iOS 13 is available. Get your iPhone ready before installing it

Take a few minutes to make sure your iOS 13 update goes smoothly.

Jason Cipriani Contributing Writer, ZDNet
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.
Jason Cipriani
4 min read

iOS 13 adds a dark mode to your iPhone, and much more. 

Update, April 22: Read our iPhone SE 2020 review. Original story follows.

The iPhone 11 may not launch until Friday, but our review is already out and according to CNET's Scott Stein, it's the best midtier phone Apple has ever made. New iPhones aren't the only thing Apple is launching this week -- Apple releases iOS 13 for iPhone and iPod Touch owners on Thursday. The software update brings with it plenty of new features, including a dedicated dark mode, a new swipe keyboard and a revamped Photos app (complete with video editing tools). But before you anxiously begin tapping that update button, there are a few things you should do on your iPhone to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible.

Read: How to backup your iPhone even if you get the 'Not enough iCloud storage' alert

You don't want to be one of those people posting on Facebook that iOS 13 lost your contacts and you need phone numbers -- there's no reason for that to happen in 2019. 

Take a few minutes right now and do some fall cleaning, then create a backup of your iPhone; just in case. Then after you've done all of that, install iOS 13

When will iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 be available?

  • iOS 13 launches for iPhones on Thursday, Sept. 19.
  • iPadOS 13 launches for iPad on Tuesday, Sept. 24.

Devices that will support iOS 13, iPadOS 13

iPhone XS 12.9-inch iPad Pro
iPhone XS Max 11-inch iPad Pro
iPhone XR 10.5-inch iPad Pro
iPhone X 9.7-inch iPad Pro
iPhone 8 iPad (6th generation)
iPhone 8 Plus iPad (5th generation)
iPhone 7 iPad Mini (5th generation)
iPhone 7 Plus iPad Mini 4
iPhone 6S iPad Air (3rd generation)
iPhone 6S Plus iPad Air 2
iPhone SE iPod Touch (7th generation)

14 hidden iPhone features in iOS 13 you need to know about

See all photos

Get rid of old apps and photos

I recommend using major OS updates as a yearly reminder it's time to go through all of the apps you have installed on your iPhone or iPad and delete those random face swap apps or games you used for a few minutes, then forgot all about. It's also a good time to go through the Photos app and delete all those random screenshots, photos and videos you no longer need. 

Removing unused apps will trim down the amount of storage you're using, and also speed up the backup process since there's less for iTunes or iCloud to backup. 

Back up your iPhone or iPad

There are two methods for backing up your iOS device. You can use Apple's iCloud service, or use iTunes on a Mac or PC. Backing up through iCloud is arguably the easiest method. It's a good idea to back up your device right before you update, that way if something goes wrong you're not restoring to a backup created a few days ago, and all of your current information will be restored. 

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Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET


Using Apple's iCloud service to back up your iOS device is the easier method. Each iCloud account is given 5GB of free storage for things like backups, so why not use it? To force a backup of your iOS device using Apple's iCloud service, go to Settings > tap on your name > iCloud > iCloud Backup > Back up now.

Make sure you're connected to a Wi-Fi network and have a charger handy. You don't want to burn through your wireless data plan, and the backup process can chew through a lot of your battery in a short time.

Use iTunes

Another way to back up your iOS device is to use iTunes. You'll need a computer with the latest version of iTunes installed and an Apple Lightning cable. Connect your iOS device to the computer and unlock it. Enter your PIN code if prompted to approve a connection between the computer and device.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

In iTunes, click on the small thumbnail of your device next to the Music/Movies drop-down menu.

With the Summary option selected on the left, you should see a screen full of details about your device. On that screen is also a Backups section. Leave iCloud selected, but check the Encrypt iPhone backup box. 

You'll be asked for a password that will be used to encrypt the backup. Whatever you do, do not lose or forget the password you enter -- without it, you can't restore your iOS device's backup should you need to.

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Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

With a password entered, click Back Up Now and let iTunes work. A few minutes later, you'll have an encrypted backup stored on your computer. An encrypted backup will prevent you from having to enter account passwords for apps like email or Facebook when restoring a device, as opposed to iCloud backups that can be hit or miss.

Once you have a backup, install iOS 13, then check out our complete guide to all of the hidden -- and announced -- features so you can get the most out of the update. 

Originally publish last week. Updated to reflect launch date.