How to Download and Install iOS Update on iPhone with Mobile Data

Have you ever wanted to download iPhone iOS updates over cellular data only to find that you can not do so? However, here is a workaround using which you can download software updates on your iPhone using mobile data. You do not require any third party app for this.

Before you begin, it is understandable that Wi-Fi is currently everywhere, and thus it is easy to download iOS updates using it. As a result, this guide is for a tiny percentage of users who do not have access to Wi-Fi, plus they own a Mac. So, if you satisfy these conditions, here is a step by step guide on how to download software updates on the iPhone using mobile data.

How to Download and Install iOS update on iPhone using Cellular Data

What you Need

  • A Mac
  • A Lightning Cable to connect to Mac
  • Sufficient Mobile Data

Before you Begin

  • On your Mac: Disconnect it from any Wi-Fi network it is connected to. To do this, press and hold the Option key and click on the Wi-Fi icon in menu bar. You will see a Disconnect from Wi-Fi name. Click on that
  • On your iPhone: Turn on Mobile Data. Also, make sure you have ample or unlimited mobile data allowance

What we’ll Do

  • We will share iPhone’s mobile data via USB to Mac
  • Mac will share this mobile data as Wi-Fi Hotspot
  • We’ll connect the same iPhone to the Hotspot that the Mac creates

How to Download Software Update on iPhone Using Mobile Data

Step #1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone and completely switch off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Personal Hotspot. Do not use Control Centre for this.

Launch Settings your iPhone switch off Wi-FiStep #2. Connect your iPhone to the Mac via proper cable.

Step #3. Inside the Settings app on iPhone, tap on Personal Hotspot.

In Settings app tap on Personal Hotspot on iPhoneStep #4. Turn on the toggle for Allow Others to Join. From the pop-up, select USB Only.

Personal Hotspot to Turn on toggle for Allow Others to Join on iPhoneNote: If it asks Trust or Don’t Trust. Choose Trust and enter your iPhone’s password.

Step #5. Now on your Mac, click on the Apple logo from top left and then click on System Preferences…

Click on Apple logo from top left and then click on System Preferences on macStep #6. Click on Sharing and then click on Internet Sharing. Do not click on the small box before Internet Sharing.

System Preferences then Click on Sharing on Mac

System Preferences then Click on Sharing then click on Internet Sharing in Mac

Step #7. Click the toggle dropdown menu for Share your connection from: and select iPhone USB. (If you do not see iPhone USB here, look for the solution at the end of these steps.)

Click toggle dropdown menu for Share your connection and select iPhone USB on MacStep #8. For To computer using: tick the box before Wi-Fi to select it.

To computer using tick the box then select Wi-Fi on Mac

Step #9. Now, on the left side, click on Internet Sharing and then click inside the small box before it. A pop-up will appear from top of the window.

Click on Internet Sharing and then click inside the small box on MaC

In the pop-up, the default values are perfect. See image above. In the password section, input any password. This is the Wi-Fi password of your Mac’s hotspot. Click OK → Click Start to confirm.


You will see an upward-facing arrow in the Wi-Fi icon of your Mac. Your Mac is now using your iPhone’s mobile data and sharing it as Wi-Fi.

See Upward Facing Arrow in Wi-Fi icon on MacNote: If you do not see an option to set a password in Step #9 and only see Start, this means you have used this feature in the past. To set a password, click on the small box before Internet Sharing to turn OFF internet sharing. Next, from bottom right, click on Wi-Fi Options… and set your password. Finally, click inside the small Internet Sharing box to start sharing your iPhone Mobile Data Hotspot via Wi-Fi.

Now let us connect the iPhone with this hotspot and install the iOS update.

Step #10. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone and tap Wi-Fi.

Launch Settings on your iPhone and tap Wi-FiStep #11. Turn on the toggle for Wi-Fi and let it search. When you see your Mac’s name, tap on it, and enter the password you created in Step #9 above. After a successful connection, you will see the Wi-Fi logo at the top of the screen on your iPhone.

Turn onc toggle for Wi-Fi find Mac name then tap on it and enter the password on iPhoneStep #12. Now head over to GeneralSoftware Update, and download and install the pending iOS update.

In General then Tap on Software Update on iPhone

Do not See iPhone USB in Step #7?

Most likely, you will see the option, but if you do not see iPhone USB in Step #7 follow this trick.

Turn on Personal Hotspot on iPhone, connect it to Mac, and click on Network in Mac’s System Preferences.

Click on Network in Mac System Preferences on MacClick on the plus (+) icon at the bottom left. Click on Interface and click on iPhone USB from the list. Now click on Create. Finally, click Apply from the bottom right and try from Step #7 again.

Click on plus icon at bottom left in Network on Mac

Click on plus icon then Click on Interface and Select iPhone USB on Mac

iPhone USB from Interface list then click on Apply on Mac

Interesting Observation related to Downloading iPhone Software Update over Mobile Data

It is like a full circle. Your iPhone’s mobile data is going inside your Mac, and then from there is comes out as Wi-Fi to which you connect the same iPhone. Interesting. Isn’t it!

I discovered and used this trick in my early days when the mobile network provider I switched to gave 4GB 4G data every day.

Some Points to Note When You Download iOS Update over Cellular Data

  • Most likely, this Wi-Fi would be slower than your mobile data
  • If pending updates or some download are running on Mac, it might utilize this iPhone USB data in the background. It may quickly exhaust your limit. So make sure apps or files are not downloading or updating in the background on your Mac. This would also ensure faster speed for you to download your iOS update
  • Use this technique only to download small iOS updates, and for significant iOS updates, try finding proper Wi-Fi
  • You can not use AirDrop on Mac as long as you are sharing the internet from it. This is similar to the iPhone, where you can not use AirDrop when you have devices connected to its Personal Hotspot

Why Apple Does Not Allow iOS Updates on iPhone Over Cellular Data

When the iPhone was launched in 2007, it was available only on AT&T. Also, even when future models were available on other carriers, the mobile data was expensive, and going over the limit would exponentially skyrocket the bill.

Maybe this was the reason Apple had restrictions even on the size of the App you could download over mobile data. Just recently, Apple has allowed downloading apps over 200 MB in size from the App Store.

If there are no limitations or too much work on the fundamental level of iOS, then in the future, we may be allowed to download software updates straightforwardly using Cellular data. As of now, the above trick is there for you.

Wrapping up…

This was how to download an iOS software update on the iPhone using Mobile Data. Now it was a workaround, and I hope you enjoyed reading this.

Finally, you can follow this know-how even if you have a Windows 10 device. I will make a guide on that, too, and update it here. However, as of now, I have faced multiple issues with the version of Windows 10 I have on a spare computer.

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What are your thoughts regarding this, and are you going to give this method a go, even if it is just for fun? Share with us in the comments down below.

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Suraj is a digital marketing expert on the iGB's team. He contributes to the social media section along with tips and tricks for iPhone, Apple Watch. Apart from blogging, he likes to work out as much as he can in his gym and love to listening to retro music.