Congratulations, you’ve snagged yourself a brand-new iPhone. But before you get to playing with your new device, you’ll probably want to get to know it and set it up. Thanks to iOS’s step-by-step activation process, Apple’s made it pretty simple to get started; but just in case you need some extra help, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide for activating your new iPhone, transferring data from your old phone, and some suggestions for exploring its new features.
Transfer your data
You’ve moved to the latest and greatest in the iOS world, and to do so, you’re leaving your old device behind. But before you send it off with a fond farewell, you have to decide whether you want to transfer its data to your new iPhone. Here are the various ways to do so, depending on whether you’re moving from an old iPhone, a different smartphone, or a feature phone.
Upgrade from an older iPhone
If you’re upgrading from an older iPhone, you can transfer all its apps, data, and settings to your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus. (Depending on where you’ve purchased your music and video collection, you may still have to sync your new phone with iTunes for those items.) To do so, you’ll need to make a backup (via iTunes or, if you’re running iOS 5 or later, via iCloud) of your information. You can then restore that backup onto your new phone during the setup process.
Make a backup using iTunes: If your old device is running iOS 4 or earlier, or you want to restore from your backup as quickly as possible, an iTunes backup is the way to go. To update your backup (or to create a new one) connect your old device to the computer you normally sync it with via USB, open iTunes, select the device from the Devices menu, and under the Backups section, click Back Up Now.
Make a backup using iCloud: If you’re running iOS 5 or later on your old device and you have an iCloud account, you can alternatively take advantage of iCloud Backups to save your data. Your device will automatically make an iCloud backup once a day while locked, plugged in, and connected to a Wi-Fi network, but you can manually force a backup whenever you’re on Wi-Fi by opening the Settings app on your device.
Navigate to iCloud > Backup, and make sure the iCloud Backup switch is toggled on. From there, you just have to tap on Back Up Now to start the process. (You should note that iCloud backups can sometimes take significantly longer than iTunes backups, so it may not be the best option if you’re in a hurry to set up your new phone.)
Upgrade from another smartphone
Moving from an Android, BlackBerry, or Windows smartphone to the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus? Depending on how you’ve set your information up, it should be relatively painless to transfer it to your new device. Apple has even provided a switcher’s guide for people moving to their first iPhone, and while we encourage reading it in its entirety, we have a few tips to get you started.
Mail, contacts, and calendars: If you’re using a Gmail account or other POP or IMAP-based account for mail on your smartphone, it’s already syncing to a central server, and you should be able to add that account to your new iPhone with few issues. Apple’s iOS has automatic setup for those using Microsoft Exchange, Gmail, Yahoo, Aol, or Hotmail; you’ll also be able to manually set up a POP or IMAP account for mail, LDAP or CardDAV for contacts, or CalDAV for calendars. You can alternatively use Apple’s free iCloud service to set up a new email account.
Music, videos, and photos: Your iPhone uses iTunes to sync any local music, TV, movies, and photos from your computer to the device. If you’ve been syncing that information with your smartphone, it’s easy enough sync that data with your Apple device—you just have to know where the content is located on your smartphone and get it over to your computer. Once you’ve done that, add it to iTunes; to sync your photos, add them to iPhoto or Aperture (on a Mac) or place them in your Pictures folder (on a PC).
If you’ve purchased content through your smartphone that hasn’t been copied to your computer (say, if you’re using Amazon Cloud Drive), you should be able to download it to your desktop system, or, at the very least, install an app on the iPhone (like the Kindle app for book purchases) that lets you access the information.
Apps and miscellany: Unfortunately, you can’t port any Windows or Android apps from your old device to your iPhone. On the upside, you may be able to find parallel versions of those apps on Apple’s App Store (for instance, if you’re using Dropbox on your smartphone, you can download the company’s iOS app and continue to access your Dropbox data). If you have apps with valuable information you don’t want to lose (notes apps, to-do lists, etc), you can poke around to see if there’s any way of exporting that information; otherwise, you’ll be out of luck.
SMS and MMS logs, while not transferrable, are in theory rescuable, depending on what kind of smartphone you own, but it requires a lot of legwork on your end. You won’t be able to add them to your new iPhone, however; you’ll simply be saving them to your computer. There are a variety of different programs available for exporting messages from your smartphones—SMS Backup & Restore for Android appears to be one popular option. As I haven’t used it, I can’t personally recommend it, but you can always search Google to bring up more options.
