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How to update your iPhone to iOS 12

You've got two options.

Matt Elliott Contributor
Matt Elliott, a technology writer for more than a decade, is a PC tester and Mac user based in New Hampshire.
Matt Elliott
2 min read
iOS 12 Public Beta
Sarah Tew/CNET

You don't need to pony up for one of Apple's new iPhones -- the iPhone XS, the iPhone XS Max or the iPhone XR -- to get Apple's latest mobile operating system. Apple will release iOS 12 on Monday, Sept. 17 as a free upgrade, and the odds are good your current iPhone can run it.

iOS 12 will make your iPhone (and iPad , too) faster, more secure and less buggy while also adding new features, including tools that track screen time, Memoji, Siri Shortcuts and better notification management. See if your iPhone is compatible with iOS 12 and, if so, how you can install it.

Watch this: 4 tips to prepare your iPhone for iOS 12

Can my iPhone run iOS 12?

Good news: Every device that can run iOS 11 can also run iOS 12. Here's the list:

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Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

First things first: Back it up

Before you update, use either iCloud or iTunes to back up your iPhone before installing iOS 12. You might also need to free up some space; iOS 12 is 2.77GB in size.

iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR: See Apple's biggest phones ever

See all photos

Method 1: Over-the-air update

If you are on a Wi-Fi network, you can upgrade to iOS 12 right from your device itself -- no need for a computer or iTunes. Just connect your device to its charger and go to Settings > General > Software Update. iOS will automatically check for an update, then prompt you to download and install iOS 12.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Method 2: Update via iTunes

If you are near your computer with iTunes, it might be faster to update this way. In previous years, I've found it faster to update via iTunes than over the air.

First, make sure you have the latest version of iTunes by opening the Mac App Store app and clicking on Updates to see if an iTunes update is listed.

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Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

With iTunes updated, connect your iOS device. Click the iPhone or iPad icon in the top-left corner of iTunes, next to the drop-down menu for the various sections of your iTunes library. Next, click on Check for Update > Download and Update. Follow the prompts, accept the terms, and let iTunes do its job of updating your iPhone or iPad.