Get started with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

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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.

TIME TO START OVER If you made a mistake or have problems with your network, press the Home button to bring up the iPhone Not Set Up menu.

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.

LOCATE ME Turn on Location Services to give your iPhone access to your GPS data for apps like Maps, Compass, and more.

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).

TIME TO SET UP Now that you’ve upgraded your device, you must decide whether to restore your earlier data and apps or start fresh.

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.

THE APPLE ID Your device explains what an Apple ID is, and asks you to either sign in with yours, create one, or skip this step.

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.

Final steps

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.

IN THE CLOUD Use iCloud to sync your device’s data with your other devices and computers.

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.)

LOCK IT UP TIGHT Keep nosy roommates and potential thieves away from your device by locking it with a passcode.

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.

MEET SIRI Apple’s personal voice assistant is ready to serve you, if you want it to.

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.

new iphone display zoom

On the left, an iPhone 6 in Standard mode; Display Zoom in action on the right.

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.

new iphone display bright

You can always enable or disable Display Zoom later on from the Settings app.

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.”

HELP US HELP YOU Turn on diagnostics to give Apple anonymized data from your app crashes and local cell phone towers.

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.

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