iPhone X setup shows Apple’s core brilliance

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automatic setup
In iOS 11, you won't need to remember anything when you get a new iPhone.
Screenshot: Cult of Mac

I used to think setting up a new iPhone was easy, but the iPhone X takes it to the next level.

On Friday, I got the new iPhone X and have been using it all weekend. The setup process was the easiest ever, and speaks to Apple’s constant drive to make things better.

Normally I set up a new I Phone “as new.” It gives me a chance to clear out apps that I never use. But setting up as new can be a huge pain. It requires re-downloading all your apps, and laboriously cutting/pasting dozens of inscrutable passwords from 1Password (the password-management software I use).

Nonetheless, it’s become a habit because I’ve been burned in the past. During previous upgrades, it took forever to suck everything down from iCloud. Sometimes the process failed altogether. It just seems easier and cleaner to start from scratch.

So when I unboxed the iPhone X, I had every intention of starting fresh. But up popped a dialog box asking if I wanted to transfer all the settings from my old phone using iOS 11’s new Automatic Setup feature.

iPhone X setup: Going full auto

Automatic Setup signs you into iCloud, Keychain, iTunes, the App Store, iMessage and FaceTime using your Apple ID, according to Apple. It also takes care of device settings like language, region, network, keyboard preferences, Siri and Home and health data.

The setup is reminiscent of setting up a new Apple Watch, but even easier. I just held my phones close together and initiated the process by pointing the X’s camera at my old phone. The old phone displayed a glowing orb of shiny blue dust, and the pairing began.

It’s as simple as the setup process for the new Apple TV 4K, which likewise sucks in all your passwords and login IDs from a nearby device (after authentication, of course).

I encountered only a couple of minor hiccups. My old phone asked for its iCloud backup to be updated — which only took a few minutes. Then the iPhone X asked to be updated to the latest version, iOS 11.1. My old phone was running iOS 11.1 but the X was running plain old iOS 11. Updating the new phone took a little longer — 15 minutes or so.

Express Settings simplifies iPhone setup

Another change in iOS 11 setup is streamlining all the tedious questions the phone asks you before you get to the home screen. Apple consolidated all of them into a single new screen called Express Settings. This enables default settings for location, analytics and Find My iPhone. You can now enable them all at once.

It’s a smart move. You can always dig into System Settings and change things later, but it turns on important settings like automatic backups.

Then it took about 15 or 20 minutes for the X to re-download all my apps.

Overall, it was the easiest, most painless setup of a new iDevice I’ve encountered. This kind of thoughtful, user-centric thinking made Apple famous. I’m glad to see the tradition going strong.

Get iPhone X setup tips

Want more info on setting up iPhone X? Read Cult of Mac’s how-to: Set up your new iPhone X the right way.