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Don't Download the iOS 16 Developer Beta on Your iPhone. Here's Why

It may be tempting to get your hands on all the new features that iOS 16 has to offer, but the software, which is currently in a developer beta, is riddled with bugs.

Apple's iOS 16 operating system
The iOS 16 developer preview is now available to download, but just because you could, should you?
James Martin/CNET

This story is part of WWDC 2022, CNET's complete coverage from and about Apple's annual developers conference.

Apple announced iOS 16, its latest mobile operating system, at WWDC 2022, targeting a general public release date sometime in late 2022. However, there's already an early version of iOS 16 currently available to download -- the iOS 16 Developer Beta 2.

Downloading the beta will get you an early look into the features Apple revealed during its keynote earlier this month, including a revamped lock screen with widgets and better customization, as well as the ability to edit and unsend texts in Messages and view saved Wi-Fi network passwords in your settings

But because iOS 16 is still in an early state right now, downloading the Developer Beta isn't going to be worthwhile for most people. 

Read More: How to Download the iOS 16 Developer Beta Right Now

If you work as an app developer, downloading this version of iOS could be a great idea as it could allow for an early look into the nuts and bolts of the next operating system. But most people should wait until the first stable release of iOS 16 slated for later this year -- likely around the presumed iPhone 14 line's launch in the fall -- or at the earliest consider the public beta in July if you absolutely crave early access.

However, if you are still tempted, we want to outline three big reasons why you probably should wait before downloading this developer beta of iOS 16.

Now playing: Watch this: Apple Previews iOS 16 and a Bunch of New iPhone Features
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For starters, the iOS 16 developer beta costs money

If you want to legitimately install iOS 16 on your iPhone, you must first be a member of the Apple Developer Program -- and that costs $99 a year (or in local currency where available) for individual developers. And the price is worth the cost, but mostly if you're a developer. As an Apple Developer Program member, you get early access to beta software downloads and applications, and that helps developers better build out their applications.

Latest Apple beta software

This is some of the beta software developers can download and install.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

Even if you're a hobbyist or just a huge fan of Apple products, the price of membership may still be worth it. But for everyone else, paying nearly $100 a year for software that isn't fully developed or completed -- it's probably a no. Instead of paying for the Apple Developer Program, you can wait until the public beta release of iOS 16 in July, which will allow you to test out new features and settings before the general public.

iOS 16's beta can also limit some of your phone's features

Let's say you decide to pay for the Apple Developer Program and download the first developer beta of iOS 16. Now you're installing it on your main iPhone, which you use every day to send text messages, check emails and browse the internet.

That may not initially seem like an issue, but as is the case with every developer beta, these early iterations of iOS 16 have bugs that can make the software difficult to use. Even if the first developer beta doesn't have many bugs, the next version could.

For example, I'm running the first iOS 16 developer beta on an iPhone 11 Pro and I've already had problems with several features and settings:

  • Not every photo or video that I try to save from the internet will actually save onto my camera roll. I have to redo the saving process several times, or force close the app, before it actually saves on my device.
  • There is also random force closing. When I open certain applications, like Instagram or Twitter, they'll sporadically force close, and it's most likely due to certain incompatibilities with iOS 16.
  • I also have issues with closed tabs reopening in Safari. No matter how often I close certain tabs, they keep reappearing.
  • AirDrop doesn't work half the time.

And that's not to critique the software itself, because all developer betas will have issues such as these, and that's normal. Most of these bugs, if not all, should be ironed out by the time the general public release is out. This is simply to paint a better picture of what you can expect from early pre-releases. Unless you're ready to take on such issues, you should not install iOS 16 on your iPhone, especially if it's your daily device.

And you may not be able to go back to iOS 15 without deleting personal data

Let's say you've upgraded to the iOS 16 developer beta and suddenly you're having issues. You're not happy with this early version of Apple's software, and so you want to go back to iOS 15. Well, unless you've archived a backup from iOS 15, your only way to downgrade is to restore your iPhone as a brand new device. And while this will install Apple's latest mobile update (currently iOS 15.5), it may also permanently delete important data & settings from your phone.

Read MoreBack Up Your iPhone Even If There's 'Not Enough iCloud Storage'

Before you download and install iOS 16, make sure to create a backup while running iOS 15. You can do this via iCloud on your device, but Apple only holds a single backup at a time (for each device), so an iOS 15 backup isn't guaranteed to be available if a future update takes its place, especially since most iCloud backups are done automatically while you sleep. 

iOS 15 temporary iCloud storage transfer to iPhone 13

Successfully downgrading from iOS 16 to iOS 15 with all of your previous settings depends on if you have a backup or not.

Patrick Holland/CNET

As an added precaution, you can also use your computer to create an iOS 15 backup -- using iTunes on Windows or Finder on Mac -- which will be saved as a file on that device. You can then use that file to restore your device to iOS 15 and keep most of your personal data and settings intact.