If you’re upgrading from a feature phone
Yes, it’s finally time to toss that Razr aside for something a little more full-featured. But what about your contacts and your photos? If you’re on a phone with a nano-SIM card, it’s easy enough to rescue the first; for the second, you’ll need Bluetooth support or a connection cable for your device.
You can transfer your contacts one of two ways. If your old device uses a nano-SIM card, you can copy all your contacts to its SIM; once you’ve set up your iPhone, you can copy those contacts by swapping out your iPhone’s card with your old nano-SIM and heading to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Import SIM Contacts. Once the import has completed, eject your old SIM and put the one that came with your new iPhone back in its tray. (If you’re worried about doing this yourself, you can always head down to your nearest Apple Store—any employee should be able to do it for you.)
If your phone has a SIM card that doesn’t fit in your new iPhone, but it comes with a USB cable for connecting it to your computer, you may be able to transfer your contacts (and your photos) by exporting them through software. (This, obviously, depends on your phone; check its manual or do a Google search for specific transfer information.)
iPhone 6 and 6 plus at a glance
Designed with a minimalist aesthetic, the aluminum-and-glass iPhone 6 and 6 Plus eschew a button-heavy design in favor of simple controls and a slim figure. The iPhone 6 measures 5.44 inches tall by 2.64 inches wide, with a 4.7-inch screen, and weighs 4.55 ounces; the jumbo-sized iPhone 6 Plus is a hefty 6.22 inches tall, 3.06 inches wide, with a 5.5-inch screen, and weighs 6.07 ounces. Here’s a quick rundown of all the features on the device’s exterior.
For the first time, the iPhone’s iconic On/Off button has been moved from the top of the device to its right side (for easier access on these larger devices). Press the On/Off button to turn the device’s screen on or off. You can still take calls, play music, and receive notifications with it off, but the screen stays blank until you wake it by pressing this button or the Home button. To turn the device off, hold the On/Off button down until the screen dims and the ‘slide to power off’ text appears. Slide your finger across the switch, and the iPhone powers down. (To turn your device back on, press and hold this button again until the Apple logo appears.)
You can also decline or silence calls, alerts, and alarms with the On/Off button; press it once to silence an incoming alert or call; and press it twice in succession to send the caller to voicemail.
Front-facing FaceTime HD camera
This 1.2-megapixel camera can shoot 1280 by 960 pixel stills and 720p HD video (1280 by 720 pixels), and has a backside illumination sensor for clearer low-light photography. The lens features a f/2.2 aperture, and the camera offers Auto HDR for both front-facing photos and videos, along with quick-shot burst mode. This camera is designed primarily for using FaceTime and snapping quick self-portraits.
With no headphones plugged in, this is where you place your ear to listen to incoming calls. Depending on your region, the iPhone may use wideband audio during telephone calls, which increases the vocal frequencies and provides better-sounding conversations.
Retina HD display
Both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus sport a Multi-Touch Retina HD display; the device’s touch sensors are integrated directly into the display, reducing sunlight glare and keeping the iPhone’s figure slim. The iPhone 6’s 1134-by-750-pixel Retina HD display packs 326 pixels per inch into the space allotted, while the iPhone 6 Plus offers a 1920-by-1080-pixel resolution at 401 pixels per inch. The display is made from optical-quality glass, which makes it highly scratch resistant. It also has an oil-resistant oleophobic coating that makes it easy to wipe off smudges.
Both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus support Display Zoom, which enlarges apps and touch targets for easier visibility; in addition, double-tapping the Home button will enable Reachability, which slides down the top of the status bar to let you easily access screen elements in the top corners.
Home button/Touch ID sensor
The only physical button on the face of the iPhone, the Home button provides a variety of shortcuts for accessing apps and iOS features. Your Home button is also the location of the Touch ID sensor, which lets you use your fingerprint to unlock your device and bypass your iCloud password for purchasing apps and media; it also works as the primary authentication method for Apple Pay.
SINGLE-PRESS A single-press of the Home button can have several results, depending on what you’re using the iPhone for at the time: If the phone is in sleep mode, pressing the Home button wakes the iPhone; if you’re in an app, it returns you to the home screen; if you’re on a subsequent home screen page, it returns you to the first page; and if you’re on the first home screen page, it brings you into the iPhone’s Spotlight search mode.
