How to Switch iPhones – The Ultimate Guide

It’s an exciting time—you’ve finally budgeted for a new iPhone and you’re ready to make the switch. Your current generation phone feels so last-gen all of a sudden. And every time your friend posts on Instagram it’s painfully obvious how much better their iPhone XS camera is compared to your iPhone 7.

Getting a new iPhone can be a fun experience, provided you do the research and understand the process. The last thing you want to do is get a new iPhone only to realize you didn’t effectively back up your previous one. Plus, there are all kinds of other hurdles involved, depending on your circumstances. Luckily, learning how to switch iPhones can be simple once you’ve learned the basics.

What You Need to Know Before Switching iPhones

There are a few things to consider before you make the upgrade to a new iPhone. Buying an iPhone is a straightforward task but a smooth transition to your new phone takes some fundamental knowledge. Don’t turn your newest splurge into a frustrating experience.

Consider Storage Options

Upgrading your iPhone is the best opportunity to explore storage capacity. A sore point, especially with Apple products (they tend to start smaller and charge more for storage), is that you don’t have enough space on your iPhone. We live in a time where photos and videos are shot in high definition and it’s not uncommon to have gigabytes of space used to store your myriad of apps from the App Store.

Before slapping down cash for any old iPhone, take some time to consider your storage options. Look at your current iPhone capacity—is it sufficient? Could you do with more or less space on your iPhone? Once you’ve made a decision, make an informed buying choice based on your budget. Sometimes, it’s not about buying the best iPhone with the smallest storage—you can oftentimes buy the last-gen iPhone, which is still a great device, and afford an increase in the storage capacity. It’s a “goldilocks” buying decision—you still get great hardware but you can afford more storage.

Are you not sure what your current storage capacity is? Then follow these steps.

iPhone Storage Options

1. Access the “Settings” application on your iPhone1. Access the “Settings” application on your iPhone
2. Tap on “General”
3. Tap on “iPhone Storage”
4. From this screen, you can see your maximum capacity, how much of that storage space you’re using, and even see a helpful chart that breaks down what type of content is taking up the most space

Watch for Promotions & Price Cuts

iPhone prices aren’t set in stone. Promotions and price cuts are simple to forecast. If you’re looking for a new iPhone near an event like Cyber Monday, consider waiting until that day and checking places like Amazon.com or your phone carrier’s website for one-day deals on your iPhone.

Furthermore, check with your carrier for any current promotions, especially around September when everyone anticipates new iPhone releases. Carriers love to clear out old stock and they’ll occasionally throw out promos like $250.00 off a new model iPhone or $2.00 for a later generation iPhone. Depending on your needs, you can score an older-gen iPhone for pennies or get last year’s model for a steep discount.

Don’t Fall for Carrier “Upgrades”

The days of a subsidized “upgrade” on your new iPhone after 2 years are long gone. They simply aren’t offered anymore. Carriers have switched their business model to sell you a new iPhone at full retail price (over $1,000 in a lot of cases). The only option they give you is to pay it all upfront or to pay it off incrementally as a line item on your monthly phone bill.

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Carriers can penalize you for “upgrading” your iPhone. Any time you upgrade what you’re renewing an expired 2-year contract. It’s counter-intuitive, but your carrier may use this as an opportunity to increase your data and line fees, thereby costing you more just by telling your carrier you’ll stick with them for another two years.

Back-Up Your Old iPhone Before Switching

Back-Up Your Old iPhone

Before switching iPhones, ensure your current iPhone is completely backed up. You don’t want to lose any of your previous data. The option to set up your new iPhone as a brand new device is always on the table, but data loss is permanent. Backing your iPhone up using iCloud is intuitive and easy.

  1. Access the “Settings” application on your iPhone
  2. Tap on your name at the top of the “Settings” screen
  3. Scroll down to and tap on “iCloud”
  4. Scroll down to the bottom and tap on “iCloud Backup” to enable it
  5. Tap “Back Up Now”
  6. Your first iCloud backup may take over an hour

Once you’ve successfully backed up your iPhone onto iCloud, it’s easy to restore from that backup when you first turn on your new iPhone. Follow the on-screen prompts from the “Welcome” screen and, when you’re finished, everything from your old iPhone will be on your newer, faster iPhone!

