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Choose your language

Select your region

Turn location services on

Connect to Wi-Fi

It's thinking...

Set up as new phone or restore from backup

Are you connected to Wi-Fi?

Sign in with your Apple ID

Agree to terms and conditions

Meet Siri

Send Apple diagnostics and usage data?

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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.

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

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.

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

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).

Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Kent German/CNET.
At this point, if you haven't connected to Wi-Fi, you'll be reminded to do so.
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Kent German/CNET.
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.
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Kent German/CNET.
Now, you'll be asked to agree to the terms of service. You totally read everything, right?
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Kent German/CNET.

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.

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

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.

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