iOS 17 arrives this month — when should you upgrade?

iOS 17 developer beta
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

After a summer-long beta process, iOS 17 will arrive as a full software release at some point this month — likely right before the iPhone 15 release date. And when the download becomes available, there's going to be a rush of people looking to install the major software update onto their phone. Should you be one of them?

The answer to when is the right time to upgrade to the new iOS version is the same as so many questions in life — it depends.

Even though iOS 17 has gone through a lot of fine-tuning during beta testing, there's a good chance that not every bug has been caught or stamped out. Whether you should update to the "finished" version of a major iOS update boils down to risk tolerance and how will you can shrug off any hiccups that inevitably crop up with a new software release.

Using your risk tolerance and how much you rely on your iPhone, we can tell you when it's a good idea to upgrade to iOS 17. First, however, let's consider when the software update might be ready for release.

When is iOS 17 expected to come out

WWDC 2023

(Image credit: Apple)

Since previewing iOS 17 at June's Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple's official word on iOS 17's release date is that the software would arrive at some point this year. That guidance hasn't changed, even after a public beta debuted in July and went through a series of updates as Apple readied iOS 17 for its future release.

But Apple tipped its hand when it set a September 12 date for its next product launch. We expect the Apple September event to feature the debut of the iPhone 15 models, with Apple also announcing when those phones will go on sale. Based on Apple's usual time frame for releasing products after their launch event, we anticipate that the new phones will start shipping on September 22.

Because the iPhone 15 will ship with iOS 17 pre-installed, you'd imagine that the iOS 17 release would be timed to coincide with the arrival of the new phones. And since Apple likely doesn't want a bunch of iOS upgraders hitting its servers at the same time people are trying to set up their new iPhones, you'd expect the iOS 17 update to arrive just ahead of the iPhone 15 ship date.

That would place the release sometime between the end of the Apple event on September event and the likely iPhone 15 ship date on September 22. If we had to guess, we'd circle the week of September 18, with the iOS 17 update likely becoming available in the early part of the week.

Who should update to iOS 17 and who should wait

iOS 17 logo on iPhone

(Image credit: Future)

Regardless of when the iOS 17 update arrives, here's a look at whether or not you should update to the initial release based on your personality type.

I am already running the iOS 17 public beta

Here's some good news, assuming your experience with the new software has been as positive as my iOS 17 beta hands-on time: If you're running the iOS 17 beta, you've already upgraded. 

Apple is going to keep sending updates your way, even after the full version of iOS 17 ships to the general public. Even better, they'll continue to arrive as betas before the general public downloads them. That means any fixes will get to you first as will features that won't ship until later iOS 17 updates like the new Journal app.

I'm planning to buy an iPhone 15

Like the person who already upgraded to the iOS 17 beta, you've already made your choice. Your new iPhone will ship with iOS 17 on board no matter which iPhone 15 model you wind up buying.

I fear no software bugs and need to be an early adopter. I am a Viking who dines on danger and laughs at the unknown

If that's your attitude, I'm wondering why you haven't already install the iOS 17 public beta. Nevertheless, if you're the sort who's not put off by the unpredictable nature of early software releases, feel free to download the iOS 17 release the moment it becomes available.

It helps that the bugs I've run into so far have not been of the show-stopping variety. The most persistent problem I've run into is that some widgets on my home screen don't always work as expected — widgets for Weather and Fitness sometimes don't include information like the current temperature or my current move data. Another bug that's popped up for me at least has been the on-screen keyboard going missing on occasion in the Messages app. (Quitting out of the app and relaunching Messages usually fixes this issue.) Instances of both bugs have gone down with each subsequent iOS 17 beta update.

I'm not worried about bugs, but I don't care for a drop in battery life or anything else that might disrupt my regular iPhone use

It's true that battery drain complaints usually pick up around the same time that a major iOS update drops. On the bright side, Apple is usually pretty quick to respond to such issues, often releasing a patch within a week or so to address that problem.

As for iOS 17, it's difficult to say if the full update will trigger the usual round of battery concerns. In my testing on an iPhone 12, I've usually been able to get through the day without needing to do a quick recharge, though there have been some times when I get the Low Battery warning more frequently than usual. Whether that's because of the iOS 17 update itself or because I'm spending more time on my phone to test and write about iOS 17, I couldn't say.

My advice if you're worried about battery drain is to wait to update iOS 17 — though only long enough to see if there are persistent complaints about battery drain or any other bugs. If things seem all clear a week after the update becomes available, then upgrade with confidence. There's no shame in letting other people jump in the pool first to test out the waters.

I don't hate and fear change, but I don't invite it to dinner, either  — any bug, no matter how minor, has my wondering why I bothered to upgrade

If you have any aversion to risk, you should always pause before upgrading to a new version of iOS. Delaying your upgrade gives Apple a chance to work out any issues with the software, ensuring that you have the smoothest transition possible.

But how long should you wait? A good rule of thumb is to hold out until at least the first update after the initial iOS release. That release should quash any major bugs and fix any battery draining issues that have surfaced.

If you're especially cautious, though, you could always wait until iOS 17.1 emerges. That software update should not only smooth out any bugs, but it could also introduce new features that didn't make the initial iOS 17 release. The big challenge with that strategy is timing, as there's no telling when the 0.1 release of any software will arrive. iOS 16.1 came out about six weeks after the initial iOS 16 release, so you could be in for a little bit of a wait if you take this route.

More from Tom's Guide

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.