If you have upgraded your iPhone to a new one (such as the iPhone 6) and want to know how to copy all your content, contacts, messages and settings over the easy way, don’t worry because it’s very straightforward.
Many people simply log into iCloud when they buy a new phone, which synchronises all your messages, contacts, passwords, and photo stream. Unfortunately, while it’s definitely a handy way to start, it doesn’t copy all your settings and apps over, so you would still have a lot of manual tinkering to get everything back they way you want it.
There is a better way! The simplest method is to backup your current iPhone to Apple’s network service called iCloud and then restore the backup to the new phone.
Here’s a quick step by step guide to show you how it’s done using iCloud, as that’s the most common scenario for iPhone users.
Make sure that you are using iCloud and are signed in – most Apple users do use Apple’s cloud service, so we’ll assume that you have already turned it on…
Backing up your old iPhone
Making an iCloud backup typically requires several Gigabytes of storage and Apple only provides 5 GB for free, which might not be enough for some users. However, it’s only items such as photos, videos, messages, emails, settings and any other content that’s not explicitly an app that will count towards your iCloud space used up, because apps are simply re-downloaded from the App Store when you setup a new phone.
It’s also worth checking if you have any old backups in iCloud that can be deleted to save space, by going to:
Settings -> iCloud -> Storage ->Manage Storage
You will see a screen similar to one the below with all your current iCloud backups listed – basically just iOS devices (i.e. an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch). You can delete any you don’t want to keep (such as an older iPhone backup) to free up some space. Just tap any device to view the details.
In this example, there is an old backup that is no longer needed – tap on the specific device then Delete Backup followed by Turn Off & Delete when prompted:
Hopefully now you will have enough space in iCloud to create a new backup.
Create a new backup in iCloud
iCloud backup only works on Wi-Fi, so it’s recommended that you’re at home or somewhere equally comfortable as the whole process can take several hours.
With Wi-Fi already on, go to Settings -> iCloud and tap the blue Backup Up Now button. Even if you have already set your iPhone to backup automatically it only backs up sporadically when it’s plugged in and using Wi-Fi, so it’s definitely worth manually selecting a backup right now. If your iPhone didn’t complain that you don’t have enough iCloud space, the backup will start.
Now, go and make a coffee because it will probably take anything from 30 minutes to several hours, depending on how much stuff is on your phone. A thin blue bar shows progress – but it’s not very accurate (mine always seems to say 4 minutes remaining, for far longer than 4 minutes ), so don’t sit there watching it as you may be in for a long wait.
Once the backup has completed, you’ll notice that the Last Backup label shows the date and time of the backup just made.
Now that everything on your iPhone is safely stored in iCloud, it’s time to turn your new iPhone on and begin the restoration process…
Restore the backup to your new iPhone
Turn on your new iPhone and you’ll see the Hello screen. Follow the steps in the setup assistant until you reach the Set Up iPhone screen, then choose Restore from iCloud Backup.
In the next screen, tap on the backup you saved earlier then wait for the process to complete. You may need to enter your iCloud ID and password, and be warned that you may also have a long wait.
Once the backup is partially complete, you should be taken to the iPhone main screen where you’ll notice all the apps and photos also being downloaded in the background. You can still use the phone, and all the settings (such as icon layout, date and time preferences, and much more) will be back as they were on the old phone.
Note that when you use some of the apps for the first time, you will probably need to re-enter your iCloud ID, but that’s a minor inconvenience that only takes a few seconds.
It’s also worth opening apps such as Find My Friends (if you use it) and Find iPhone, and removing your previous phone if it’s still listed in the available devices.
Erase your old iPhone
Now that you’ve fully restored the new iPhone just the way you want it, it’s safe to completely reset your old phone.
To do this, go to Settings -> General -> Reset -> Erase All Content and Settings
You will then need to enter your passcode and confirm that you wish to completely reset the phone, as well as your Apple ID and password.
After that, you can sell or give away your old iPhone to the next lucky person…
You can also find more information about backing up and restoring using iCloud at the Apple support website.