Update: Bad news. Apple has stopped signing the 6.1.3/4 so you won’t easily be able to downgrade.
Looks like Apple is finally starting to stop signing 6.1.3/6.1.4.— iH8sn0w (@iH8sn0w) September 21, 2013
Apple launched iOS 7 yesterday, and while adoption rates are soaring, some users are less-than-thrilled with the new look and feel of their phones. Typically Apple doesn’t allow iOS to be downgraded to previous versions, but at the time of this writing disgruntled users are still able to go back to the leather and green felt they know and love.
Just how do you accomplish this? Keep reading for a full walkthrough.
There are a few important things to cover before we start this process. If you’re interested in jailbreaking, you should note that there is not a jailbreak available for iOS 6.1.3 or 6.1.4 at this time. If you’ve upgraded to iOS 7, you can’t jailbreak right now at all, even after downgrading.
That won’t be the only thing you lose by downgrading, though. Some apps on the App Store have now been updated to require iOS 7 in order to run. You’ll still be able to install older versions of those apps, but you won’t be able to update them beyond that point, which means no more bug fixes or new features.
Finally, you can’t use an iOS 7 backup on your iOS 6 device. If you don’t have an old backup from iOS 6, you’ll have to start from scratch by setting up your phone as a new device and your old data will be lost (except the stuff stored in iCloud).
If that seems like an acceptable trade-off to you, follow the steps below to get back to iOS 6.
The first and most important step in downgrading is determing whether you still can. Apple requires the iTunes servers to approve of any iOS devices being restored. In order to appease the server and get permission to restore, you have to be restoring to an approved version of iOS. Typically Apple stops approving old versions of iOS almost immediately after an update is released, but at the time of this writing, iOS 6.1.3 (and 6.1.4 on the iPhone 5) are still being approved.
Of course, if Apple stops approving these versions, you won’t be able to downgrade. The easist way to check is to visit this page. Click your device at the top of the page and see which versions of iOS have a green checkmark next to them in the “Apple Signing Status” column in the table that appears. If there’s a green checkmark, you are able to restore and run that version. If there’s a red X, Apple has stopped approving that version and you can’t downgrade to it. If that’s the case, stop here and don’t continue.
The next step is to get the IPSW for that version. The IPSW is basically a bundle containing the operating system that will be installed on your phone or iPad. You can easily get the IPSW for any version of iOS by clicking on the link in the “Download” column on the same page listed above. This will download the file directly from Apple’s server—no shady third-party files or servers are used here.
Once you’ve got the file, open up iTunes, plug in your device, and hold down the Option key (or the Shift key on Windows) and click the restore button. Navigate to the file you just downloaded and select it. iTunes will then “phone home” and ask Apple’s servers if the restore is approved. If it is, your phone will be downgraded back to iOS 6. From here, just restore your backup in iTunes, re-sync your media and apps, and enjoy your newly-downgraded device.
Once you’ve downgraded, be careful around the over-the-air updater in the Settings app and the “update” and “restore” buttons in iTunes. Since Apple probably won’t continue approving these downgrades for long, accidentally updating back to iOS 7 again could cause you to get stuck there without a way to go back.
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