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iOS 16 is out: How to install the latest iPhone software update

After following these simple steps to update your iPhone, you'll have access to Apple's new features like a customizable lock screen and the ability to delete or edit iMessages.
Written by Jason Cipriani, Contributing Writer
An iPhone 13 running iOS 16 showing wallpaper options
Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

Apple on Monday released iOS 16, the latest major software update for the iPhone lineup. Alongside iOS 16, Apple also released WatchOS 9 for the Apple Watch and TVOS 16 for the Apple TV. iPadOS 16 and MacOS Ventura are expected to arrive in October. 

Also: The simple but very hidden trick to more iOS and iPadOS update control

Included in iOS 16 are several new features that will change how you use your iPhone -- or at least change how you interact with its lock screen. 

You can now fully customize your iPhone's lock screen with rotating background photos (automated or of your choosing), and lock screen widgets for glanceable information -- something that will be even more useful on the iPhone 14 Pro's always-on display. 

Also: The worst thing about eSIM-only iPhones

Other improvements in iOS 16 include an update to the Messages app that allows you to edit or delete iMessages after they've been sent, more advanced focus settings and filters, the ability to schedule email messages, and other improvements to the Mail app. 

iPhone 14 Plus models in Apple Store

The iPhone 14 Plus.

Jason Hiner/ZDNET

How to install iOS 16 on your iPhone

If you're ready to take the leap and install iOS 16 on your iPhone right now, and you have one of the iPhone models that will get iOS 16, make sure to set aside about 30 minutes to complete the task. Not only does it take a bit of time to download and install the update, but before you do that you'll want to follow our guide to getting your iPhone ready for the update. It's good practice to go through a few housekeeping steps before installing major updates: It'll save you from any extra headaches should things go wrong. 

Also: Will my iPhone 13 case fit on the iPhone 14?

With all of that done, make sure you have your iPhone plugged in and charging and a strong Wi-Fi connection. The former will ensure that your phone doesn't run out of power during the installation, while the latter will help speed up the process. Here's how to install iOS 16:

iOS installation process
Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET
  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Select General > Software Update.
  3. Your iPhone will automatically check for the update. I had two options when looking for the update on an iPhone 13 Pro Max: iOS 15.7, or, at the bottom of the page, Upgrade to iOS 16.
  4. Tap Upgrade to iOS 16.
  5. Select Download and install and enter your passcode if prompted. 

From this point forward, let your iPhone do the rest of the work. You may be asked to approve your iPhone restarting to complete the installation process, or if you happen to miss the prompt your iPhone should restart on its own. 

Either way, your iPhone will restart a handful of times during the installation. That's normal. Once it's done, you'll see your typical lock screen where you can then enter your passcode and start tapping and swiping your way through the update.

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