If you currently have an iPhone 8 Plus running iOS 12.3.2, it may be smart to avoid buying a new iPhone. That’s because you won’t be able to restore your backup on a new iPhone.
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This problem is seemingly the result of an oversight on Apple’s part. But it could cause some problems if you’re upgrading from an iPhone 8 Plus to any newer device. Here’s what you should know (as well as a possible workaround if you already bought a new device).
Basically, the company released iOS 12.3.2 to fix a specific bug on the iPhone 8 Plus. That update was only released for that particular model of iPhone — that means the latest software available for an iPhone XS or iPhone 7 is iOS 12.3.1.
This causes problems if you currently have an iPhone 8 Plus running iOS 12.3.2 and want to restore from that backup. (You can check what version your running in Settings —> General —> About.)
If you’ve backed up your device when running iOS 12.3.2, you will not be able to restore from that backup on a new device.
This is because the iOS 12.3.2 is technically a “newer” version of iOS than the latest version for all of Apple’s devices, which is iOS 12.3.1.
The issue impacts both iTunes backup on a Mac or PC or backups made and stored in iCloud.
We’ve already seen a handful of reports of previous iPhone 8 Plus owners attempting to upgrade to an iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max or iPhone XR and being unable to restore from their latest backup. Obviously, this is a problem for anyone who just forked over quite a bit of money for a shiny new iPhone.
Solutions for when you are unable to restore from iOS 12.3.2 backup
Maybe the easiest thing to do is just to avoid upgrading your iPhone
- If you have an iPhone 8 Plus running the latest software and were thinking about getting a new iPhone, just avoid it until there’s an update after iOS 12.3.2 (such as iOS 12.4) that are released for a broader range of devices
That isn’t going to be the most convenient for many users. And if you already bought a new device to upgrade to, that piece of advice won’t help you.
Luckily, there may be a couple of workarounds if you’re willing to put a bit of effort into resolving the issue
- Updating to the iOS 12.4 Beta
- The easiest way to get around this issue is to install the latest iOS 12.4 public beta on your “target device” (the new iPhone you want to restore a backup to)
- Sign up for Apple’s public beta program at this link. You’ll need to log in with your Apple ID and agree to the terms and conditions
- Once you get to the Guide for Public Betas page, tap on enroll your iOS device under the Get Started menu
- Scroll down to Install the profile. Make sure to select the iOS 12 configuration profile and not the iOS 13 one. There will be a small paragraph beginning with “Not ready for iOS 13?”
- Tap on the link (“… downloading the iOS 12 configuration profile here”)
- Tap on Install in the upper-right corner
- You’ll need to enter your passcode and tap on Install again
- Restart your iPhone to save the changes
- Once your iPhone reboots, the update process is basically the same as usual. Just go to Settings —> General —> Software Update and tap on Download and Install under the iOS 12 Public Beta.
You should now be able to restore your iOS 12.3.2 backup to your new device running iOS 12.4.
Normally, we never recommend installing beta software onto your daily driver.
But iOS 12.4 beta has been a reasonably stable release. And unless Apple releases a new iOS 12.3.X version, this appears to be the easiest and safest way to get your iOS 12.3.2 backup on your device. Keep in mind that we’re talking about the iOS 12.4 beta, not the iOS 13 beta.
The latter software (iOS13 beta) is going to be quite a bit buggier than iOS 12.4 — so unless you understand and want to accept the risks, we highly recommend avoiding it.
Other Options if your device can’t restore from iOS 12.3.2 backup
There are several different options when it comes to resolving this issue, but whether or not they’ll be useful to you depends on your circumstances
- Reader Benji used this creative solution: take an iTunes backup on computer, find the backup folder, and open info.plist file in a good text editor (Benji recommends Sublime.) Locate the Product Version key which should have a value of “12.3.2” and simply modify it to “12.3.1” and save the file (with its original name.) This hack tricks iTunes in thinking the 12.3.2 backup is the older 12.31.1 version. Benji did this with no issues and has used it for weeks since making this change
- If you have the patience, you can simply wait it out until Apple releases iOS 12.4 or a point update to iOS 12.3. Update your iPhone 8 Plus, back it up, and you should be good to go when it comes time for an upgrade
- You can also try downgrading your iPhone 8 Plus to iOS 12.3.1. Keep in mind that this method isn’t approved by Apple and it does require a bit of know-how and additional effort
Mike is a freelance journalist from San Diego, California.
While he primarily covers Apple and consumer technology, he has past experience writing about public safety, local government, and education for a variety of publications.
He’s worn quite a few hats in the journalism field, including writer, editor, and news designer.