SINGLE-PRESS AND HOLD If you press and hold the Home button for at least two seconds, that activates Siri.
DOUBLE-PRESS When the phone is locked or in sleep mode, a double-press of the Home button wakes your device and brings up both the iPod controls and a shortcut for the Camera app. In active use, it brings up the multitasking bar, showcasing your active apps.
DOUBLE-TAP Having trouble accessing elements in the top corners of your screen? Double-tap the Home button to enable Reachability mode, which brings the top corners of the screen halfway down your device’s screen for easier access. Once you make a single subsequent tap, the screen snaps back to normal mode.
Headphone Jack and Microphone
The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus both have a standard 3.5mm audio jack on the bottom of their casings. Apple includes a set of white EarPods that allow you to listen to audio and speak on a call, but you can also use any pair of third-party headphones instead.
One of the iPhone’s three microphones is located on the bottom left of the device. (The other two, which are designed to filter out noise, are located near the top, on the front and back.) Unless you’re using an external microphone, you’ll use this mic when making calls, recording voice memos, talking to Siri, and more.
The iPhone uses Apple’s Lightning dock connector to connect to your computer and other accessories. Unlike Apple’s older 30-pin connector, it’s reversible, so you can plug it into your phone in either direction. It won’t work with older 30-pin third-party accessories without an adapter.
On the bottom right of the new iPhone is a small speaker that’s responsible for projecting speakerphone calls, music, movies, game noises, and any other miscellaneous noise. Because your device has just one speaker, it plays all audio in mono (on a single channel).
Back Camera and LED Flash
On the back of the iPhone is the second of two cameras, as well as an LED flash.
The iPhone sports an extended sapphire lens cover for sharper images; internally, an 8-megapixel CMOS backside illumination sensor allows you to snap pictures at a 3264-by-2448-pixel resolution. (In real-world terms, that would translate to a high-quality 8-by-10-inch glossy print.) An attached hybrid IR filter provides better color accuracy, while the f/2.2 aperture offers improved low-light performance; the TrueTone dual-LED flash also allows for warmer pictures when using a flash. The iPhone 6 Plus also includes optical image stabilization within its lens to reduce shake in photographs and video.
The iPhone’s back camera captures 1080p high-definition video at up to 60 frames per second, with real-time video image stabilization, temporal noise reduction, and a 3x digital zoom, along with Apple’s new Focus Pixels technology to help automatically keep your video in focus. You can also shoot 1080p slow-motion video at up to 240 frames per second.
The Ring/Silent switch—found on the left side of the device—does pretty much what you’d suspect: Flick it backward to silence the phone, forward to activate the ringer. When you switch to Silent mode, you reveal a small orange stripe on the switch, and your device vibrates. Silent mode silences only rings and alerts, however; you can still play music and game sounds through the speaker.
Volume Up and Volume Down Buttons
Directly below the Ring/Silent switch is a pair of volume buttons. Press the plus button (+) to increase volume and the minus button (–) to decrease volume. (In the Camera app, the plus button also functions as a physical camera shutter button.) In the Settings app, you can choose whether these buttons affect only noises from an app, or whether they control systemwide sounds as well.
SIM Card Slot
The iPhone can operate on multiple cellular bands, thanks to its dynamically switching on-board radio: various bands of the LTE cellular data standard, HSPA+, DC-HSDPA, GPRS, EDGE, CDMA-EvDO, and HSPA. Major U.S. partners for the iPhone include AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile.
When you purchase a new iPhone, you can do so in one of two ways: with a cellular carrier contract or contract-free. The first option lets you receive a significant discount on the phone, but you have to use your iPhone solely with that carrier for two to three years, depending on your carrier and region. Contract-free phones allow you to use any carrier’s pay-as-you-go plan but are several hundred dollars more expensive up front. Either way, you’ll need a carrier to talk on your iPhone and use cellular data.
Your iPhone needs a nano-SIM card to connect to a cellular provider. Without it, you won’t be able to access call networks or cellular Internet, only Wi-Fi. If you sign up for a contract when you purchase your device, this SIM card comes preinstalled; if you don’t have a contract, however, you need to pick up a nano-SIM from a supported cellular carrier. You can see Apple’s full list of supported spectrum bands on Apple’s iPhone webpage.
