How to Downgrade iOS 9.3 Back to iOS 9.2.1
While iOS 9.3 has several new features and is a notable improvement over prior iOS 9.x releases, some users may wish to downgrade iOS 9.3 back to iOS 9.2.1 for whatever reason. Downgrading to the prior release is possible for a limited time, so if you have any interest in doing this you’ll want to move quickly before Apple closes the signing window for the earlier firmware version.
To be perfectly clear, downgrading is not recommended, particularly since iOS 9.3 is an improvement over iOS 9.2.1, with better performance, better security, and new features, thus you should only downgrade from iOS 9.3 if you have a very specific reason to want to return to iOS 9.2.1. You can be the judge of that, but we are not recommending this process, this is simply demonstrating that it is possible.
Downgrade iOS 9.3 & Revert Back to iOS 9.2.1
Downgrading firmware is the same process on any device (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch) with iTunes, on either a Mac or PC.
- Backup iOS before anything else, preferably both to iTunes and iCloud – don’t skip the backup
- Download the iOS 9.2.1 IPSW firmware file that matches your iOS device exactly, incorrect IPSW will not work
- Launch iTunes
- Connect the iOS device to the computer with a USB cable if you have not done so already
- Select the device in iTunes, the devices icon will pop up in the upper left portion of iTunes where you can select it
- In the device summary section, ALT / OPTION click the “Restore” button on a Mac, or use SHIFT click on the “Restore” button in Windows
- Navigate to and choose the iOS 9.2.1 IPSW file you downloaded earlier, this downgrades the device to iOS 9.2.1 from iOS 9.3, but will format and erase the device in the process
Once the downgrade from iOS 9.3 back down to iOS 9.2.1 is completed, the hardware will reboot as usual and it’s ready to be setup. You can now choose to either set it up as new, or restore it from a previously made backup.
Why downgrade? For most users, you should not downgrade. This is really only intended for persistent problems that may arise in unique situations as a troubleshooting method, or if for some reason a critical app is not working with iOS 9.3 but it worked fine with iOS 9.2.1 and the user can’t wait for the app to be upgraded to resolve the crashing app issue (since app updates and iOS updates almost always remedy those type of software problems). The other reason to downgrade is if for some reason you don’t like the newest version, which is fairly unlikely with iOS 9.3 given that it has better performance and a few new features – what’s not to like in that situation?
Finally, keep in mind downgrading is only possible for a limited time while Apple signs the old iOS version, whereas upgrading is always possible. Thus, even if you downgrade to iOS 9.2.1, you can update to iOS 9.3 again at any time in the future.