Read this before installing the iOS 15.1 beta if you plan to get an iPhone 13 ASAP

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Don’t install the iOS 15.1 beta if you plan to get an iPhone 13 ASAP
Putting the iOS 15.1 beta on your current handset will complicate getting an iPhone 13.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple seeded iOS 15.1 to developers on Tuesday and gave the general public access on Wednesday. But you should stay away from it if you intend to get an iPhone 13 as soon as it’s released. It’s likely the new handset will launch running an earlier version of iOS and that’ll cause you difficulties.

More iOS versions means more problems

iOS 15 came out on Monday, and when the iPhone 13 series debuts on Friday it’s expected to run that version.

Here’s the problem. If your current handset runs the iOS 15.1 beta but your shiny new iPhone 13 runs iOS 15, you won‘t be able to set up the handset by installing your latest backup to your new device. You can’t put a backup made with one version of iOS onto a handset running an older version.

So keep your current handset away from the iOS 15.1 public beta if you have your eye on an iPhone 13. Especially because the first pre-releases version adds only a scant handful of semi-useful new features. It’s not worth the hassle.

Suggestions for those already running iOS 15.1

If you’re in the Apple Beta Software Program and already jumped onto the new beta, it’s certainly not a disaster. You have multiple options.

One is to go back to iOS 15. As long as you made a backup of your iPhone on a Mac or PC before upgrading to version 15.1, going back is easy. Follow the step-by-step instructions in Cult of Mac’s guide to downgrading.

If you didn’t make a backup on another computer, there are still options. One is to install an iOS 15.1 beta on the iPhone 13 as soon as you get it. But this might not be possible, if there’s not yet a version of the beta compatible with the new device.

The other option is to set up the new handset as a new device. Don’t try to use the backup. It’s more work, but Apple makes it as easy as possible. For more info, read our guide on what to do when your iOS backup is newer than your iPhone’s OS.

Of course, if you wait to buy the iPhone 13 until iOS 15.1 or something later is available to everyone, you won’t have to worry about this.

Update: This article was originally published September 29, 2020, before the release of the iPhone 12. It’s been updated with a new version of iOS and a fresh iPhone, but is just as applicable as it was then.