Apple pausing iOS 9.3 updates for older devices, working on activation fix

Update: Apple has released a new version of iOS 9.3 (build 13E237) to address the activation issues. You can download and install it now.

Some people with older versions of iPad and iPhone, have experienced problems updating to iOS 9.3. The problems stem from the password authorization required to complete activation. In an effort to address it, Apple is pausing the update for those devices and working on a fix, which the company hopes to release soon. Apple provided iMore with the following statement:

Updating some iOS devices (iPhone 5s and earlier and iPad Air and earlier) to iOS 9.3 can require entering the Apple ID and password used to set up the device in order to complete the software update," an Apple spokesperson told iMore. "In some cases, if customers do not recall their password, their device will remain in an inactivated state until they can recover or reset their password. For these older devices, we have temporarily pulled back the update and will release an updated version of iOS 9.3 in the next few days that does not require this step."

If you've already gotten into a problem state, for example by accidentally entering an incorrect password or if you weren't able to enter a password, Apple has posted a support document with a potential work around.

The steps involve signing into iCloud, activating via iTunes, or temporarily removing Activation Lock via the web.

If you've been having problems, please let us know which, if any of these steps, worked for you!

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Perhaps they should also enable the Night Shift option to work in Battery Saver... I've been able to use Night Shift just for some minutes until the Battery Saver kicks in...
  • ask siri to turn it on when that happens and they will both work at the same time
  • +1 Sent from the iMore App
  • + Siri can even turn on night shift while colours are 'inverted' Sent from the iMore App
  • Apple should probably hire someone in QA as this seems like a simple bug to have found while in beta. But let's be real, this is Apple and customer experience is always a second priority.
  • Second priority? Wtf? That couldn't be any more wrong Sent from the iMore App
  • Our ipad 2 had this problem, but it had nothing to do with passwords just locked at the activation stage. Had to DFU and fortunately had backed up before updating; so just a huge waste if time for me - and irritation. Usually wait a week for updates, but because of 7 betas assumed it would be safe- never again...
  • This probably explains why I haven't seen the update at all. This is fine, I don't mind waiting.
  • My iPad 2 upgrade failed at the Activation Stage. I took it in to the Apple Store as the failures suggested. My Genius connected it to Apple's server and did a fresh install of the update. I then had to restore from my iCloud backup from just before I did the upgrade.
  • I am browsing in night shift mode for lower power use. And easy on the eyes. It works.
  • Mine got stuck in activation stage and won't work anymore. Are there truly no fixes for that situation ? I obviously wouldn't have tried to reset my IPad 2, if I had been forewarned....
  • That's exactly where mine is… So I can't access anything on the iPad at all, I'm hung up on the activation page. The iPad is pretty much an expensive paperweight right now
  • After 7 Betas, 7 !!! Whatever happened to - it just works ?
  • I had the update ready on my 5s but I see it has been pulled back now. Not too worried. I appreciate that they are trying to make it smoother for us. Sent from the iMore App
  • My faithful old iPad 2 is bricked. I made the mistake of allowing it to upgrade automatically. I woke up a couple of days ago to the the "Hello" screen. I thought, cool! But when I tried to proceed beyond that point, I had no success. I tried plugging it into my MacBook Pro but still no joy. After chatting with CS a few times I was directed to procedure to remove the iPad 2 from my system. I did that hoping I'd be able to start it as a "New Device." That didn't work. In retrospect, I should have done a remote erase through Find My iPhone. What's the worst that could have happened?
  • Is iOS 9.3 available for iPhone 4 ?
  • no they are holding it back until they fix all bugs and any other things that are going wrong as when you try to update just says phone apps are upto date so need to wait until they realease new fix
  • I have an iPad 4; iOS 9.3 will not load on my device due to "failed internet connectivity"; clearly, as I am typing, I have internet connectivity.
  • I have an iPhone 5 and the same thing happens to me. It says the internet connection fails, and that's not true. I can use internet for everything else on my phone.
  • I have the iphone5 and so far it has come up with "you are not connected to the Internet" & "try later"
    Now for some reason the phone seems to be running out of battery very quickly.
    I have just found that I cannot receive incoming calls and goes straight to voice mail. The signal bar at the top of the screen says "no service" I am with EE phone provider.
    I am sending this from my Android tablet.
    Will thay get a fix for me as at 75 years I cannot get my head around all these complicated things we are being asked to do. The phone is my disabled life line.
  • same error here on my 5s. says no internet connection...though i have a working connection.
  • I had the same problem (suddenly) my phone would run out of battery power after 6-8 hours of use. I went into settings under "general" and turned off most of my background app refresh. That greatly improved my battery life.
  • My iPad 4 did the same thing. I guess we have to wait for the fix. Jeff.....
  • Yes! This was something they should have pick up on during testing. They need to do a better job with respect to testing against older devices like my iPad 4. I've reached a point where I am very leery of wanting to upgrade anymore. Their former slogan of "it just works" isn't the case any longer. I even had issues with Safari after upgrading to El Capitan, where Yosemite's version of Safari worked fine. I had to resort to using Google Chrome.
  • Is apple also working on the bug where links, especially some in mail just causes mail to freeze. I have tried all of the suggestions related to Safari options- this is on a 6S+ on 9.3
  • I also don't see any mention of this annoying bug (if this is a bug but according to the several people affected seems to be one). I'm on 6S plus and after 9.3 official update cannot click on links in Google search results in Safari. Also links within apps freeze the apps when I'm trying to open them in Safari. I don't see many mentions of this bug. Can it be that so few devices are affected? Sent from the iMore App
  • While we're piling on the regressions introduced in 9.3, can they also fix the first play stutters on ALL animations after boot up? :P I give the devs credit for fixing a lot of choppiness in 9.3, I just want them to keep going!
  • Please Apple, please, make the iPhone 6 fast again. It's not an old device but you surely can pack some performance improvements into the next update.
    iOS 8.4.1-like performance would be great. It's not like we're asking for something impossible ;)
  • I'm not going to bother with iOS 9.3 as long as there are reports that it is crashing older devices. Example:
  • This is exactly what happened to my IPad 2. It's surprising such a fundamental issue could get through the pre update testing. Passwor!?..Er um? Hadn't used it in 3 years since I bought the iPad.. On the positive side...the guys at my Apple store are top notch and fixed it quickly.
  • My IPad 2 no longer works, since I tried to update it. This would be no problem since I have the Pro(the BIG one). However my husband was enjoying using it, & it would still e working for him, if I hadn't try to update it. That is the shame of it. Why wasn't there a warning?
  • Hi,
    Just for info, we have iPad minis model A1432 as class sets and this is causing a real issue.
    Mangaged to update 1 of the minis from iOS 9.2.1 to iOS 9.3 (13E237) (the newer iOS 9.3 version). It was a long drawn out process but got there in the end. Thought the newer iOS 9.3 would fix the verification issue for future updates so tried this morning to update to iOS 9.3.1 as it has just come out, still get the verification issue.
    iPhone 4S from iOS 9.3 (13E233) (the older version) to iOS 9.3.1 - verification error
    iPad mini (A1432) iOS 9.2.1 to iOS 9.3.1 - verification error I think the issue still exists, hope Apple are aware and will offer a fix soon, I have a few minis to update.