Updating an Old iPad to iOS 15: A Complete Guide


Apple recently released iOS 15, the latest version of its mobile operating system for iPhones and iPads. iOS 15 comes with a host of new features and improvements, such as Focus mode, Live Text, updated Maps, and more.

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If you have an older iPad that is currently running an outdated version of iOS, you may be wondering if you can update it to iOS 15. The answer is yes, you can update an old iPad to iOS 15 as long as it meets the minimum requirements.

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the entire process of updating an old iPad to iOS 15. We will cover:

  • Checking compatibility
  • Backing up your iPad
  • Downloading and installing the iOS 15 update
  • New features in iOS 15
  • Tips for updating older iPads

By the end of this guide, you will have a thorough understanding of how to successfully update your old iPad to the latest iOS version and take advantage of all the new features.

Checking Compatibility

Before attempting to update, you need to check if your iPad model is compatible with iOS 15. Apple provides a list of compatible iPad models on their website.

Here are the iPad models that support iOS 15:

  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (4th generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (2nd generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2nd generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st generation)
  • iPad Pro 10.5-inch
  • iPad Pro 9.7-inch
  • iPad (8th generation)
  • iPad (7th generation)
  • iPad (6th generation)
  • iPad (5th generation)
  • iPad mini (5th generation)
  • iPad mini 4
  • iPad Air (4th generation)
  • iPad Air (3rd generation)

If your iPad model is not listed above, it likely does not support iOS 15. You will need to continue using your current iOS version or purchase a newer iPad model.

Checking Your Current iOS Version

Before updating, it’s also a good idea to check which iOS version your iPad is currently running. This will give you a sense of how big of a jump updating to iOS 15 will be.

To check your current iOS version:

  1. Go to the Home Screen on your iPad.
  2. Open the Settings app.
  3. Tap General > About.
  4. Look under “Version” to see the current iOS version installed.

If your iPad is running a very outdated version like iOS 9 or below, updating all the way to iOS 15 may cause performance issues. In that case, you may want to consider updating to an intermediate iOS version first before making the jump to iOS 15.

For optimal performance, we recommend updating older iPads to at least iOS 12 or iOS 13 before updating to iOS 15.

Backing Up Your iPad

Before updating, it is critically important to back up your iPad. Updating to a new OS version can sometimes cause data loss or other issues. Backing up ensures you have a saved copy of all your iPad data in case anything goes wrong.

There are two ways to back up an iPad – via iCloud or iTunes.

Backing Up to iCloud

  1. Connect your iPad to a Wi-Fi network.
  2. Go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud.
  3. Tap iCloud Backup.
  4. Tap Back Up Now to perform a manual backup.

Your iPad data will now backup to iCloud so long as you have enough available iCloud storage space.

Backing Up to iTunes

  1. Connect your iPad to your computer using the USB cable.
  2. Open iTunes on your computer.
  3. Select your iPad under the “Devices” menu.
  4. Go to the Summary tab.
  5. Click Back Up Now to perform a manual backup.

Your iPad will backup to your computer’s storage via iTunes.

No matter which method you choose, make sure the backup completes fully before installing the iOS update.

Downloading and Installing iOS 15

Once you’ve checked compatibility and backed up your iPad, you are ready to download and install iOS 15.

There are two ways to install the update:

Over-the-Air (OTA) Update

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPad.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap Software Update.
  4. Tap Download and Install when the iOS 15 update appears.

The OTA update will download and install automatically. Your iPad will restart during the process.

Update via iTunes

  1. Connect your iPad to your computer using the USB cable.
  2. Open iTunes.
  3. Select your iPad under the “Devices” menu.
  4. Click Check for Update in the Summary tab.
  5. Click Download and Update when the iOS 15 update prompt appears.

iTunes will now download the update to your computer and install it on your iPad. Your iPad will restart during the process.

The OTA method is simpler, but updating via iTunes gives you more control over the installation process.

