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Hands-down the easiest way to set up your new iPhone 11 or 11 Pro

That is, if you're upgrading from an older iPhone. We walk you through what you need to know.

Did you just receive a new iPhone 11 or iPhone 11 Pro? Pretty nice, right? New camera! Faster performance! Longer battery life! There's plenty to be excited about. That is, until it's time to transfer all of your information from your old iPhone, and you realize you're out of iCloud storage or your phone hasn't been backed up in weeks. Ugh. 

Starting with iOS 12.4, you can forget all that iCloud nonsense and use the simple new transfer tool that moves your data directly from one iPhone to another. Keep in mind that using an iCloud backup to restore your phone is faster, but if you refuse to pay for storage or your phone hasn't been backed up recently, this is the easiest way to get your new iPhone set up. 

Using the new data migration tool is simple, just make sure to set aside some time for all of your photos, messages, and other important info to transfer. 

You can follow along step-by-step with our video at the top of this article that shows you how to transfer your data from an old iPhone to a new one.

setup-process-new-iphone

Setting up your new iPhone has never been this easy. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

What you need

You'll need two iPhones -- your old one and the new one you're setting up -- both running iOS 12.4, and access to a Wi-Fi network. 

Go to Settings > General > Software Update to make sure you're running the latest version of iOS 12. If your new iPhone isn't running iOS 12.4 yet, go through the setup process on the phone, but don't select the option to restore from any backup source. Instead, select "Don't transfer apps & data" and skip through the rest of the setup steps. Once you get to the home screen, update it to iOS 12.4 and then factory reset it. I know, it's a hassle, but doing so will ensure you can transfer all of your data from your old iPhone. 

What's transferred

By the time you've eventually finished setting up your new phone (step-by-step instructions below), it will essentially be a direct copy of your current phone. Apps will be in the same place on your home screens, settings will be the same, email accounts... everything. 

ios-12-4-restore-with-local-data-transfer

iOS 12.4's new data transfer tool eliminates the need to worry about iCloud backups. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Using the new transfer feature

With your old and new iPhones powered on, unlocked and next to each other, your old phone should display a prompt asking if you want to set up a new phone. Tap Continue and then point the old iPhone's camera at your new phone's screen. 

Follow the prompts on your new phone, completing tasks like entering a passcode, setting up Face ID and agreeing to Apple's terms and conditions. Eventually, you'll end up on a screen asking if you want to transfer data directly from one phone to the other, or if you want to restore from iCloud. 

Select Transfer from iPhone and follow the prompts, after which your iPhones will take care of the rest. Make sure you leave the two phones near each other, otherwise the transfer can slow down or stall. 

ios-12-4-transfer-progress

Pour yourself a cup of tea and let the transfer process do its thing. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

It will take some time for the transfer to complete, depending on the speed of your Wi-Fi network and the amount of data you're transferring. Naturally, 2,000 photos will take longer to transfer than 500. If you have a lot of apps and photos, be prepared to be patient -- it's going to take a while. It took me about 25 minutes to transfer all of my data, which is exactly what the amount of time the tool estimated it would take. 

The default method is to use a wireless connection for the transfer. Alternatively, if you have a Lightning-to-USB 3 camera adapter and a spare Lightning USB cable, a wired transfer is possible and should be faster. But it's not worth going out and buying the adapter just to save yourself a few minutes. 

After the transfer is complete, your new phone will reboot and your apps will finish downloading. All of your photos, emails, contacts, appointments, and messages will be there. 

After you've set up your new phone, take a few minutes to get familiar with iOS 13, its hidden features, and even the new iPhone 11 camera features

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Originally published last month. Updated with iPhone 11 information. 

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