How To Migrate To A New iPhone

Do you want to replace your older iPhone with a new iPhone? Here are some general instructions for accomplishing this task. Please be aware that this article provides a general description of the process, but not precise, step-by-step instructions. I don’t provide these because there are a number of variations depending upon exactly which model iPhone you currently have, which model you buy and if you’re also switching cell phone carriers. Before you start the migration or even buy your new iPhone, make sure you backup your iPhone. I recommend backing up your iPhone to both iCloud and to iTunes on your Mac. Next, buy the new iPhone. To migrate, two tasks need to be done.

  1. Transfer phone service from the old iPhone’s SIM to the new iPhone’ SIM.
  2. Transfer the backup of your previous iPhone onto the new iPhone.

Task 1 – Move the SIM card

The easiest way to transfer phone service to a new iPhone is to move the SIM card from your current iPhone to your new iPhone. SIM cards can be removed while the phone is turned on. Please refer to Apple’s article about the type of SIM card in your iPhone to make sure that both of your iPhones use the same type of SIM card. Starting with the iPhone 5, iPhones have used nano SIM cards. As of the time of this writing, the current iPhones, the iPhone 11s still use nano SIM cards. To remove a SIM, you can use a thin paperclip (or similar object). Most iPhone’s have a SIM tray on the right-hand side of the phone. Insert a paperclip into the tiny hold next to the SIM tray. The tip of the paperclip will push a lever that releases the SIM tray so it pops out. Remove the tray and then lift out the SIM. Put the SIM into the tray from your new phone. Note that one corner of the SIM is beveled so the SIM will only fit into the tray one way.

If moving the SIM does not transfer your phone service then you could call your cell service provide’s customer service group or you could try to use the activation web page provided by AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile. The activate web pages typically assume you bought your iPhone directly from your cell phone provider, as opposed to buying it from Apple.

Task 2 – Setup new iPhone and restore previous phone’s backup

You can transfer either of your previous iPhone’s backups. I find it’s faster to restore an iPhone backup stored within iTunes on your Mac so I typically choose this option. Take the new iPhone out of the box and turn it on. Connect it to your Mac using the included Lightning to USB cable. Answer the questions presented by the Setup Assistant. You’ll need to have your AppleID username, which is typically an email address and your AppleID password. You’ll also need to know the name and password of your wifi network.

Near the end of the Startup Assistant’s questions, you’ll be asked if you want to setup your iPhone as a new iPhone or restore a backup of another iPhone. Indicate that you want to restore a backup and pick the backup that you previously saved in iTunes or iCloud. Again, I find that restoring a backup stored on your Mac is faster, but either option will work.

After you restore the backup, you’ll see that the apps you had on your previous iPhone are now being downloaded onto this new iPhone, via your wifi network. Depending upon how many apps you have, it could take quite a while for all of these apps to be installed.

Start to test your iPhone’s functionality, specifically I recommend that you test your email accounts. You could tap on the Mail application and select All Inboxes. As needed, re-enter the password for any of your email accounts. You might be prompted to navigate to the Settings app so you can enter the email account password for an account. Be aware that some email accounts require you to enter your account password in both the incoming (IMAP) and outgoing (SMTP) settings area.