How to set up your new iPhone the right way

How to set up your new iPhone the right way

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Set Up Your New iPhone: We can get your new iPhone set up easily — no need to phone it in.
Rip that iPhone out of the box right now!
Photo: Apple

The iPhone setup process gets easier every year. So easy, in fact, that there are only a few things you need to do to move from your old iPhone to a new one. You can even directly transfer your data from an Android phone. Setting up a new iPhone from scratch isn’t much harder — you just have a few extra steps you need to go through.

There are still a few tricks that will help things run smoothly, though. Let’s see how to set up your new iPhone the right way.

How to set up a new iPhone: Getting started

Your iPhone will probably come with enough battery charge to get started out of the box if you’re buying new. Turn it on by holding the power button on the right side.

iPhone showing "Quick Start: Bring your current iPhone or iPad near this iPhone to sign in and get set up." with a button that says "Set Up Manually"
Hold both phones together to start the process.
Image: Apple

If you’re transferring from an Android phone, tap Set Up Manually and continue.

If you’re transferring from another iPhone, hold both devices next to each other to get signed in and set up. They should automatically detect each other. (If not, make sure your old device is connected to the same Wi-Fi network with Bluetooth turned on.)

Activate your iPhone

Now your iPhone will try to activate your cellular plan. If you have a compatible cell carrier, I recommend following on-screen instructions to transfer as an eSIM, so you don’t need to fiddle around with paper clips moving the card over and you don’t have to worry about thieves taking your SIM card out.

If you live in a country (or use a cell carrier) that doesn’t support eSIM, you can use the tool included in your iPhone box to move the SIM card to your new phone.

Either way, your new iPhone will try to activate your phone plan. If you have problems with this step, you’ll need to contact your carrier.

Set up Face ID

Face ID is very easy to use, and it’s only gotten better in recent years. Newer iPhones can check your face with a mask on or with the phone sitting horizontally. To set up Face ID on your iPhone, point the camera at your head and look around in a circle, as if you’re watching your best friend ride on a Ferris wheel all the way around.

Setting up Face ID with a mask
To set up Face ID, you need to complete the circle by tilting your head.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

If you put on sunglasses in the summer, or you wear a mask often, you can have your iPhone scan your face a second time. This time, it’ll capture more detail around your eyes so it can match your face just by the top half. Go through the same process again — it only takes a few moments.

Transfer your apps and data

You have a few different choices for how you want to move your stuff over. If this is your first smartphone, just tap Don’t Transfer Apps & Data and tap here to skip ahead in this tutorial.

Menu that says "Choose how you want to transfer apps and data to this iPhone" with options "Restore from iCloud Backup," "Restore from Mac or PC," "Transfer directly from iPhone," "Move Data from Android" and "Don't Transfer Apps & Data"
You have many options for transferring data from your old phone. I’ll walk you through a few.
Image: Apple

Transfer Directly from iPhone

This is hands-down the easiest way to move from an old iPhone to a new one. All you have to do is keep your old and new devices close to each other. All of your apps, photos and data will be beamed from your old phone to your new phone. It works just like AirDrop.

You’ll have to sit and wait while your data moves over. It shouldn’t take too long — I transferred my wife’s iPhone X to an iPhone 14 Pro while at dinner in a restaurant, and her new phone was ready to go before we got the bill.

Move Data from Android

If you’re coming from an Android phone, download Move to iOS from the Google Play Store. On your iPhone, tap Move Data from Android, tap Continue and wait for the code to appear. Enter this code on your Android phone (once you get the app opened).

Your iPhone “will create a temporary Wi-Fi network” that your Android phone needs to connect to. Once your two phones are connected, select the data you want to import and tap Continue.

Your phone will copy over “contacts, message history, camera photos and videos, photo albums, files and folders, accessibility settings, display settings, web bookmarks, mail accounts, WhatsApp messages and media, and calendars.” Your iPhone will automatically install any free apps that are available on both Android and iOS.

If you need help, check the page on Apple Support.

Restore from iCloud Backup

If your old phone has been lost, stolen, shattered, exploded or is otherwise no longer of this world, you can tap Restore from iCloud Backup. This option will also set up your new phone exactly as your old phone, but you’ll need a reliable internet connection to download everything.

Pick the latest backup you have and wait. Your phone will download all the essential data to restore it and continue with setup. After you’re done, stay connected — the iPhone will continue to download apps, messages and photos in the background.

Get signed in to your Apple ID

You’ll need to sign into your Apple ID to enable all the essential services. Tap Forgot password or don’t have an Apple ID? if you’re not sure if you have one.

You’ll be asked to turn on iMessage and FaceTime — make sure you do that. Turn on Location Services so you can get local weather and location-tagged photos. You don’t have to enable sending analytics to Apple.

If you want to use Siri, don’t skip setting up Hey Siri. I also recommend using Apple Pay if you have your cards handy — but you can always add these later in the Wallet app. Definitely turn on iCloud Keychain, the built-in secure password manager that syncs across all your devices.

You can turn on Screen Time if you want to be more mindful of how much time you spend on your phone.

If you struggle with reading small text, I recommend turning on Display Zoom to scale up everything on your iPhone’s screen.

Setting up a new iPhone from scratch

If this is your first iPhone, you might want some more guidance on getting comfortable after you’re all set up. Take a look at our post on setting up your new iPhone from scratch, which will walk you through the most important settings and tweaks.

Note: D. Griffin Jones contributed to this article. We originally published this article on September 20, 2019. It has been updated.

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