Upgrading to a New iPhone

Planning for your new iPhone

Will you need a new SIM?

If you have an iPhone 4s or older, and you’re getting a new iPhone 5 or newer, then you will need a new SIM. (What model iPhone do you have?)

If you need a new SIM card, usually you can go to your carrier’s store with your current and new phones and they will swap the SIM for you. But if your phone is under someone else’s name on a family or business plan, contact your carrier (AT&T, Verizon, etc.) to find out how to get a new SIM card.

Decide what to do with the old device.

You can trade-in your phone for instant credit with Apple: See https://www.apple.com/iphone/trade-up/

You can sell it to Gazelle at gazelle.com. Even non-working iPhones may be worth something. 

Or you can use it as a wi-fi device without a SIM.


Just before you get the new iPhone

Save any important photos and videos from Messages to the Camera Roll.

Usually Messages are restored, but often old messages are lost. Copying important photos to the Camera Roll means at least you have saved the images.

If you have an Apple watch, unpair it from the old iPhone.

Unpairing it makes a backup of your Apple Watch, so you can restore it when you pair the watch to a new phone. Unpairing is the only way to make a backup of your Apple Watch.

Back up your iPhone to iTunes or iCloud.

The fastest way to get your data on your new phone is to restore from an iTunes backup. (Note: when you connect your phone to iTunes it will first sync. After the sync finishes, do a backup.)

Apple's instructions for moving your data to a new iPhone have detailed instructions about how to make a backup. 

Finally, make sure you have the right passwords.

You will need the AppleID (usually an email address) and password for your phone’s data (contacts, calendar, etc.) and, if different, the AppleID and password that you use to purchase apps and media from iTunes.


After you get your new iPhone

As mentioned above, the quickest way to get your new iPhone up and running is to use iTunes to make a backup of your old iPhone and to use iTunes to “restore” that backup to the new phone.

You have to do a few things with your new iPhone before you can restore your data. The set-up screens will walk you through this process; enter your location and activate the phone (do this in the store to make sure the phone is working).

After that, you will see a screen for “Apps & Data”. Here you are given four options: Restore from iCloud Backup, Restore from iTunes Backup, Set up as New iPhone, Move Data from Android.

Apple's instructions for moving your data to a new iPhone have detailed instructions about how to restore your data from an iTunes backup or an iCloud backup, but if you tap “Restore from iTunes Backup” the onscreen instructions will walk you through the process.

If you have an iCloud backup, tap “Restore from iCloud Backup.” It will work just the same, but it often takes longer because everything has to be downloaded from Apple’s servers.

A Good iPhone Upgrade Procedure

Preliminary note: rarely, voicemail and text messages are lost after an upgrade. If any of these are important, save them elsewhere before upgrading. (This may require using a Mac and additional software). Contact me if you need help with this.

Steps to Upgrade

If you don't have time for all of this, then you don't have time to upgrade.

Learn about iOS 10

Since it will take 30-60 minutes to upgrade your device to iOS 10, I recommend reading about the new features as you wait. A good place to start is iMore’s iOS review. There’s a lot to cover, so you may want to practice with only a few features at a time.

Read This If You Have an Older iPhone

Because of changes in hardware, some parts of iOS 10 don’t work on older devices. The Mac Observer explains what’s missing.

Home Button Changes

We’re all so used to pressing the home button or swiping to unlock, and iOS 10 really doesn’t want you to try either of those gestures.
— Jason Snell, sixcolors.com

If you don’t use TouchID, now is the time to try it again. Apple wants to make the iPhone more useful without requiring anything more than picking up the device—while at the same time keeping most of your data secure. TouchID and iOS 10 is their answer.

The swipe to unlock is gone. You can still use your passcode to unlock, but after the lock screen is visible you’ll tap the home button to bring up the number pad.

Read more abut the home button and other lock screen changes on Six Colors: Getting iOS 10 right from the start.


Messages is the biggest whizz-bang feature in iOS 10, and all the changes can be overwhelming. Six Colors has two articles that are worth checking out:

Messages on iOS 10: Better features, worse usability 

Dealing with the deluge of iMessage apps and stickers

Have fun!