How can I software update over cellular data? I've got enough data on my SIM but when go to update my iPad to iOS 8, it requires Wi-Fi. I do not have a router.

  • 4
    if you have an iphone use it as a hotspot, this would do the trick
    – wam090
    Dec 8, 2014 at 11:11
  • Is there an option under Preferences > iTunes & App Store > Switch on Updates (Automatic Downloads) and Use Cellular Data?
    – fsimkovic
    Dec 8, 2014 at 11:29
  • Do you have cellular data turned on? on phone, Settings->Cellular->Cellular Data
    – tron_jones
    Dec 8, 2014 at 14:02
  • 1
    How large is the update? I think there's a size limit over cellular.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 8, 2014 at 15:33

7 Answers 7


Apple doesn't allow major iOS updates over cellular. You can update from 10.3.1 to 10.3.2 over LTE, but not from 10.2 to 10.3.

This is not a technical limitation of cell data or wifi, per se, but rather a policy limitation (though some carriers have limits of how big individual files transmitted over their networks can be). Major OS updates can run into the gigabyte range, and while many users have multi-gig or unlimited data plans, not all users do - so updates above a given size are disallowed, per manufacturer policy, from downloading over cellular.

If you hotspot your phone and download the update to your laptop, then run the install via iTunes, you can get around it. Or if you find a wifi connection elsewhere (that won't cut you off for excessive data use (as some free/public ones can/will)).

Side note:

It's - generally - fastest to do OS updates via iTunes from your computer, because the update does not have to download to your phone, then extract, then install, then clean up after itself (especially important to consider if you only have 3G free on your device, but the update download size is 4GB: the update will likely still install if you do it via iTunes, because it will be overwriting existing files (along with removing some and adding some) on the phone, using your laptop/desktop as its workspace for extracting the update archive).

  • 4
    Absolutely insane that Apple completely disallows it. Would be understandable if that was the default that the user could override.
    – Miscreant
    Dec 16, 2018 at 14:52
  • 2
    Cripples iPad updates for those who rely on big cap cellular connections due to a policy decision. At least give people a choice.
    – timbo
    Apr 27, 2019 at 1:07
  • Typical Apple protecting users from themselves for devil knows what reason... I'm currently struggling with this. And moreover I can't connect my computer to my hotspot, ostensibly because my iOS version is out of date. Bravo Apple. I wonder if they're aware of how bad this decision is.
    – Milosz
    Jul 25, 2021 at 5:56

All the above will not work. What you will need for this are two things: your iPhone, and a Mac or windows PC, with iTunes installed. After that, tether data from your iPhone to your Mac. Your Mac will believe it is a wireless connection. Then, launch the iTunes app from your laptop, and download and update your phone. Make sure, obviously, that your phone is connected via USB.


I don't think that there is any feasible way around this. Apple being Apple is going to try to make software that mainly appeals to the tech layman, which isn't always bad thing, 9 times out of 10 it's a great thing. It means iPhones don't (for the most part) get viruses, do get a steady flow of software updates (unlike another mobile operating system...), and many other great features which can only be made possible when a company is a "control freak".

So even though you have adequate data, Apple makes your iPhone take the "better safe than sorry" approach in making sure that you don't use it up, or worse, go over, by using it here.

I'd just ask one of my friends/family if I could use their Wi-Fi connection to download iOS 9. I'd advise against using a public connection, though, since one must enter his passcode, Apple ID, and password.

  • 3
    The sensitive data is all transmitted over SSL connections. As long as one heeds any certificate warnings it should be fine.
    – samh
    Feb 28, 2016 at 16:56
  • 1
    The security is same whether on your data or Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi has better change of getting hacked AFAIK. Dec 13, 2016 at 7:31
  • Android gets updates all the time: but very few carriers push them to their subscribers. Apple's big strength here is they handle their own updates, carriers are not involved in any way in getting your iPhone (and its apps) to update.
    – warren
    Oct 5, 2017 at 14:01

Here are two ways to download iOS updates over the cellular network:

  1. Share iPhone's Internet connection and use iTunes on a computer to download the update. Warning: a backup Internet connection is required to verify the update after the device reboots. Otherwise the iPhone will get bricked, requiring a DFU restore erasing all data.
  2. This method requires advanced technical skills. Enable Personal Hotspot, and connect USB to an OpenWRT router. Then navigate to Wi-Fi settings and connect to the same router. Now the iPhone thinks it is connected to a Wi-Fi and will prefer using it, but the OpenWRT router will forward all traffic back to the USB port, and the iPhone will route it to the Internet. I just upgraded to iOS 14.5 using this method.

The OpenWRT router should be configured to access the Internet over the USB Ethernet interface. Required OpenWRT packages: kmod-usb-net-ipheth libimobiledevice libusbmuxd libplist libimobiledevice-utils libusbmuxd-utils plistutil usbmuxd

  1. It might me possible to exploit method 2 using a computer: if the computer can access Internet over the USB and share it using the Wi-Fi adapter back to the iPhone.
  • Have done this many times without "a backup Internet connection" and never once was bricked. This seems like misleading information. Please cite a reputable source.
    – vas
    Sep 15, 2021 at 23:05
  • Personal experience: When using iTunes to upgrade the firmware, iTunes attempt to connect to the Internet and verify the upgrade is allowed by Apple. This happens after the phone reboots so a backup source of Internet connection is required. Sep 17, 2021 at 3:52

Turning on cellular data for updates and iTunes only lets you download app updates under 100MB and iTunes purchases. There is currently no way around this other than tethering to another phone's wifi connection.

  • You can download 200+ MB apps over cellular from the App Store on your phone
    – warren
    Aug 16, 2017 at 12:18

Go to Settings> iTunes & App Store> UPDATES(on)> Use Cellular Data

  • 2
    Even with cellular data on iOS won’t allow you to update the core iOS install. Aug 7, 2016 at 3:52

There is a way around this:

Simply go to Settings>iTunes and App Stores, and turn on "Use Cellular Data".

  • 2
    Even with cellular data on iOS won’t allow you to update the core iOS install. Aug 7, 2016 at 3:52

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