New Features in iOS 15

iOS 15 is a major update that introduces many new features and improvements for your iPad. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Focus mode – Allows you to filter notifications and apps to avoid distractions. You can set custom Focus profiles like Work, Sleep, Gym, Gaming, and more.
  • Live Text – Use the camera to instantly scan and recognize text in photos. You can copy, translate, lookup, and share text directly from photos.
  • Updated Maps – Offers more detailed maps with new road colors, labels, landmarks, and more. Includes AR walking directions and enhanced transit features.
  • SharePlay – Share experiences like movies, music, and your screen with friends over FaceTime calls.
  • Safari redesign – New tab bar and compact tab design. Tab Groups allow saving and organizing tabs.
  • Weather redesign – Dynamic weather backgrounds and more graphical displays in the Weather app.
  • Notifications – Redesigned with contact photos and larger icons. Provides notification summary to easily catch up on alerts.
  • Wallet and Apple Pay – Adds support for home keys, ID cards, office badges, and driver’s licenses in Wallet.

There are many more features to explore, like updates to FaceTime, Health, Reminders, Safari tabs, and Accessibility. iOS 15 provides a major upgrade over previous iOS versions.

Tips for Updating Older iPads

Here are some additional tips to keep in mind when updating an older iPad model:

  • Update apps beforehand – Make sure you have the latest versions of your apps installed prior to updating. This will prevent compatibility issues.
  • Free up storage space – iOS updates require free storage space on your device. Delete unused apps, photos, and videos to free up space.
  • Use a stable WiFi connection – Don’t update over LTE cellular data. Use a strong WiFi network to download and install the update.
  • Charge your battery – Make sure your iPad battery has at least 50% charge before installing the update. Ideally keep it plugged in during the process.
  • Have your Apple ID ready – You will need to enter your Apple ID password at some point during the update process.
  • Allow extra time – Updating and rebooting can take awhile, so make sure you have an extra hour free. Perform the update when you don’t need to use your iPad for a bit.
  • Update apps after – Once iOS 15 is installed, go back and update all your apps again. This will sync them with the new OS.

Following these tips will help ensure the update process goes smoothly without issues on an older iPad model.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about updating an old iPad to iOS 15:

How long will the update take?

The entire process of downloading, installing, and rebooting can take around 1-2 hours depending on your internet connection speed. Have patience and let the update fully complete.

Will my data be erased?

No, updating will not erase your data, settings, or apps as long as you do not delete the iPad contents manually during the update process. However, it is still wise to backup your iPad before updating just in case.

Do I need to update to every iOS version in between?

No, you can safely jump from a very old iOS version straight to iOS 15. There is no need to install each intermittent update.

Will updating improve my iPad’s performance?

Maybe. iOS 15 has some optimizations that will help performance on older iPads. But newer iPads will always be faster due to having newer chipsets. Do not expect drastic speed improvements.

What if I get an error message during the update?

Don’t panic. Many error messages are temporary glitches. First try restarting your iPad and retrying the update. If issues persist, you may need to either update via iTunes on a computer or contact Apple support.

Is iOS 15 the final update for my older iPad?

Not necessarily. Apple typically supports an iPhone/iPad model for 5-6 years after release with OS updates. However, older iPads may not support every new iOS feature released in the future.

Can I revert back to my old iOS after updating?

No, there is no way to downgrade your iOS version after installing an update. Make sure you are fully ready to update before proceeding.


Updating your older iPad to the latest iOS 15 is an excellent way to gain access to all the newest features and security updates. Just make sure your iPad model is compatible, backup your data, use a stable WiFi network, and allow plenty of time for the process. Follow the steps in this guide and you will have your iPad running iOS 15 in no time. Enjoy the many new capabilities!

Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Check iPad compatibility before updating
  • Backup iPad data to iCloud or iTunes beforehand
  • Download and install iOS 15 via OTA update or iTunes
  • iOS 15 includes Focus mode, Live Text, Maps changes, and other new features
  • Update apps and free up storage space before updating
  • Allow 1-2 hours for entire update process
  • Use stable WiFi and keep iPad charged during update
  • Update provides security improvements and new capabilities

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