If you have a contract-free phone and need to install a nano-SIM—or you need to access your current nano-SIM card—you can remove it by sticking one end of a paper clip into the hole next to the SIM card slot.
Your device comes equipped with a set of EarPods; these are earbuds with a microphone and remote built onto the right-side cable that can control volume, change tracks, and answer and end calls. You can use these controls to perform a variety of actions with the right combination of taps.
SINGLE-CLICK Clicking the center button of the remote once while listening to music or watching a video pauses playback; if you’re receiving a call, a single-click answers it, and another single-click hangs up when you’re finished.
SINGLE-CLICK AND HOLD When you’re receiving an incoming call, a single-click and hold declines the call and sends it directly to voicemail; while you’re on a call, you can do this to switch to a secondary call. Otherwise, holding down on the remote activates Siri.
DOUBLE-CLICK Squeeze twice, and your song skips to the next track.
TRIPLE-CLICK Squeeze three times to skip back to the previous track.
Activate your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus
If you purchased your iPhone in the Apple Store, you may have already activated it with a Specialist by your side. But if you’ve received your new gadget in the mail, or you opted not to activate immediately, here’s a guide on how to do so.
Don’t worry about making a mistake—if you find yourself tapping the wrong thing, you can press your device’s Home button at any time to launch the iPhone Not Set Up menu and reset the process.
After a fresh install, your device greets you with a screen displaying ‘Hello’ and ‘slide to set up’ in a variety of different languages.
Drag your finger to the right, along the ‘slide to set up’ text, to access the next screen. Your device asks you to pick your language and country, along with your Wi-Fi network. The device checks for any Wi-Fi networks to which it can connect; to move forward, select a Wi-Fi network and tap the Next button. (You can also choose to set up your iPhone over a cellular connection by tapping the Next button without selecting a network, or set up using iTunes by tapping the Connect to iTunes button at the bottom of the screen.)
You’re also asked whether you’d like to enable Location Services. This allows Apple apps (and third-party apps) to access your location via Wi-Fi networks and your Global Positioning System (GPS) location.
You can always enable or disable these on an app-by-app basis, and you can configure this option in more detail from the Settings app.
From here, you have three choices: You can set up your iPhone from scratch, or restore from an iCloud or iTunes backup (if you had a previous iPhone you want to restore data from).
START FROM SCRATCH If you want to start fresh, the first thing you need to decide is whether to supply an Apple ID (or create one, if you don’t have one). You use your Apple ID to buy music, apps, and books from the iBookstore, and you can associate it with iCloud if you want to.
If you already have an Apple ID, tap the Sign In with Your Apple ID button and enter your username (usually your email address) and password. Apple then spends a few moments linking your device to your Apple ID. If you don’t have an Apple ID, it’s easy enough to create one by tapping the Create a Free Apple ID button. You then enter your birthday, name, and email address (or you can create a new iCloud email address), as well as a password, a security question (in case you forget your password), and whether you’d like to receive email updates from Apple.
And if you’d rather not set up an Apple ID, you can tap the Skip This Step link below the two options. You can always add or create an ID from the Settings app later, but note that you won’t be able to buy anything on the iTunes Store or set up iCloud until you do.
RESTORE FROM iTUNES If you have an iTunes backup of an older iPhone, select this option and connect to your computer. You’ll see a screen asking if you want to set your phone up as a new device or restore it from a local backup.
Choose Restore from this backup, and then use the pop-up menu to choose the desired backup. Click Continue, and iTunes restores that data and syncs with your device. You’re then asked to give your device a name and choose whether to automatically sync songs and videos, photos, and/or apps to your device. Make your selections and click Done, and then iTunes performs its first sync. Once it’s complete, the setup process continues.
RESTORE FROM iCLOUD If you have an iCloud account and you’ve previously backed up an older device to iCloud, ‘Restore from iCloud Backup’ lets you restore that data directly to your new iPhone without having to connect to a computer. Choose Restore from iCloud Backup, and then enter your iCloud Apple ID and password. Agree to the iCloud terms and conditions by tapping Agree (twice), and your device displays all compatible iCloud-hosted backups. Be sure to pick the correct backup here, as the list may include backups for other devices you own.
Choose the desired backup, and then wait—the process can take anywhere from a few minutes to many hours, depending on how many apps you had installed and how much data you had stored in those apps. (Restoring from an iTunes backup is much faster than restoring from iCloud, which is why many people back up to iTunes periodically even if they normally back up to iCloud.)
