How To Switch iPhones Without Losing a Thing
Everything you need to know to successfully transfer your contacts, music, photos, and apps from one iOS device to another.
Losing all the stuff on your phone used to be no big deal a decade ago. These days, it’s practically a Netflix horror movie plot. Wondering how to switch your iPhone, iPod, or iPad successfully, without losing anything in the process? If you’re looking to upgrade your iPhone to the newest model, it is possible to do so painlessly. Your photos, contacts, videos, message history, music, calendars, mail accounts, and many of your apps can all be transferred from your previous device to the new one. We’ve outlined the steps below.
1. Back Up Your Old iPhone or iPad
First you need to back up your old phone, which can you do via iCloud or your computer. You used to be able to use iTunes, but that app has since been replaced by three apps—Apple Music, Podcasts, and Apple TV—on Macs running newer operating systems. The computer backup steps are similar.
- To back up your iPhone using iCloud, first be sure your device connected to Wi-Fi. Then go into your phone’s settings and click your name at the top, which will take you to your Apple ID page. Depending on which phone you have, you will either choose iCloud > iCloud Backup > Back Up Now, or after clicking onto your Apple ID page, you’ll see a list of devices your ID is signed into. If that’s the case, click on your iPhone. From there, choose iCloud Backup, toggle it on, click on Back Up Now, and let your phone back up while it’s still on Wi-Fi. It might be worth setting your new phone to automatically backup daily, but be aware that the cloud only stores 5 GB for free.
- To back up your iPhone using a Mac computer, plug your phone into your MacBook or iMac and open Finder. On the left you should see your phone come up under Locations. You’ll be able to go through all your saved data, from music and podcasts to photos and files. If your photos have been saved via iCloud, they won’t show up here unless you turn that feature off. Under the General tab, you can select Back Up Now. To save Health and Activity, choose the option to encrypt your backup or else it will not save it; not saving unencrypted Health and Activity data is a default privacy feature. All iCloud backups are encrypted automatically.
- To back up your iPhone using a Windows 10 computer, download iTunes for Windows and plug your iPhone into your laptop or desktop via USB. Click the iPhone button in the upper left, then go to Summary > Back Up Now. Encrypt your backup by clicking “Encrypt local backup” and setting a password. Encrypting allows you to back up your Health and Activity data, as well. To find your backups, click Edit > Preferences > Devices. Apple also goes through the steps here.
2. Turn Off Your Old iPhone
Once you’re fully backed up, turn off your old device. If you have a SIM card that you want to use, you can switch that from the old to new phone now. Lightly pushing a paperclip into the SIM tray hole will help you open it up.
3. Turn On Your New Device
Turn on your new phone and follow the steps on the Hello screen until you reach a screen that asks if you want to join a Wi-Fi network. Choose the network you wish to join.
4. Restore Your Backup
While still on that Wi-Fi screen, you can choose how to restore your backed up data.
- If you used iCloud to back up your iPad or iPhone, continue through the setup process until you reach the Apps and Data screen and tap the Restore from iCloud Backup option. Sign in to your Apple ID (if you’re forgetful, consider using a password manager to find and store old login information) and choose the backup that you want to use. The backups are time-stamped, so if you’ve been regularly backing up your phone there will be several there; be sure to look at the date and size of the backup to make sure you pick the correct one.
- If you used your computer to back up your data, plug your phone into it. If you’re using a Mac running Catalina 10.15, open Finder and select your device. If your Mac is running an older operating system or you have a PC, open iTunes. Select your iPhone when it appears in the window. Click Restore Backup under the General tab and choose the correct date.
5. Make Sure Your Wi-Fi Connection Is Stable
Don’t disrupt the Wi-Fi connection until the backup is totally done. Disconnecting early will cause your backup to pause until you reconnect. The same goes if you are restoring by tethering your device to a Windows 10 PC or Mac—leave your phone plugged in until it’s finished.
There isn’t anything else to it. If you went ahead and fired up your new iPhone without transferring anything, you’ll have to either erase it and start over, or transfer your content manually—but that’s going to be a lot more work than doing a full transfer. We recommend just starting over from scratch and following the above steps to get all your data over at once.
Do not delete data on your old phone until you have your new one up and running. Have fun with your new iPhone or iPad, and if you don’t need your old one, you may be able to sell it.