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How to transfer data from your old phone to your new iPhone

Iphone 13 Review Hero
(Image credit: Joseph Keller / iMore)

Did you just get a new iPhone for yourself? Whether that's a brand new iPhone 13, arguably the best iPhone currently available, or maybe it's a slightly older iPhone 12 or iPhone 11. After all, you could be coming from a much older iPhone and have been long overdue for an upgrade. Regardless of which iPhone you came from and what you picked up, congratulations! A new iPhone is always exciting.

But what about all of your data on your old iPhone? You probably have a ton of data on it that you want to keep, such as messages, voicemails, photos and videos, contacts, various files and documents, and so much more. All of this data is important, and you'll want to make sure that everything makes it over to your best iPhone safe and sound.

How are you going to transfer your old data to your new iPhone, like the iPhone 13 Pro? Don't worry; there are a few ways you can do this, including using iCloud or even going the more traditional route with a wired connection with your favorite Mac or PC. Here are all the best ways to transfer data to a new iPhone.

Using Automatic Setup to transfer data to a new iPhone

  1. Select your language on your new iPhone with your new and current devices nearby.
  2. Tap Continue on your iPhone on the popup that appears asking you to set up your new iPhone with your Apple ID.

The new iPhone setup steps showing Choose language and Tap Continue (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Use your current iPhone to scan the image that appears on your new iPhone.
  2. Enter your current iPhone or iPad's passcode on your new iPhone.
  3. Set up Touch ID or Face ID on your new iPhone.

New iPhone setup steps showing the steps to scan the automatic setup code and then set up Touch ID (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Choose whether or not to restore your new iPhone from your most recent compatible backup — if that option presents itself.
  2. Choose to restore your new device from an iCloud or iTunes backup, set it up as a new iPhone, or transfer data from an Android device.

New iPhone setup showing the steps to choose if you want to restore your device (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Agree to the terms and conditions.
  2. Tap Continue under Express Settings to use the settings for Siri, Find My iPhone, Location, and usage analytics that were transferred over from your current iPhone.

New iPhone setup showing steps to agree to Apple's Terms and Conditions (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Complete the setup process for your new iPhone as you normally would.

How to restore from an iCloud backup to transfer data to a new iPhone

  1. Open Settings on your old iPhone.
  2. Tap the Apple ID banner.
  3. Tap iCloud.

New iPhone setup showing steps to Open Settings, tap Apple ID banner, tap iCloud (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Tap iCloud Backup.
  2. Tap Back Up Now.

New iPhone setup showing steps for Tap iCloud Backup, tap Backup Up Now (Image credit: iore)
  1. Turn your old iPhone off once the backup is finished.
  2. Remove the SIM card from your old iPhone or if you're going to move it to your new one.

Wait for the backup to complete before proceeding. You can now set aside your old iPhone.

NOTE: Make sure that your new iPhone is off when you start these next steps.

  1. Insert your old SIM card into your new iPhone if you want to move it between devices.
  2. Turn on your new iPhone.
  3. Slide up or press the Home button depending on which device you're setting up.
  4. Follow the directions to choose your language and set up your Wi-Fi network.
  5. Tap Restore from iCloud backup.
  6. Sign in to your iCloud account (this is also your Apple ID).
  7. Tap Next.
  8. Tap Agree.
  9. Tap Agree again.
  10. Choose the backup you just made.

How to transfer your data to your new iPhone on macOS Catalina and newer

  1. Plug your old iPhone into your Mac running macOS Catalina or newer.
  2. Click on the Finder icon in the Dock to open a new Finder window.
  3. Click on your iPhone under Locations.

Transferring iPhone data on macOS Catalina showing steps to Click Finder, click iPhone name (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click Trust if you're asked to trust your iPhone.
  2. Click the checkbox for Encrypt Local Backup.
  3. Create a password if this is your first time setting up encrypted backups.
  4. Click on Back Up Now.

