Getting Apple's New iPhone 15 This Weekend? How to Transfer Your Data
Use these hassle-free methods to transfer everything from your old phone to your new iPhone 15 to avoid losing all your photos.
Katie TeagueWriter II
Katie is a writer covering all things how-to at CNET, with a focus on Social Security and notable events. When she's not writing, she enjoys playing in golf scrambles, practicing yoga and spending time on the lake.
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Jason Cipriani is based out of beautiful Colorado and has been covering mobile technology news and reviewing the latest gadgets for the last six years. His work can also be found on sister site CNET in the How To section, as well as across several more online publications.
Are you buying the new iPhone 15 this weekend? If so, it's time to start prepping your current phone ahead of time. We know you're probably excited to try all the new iOS 17 features (here's how you can download it), but first you need to set up your phone and sync your information.
You've got several options when it comes to transferring data from iPhone to iPhone, depending on your situation. For instance, you can set up the phone as brand new, but none of your settings, messages, photos, apps or accounts will transfer over. You could also move everything from your current phone to the iPhone 15 -- even Android users.
1. Restore a recent iCloud backup to your new iPhone
The easiest and quickest method to set up your new iPhone is to restore from a recent iCloud backup. As you walk through the initial setup process, tap Restore from iCloud Backup, sign in with your Apple ID and then pick the most recent backup of your old iPhone.
If the backup is more than a day or two old, I suggest you take an extra few minutes to create a new backup. To do so, open the Settings app on your old phone and search iCloudBackup (click the icon), then select Back Up Now.
Once that finishes, go back to your new iPhone and select the backup you just created as what you want to use to restore from.
Your phone will then restore your settings and preferences, and you'll be able to start using it in about 15 minutes while it finishes downloading your installed apps.
Once everything is restored, you'll need to sign back into any accounts you added to your phone, as well as go through your apps and make sure you're still signed in.
2. Use Apple's direct transfer method
During the setup process, you'll be asked if you want to directly transfer apps and information from your old iPhone to your new one. This feature was first rolled out with iOS 12.4, so if it's been several years since you've upgraded phones, it'll be the first time you've seen the option.
The tool is straightforward to use. Make sure you have both phones, preferably plugged in and charging to ensure they don't run out of battery, a Wi-Fi connection and enough time for the process to finish -- it could take over an hour.
The more information you have on your phone, like photos in your camera roll, the longer it will take. When the transfer starts, the phones will show you a time estimate. Every time I've used this tool, that estimate has been accurate within a couple of minutes. It's worth taking the time if you don't use Apple's iCloud service to back up your phone.
3. Use a Mac or PC to transfer your data to an iPhone
The method I personally use with every new iPhone is to restore from an encrypted backup using a Mac or PC. Not only does this process transfer all of your apps, settings and preferences, but it also means you don't have to sign into the countless apps you have on your phone.
Before you can use this method, you'll need to create an encrypted backup of your current iPhone. I know that may sound intimidating or overly complicated, but it only means you have to check an extra box and enter a password.
On a Mac, you'll use Finder to back up your old iPhone. We outlined the steps when Apple killed iTunes. Just make sure to check the Encrypt backup box and enter a password you'll remember when prompted. Let your Mac go to work, creating a backup file. It will let you know when it's done.
On a PC, you'll need to use iTunes (it's not completely dead) to create a backup. That process is explained here. Again, you'll need to make sure the Encrypt backup box is checked and enter a password.
To restore your new phone, open Finder or iTunes, and connect your phone to your computer. Click Trust when prompted, and then follow the prompts, selecting the backup you just created as what you want to use to restore the phone. You will need to enter the backup's password before the process begins -- so make sure you don't forget it!
Once it's done, your new phone will be an exact copy of your old phone and you won't have to spend any time signing into apps or random accounts.
4. Android user? This app is your answer
Apple doesn't have many Android apps listed in Google's Play Store, but Move to iOS is one of them. This free app will connect your Android phone to a new iPhone and allow you to transfer the most important information from one phone to the other.