Tips and tricks for a smooth switch to a new iPhone

Planning on selling your existing iPhone and upgrading to a new one? Here's what you need to know to make that process as smooth as possible.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor
iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini standing side by side
Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Over the next few months, millions of iPhone users are going to be upgrading to the iPhone 14. And as part of that upgrade, they will be wiping their previous iPhones ready for resale or passing on to a family member.

If you're going to be one of those people, read on.

You don't want to mess up this transfer, because not only could you lose data, but the next person could end up being unable to use the iPhone you sold or gave them. Follow these steps for a successful result for both of you.

1. Update

Before you even think about wiping your old iPhone, there are some things that you should do. I'm going to assume that you're selling an iPhone that's still being supported and is capable of running iOS 15.

These are the iPhones that can run iOS 15:

  • iPhone 13 / 13 Mini / 13 Pro / 13 Pro Max
  • iPhone 12 / 12 Mini / 12 Pro / 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 11 / 11 Pro / 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone XS / XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8 / 8 Plus
  • iPhone 7 / 7 Plus
  • iPhone 6s / 6s Plus
  • iPhone SE (1st generation)
  • iPhone SE (2nd generation)

If your iPhone is one of these and is not running the latest version of iOS 15, then I recommend upgrading to the latest release to get the best experience.

2. Look out for apps that need additional handholding during a transfer

Next, some apps -- specifically banking apps in my experience -- prefer it if you deactivate or deauthorize them on the old iPhone before moving to a new handset. 

It's not that you can't still get the service to work, but you may have to jump through more hoops to make that happen.

I'd definitely check any banking and financial apps for any special process involved in moving them to a new handset and take care of that up front.

Also: The 5 best payment apps (Venmo isn't your only option)

3. Protect your data

Next up, I want you to think about your data. How upset would you be if you lost your notes, photos, texts or other data that's on your iPhone?

Think about that for a moment. Because it's very easy to be blasé about your data while it's all there on your iPhone and safe.

Make sure to back up your data. To be honest, you should be doing that anyway. iCloud is the simplest, no-fuss method. To do this, tap on Settings > [your name] > iCloud on your iPhone, then tap iCloud Backup to begin the process.

Don't have enough iCloud space? Don't worry! Apple will let you borrow some temporary iCloud storage. (It helps to keep your iPhone storage under control, and you really should consider getting more storage for your future backup needs.)

Also: Here's a hidden way to increase your iCloud storage

4. Get ready for the transfer

Apple has made the transfer process pretty straightforward.

Tap on Settings > General and then scroll down to the bottom and tap on Transfer or Reset iPhone.

You're now ready to start the process. 

Tap Get Started to begin the process of backing up your iPhone and getting ready for the new iPhone.

Transfer or Reset iPhone screen saying Prepare for New iPhone

Apple has made transferring to a new iPhone easy.

Screenshot/Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

5. Wiping the old iPhone

OK, you've done that, your data is safe, you've got your new iPhone, and that's all set up and working fine.

You're now ready to wipe your old iPhone.

Remember that this is a one-way street, and once you wipe it... The data is gone.

Tap on Settings > General and then scroll down to the bottom and tap on Erase All Contents and Settings

Erase This iPhone screen

This erases everything!

Screenshot/Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

This is a one-stop-shop move that will:

  • wipe your data and apps
  • remove your Apple ID from the iPhone
  • disable Activation Lock, allowing the next person to activate the handset, and
  • remove all your Apple Wallet data.

All that's needed is the passcode and the wiping will begin.

Remember, once you start this process, there's no going back!

Also: iOS 15 privacy and security checklist

6. Spring-clean your iPhone

Don't hand over a dirty, nasty iPhone to the next person.

I always remove any cases and screen protectors, and give the phone a wipe-down with lens cleaning wipes, just to freshen it up. Also, it's a nice touch to give the next person a charging cable and a charger if you have a spare.

And if you still have the original box, then so much the better. 

Now you can relax and enjoy your new iPhone!

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