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How to downgrade from iOS 9.3 and fix its most annoying bug

Updated Dec 19th, 2018 9:15PM EST
iOS 9.3 Downgrade iOS 9.2.1

We can’t deny it: Apple botched the release of iOS 9.3. Launched last week after spending some time in beta, iOS 9.3 is filled with annoying bugs that have made it a less-than-desirable update. Apple fixed some of the severe issues experienced by owners of older iOS devices, though the worst issued plaguing iOS 9.3 is still unsolved.

The broken links bug that affects plenty of iOS devices has yet to be patched, although Apple has promised a fix in a future update. But until then you either have to live with an iPhone that can’t open links, or do something about it yourself. There are ways to try fixing the flaw, as detailed here. But if all else fails, you can still downgrade from iOS 9.3 to iOS 9.2.1, which is a more stable version of iOS 9 – here’s how to do it.

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The procedure is rather straightforward, though it’s somewhat different from a regular iOS update via iTunes, as there’s some manual labor involved.

First of all, you have to hurry and downgrade as soon as possible. Once Apple stops signing iOS 9.2.1, iTunes won’t let you downgrade.

Secondly, you need to find the iOS build that fits your device. For example, if you own an iPhone 5 and an iPad Air 2, each device can only run its designated software. Once you find it, then you have to download it – IPSW Downloads is a good place to start.

While iOS 9.2.1 downloads to your computer, you’ll want to make sure you back up your personal data, just in case something bad happens during the downgrade process that’s about to follow.

As soon as you’ve completed these steps, connect the iPhone or iPad to your computer, and start the actual downgrade from inside iTunes.

Click on the iPhone or iPad icon in the top corner of iTunes, as seen in the image above (via Gizmodo). You’ll now want to click on the Restore button but using either Option button + Click on Mac or Shift + Click on Windows. This allows you to manually select the IPSW file you need – in this case it’s the iOS 9.2.1 version you just downloaded.

Let iTunes run its course, and at the end you’ll have a freshly installed copy of iOS 9.2.1 on your device.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.