How to painlessly switch iPhones and keep all of your data

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How to painlessly switch iPhones and keep all of your data
Switching iPhones doesn't have to involve losing data. Hollis Johnson/Business Insider
  • To smoothly switch from one iPhone to another, you should sync everything to your iCloud account.
  • Once you log into iCloud on a new iPhone, your data will move over and redownload itself.
  • To carry your phone number over, you'll also have to switch out the iPhone's SIM card.
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Apple releases new versions of the iPhone every year. And while buying a new phone is always exciting, taking the time to move all your important data can be tedious.

Luckily, your Apple ID and iCloud accounts are designed to make switching iPhones as smooth as possible. It only takes a few steps.

Here's how to painlessly switch from one iPhone to another.

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Before Switching iPhones

There are a few things you'll need to do before switching to make sure that all your data ports over correctly.

First, you need to save your current iPhone's data in the event that something goes wrong. This means making a backup. You can backup your iPhone's data by opening the Settings app, tapping your name at the top of the page, and then selecting iCloud.

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For the full details on how to make sure that everything is backed up, check out our article on how to save your iPhone's data to iCloud.

How to painlessly switch iPhones and keep all of your data
Turn on backups and save your data. Apple; William Antonelli/Insider

Secondly, unless you're planning on switching phone numbers too, you need to take the SIM card out of your current iPhone and put it into the new one. The SIM card is a small data chip that carries your phone number and cell carrier account information.

Note: Most major cell carriers let you switch SIM cards between phones without issue, but you should check with your specific carrier to see if they require any extra steps.

Switching SIM cards isn't hard, but you'll need a special tool to do it. If you're not sure of the steps, check out our article on how to remove and replace an iPhone's SIM card for more information. Remember that your old iPhone will still work without a SIM card, you just won't be able to make calls or send SMS text messages.

And lastly, if you have an Apple Watch, you'll want to unpair it from your current iPhone. You can do this through the Watch app — again, check out our specific article on the subject for a detailed walkthrough.

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Once you're ready, its time to switch iPhones.

How to switch iPhones

There are two major ways to transfer your data onto the new iPhone: Using the Quick Start feature, or by using iCloud.

Quick tip: Alternatively, you can set up the new iPhone without transferring any data, and then just email any photos, videos, or files you want to yourself and re-save them. But while this might give you more control over what data you carry over, it takes a lot more time.

Using Quick Start

If your old device is running iOS 12.4 or newer — you can check its version in the Settings app — you'll be offered the Quick Start feature when setting up your new phone. This feature lets you transfer all your data just by scanning a picture.

1. Turn on your new iPhone by connecting it to a charger, and place your old iPhone near it.

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2. A pop-up should appear on your old iPhone, asking if you'd like to use your Apple ID to set up the new iPhone. Tap Continue.

How to painlessly switch iPhones and keep all of your data
When the Quick Start prompt comes up, tap "Continue." Apple

3. Wait for an animation to appear on your new iPhone's screen, then hold your old iPhone over the new one as directed.

4. On your new iPhone, enter the passcode and set up Face ID or Touch ID, then log into your Apple ID account.

5. You'll be asked if you want to transfer data directly from your old iPhone, or want to restore data from an iCloud backup. Pick either option.

Keep the devices on and near each other until your new iPhone is ready for use.

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Using an iCloud backup

This method uses the backup that we made earlier.

1. Turn on your new iPhone by connecting it to a charger and follow the instructions on-screen. Make sure that you connect to a Wi-Fi network.

2. Once you reach the Apps & Data screen, tap Restore from iCloud Backup and sign into your Apple ID account.

How to painlessly switch iPhones and keep all of your data
Restore your data from iCloud. Apple

3. Choose the backup you want to restore your data from — chances are that it'll be the most recent one.

Keep your iPhone connected to Wi-Fi until the backup transfer is complete.

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Quick tip: You can also tap the Restore from Mac or PC option if you have a backup saved to iTunes or the Finder app. This is basically the same process, but you'll need to connect your new iPhone to your computer.

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