How to safely run the iOS 15 public beta on your iPhone

There's the safe way to do this, and the way you lose data and become frustrated. You choose.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

The iOS 15 public beta is out, and it's the time when people throw caution to the wind and start taking big risks with their data and inviting frustration into their lives by running beta software on their daily driver iPhone.

Let's begin with what Apple has to say. Read this carefully because Apple didn't write it for the sake of writing something. While many people get away with installing a beta with no problems at all, I do hear from people who end up in a world of hurt from data loss or having problems running certain apps. I know of a couple of people who had their iPhone bricked by earlier developer releases of iOS 15, along with a few who ended up having to wipe their handset who didn't have a fresh backup.

While installing a beta on your device doesn't invalidate your warranty, you're also on your own as far as data loss goes.

Here's Apple's warning:

"Please note that since the public beta software has not yet been commercially released by Apple, it may contain errors or inaccuracies and may not function as well as commercially released software. Be sure to back up your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch and your Mac using Time Machine before installing beta software. Since Apple TV purchases and data are stored in the cloud, there's no need to back up your Apple TV. Install the beta software only on non-production devices that are not business critical. We strongly recommend installing on a secondary system or device, or on a secondary partition on your Mac."

OK, with that out of the way, here's what I recommend.

Must read: iPhone bug makes it easy for someone to break your Wi-Fi. Here's the fix and how to prevent it

For starters, you know that old iPhone you have in the drawer in the bedroom? Yes, that one. This might be a good time to bring it back into service. This is what Apple calls "a secondary system" and is the safest way to try out a beta.

OK, all that seems like too much effort to you.


Reality check time. While big show-stopping events such as crashes, lockups, or bricking are the worst that can happen when running a beta, what's far more likely to happen is that you have an app -- you know, that app you use all the time (or, worse still, that app you occasionally use but is vital) -- that either doesn't work or misbehaves in some way that causes you frustration.

For example, some banking apps can be frustrating.

Then, you're either waiting for an update to fix the bug (but remember, apps not running right on a beta doesn't technically count as a bug), or you find yourself in the position where you need to roll back to iOS 14.

Still determined to install iOS 15 public beta on your daily driver despite all this?


Then now is the time to make a backup.

I know, I know. It takes time. But think of every minute spent making a backup as a teardrop or clump of hair saved if things go bad. If you don't do this now, and you come to me with lost data, my reply will consist of a single emoji: 😂.

The backup needs to be local to your Mac or PC (not an iCloud backup). Apple has detailed instructions on how to do that here for Mac, and here for the PC.

The next thing you need to do is visit Apple's Beta Program home page in Safari on the iPhone you want to switch to the beta and either sign up or sign in.

Betas are available here for iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS.

From here, you can enroll the device and then download a profile to your iPhone. Once that's in (it takes seconds), head over to Settings, tap the profile and follow the onscreen instructions to install the profile.

Once that's done, go to Settings > General > Software Update to download the beta. It's a full download, so it will take some time.

Be patient.

Run into problems or no longer want to run the beta? To leave the beta, you will need to unenroll your device and then carry out a software update to download the latest release of iOS. It's a straightforward process, but as with any major changer, there's again a risk of running into problems or data loss.

Editorial standards