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How to move all your data to your new iPhone

How to move all your data to your new iPhone


Recent updates make it easier than ever

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Image: Apple

If you’ve just upgraded — or are planning to upgrade — to Apple’s new iPhone 13, congratulations! You’re going to want to try out your snazzy new phone as soon as you open that box. But first, you need to get all of the apps and data from your old iPhone onto your new one.

It’s actually very easy — in fact, if you haven’t upgraded for a while, you’ll find it easier than ever. The process of moving your data used to require restoring it from an iCloud or iTunes backup. Now, you don’t have to bother with that backup (although backing up your stuff is always a good idea). You can move your apps, data, and ID over to the new phone directly with what Apple calls iPhone migration. (However, if you prefer, you can still restore it from iCloud.)

Here’s how.

First, back up your phone

No matter how you decide to move your data, it’s a good idea to have a current backup of all of your data saved on iCloud, your laptop, or any other local / cloud storage. Backing up your phone on iCloud Backup is probably the easiest. If it’s been a while and you want to make sure backup is switched on in your phone’s iCloud settings:

  • Tap on “Settings” > [your name] top button > “iCloud” > “iCloud Backup.”
  • If “iCloud Backup” is switched off, toggle it on. If it’s already toggled on, and you’re preparing to wipe your old iPhone, you may want to tap “Back Up Now” just in case.

You can also back up your iPhone to a computer: either to your Mac by using your Finder (if your Mac is using a macOS version before 10.15, you’ll use iTunes) or to a Windows PC (again, using iTunes).

Before you start, there are a couple more things you need to do first:

  • If your older phone is paired to an Apple Watch, unpair it. (Your data will be moved to the new phone.)
  • Transfer your SIM to your new phone.

Okay, now that your backup is done and everything else is ready, let’s move your data.

From a direct wireless connection

  • This phone-to-phone transfer is called Quick Start, for obvious reasons. Start up your new phone. You’ll have the option to enter your Apple ID; otherwise, you’ll be asked a couple of initial questions (such as what language you want to use) and then you’ll be invited to transfer data from another phone, if you want.

A wireless phone-to-phone transfer is called Quick Start, for obvious reasons

  • Put your old phone near your new one. Make sure both phones are plugged in to power (you don’t want them running out of battery in the middle of the data move).
  • When the connection is made, your new iPhone screen will display an animation and your old phone will open its camera and display a blank circle in the middle of the screen. You’ll be asked to hold your new iPhone up to the camera of your old one so that the animation is centered in the circle. 
  • You’ll then be invited to move your attention to your new phone to finish the setup. 
  • Enter your passcode and Apple ID when asked; you may also be asked whether you want to setup Face ID or Touch ID.
  • There will be several screens to go through before the transfer begins, including the usual terms and conditions, whether you want to share your location and your analytics, and whether you want to set up FaceTime, iMessage, and Siri. 
  • You will also get the choice of moving your data from your previous phone, or from your iCloud backup. If you’ve backed up onto your computer, you can find that under “Other Options.”
  • Once you’ve made all your choices, the transfer will begin.
  • Sign in to your new iPhone again and you’re done!

From a direct wired connection between phones

One advantage of Apple’s updated migration feature is that you can also use a cable to transfer the data. If you’re having any trouble with the wireless transfer, this could be a good alternative.

For a wired connection, you’ll need a Lightning to USB 3 camera adapter and a Lightning to USB cable. And a word of advice: make sure both phones are fully charged before you start.

  • As with the wireless method, start up your new phone and go through the initial questions until you get the invite to transfer data from another phone.
  • As before, put your old phone near your new one and make sure both phones are plugged in.
  • Connect the Lightning to USB 3 camera adapter to your old phone. Connect the Lightning to USB cable to your new phone. Join the two cables together using the adapter.
  • After that, follow the same directions as above, including using the camera to find the pattern and answering all the setup questions. 
  • You’ll know that the phones are using the wired setup because once the transfer starts, there will be a small “cable” between the two phone icons on the screen.
You can restore a phone’s data if you’ve backed it up on your computer.
You can restore a phone’s data if you’ve backed it up on your computer.

From a direct wired connection with a Mac

If you’ve backed up your iPhone to a Mac, you can download your data from there to the new phone.

  • Connect your phone to your computer using its charging cable.
  • Fire up Finder, and select your phone in the left-hand column.
  • You may be asked if you trust the phone, first on the computer and then on the phone itself.
  • You’ll then be asked if you want to set your phone up as a new device or restore it from a previous backup. Select the latter.

Whichever method you choose, enjoy your new iPhone!

Update September 15th, 2021, 10:20AM ET: This article was originally published on September 20th, 2019 and has been updated to account for differences in the OS.