download and Install option beneath the description of what’s in the update:

Download and Install

Click here to see what’s behind the Learn More option

Terms & Conditions

Hooray! T&C. Make sure you run it past your lawyer before you agree to install.

Terms & Conditions

Connect Your iPhone To a Power Source

If you aren’t already plugged into something, it prompts you to plug it in:

Software Update Connect your iPhone to a power source while the download is in progress to save battery.

Download Ahoy!

It took just under 2 minutes to download but your connection speed will vary:

Less than 1 minute remaining

Preparing Update

It took longer to prepare the update than it did to download:

Preparing Update

iOS 5.01 Will Be Installed In 7 Seconds

Click install or watch it countdown:

Software Update iOS 5.01 will be installed in 7 seconds. Your iPhone will restart when installation is finished.

Verifying Update

Depending on how many other Apple nerds are doing it at the same time as you, this could take a few minutes:

Verifying Update

Restart and then Restart Again

At this point the visual tour ends as I can’t take screenshots while it’s restarting and installing. But my iPhone restarted a couple of times with a progress bar both times. After the second restart/progress bar, my iPhone rebooted to a normal screen and was done.

A quick check back into Software Update reveals that iOS 5.0.1 is installed and I’m up to date.

iOS 5.0.1 Your software is up to date

Done.


  1. Crikey! 
  2. Assuming you’re already running iOS 5.0 
  3. Though this tutorial covers the upgrade on an iPhone 4, the same process works for iPad and iPod touch devices that are compatible with iOS 5