Choose your language

The activation kicks off with language selection. Whichever language you select here will be displayed throughout the iOS interface, and set as your default keyboard.

Right now, the iPhone supports: English (U.S.), English (U.K.), Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Arabic, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Portuguese (Brazil), Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese.

Updated:
Photo by: Screenshot by Kent German/CNET. / Caption by:

Select your region

More housekeeping here--your 4S wants to know where you're located so that it can provide you with the right formatting. By default, the region where you purchased your iPhone will be shown.
Updated:
Photo by: Screenshot by Kent German/CNET. / Caption by:

Turn location services on

Here, you need to decide if you want the iPhone to track your location. Enabling location services will allow you to use Google Maps, geotag photos, use Find My Friends, and take advantage of other location-based services (like Foursquare).

Our recommendation: Right now, enable location services. When you're done with the activation process, go to Settings > Location Services, and manually enable location services for each app. For instance, you can leave location services on for Maps, but off for Photos.

Updated:
Photo by: Screenshot by Kent German/CNET. / Caption by:

Connect to Wi-Fi

This step isn't optional. In order to activate your phone, use iCloud, and restore your phone to your previous iPhone's settings (if you had one), you must be connected to Wi-Fi.
Updated:
Photo by: Screenshot by Kent German/CNET. / Caption by:

It's thinking...

Now the phone is being associated with your carrier (Sprint, Verizon, or AT&T). If you're activating an AT&T phone on launch day, October 14, this might take longer than a few minutes.
Updated:
Photo by: Screenshot by Kent German/CNET. / Caption by:

Set up as new phone or restore from backup

If this is your first and only iOS device, select the first option, which will allow you to create a new Apple ID, or sign in with your existing one. If you've been purchasing music and movies through iTunes (before you had an iOS device), sign in with the Apple ID you use for purchases.

Otherwise, select between restoring from an iCloud backup or an iTunes backup (you'll likely have to plug your phone in to do this).

Updated:
Photo by: Screenshot by Kent German/CNET. / Caption by:

Are you connected to Wi-Fi?

At this point, if you haven't connected to Wi-Fi, you'll be reminded to do so.
Updated:
Photo by: Screenshot by Kent German/CNET. / Caption by:

Sign in with your Apple ID

To set up iCloud--the free service that will keep data from all your iDevices in sync--sign in with the Apple ID you use to make purchases. Or, if you're a new Apple customer, create an ID.
Updated:
Photo by: Screenshot by Kent German/CNET. / Caption by:

Agree to terms and conditions

Now, you'll be asked to agree to the terms of service. You totally read everything, right?
Updated:
Photo by: Screenshot by Kent German/CNET. / Caption by:

Meet Siri

Finally, your first encounter with Siri, where you'll decide if you want to use the service or not.

If you enable Siri, be aware that your usage data is sent to Apple for the purpose of improving the product. For example, whenever Siri doesn't understand you, Apple engineers will get this data, which will help them work on Siri's artificial intelligence.

Updated:
Photo by: Screenshot by Kent German/CNET. / Caption by:

Send Apple diagnostics and usage data?

By sending Apple usage data, you help them improve the software by passively informing them of bugs. This is generally safe, however, remember that this usage data also includes your location information.

In the end, opting in or out doesn't affect the function of your phone.

Updated:
Photo by: Screenshot by Kent German/CNET. / Caption by:

Success!

Your iPhone is finally ready for use. If you ever wish to change your settings from this activation process, you can do so by visiting Settings > General.
Updated:
Photo by: Screenshot by Kent German/CNET. / Caption by:
Hot Galleries

Last-minute gift ideas

Under pressure? These will deliver on time

With plenty of top-notch retailers offering digital gifts, you still have time to salvage your gift-giving reputation.

Hot Products