Fix: iPhone unable to download app/item (8 Ways)

Smartphones are useless if you can’t have apps on your phone. Apple’s devices like iPhone, iPad can install apps from the Appstore. For Android devices, you can download and install apps from external sources, but Apple has designed their iOS in a way that apps can be installed from the App store only, this is due to the security and Apple’s app policies.

However, often users face issues when they can’t download the apps from the Appstore. Usually, the error message that pops up is unable to download the item, please try again later, this error message is followed by the buttons Done and Retry and nothing else.

It can appear randomly several times whenever you try to install apps from the App Store, below is a sample of the same error.

Fix: Iphone Unable To Download App/item | X Ways
can’t download apps in iPhone

The pop-up message shows that the app which you were trying to download from the App Store isn’t able to download. iPhone users have also seen this message even when they weren’t downloading any apps.

This usually comes when your iPhone or the iPad tries to update the apps on its own in the background. To fix the issues, below we have summarized some of the best-found troubleshooting methods, you can try them to resolve your issues with your iPhone or the iPad.

Airplane Mode

If you are seeing the pop-up message very often then you can follow the steps below using the aeroplane mode.

Fix: Iphone Unable To Download App/item | 8 Ways
  1. On your iPhone or iPad, you have to open the control centre by swiping down from the top-right corner of your screen. Then you need to enable Airplane Mode. If for some reason you are not able to open the control centre or the settings of your iPhone, then you can use Siri to turn on aeroplane mode.
  2. Once Siri has enabled Airplane mode you can tap on the Done button to dismiss the pop-up message of Siri.
  3. Then you need to wait a few seconds and then turn off the Aeroplane Mode. Next, you can check if the error is fixed or not.
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Often, iOS can cause issues in downloading apps, if you are not running on the latest version of iOS. So, you need to check and update the iOS version of your iPhone, or the iPadOS of your iPad, to make sure that the apps can be downloaded.

Fix: Iphone Unable To Download App/item | 8 Ways

Also, check if the version of the Appstore is the latest, and the apps are up to date. Below is a quick tutorial on how you can do it:

  1. To update the apps, you can do it manually by opening the App Store app and then you need to click on your profile and then tap on update all.
  2. After you have successfully updated the apps, go to settings > Genral> Software update and then check for a software update to ensure that your iOS or iPad OS device is running on the latest version, if there is an update available, then you should proceed to download and install the update.


Restarting a gadget is one of the old-school and the best techniques to fix if you are having some software related temporary issues with your device. You can restart your iPhone or your iPad by following the below tutorial.

Fix: Iphone Unable To Download App/item | X Ways
  1. For users using iPhone X and later versions of iPhones and iPads without the home button like the iPad Pro or the iPad Air 4, then you need to press and hold the power button and volume up together until the power off the menu or the power off slider appears. Now, move the slider to the right to turn off the device. Wait for your device to turn off properly, it should take less than a minute. Once your iPhone or the iPad is completely turned off, then you can press and hold the power button to turn on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. For users using iPhone 8 and below versions or the iPad which has a home button, then they can press and hold the side button until the power off slider appears. Drag the slider to the right to turn off your device. Wait for at least a minute to completely turn off your device, once your device is completely turned off. Press and hold the power button for 5 seconds and it should turn on.
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If your problem persists and isn’t solved by restarting the device, then you might need to check further troubleshooting methods.

Turn off Background App Refresh

By default, the background App refresh is turned on and it keeps on refreshing and syncing the app data on every iPhone and iPads. This might be the reason for the download message that you keep on seeing now and then.

Fix: Iphone Unable To Download App/item | X Ways

So, turning it off might solve it, head to the settings menu, and then tap on general and then choose the background App refresh inside which turn the toggle to off position and it will turn off the Background App refresh sync.

Clear The History and cookies from Safari

We all use browsers on our devices, and some websites keep on sending you something to download or install, so clearing cookies and history will clear the browsing data, which will ensure that there isn’t any website that might be trying to download something. Below is a quick and short tutorial on how to clear the history and cookies from the Safari browser of your iPhone and iPad.

  • Go to the settings on your iPhone or iPad and then find and click on the Safari browser app icon, inside the menu, you will see a clear history and website data option. Tap on it and this will delete your history and all of the browsing data.

Reset network settings

Lastly, if things haven’t been fixed yet, then you can try to reset your network settings. Once you reset your network settings, all of your internet and networking data such as the Wifi passwords will be erased. So, to reset the network settings of your iPhone or your iPad, you need to go to settings then head to the General settings, find and click on Reset, then tap on reset network settings, after this, you need to follow the onscreen instructions, you might need to enter the lock screen passcode to finally reset the network settings.

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Check Storage Space in your iPhone

One of the major reasons that could cause the error while downloading the apps from your app store on your iPhone or iPad is due to low storage space.

iPhone Storage Settings

Check your iPhone or iPad device, if it has enough storage space to install apps on your device. if it doesn’t have then you need to free up some space on your device to be able to install any new apps on your device. To check free space on iPhone you need to go to the settings then General, click on iPhone storage to see how much free space is left on your iPhone.

Sign out and Sign in to the App Store

Sometimes Apple ID causes some issues while downloading apps on the iPhone or iPad. So, trying to log out and then logging in back with the same or different Apple ID might fix this issue. To log out and then sign in with your Apple ID again, you can follow through the tutorial below.

sign out & sign in app store
  1. Head to settings and then iTunes and App Store
  2. tap on the Apple ID ( it should be your name at the top)
  3. In the pop-up window, you need to tap on sign out.
  4. Now, tap on the Apple ID once again and then sign in with your Apple ID.

Now, you can try downloading the apps on your iPhones and iPads from the app store.

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