How to setup your new iPhone 4S

How to setup your new iPhone 4S

Just get an iPhone 4S and curious how to get it set up so you can get going with it? No problem. With iCloud, you can get set up right on your iPhone, no cable, no iTunes desktop required! If you like to go old school, however, iTunes is still there for you. We recommend iCloud, but we'll walk you through both option, below!

And if you need some extra assistance to get you started check out:

On-device setup with iCloud

When you turn on your new device, you'll now be presented with a screen that says iPhone, iPad touch, or iPad (depending on which device you're setting up). Just swipe to unlock and you're welcomed and invited to choose your preferred language. The most common language options will be immediately available but you can tap the down arrow to see others. Hit the Next button to pick. Apple will also provide you a default Country or Region based on where you bought your device, but you can tap Show More to expand the choices.

Interestingly, neither here nor in any later step are default choices pre-checked for you. You can't simply keep hitting Next to speed through. You have to look at the choices and tap one to check it before the Next button will even activate. Apple is forcing you to pay more attention than is often required on the web or in apps.

Next you're given a choice to globally enable or disable Location Services. Location Services use GPS, cell-tower triangulation, and Wi-Fi router mapping to determine the approximate location of your device. This feature is used for turn-by-turn navigation (like TomTom), check-in games (like FourSquare), social networks (like Facebook), geo-tagging (like in the Camera app), and utilities (like Siri and Find my iPhone), etc. Unless you have a particular need to globally disable it, you probably want to turn on the Location Services feature at this point. You can change your mind or selectively disable or enable these services later on in the Settings app (e.g., turn off your Camera app’s geo-tagging, but leave on TomTom’s turn-by-turn navigation).

You'll need to connect to a Wi-Fi network to continue iCloud setup (if none is available, you'll have to switch to iTunes setup instead.) Your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch will then connect to Apple's servers to activate (the cord was cut from iTunes, not from Apple).

You have the choice to

  • Setup as a new iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad
  • Restore from an iCloud Backup
  • Restore from an iTunes Backup

Set up as New

To set up your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch as a new device, sign in with your Apple ID (or tap through to create one). If you have multiple Apple IDs, for example a MobileMe ID, an iTunes ID, an ID associated with FaceTime or something else, you'll have to choose which one you want to use. If you change your mind, you can login with a different ID later (and you can also login to different apps, like iTunes and iMessage, with separate IDs later). Agree to Apple's Terms and Conditions and Apple will setup your ID and ask if you want to use iCloud or not. If you do -- and most people should because it's 1) free for the base level service, and 2) highly functional -- you'll be asked to enable iCloud Backup -- and again, most people should. (It will create daily backups when you're connected to Wi-Fi.)

Decide whether or not you want to enable Find my iPhone to help trace lost or stolen devices, and then choose if you want to share diagnostic information with Apple to help them improve the iOS experience.

And you're done.

Restore from iCloud Backup

You can also choose to restore based on a previous iCloud Backup. You'll be asked to sign in with your Apple ID. Make sure it's the same Apple/iCloud ID that you used to make your previous backups. Agree to the Terms and Conditions and you'll be given a list of recent backups to choose from, including those of all iOS devices backed up to iCloud.

Pick your backup and iCloud will begin the restore. Then your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad will restart, all your settings nicely back where you left them, and iTunes will begin to re-download all the apps you had installed when the backup was made. If you live in countries where iTunes in the Cloud is available, iTunes will also re-download all the iTunes music, TV shows, and iBooks that were previously on your device. (You need to stay on Wi-Fi for large files to re-download.)

For security reasons, iOS may also prompt you to set a Passcode Lock, and not wait for you to go find it in Settings on your own.

Software Update

Gone are the days when, after Apple released a software update, you had to rush back to your iTunes-equipped Windows or Mac PC, download a 500MB+ firmware file, backup your data, install the new OS version, and restore you data back to your device. You can now do all that, better and faster, right on your iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

When a Software Update is available, you'll get a notification popup. The Settings app will also get badged, just like Mail. To get your update, go to Settings, tap on General, tap on Software Updates, and if it isn't there waiting for you, tap on Check for Updates. When you see the update, tap Install.

The firmware will download and then your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad will restart and update.

Apple is now doing bit-differential, or delta file updates. That means only the bits that have changed need to be downloaded, not the entire firmware anymore. The update also happens in place, so you don't need to backup and restore your data. Much more efficient and hence much faster.

Traditional setup with iTunes

You can still setup your new iPhone 4 the same way you've set up your previous iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad devices.

Plug into your Mac or Windows PC with the white USB Dock cable that came with your iPhone 4S. iTunes your device will be detected and displayed in the sidebar, and you’ll be asked to register it with Apple. If you have a MobileMe, iTunes Store, or other form of Apple ID you can log in with it and your information should pop up for you to check over. Either type it out or accept it and you’re good to go!

If you’re upgrading from a previous generation iPhone or iPod touch, iTunes will detect any backups you might have made and offer to restore your data for you. For example, if you’re moving from an iPhone 3GS to an iPhone 4S, iTunes can setup your new phone to pretty much match your old. If you don’t want to do this, or if you don’t have any backups, iTunes will set up your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad as new.

Wi-Fi sync

If you want to keep syncing with your home iTunes library but don't want to have to tether to your Windows or Mac PC over USB, you now have the option to sync over Wi-Fi as well. Wi-Fi sync needs to be enabled in the Settings app, and you need to sync with iTunes over USB at least once to set it up, and you need to be plugged into power throughout, but if none of that dissuades you, Zune-like Wi-Fi sync is finally yours.