Transferring iPhone data on macOS Big Sur showing steps to: Click checkbox for Encrypt Local Backup, create a password if it is your first time setting up encrypted backups, then click Back Up Now (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Skip Backup Apps, if asked. (They'll likely re-download anyway.)
  2. Unplug your old iPhone when done.
  3. Turn off your old iPhone.
  4. Take your SIM card out of your old iPhone. (If you don't have a new or separate SIM card for your new phone.)

Wait for the backup to complete before proceeding with these next steps.

  1. Put your SIM card into your new iPhone. (If it didn't come with a new or different SIM card.)
  2. Turn on your new iPhone.
  3. Plug your new iPhone into your Mac.
  4. Slide to set up on your new iPhone.
  5. Follow the directions to choose your language and set up your Wi-Fi network.
  6. Select Restore from Mac or PC.
  7. Click your new iPhone under Locations in the Finder window.
  8. In Finder on your Mac, click the button next to Restore from this backup.

Transferring iPhone data on macOS Catalina showing steps to Click radio button, click iPhone (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Choose your recent backup from the drop-down list.
  2. Click Continue.

Transferring iPhone data on macOS Catalina showing steps to Click recent backup, click Continue (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Enter your password and click Restore if your backup was encrypted and the Finder asks.

Transferring iPhone data on macOS Catalina showing steps to Click Restore (Image credit: iMore)

How to transfer your data to your new iPhone using macOS Mojave and older

  1. Make sure you're running the most recent version of iTunes.
  2. Plug your old iPhone into your Mac or Windows PC.
  3. Launch iTunes.
  4. Click on the iPhone icon in the menu bar when it appears.
  5. Click on Encrypt Backup; you'll be asked to add a password if this is your first time encrypting a backup.

Transferring iPhone data from iTunes showing steps to click on the iPhone icon in the menu bar, then click the box for Encrypt Backup, enter a password if it is your first time setting up encrypted backup (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click on Back Up Now.

Transfer iPhone data from iTunes showing steps Click to Back up now
  1. Skip Backup Apps, if asked. (They'll likely re-download anyway.)
  2. Unplug your old iPhone when done.
  3. Turn off your old iPhone.
  4. Take your SIM card out of your old iPhone. (If you don't have a new or separate SIM card for your new phone.)

Wait for the backup to complete before proceeding with these next steps.

  1. Put your SIM card into your new iPhone. (If it didn't come with a new or different SIM card.)
  2. Turn on your new iPhone.
  3. Plug your new iPhone into your Mac or Windows PC.
  4. Slide to set up on your new iPhone.
  5. Follow the directions to choose your language and set up your Wi-Fi network.
  6. Select Restore from iTunes backup.
  7. On iTunes on your Mac or Windows PC, select Restore from this backup.
  8. Choose your recent backup from the list.

Backing up iPhone on iTunes showing steps to Click Restore from this backup, choose backup (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click Continue.
  2. Enter your password if your backup was encrypted and it asks.

Transferring data to iPhone from iTunes showing steps to Click continue, enter password (Image credit: iMore)

Keep your iPhone plugged into iTunes until the transfer is complete and on Wi-Fi until all re-downloads are complete. Depending on how much data you have to re-download, including music and apps, it might take a while.

Make sure your most important data goes with you from iPhone to iPhone

We all have a lot of incredibly important data and memories on our iPhones. While it may seem a little daunting to get all of that information transferred over to a new iPhone, it's actually very easy and you have several ways to go about it, from the automatic setup process to iCloud to just relying on a good old wired data transfer between your computer and iPhone.

Speaking of wired transfers, you'll want to make sure that you have a good Lightning cable for the job. Though Apple doesn't give you an iPhone charger anymore, it still provides a basic USB-C to Lightning cable for you, though the quality may not be the best. If you want something that's more durable than Apple's cables, which are known to fray and break down over time, then check out our recommendations on the best USB-C to Lightning cables for your buck.