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Haven't downloaded iOS 15 for iPhone yet? How to install Apple's software update today

iOS 15 is ready to be installed on your iPhone and iPadOS 15 is available for your iPad. But make sure you prepare your phone and tablet first.

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New tweaks and features are available on iOS 15. 

Sarah Tew/CNET
This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple.

Ready to dive into the new features that are coming with iOS 15 and iPadOS 15? We've got good news: Both software updates are ready to be installed on your iPhone and iPad. Once downloaded, you'll have access to Apple's new FaceTime features that, for the first time, let Android and PC users participate, as well as iMessage improvements that make it easier to track links and photos your friends have sent. The iPad is getting a complete home screen makeover and multitasking is finally receiving the boost it's needed for years.

iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 come packaged into the new iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Mini, not to mention its newest iPad and iPad Mini that Apple announced last week. All are available for preorder now. (Apple also announced the new Apple Watch Series 7 to go with them.)

Below, we'll explain how to install iOS 15 on your iPhone and iPadOS 15 on your iPad. But do make sure to follow our checklist before downloading the software -- we'll tell you how to do that. And here's why some people may want to hold off a week.

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Get your iPhone or iPad ready before installing the update

Before you install the latest update, take a few minutes to do some routine maintenance on your iPhone or iPad. Not only will it help ensure a smooth update, but you'll free up storage in the process, and you'll have a fresh backup at the ready should anything go wrong when you install the update. 

Make sure to clear out any clutter, such as photos and apps you don't need anymore, to free up storage on your phone. If you haven't done so recently, you'll also want to create a fresh backup so you don't lose anything important on your device. (Here's a guide that'll walk you through how to do it all.) Once you've done this, your phone and iPad will be ready for iOS 15 and iPadOS 15.

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Are iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 compatible with my iPhone and iPad?

Apple published a list of devices that will receive the update. It's easy to figure out if your device will run the new operating system for its platform. If your iPhone is running iOS 14 right now, then you'll be able to install the update. Here are all of the compatible devices:

Devices that will support iOS 15 or iPadOS 15

iPhone 12 Mini iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation)
iPhone 12 iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation)
iPhone 12 Pro iPad Pro 12.9-inch (4th generation)
iPhone 12 Pro Max iPad Pro 11-inch (2nd generation)
Phone 11 iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation)
iPhone 11 Pro iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation)
iPhone 11 Pro Max iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2nd generation)
iPhone XS iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st generation)
iPhone XS Max iPad Pro 10.5-inch
iPhone XR iPad Pro 9.7-inch
iPhone X iPad (8th generation)
iPhone 8 iPad (7th generation)
iPhone 8 Plus iPad (6th generation)
iPhone 7 iPad (5th generation)
iPhone 7 Plus iPad Mini (5th generation)
iPhone 6s iPad Mini 4
iPhone 6s Plus iPad Air (4th generation)
iPhone SE (1st generation) iPad Air (3rd generation)
iPhone SE (2nd generation) iPad Air 2
iPod Touch (7th generation)

How to install iOS 15 and iPadOS 15

Now that the update is live -- Apple launched it around 10 a.m. PT today (1 p.m. ET, 6 p.m. BST) -- you can install it much like any other software update. It's a good idea to have your device plugged into a charger to ensure that the update doesn't drain the battery, and a strong Wi-Fi connection will help speed up the process without burning through your data plan. Bear in mind you may want to wait a little while -- here's why.

If you're eager to get going, on an iPhone or iPad, follow these steps:

1. Open the Settings app.

2. Select General

3. Tap Software Update. 

4. Under the Also Available section, tap Upgrade to iOS 15.

5. Select Download and install to begin the installation. You may be prompted to enter your passcode if you have one. 

Follow the prompts to complete the installation. When your device reboots, it will be running iOS 15. Follow the same steps with an iPad to update it to iPadOS 15.