If you’ve over-excitedly installed the public beta of iOS 15 and are feeling gut-wrenching regret as your favourite app won't open, you’re probably wondering if there’s a way to go back to the stability of iOS 14. It is possible, but the bad news is that unless you archived a backup of iOS 14 before you upgraded, you might have to completely wipe your iPhone and start again. 

We outline how to downgrade from iOS 15 back to iOS 14 right here. 

A note about archived backups

Before we get started, it’s worth noting that while you can downgrade back to iOS 14, you can’t restore from an iOS 15 backup. That means if you’ve backed up your iPhone since you upgraded to the iOS 15 beta, you can no longer use that backup if you choose to downgrade. The only exception to this is using an archived backup.

Archived backups are stored separately from the standard backups that are constantly overwritten on your Mac or PC. If you archived a backup of iOS 14 before you upgraded, you’re in luck - you’ll be able to access all your pre-upgrade texts, apps and other data. If you didn’t, however, it’s likely you’ll have to wipe your phone and start from scratch.

Regardless of whether you’ve got an archived backup or not, downgrading and restoring from the backup will mean losing all texts, apps and other data on the phone from your time with iOS 15. Just a warning. 

How to put your iPhone into recovery mode

As you might expect, Apple doesn’t make it easy to downgrade to a previous version of iOS. It’s not like Windows where you can roll back an update if you don’t like it!

To downgrade to iOS 14, you’ll have to first put your iPhone into recovery mode. Be warned: this is the point of no return - if you want to transfer any data from your time with iOS 15, do it before following these steps. 

iPhone 8 or later

Press the Volume Up button, then the Volume Down button, in quick succession, and then press and hold the power button until you reach the recovery mode screen. 

Note: this is also how to put an iPad without a Home button into recovery mode.

iPhone 7

Press and hold the Volume Down and Power buttons until you reach the recovery mode screen.

iPhone 6s or earlier

Press and hold the Home button and Power button until you reach the recovery mode screen.

Note: this is also how to put an iPad with a Home button into recovery mode. 

How to downgrade to an older version of iOS

Now your iPhone is in recovery mode, the next step is to reinstall iOS 14 onto your device. It’s worth noting that this process only works with the currently available version of iOS - if you were hoping to downgrade to iOS 14.1, for example, that’s not possible. Apple stops signing the previous version of iOS within a few days of a new update going live, essentially blocking anyone from downgrading any further than the publicly available version of iOS.

Thankfully, the latest version of iOS 14 is exactly what we want when downgrading from iOS 15, so follow these steps to reinstall it:

  1. Plug your iPhone into your PC or Mac using the supplied Lightning cable.
  2. On a PC or pre-Catalina Mac, open iTunes. If you’re using macOS Catalina or Big Sur, open Finder and click your iPhone in the sidebar. 
  3. You should see a pop-up informing you that there’s a problem with your iPhone, and that it needs to be updated or restored. Click Restore and agree to Apple’s T&Cs.

The process shouldn’t take any longer than 15 minutes on average - if it takes longer than this, or if your iPhone boots back up into iOS 15, unplug your iPhone and put it back into recovery mode before starting the process again. It’s also worth noting that you need an active internet connection to reinstall iOS 14. 

How to restore an archived iOS backup

Once your iPhone has been restored, it’ll feature a clean copy of iOS 14. To get your texts, apps and other data back onto the phone, you’ll have to restore from a backup. As mentioned earlier, you can’t restore from an iOS 15 backup so you’ll either have to use an archived backup (if available) or set it up as a new iPhone. If you’ve got an archived iOS backup, follow these steps:

  1. In iTunes (or in Finder in Catalina & Big Sur) select Restore from this backup.
  2. Select the archived backup of iOS 14 you created pre-upgrade, and enter the password if necessary. 

Once complete, your iPhone should be back to where it was before you upgraded to iOS 15. You won’t be installing an early beta again anytime soon, will you? 

For more handy iOS tips, take a look at how to get a refund from the App Store and how to clear the cache on iPhone too.