When the restore is finished, your device restarts, and you see a screen explaining that you have a few more steps to follow.
After you’ve set up a network connection, entered your Apple ID, and agreed to your terms and conditions, it’s time to decide if you want to use iCloud. The service is an umbrella term for Apple’s collection of sync offerings, which allow you to sync your photos, apps, contacts, calendars, and mail across multiple devices.
You can even set up different Apple IDs for iCloud and iTunes, if you have one shared Apple ID you use for family purchases and another you want to use for your iCloud data.
Choose to set up iCloud, and you’ll also be asked whether you’d like to enable iCloud backups for your device. If you do so, you can have your device back up all essential settings to your iCloud account; if you ever need to restore, you can do so over Wi-Fi without needing a computer. (Of course, if you’d rather back up to your computer, you can always elect to have iTunes back up your device.)
Your device also prompts you to set up Touch ID using your fingerprint, along with entering a passcode to protect it from potential thieves or snoops. If you’d rather not set one, you can skip this step.
Your iPhone will also ask if you want to enable Siri, Apple’s personal voice assistant.
You can toggle Siri on or off from this initial setup screen, but you can always change your preferences from the Settings app at a later date.
Because the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus screens are larger than their past brethren, Apple has included a new feature called Display Zoom that you can opt to turn on during the setup process. Display Zoom basically does what it says on the tin: It scales up the pixels on your device so that everything’s just a bit larger; text, touch targets, buttons, and your keyboard all increase in size.
You can preview what Display Zoom looks like before deciding whether to enable it or not; if you choose not to, you can always turn it on (or off) at a later time by going to Settings > Display & Brightness > Display Zoom.
Once you finish the setup process, you see a screen asking if your device can automatically send diagnostic and usage information to Apple and third-party developers to “help Apple improve its products and services.”
Choose Automatically Send or Don’t Send, and then tap Next.
Congratulations! You’ve answered all the setup questions and you’re ready to begin using your iPhone. At this point you may also be prompted to download your free copies of Apple’s App Store apps.
Get started with your iPhone 6 and 6 Plus
Now that your device is up and running, here are a few quick pointers.
Tweak your settings: Most of the underlying system information for your new iPhone—network settings, Mail, sounds, messages, restrictions, wallpaper, and more—is kept in the Settings app. As such, it’s a good place to start when you’re first getting acquainted with your device.
Set up iTunes sync: If you didn’t restore from an older iOS backup, you won’t have any music, video, podcasts, photos, or books on your iPhone. You can remedy that by connecting it with your iTunes library: Just plug your device into your computer via its included USB cable. (Once you’ve completed this initial sync, you can also set up wireless local syncing; check out our guide for more information.)
Explore the App Store: Your iPhone comes with a bunch of cool built-in apps, but you may want to reach outside the sandbox for more interesting fare. The App Store, which you can access on your device or via iTunes on your computer, features more than 1 million downloadable apps. To explore the store on your iPhone, tap the blue App Store icon on your home screen. Featured and Charts are both great places to start looking for recommended apps, and you can search the entire App Store by tapping on the Search tab.
Talk to Siri: If you chose to set up Siri on your iPhone 6 during the activation process, you’re just one Home button press away from having your first conversation. Siri can help you book appointments, find restaurants, look up the weather, talk sports, and occasionally whip out snarky quips about robotic AI. To start, press and hold your Home button; the Siri interface will appear, along with a few suggested phrases to get going.
What to do with your old device
Now that you’ve managed to transfer your old information, set up your new iPhone, and start using it, it’s time to figure out what you’d like to do with your old device. If you’re interested in selling, recycling, or passing it along to a friend or family member, Macworld contributor Joel Mathis whipped up a handy guide that contains the steps you’ll need. But what if you’re interested in keeping it around?
Turn your iPhone into an iPod touch: No, your old iPhone won’t make calls or hop on a cellular network without a data plan, but you can keep using it as a Wi-Fi only iOS device. To do so, you’ll just need to keep the phone’s old SIM card (or a cheap SIM card from the same service provide you originally used to activate the phone with) inside it. From there, you can restore it to factory settings, and set it up as a brand new device.
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Serenity has been writing and talking and tinkering with Apple products since she was old enough to double-click. In her spare time, she sketches, writes, acts, sings, and wears an assortment of hats.