Non-modal USB sync

If you do choose to keep syncing with iTunes over USB, or you sync occasionally over USB to move over large files, like movies, you can now continue to use your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad while syncing. (Previously unlocking your device would cancel the sync.)

Software Update

Depending on when exactly your new iPhone 4S was manufactured and shipped, it's possible that it may have an older version of the software, iOS. Here's how to check for updates, and get updated, using iTunes. (Though we strongly recommend you switch to iCloud updates, see below!)

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

How to setup your new iPhone 4S


If you need a guide just to set up an iPhone than you need to return the iPhone and go back to a razor. Just saying

why isnt wifi sync like the jailbroken version? i mean, that it needs to be plugged into power in order to sync

I think the plugging in is just for the battery charging because of the amount of power the WiFi and sync will eat up.

I'm assuming you still need to plug in your old iPhone SIM into the new device, no?

thanks, guys! so my old 3GS - once I activate the new 4S, will i have to re-activate the old device in itunes to use it as an ipod touch? i get confused about how that works...

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I don't strongly recommend backing up via icloud. I'm not sure why TIPB would. Use computer. Consider icloud an option but not a reliable one.

I backed up my iphone 4, plugged in the new 4s and selected "setup from backup", but the 4s wont get past the "connect to itunes" screen. Did I do something out of order? My itunes claims to sync my new 4s, but the phone is still in setup mode....

i am currently doing the same thing, switching from my iPhone4 to the 4s. and itunes is recognizing that the 4s is connected but the phone itself won't recognize it. what did you end up doing to solve this problem?

I'm baffled how do I set up my iPhone 4s everytime I go to connect to iTunes it says iPhone in recovery mode u must restore this iPhone b4it can be used with iTunes can someone please help

when I click on the Apps Store..the message pops up Cannot connect to iTunes! And yes, I just gave up my flip phone so if you decide to answer and help me out, please leave the sarcasam out.

when I click on the Apps Store..the message pops up Cannot connect to iTunes! And yes, I just gave up my flip phone so if you decide to answer and help me out, please leave the sarcasam out.

Hi,I found that the rimrndees were turned on for all my accounts, but the location based rimrndees only seem to be available in the iCloud account(Ness.Monster has made 4 comments)

Just opened new iphone 4s. Was doing fine until I tapped settings and signed in to my wi-fi. However, even tho I seem to be connected to wi-fi, I can't tap settings to sync contacts with Google because I can't move off the wi-fi page except to connect to a technical looking page. Any ideas?

iTunes does not sort files that way. Any video that is MP4 is ataamoticully placed in the Movies section, because all MP4 files are movies (or videos).References :

hi just got an iphone 4s had a 3g, just want to find out how to show names for my messages as only shows phone numbers and cant find out how to change it
any help gratefullly recieved cheers

Hi - I need to know how to change the name on my iphone 4s, when I send emails from the phone, it comes up as my email address but also with a name ex: "Sally"
I misspelled the name when I set it up and cant find where to fix it :(

recently bought iphone 4s just new to iphone world. Everything is great except for the message. How to set the messages to private instead displayed the whole content at the screen?

Well, it is a pltrfoam, like windows.The point is to offer choice, and power, instead of one limited option.The iphone 4 does just copy things android has always had I care not that it is popular, it is still inferior, just like every gimmick apple regurgitate.Enjoy your shiny brick, but remember: it is steve's phone, so you can only do what he wants.

Whoa! That ralely works! I was going crazy because of the Wi-Fi Sync not working. Uninstalling, cleaning the registry and re-installing from a new download of iTunes ralely did it for me. Thanks!

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iCloud is completely useless to me!!
I just lost my iPhone and got a new one instead, and even though my recent iCloud backups (from the old phone) are from yesterday and the day before, my new phone won't see the backups, when being setup. After I chose 'setup as new iphone' instead of restore from iCloud', and then enter iCloud on my new iphone, I do see that the mentioned backups are actually there, but I just can't select them for restore on my new iphone first time startup (setup).
So, what should I use iCloud for, if I can't restore my backups on new phones anyway?
If you have an answer for this question - I would highly appreciate it :-)

Just found the answer to my above problem :-)
You need to be on the EXACT same version of iOS 5 or newer as your backup was created from - for iCloud to see your old backups. My last backup was made with 5.1, but my new iPhone had 5.0.1. After I upgraded to 5.1, everything ran smoothly.

I think I accidentally Did something to reset my IPhone and now I have nothing. What do I do?

Everytime I tap the itunes icon on my iphone 4s, the message displays "cannot connect to itunes store". Do anyone care to help me on how to figure and resolve this one out?..Tnx

I'm about to setup my new 4S and activate my phone number on it, but my old 3GS won't sync with iTunes. I keep getting this message: "The iTunes Library File cannot be saved. An unknown error occurred (-50)" and the last backup I did was a year ago bc my laptop was out of order for quite some time. Consequently, there are quite a lot of apps (many that cost me $$$), settings, new contacts and purchased music trapped on my 3GS. This sucks! I am worried about setting up my 4S as a new phone because I don't want to lose all this data and have to repurchase the same apps. Any advice on what I can do and the proper order I should follow in doing it? Please help me if you can; I know error -50 was a common problem shortly after iOS 5 was released. My 3GS is only on iOS 4.2.1 unfortunately. If you don't know, can someone please refer me to any helpful links or information? For the love of God, help me!!!

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I am very appreciative of the description. However I just bought a new 4s and when I go to I cloud it says ' apple I'd is valid but this phone does not qualify for I Cloud' what? Why? Any ideas?

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ben iphone 4s aldım ama ekranımda msj kutusu var nasıl gırcem yapamadım yardımcı olursanız sevınırım