Apple’s new method for updating iPhones sounds decidedly Apple-like

An iPhone on a yellow background showing the iOS 17 install page
(Image credit: Future)

Have you ever bought yourself a new iPhone, only to get home from the Apple Store and find that it hasn’t yet been updated to the latest version of iOS? No? Just us? In any case, Apple is reportedly working on a (decidedly Apple-like) solution to that problem.

According to Bloomberg’s resident Apple expert Mark Gurman, Apple will soon begin using wireless pads to turn on, update, and power down iPhones in-store without employee intervention. This system would see all iPhones automatically updated to the freshest edition of iOS before they’ve even left their boxes.

Apple plans to ship these wireless pads to Apple Stores before the end of the year, suggesting that this hands-free updating technology could be in place sooner rather than later. It’s not yet clear whether Apple plans to share this system with mobile carriers.

Admittedly, buying an iPhone that hasn’t been updated to the very latest version of iOS is the definition of a First World Problem. It’s also very easy to check for and solve this issue using the system in place right now: once you’ve unpacked your new iPhone, simply head to Settings > General > Software Update and follow the on-screen instructions to update it (here's how to download iOS 17, specifically).

Apple Store Brompton Road Knightsbridge London - iPhone 13 range

New iPhones will soon be automatically updated in-store (Image credit: TechRadar)

That said, Apple’s new system will benefit Apple Store customers who underestimate the importance of – or perhaps don’t know how to download – post-launch iOS updates. New iPhones are generally packaged up with the latest numbered version of iOS already installed, but subsequent updates often contain important security fixes for issues Apple becomes aware of later down the line.

Take the iPhone 15, for instance. We can safely assume that every iPhone 15 model available to buy in Apple Stores right now is equipped with iOS 17 (that’s iOS 17.0), but iOS 17.0.1, iOS 17.0.2 and iOS 17.0.3 were all released after the iPhone 15 went on sale. Each update contains important fixes, but currently, anyone who doesn’t know how to manually update their iPhone won’t benefit from these fixes immediately.

It is true that all new iPhone updates are downloaded automatically (iOS 16.4 introduced this feature), but, on some occasions, these automatic downloads aren’t triggered until days after Apple releases a new version of iOS.

In other words, prospective iPhone buyers can soon rest assured that the latest and greatest iPhone they’re buying is equipped with the latest and greatest software, too.

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Axel Metz
Phones Editor

Axel is TechRadar's UK-based Phones Editor, reporting on everything from the latest Apple developments to newest AI breakthroughs as part of the site's Mobile Computing vertical. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion.  Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned an NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme.