How do you transfer the contents of an older iPhone to a new one? It's not that hard to do, whether you're setting up a whole new iPhone out of the box, or your new iPhone is already set up and running, just not with your data.
Here are the steps that use iOS 12.4 or later.
Update Your Devices
It's usually a good idea to make sure your old device has the latest version of iOS before you begin. This helps ensure compatibility with the new device and can minimize problems during the data transfer process. In addition, Apple added a new and very useful iPhone Migration tool to iOS 12.4, so you want to make sure that both your original and your new iPhone are updated at least so far.
2. Press General .
3. Press Software Update . Then follow the onscreen instructions until your iPhone is updated and restarted.
Having made sure your iPhones are up-to-date, you have a choice of three methods to transfer all your data. You can back up and restore through iTunes or Finder on your Mac, back up and restore from iCloud, or use the iPhone Migration tool first introduced in iOS 12.4.
Backing up and restoring through iTunes or Finder
You will want to back up your old iPhone after has your new iPhone in hand, so the backup is as up to date as possible may be. Follow these steps to back up through iTunes:
Connect your old iPhone to your Mac, launch iTunes, select your iPhone by clicking the tiny phone icon on the toolbar, and select This Computer under Backup. . In macOS Catalina, you find your iPhone in the Finder sidebar, not in iTunes, but the rest of the steps are the same.
Enabling the option Encrypt local backup is a good idea. If you encrypt your backup, you will be able to transfer all your account passwords and health data – just remember to choose a password you don't want to forget. Click the button until Backups Now .
When the backup is finished, connect to your new iPhone and turn it on, then select the Restore backup option.
Use Quick Start and restore from iCloud
You do not need to connect iPhone to your Mac. Just launch Settings on your old iPhone and tap your Apple ID profile list at the top, then go to iCloud> iCloud Backup and select Backups Now . You want to make sure you have enough iCloud storage to back up all your important data.
When you set up your new iPhone, you can restore iPhone from this backup when you have signed in to your new device with the Apple ID. During the installation process on your new iPhone, you will be prompted to use Quick Start.
It's practically magic. You just hold the new phone next to the old phone and a small card pops up asking if you want to transfer all your stuff to the new device. Then, point the old phone's camera towards the new phone (showing a cloud of tiny dots) and enter your 6-digit password.
You will review the rest of the installation process, such as enabling Face ID, and then getting the option of either Transfer from iPhone or Download from iCloud . Select Download from iCloud .
After a short while, the phone will be ready to boot, just like your old iPhone. It will even ask you to update your old iPhone backup if it has not been backed up for a while.
Setting up the phone this way transfers most of your settings, event on the home screen and more. It is a huge time-saver.
After configuring your phone this way, you will give it some time to download all your apps again. Initially, the Home screen will display placeholders for your apps, all arranged and filled in folders exactly as on your old iPhone. However, your new phone must actually download apps again, because every time you download an app from the App Store, the phone actually takes a unique version that is specifically optimized for that iPhone model. Most of the user data and settings are downloaded again from iCloud, and that is the important part.
Use Quick Start and iPhone Migration Tool
In iOS 12.4, Apple introduced a new iPhone migration tool that transfers data directly from your old iPhone to your new one, either via Wi-Fi or a direct cable connection (you need a lightning flash) -USB-C camera kit adapter and a USB-C flash cable).
Just as in the above process, point your old iPhone's camera towards a cloud of dots on your new iPhone, enter your password code and set up Face ID or Touch ID. Then you get the option of Transfer from iPhone or Download from iCloud . Select the option Transfer from iPhone .
You can also choose whether to transfer some settings, such as Apple Pay and Siri, from your previous iPhone to your new iPhone. And if you have an Apple Watch and you set up a new iPhone, you will be asked if you want to transfer Apple Watch data and settings.
Keep your devices nearby and connected to power until the iPhone migration process is complete. This can take a long time if you have a whole lot of data – more than an hour! – But it's the easiest way to get everything for your new iPhone.
Just like restoring from iCloud, your new iPhone needs to download apps from the App Store to get the version that's properly optimized for the new hardware. But your home screen shows placeholders, arranged like your old iPhone, and all the data for those apps will be transferred from your old iPhone.
Delete Your Old iOS Device
When is completely secure you have copied, synchronized or does not need data stored on your old device, you can delete it. Make sure you do this before selling or giving away the phone to anyone else! Perform the following steps on your old iPhone:
- Turn off Find My iPhone / iPad before proceeding. This is done in Settings > your account name (the first part with the username)> iCloud .
- To delete via iTunes and USB, follow Apple's detailed instructions here.
- If you prefer to delete directly on your device, press Settings > General > Reset and select Delete all content and settings . If prompted, enter your password or your Apple ID password, and then wait for it to finish.
Which method is best?
The easiest solution for most users is to use the iPhone Migration Tool by selecting Transmission from iPhone under Quick Setup. This will get all data from your old iPhone to the new one, including local copies of pictures and videos, health data, passwords stored in keychain and more. It takes a while, but in the long run it is actually a time saver.
When you select Download from iCloud you will be running very fast – as little as five minutes in most cases. But you're not completely running. Sure, you can use the new phone, but it needs to download a lot of data in the background that can take hours. You may find yourself entering passwords you thought you had stored in the keychain or missing some data in the health app. The Transfer from iPhone option takes longer to get started, but is far more complete.
Recovery from an encrypted backup in iTunes (or Mac Finder in macOS Catalina or later) is both quick and complete and is recommended if you have the ability to do so. But you are not always near your computer or have free storage on it to make a backup.