Get More iCloud Storage for Free Using This iPhone Setting
Patrick HollandManaging Editor
Patrick Holland has been a phone reviewer for CNET since 2016. He is a former theater director who occasionally makes short films. Patrick has an eye for photography and a passion for everything mobile. He is a colorful raconteur who will guide you through the ever-changing, fast-paced world of phones, especially the iPhone and iOS. He used to co-host CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast and interviewed guests like Jeff Goldblum, Alfre Woodard, Stephen Merchant, Sam Jay, Edgar Wright and Roy Wood Jr.
Patrick's play The Cowboy is included in the Best American Short Plays 2011-12 anthology. He co-wrote and starred in the short film Baden Krunk that won the Best Wisconsin Short Film award at the Milwaukee Short Film Festival.
iOS 15 includes a setting that lets you borrow more iCloud storage temporarily for free when transferring data from an old iPhone to a new one.
Why it matters
iCloud's free tier is limited to 5GB of storage. The new temporary solution gives you more iCloud space without costing you any extra money.
Did you just buy a new iPhone 13, 13 Pro or maybe one of Apple's older phones like the iPhone 12, iPhone 11 or iPhone SE? No matter the model, you'll need to move all of your messages, photos, videos and music to your new phone. With iOS 15, Apple updated the way to transfer your stuff from one iPhone to another.
You can also use Apple's direct data migration tool that copies your old phone onto your new one without using a computer or iCloud. The downside to this process is that you won't be able to use either phone until the transfer process is complete, which can take an hour or more to finish.
Then there's using iCloud to do the transfer. The upside to this process is that you don't need to be tied to a computer and you'll have access to your old phone while the new one is downloading your backup file. The downside is that you need enough storage on your iCloud account to fit the backup file. If you're on Apple's free 5GB iCloud tier, that probably won't be enough.
First, upgrade your old iPhone to iOS 15. This will work on the iPhone 6S or newer. Depending on the speed of your Wi-Fi network it can take awhile to download and install. It took me about 20 minutes.
After the update is complete, go to Settings, General and tap on the new option: Transfer or Reset iPhone. A new page will appear. Under the Prepare for New iPhone section, tap Get Started.
A pop-up window called Extra iCloud to Move Apps and Data will appear. Read it over and when you're ready hit the Continue button. You might see an iCloud Backup is Turned Off message. If you do, tap Turn On Backup to Transfer. This didn't pop-up for me.
Next, the Move Data for All Your Apps screen will appear. Read it over. There's a list of apps that are not syncing their data with iCloud. Tap the Move All App Data with iCloud button. Another screen pops up explaining what you can do with your old iPhone. Read it over, or not. Then hit the blue Done button.
Your old iPhone will start backing up to iCloud. If you look on the main page in Settings, you'll see a new section that says, "iCloud Backup in Progress." Once the backup is complete, that new section in Settings will read, "Ready for your new iPhone."
Extend your temporary iCloud backup for 21 more days
You can start this process up to 21 days in advance of buying a new iPhone. Just remember that any new texts, iMessages, photos or videos won't be in that backup. If your new iPhone doesn't arrive within 21 days, you can get an additional 21 days to restore your temporary backup before it's deleted by opening Settings and tapping Keep My Backup Longer.
When your new iPhone arrives, whether it's an iPhone 13 or older, power it on and follow the prompts 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 offering you different ways to transfer your data, Select Restore from iCloud. Then sign in to iCloud with the same Apple ID and password as your old iPhone.
Watch this: Here's the easiest way to set up your iPhone 13
Choose the most recent backup and follow the prompts, after which your backup file will start downloading onto your new iPhone. After the download is complete, your new iPhone will reboot and your apps will finish downloading. All of your photos, emails, contacts, appointments and messages will be there.
You might be wondering, what happens to that temporary iCloud backup when you're done? It will stay available for seven days and then be permanently deleted.