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Apple's iOS 16 Update Is Here. Follow This Checklist to Get Your iPhone Ready

iOS 16 just launched. If you haven't updated your iPhone yet, you'll want to follow these steps first.

iOS 16 logo on a yellow background
iOS 16 is rolling out to iPhones today, Monday, September 12.
Nelson Aguilar/CNET

This story is part of Focal Point iPhone 2022, CNET's collection of news, tips and advice around Apple's most popular product.

Apple's iOS 16 update has now arrived, bringing new features such as a customizable lock screen (with widgets), the ability to unsend and edit text messages, a redesigned battery icon in your status bar and so much more to your iPhone.

And while it might be a good idea to wait before installing an operating system update, just to let others stumble over any bugs or issues that might mess up your iPhone, if you're considering updating to iOS 16 right now, you want to follow the steps below to make sure your phone is ready.

If you want to learn how to update to iOS 16 right now, check out if your phone is even compatible and how to download and install iOS 16 today.

Make sure your iPhone is compatible with iOS 16

If you own an iPhone that's from 2017 or later, starting with the iPhone 8, it should be compatible with iOS 16. Here's the full list of the iPhones and iPads (for iPadOS 16, which will release later this year) that will support Apple's new software update. And if you're interested in buying the iPhone 14, here's how to preorder it.

And although the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max haven't been released yet, they will all come pre-installed with iOS 16.

iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max at the Apple Event

The iPhone 14 series, which releases this Friday, will come with iOS 16.

James Martin/CNET

Back up your iPhone or iPad before updating to iOS 16

Backing up any device before an update is usually a good idea. Most of the time, your phone will update normally with no hiccups. But on the rare occasion that something goes wrong, as was the case for some iPhone owners when iOS 10 launched back in 2016, you'll want to be prepared. If you have the time, it's also a great idea to go through your photo and app libraries to delete any unnecessary content so that it takes less time to back up your device.

I recommend backing up your iPhone immediately before installing the new software so your backup is as recent as possible.

There are a couple of ways to back up your iPhone or iPad, and they're all simple. The easiest way is through iCloud. 

How to back up your iPhone through iCloud

First open your device's Settings and tap your name.

icloud-screenshot-1

Then, choose the iCloud option.

icloud-screenshot-2

Tap iCloud Backup

icloud-screenshot-3

From here, you can choose to back up your phone right now by pressing Back Up Now. You can also turn on iCloud Backup, which automatically backs up apps and data when your phone is connected to Wi-Fi, plugged in and locked. You'll notice that Apple tells you the last time this device was backed up right underneath the Back Up Now button.

icloud-screenshot-4

Before backing up your iPhone, it's also a good idea to see exactly how much iCloud storage you'll need. To do this, launch Settings, tap your name, choose iCloud and select Manage Storage. This will show you details about your iCloud plan, how much space is required for a backup, and all of the devices that are backing up to your iCloud account. 

Back up your iPhone through Mac

If you don't want to use iCloud, you can always back up your iPhone to your computer. To get started, connect your iPhone to your Mac via its charging cable. 

Then launch the Finder and click on your iPhone.

icloud-mac-backup-1

Click General and choose the option for backing up all of your iPhone data to this Mac. You can also encrypt your backup data and protect it with a password by selecting the option shown below.

icloud-mac-backup-2

Finally, click Back Up Now to save a copy of your iPhone's data and apps to your Mac.

icloud-mac-backup-3

If you're using a PC or a Mac running a version of MacOS that's earlier than 10.15, you can still create a backup of your device through iTunes. Connect your iPhone to your Mac or PC with its cable, launch iTunes, and click the iPhone button near the top left of the program. From there, choose Summary and select Back Up Now

Make sure your iPhone is otherwise up to date

Before updating to iOS 16, make sure your device is running on the latest version of iOS 15. This will ensure that the update appears in the Settings menu once iOS 16 becomes available. To check for an update, launch Settings, tap General and choose Software Update. 

It's generally a good idea to keep your iPhone up to date anyway, since new software versions usually introduce important security bug fixes and other improvements.

Now that your phone is up to date and backed up, you're ready to download iOS 16. Once it's installed, check out the best iOS 16 hidden features we've found so far and some of the more annoying features (and how you can fix them).

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