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Don't – don't – install iOS 9.3 on your iPad 2: Upgrade bricks slabs

Dead tab or a vulnerable tab – your choice, Apple fans

Updated Apple's latest iOS update, version 9.3, is bricking iPad 2 devices.

Reg readers, along with those on Apple's support and discussion boards, say their iPad 2s are unable to fully update to iOS 9.3 due to error messages that, for the time being at least, render the device unusable. The hardware is left in a mid-install limbo, it appears, preventing people from backing out of or progressing through the botched upgrade.

"Unfortunately, yet another bricked device, well at least for us poor folk with older iPads 2s. In this case it's a problem with the activation of the iOS 9.3 over-the-air upgrade, in that it doesn't," one of our tipsters writes.

"This is so reminiscent to last year's 'slide-to-upgrade' bug in that it just can't progress beyond the activation screen, even when plugged into iTunes which reports the same message."

Many folks have reported similar problems when trying to update to iOS 9.3. The users all say that, when attempting to complete the update, their 2011-era iPads are unable to connect to Apple's activation server.

"Even when pressing the 'try again' button on the 'Your iPad could not be activated because the activation server is temporarily unavailable...' message screen, no further network traffic appears," our reader reports.

"This is the case regardless of the number of times the 'try again' is pressed – it does nothing."

Apple has yet to respond to a request for comment on the matter. We're still trying to find details of a reliable fix for the problem – please let us know if you've been able to rescue your stuck iPad 2 during the install.

Some people say they've managed to convince iTunes to factory-reset their tablets to escape iOS 9.3's prison: try plugging a poorly iPad 2 into a computer, running Apple's software to wipe it clean, and then restore from an iCloud backup. A couple of folks have warned us that they ran into more activation error messages after performing this recovery.

If Apple fixes its activation system, you may be able to eventually progress through the stuck upgrade process.

The iOS 9.3 update was released to users earlier this week when Apple unveiled its newest crop of iPhones and iPads. The update includes improvements to Siri, Notes and Music, as well as the addition of a "Night Shift" display option to limit blue display color tones after dark.

The new version also includes numerous security fixes – so iPad 2 owners face either a bricked device or a vulnerable one.

Last year, a similar problem plagued the iOS 9 update when users were unable to progress their phones past the "slide to update" screen. Apple eventually posted an update to address that bug. ®

Updated to add

See our followup article for more details on how to fix a stuck iThing.

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