Apple stops signing iOS 16.4.1, ending firmware downgrades from iOS 16.5

Apple on Thursday, May 18th released iOS & iPadOS 16.5 and iOS & iPadOS 15.7.6 to the general public. The higher of the two, obviously for Apple’s latest handsets that can run iOS & iPadOS 16, and the lower of the two being for some of Apple’s older handsets that can’t install iOS or iPadOS 16 due to Apple-imposed installation limitations.

iOS 16 firmware downgrade

These software updates introduced new features and patched a ton of security vulnerabilities in Apple’s iPhone and iPad, but almost a week later, Apple isn’t even giving users the choice to downgrade to the older iOS & iPadOS 16.4.1 or iOS & iPadOS 15.7.5, even if they wanted to. That’s because Apple has stopped signing the previous firmware versions for all devices.

As a result of Apple’s decision to pull the plug on firmware signing for the previous firmware iterations, anyone who upgraded will no longer be able to downgrade back to it. Exceptions exist, of course, for anyone with a checkm8-compatible A9-A11 device thanks to futurerestore and SHSH blobs, but if you have an A12 or newer device, then you’re pretty much out of luck.

As for upgrading to iOS or iPadOS 16.4.1 from an older firmware, the DelayOTA method still works up to 90 days after the iOS 16.4.1 release date, regardless of the chipset installed in your device.

It’s worth noting that every firmware version mentioned in this post thus far is fully compatible with the palera1n-c jailbreak on A9-A11 devices, so the unsigning status isn’t much of a concern to prospective jailbreakers with an iPhone X or older. On the other hand, no jailbreak exists for any firmware newer than iOS & iPadOS 15.4.1 on A12 and newer devices.

Firmware downgrades are popular among more than just the jailbreak community, however. That’s because Apple has been known to introduce bugs into iOS or iPadOS when releasing updates, and it can make usability an issue. This is one of the primary reasons why Apple keeps a limited signing window open. Examples of bugs causing usability issues on Apple’s platforms that would have warranted firmware downgrades include:

  • iOS 16.0 over-prompting users on clipboard access when pasting copied content into another app
  • iOS 14.7 breaking the Apple Watch’s ability to be unlocked with the host iPhone’s Touch ID sensor
  • iOS & iPadOS 13.2 imposing incredibly aggressive background management on backgrounded apps

Whether you’re jailbreaking or not, iDB believes that users should have the right to install any firmware version they want on their device. Apple obviously disagrees, but it’s odd how the company allows you to downgrade macOS on your Mac, but not iOS or iPadOS on your iPhone or iPad. It’s unlikely that Apple will change its stance on its own, so it’ll probably be left up to legislative bodies to force a change, if such a change ever comes.

Apple gains a lot from preventing firmware downgrades, notably by blocking jailbreaks on their platform. Another way that Apple benefits is by making more users upgrade to the latest possible firmware, even if they don’t want to, which inflates their update adoption numbers and pleases company shareholders. In doing so, Apple not only ensures that users are taking advantage of the latest features, but also the latest security fixes.

You can always check to see what firmware is or isn’t being signed for your device via the online utility. You can also visit our Downloads page to acquire any firmware file(s) you might ever need.

Are you upset to see that Apple isn’t signing iOS or iPadOS 16.4.1 or iOS or iPadOS 15.7.5 anymore? You can let us know in the comments section down below.