Downgrading from iOS 11 the painless way

Every time there’s a public beta, all the tech sites do a decent favor to their readers by remind them how to downgrade back to the release version of iOS if necessary. This time, most of them got it wrong though. I found a bunch of articles telling people how to downgrade from iOS 11 beta to iOS 10.3.2 again, except there’s one problem – you can’t.

After basically 11 hours with the iOS 11 public beta, I decided I couldn’t handle the four hour battery life (I wish I was kidding) that I was getting on my iPhone 6s Plus. This is a phone that used to get a day and a half without a charge when it was new, and still gets about 12 heavy-use hours on iOS 10.3.2. So I downloaded a 10.3.2 restore .ipsw file from developer.apple.com and tried to restore it – and failed. And failed again. And again.

My iPhone was stuck in recovery mode, and I was starting to get pretty surly. I started digging through the FAQ on Apple’s beta program site, beta.apple.com, which is where the public gets access to the open beta software, and noticed this important caveat about downgrading from iOS 11 beta:

If you are currently running iOS 11 beta: For devices that currently have iOS 11 beta installed, you must restore 10.3.3 beta. Download the iOS 10.3.3 beta software restore image for your device from the download page.

Yeah… I was trying to do the impossible by attempting to load 10.3.2 on an iPhone with iOS 11 beta on it.

So please ignore all those sites that tell you how to downgrade from iOS 11 beta to iOS 10.3.2, unless you enjoy failure, frustration, and anger. You can follow their instructions on the mechanics of performing the downgrade, but use an iOS 10.3.3 beta software restore image from Apple’s beta iOS image restore page instead of a 10.3.2 image. It will actually work, and you’ll be very pleased with yourself for not wasting as much time as I did.

And, as an added bonus, any iOS 10.3.2 iTunes backups you made can be restored just fine onto iOS 10.3.3, so you don’t even have to lose any data. Hoorah.

Credit where credit is due: 9to5Mac and BGR got it right.