Trade-in Your Old iPhone

Don’t just toss your old iPhone into a drawer or the trash when you get your new one. Your old iPhone, depending on its age and cosmetic condition, could net you over $100. Instead of trashing your iPhone, consider trading it in via a buyback program. They’ll give you fast, easy cash for your iPhone.

Even if your old phone is in terrible shape, they’ll at least responsibly recycle the electronics for you. The lithium-ion battery in your device is terrible for the environment. Recycling your iPhone is much better than letting it poison a landfill. Not to mention, under the right conditions your iPhone’s battery could explode if it’s pulverized in a garbage truck. Throwing out your iPhone is hazardous.

Switching from Android to iPhone

Switching from Android to iPhone

Sometimes you need a new perspective—going from Android to iPhone, or iPhone to Android is a great way to appreciate the different methodologies between operating systems. Truthfully, both Android and iPhone are great devices worthy of appreciation, so moving from one to the other can allow you to enjoy the distinct qualities of both. Just make sure your transition between operating systems is smooth.

Register an Apple ID

Think of an Apple ID as your Google Account. It’s the account that controls your interaction with the company’s entire architecture, from purchasing media to backing up your device, to interacting with other Apple users. If you’re a longtime Android user, then you might have never registered an Apple ID. If that’s the case, it’s best to do it before you get your hands on your new iPhone.

  1. Navigate to https://appleid.apple.com
  2. Click on “Create Your Apple ID” from the top right section of the navigation bar
  3. Fill out the information on the next screen
  4. Lastly, enter your billing information or select “none” to skip this step
    1. Billing information is needed for downloading applications from the App Store

Transfer Your Data

Today, switching from Android to iPhone is more intuitive than ever. The days of manually transferring your data between phones, hoping that what you find on the other end even slightly resembles the original, are long gone thanks to some helpful cooperation between both operating systems.

  1. Via the Google Play Store, download the app “Move to iOS
  2. Power on your new iPhone
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions via the iOS “Welcome” screen
  4. When prompted, choose “Move Data from Android”
  5. Follow the on-screen instructions from your Android device and enter the 12-digit code displayed on your iPhone
  6. Using a local WiFi connection, both devices will communicate
  7. On the final screen, choose what data you want to move to your iPhone and allow the app to finish the transfer

The “Move to iOS” application can move your Google account (your email, contacts, calendar, etc.) as well as your browser bookmarks, old text messages, and photos. It’s a seamless transition to the iPhone architecture and couldn’t be any easier.

How to Navigate Switching Phone Carriers

Navigate Switching iPhone Carriers

Switching carriers can be a great way to quickly save money on your phone bill. Sometimes promotions at other carriers are just too good to pass up. Maybe Sprint is offering a free iPhone X for new sign-ups and, after doing some digging, you realize their monthly rates are lower than what you’re currently paying.

And sometimes we move to new areas and realize that we only get one bar of signal with our Verizon iPhone. No one wants to get stuck standing in the far corner of the bathroom, knowing that’s the only part of our new apartment that gets three bars. Truthfully, not all carriers carry the same signal strength in the same regions—it’s better to switch than to face having a bad signal.

Whatever the case is, switching carriers can be a harrowing experience if you’re unprepared for the transition. Luckily, there are a few simple steps to prepare yourself.

Ensure You’re Out-of-Contract

You can switch carriers at any time, but switching carriers when you’re still in-contract will net you a hefty early cancellation fee. Contracts typically last for 2 years, whereupon they remain expired until you directly renew them. If you plan on switching carriers soon, don’t renew your contract when it ends. Most of all, try not to switch carriers if you’re still in that 2-year window.

Unlock Your iPhone

If you’re simply moving to a new carrier without switching iPhones, then ensure your iPhone is unlocked by your current carrier. Unlocking your device can be done in three easy steps.

  • Pay off all outstanding dues on your current plan (pay off your iPhone and pay your phone bill)
  • Request an “unlock code” from your carrier
  • Use this “unlock code” to activate your iPhone on your new carrier, when prompted

Bear in mind that, depending on your carrier, you have either a GSM or CDMA iPhone. The two aren’t interchangeable, so even an unlocked iPhone is incompatible across those technologies. Here’s a simple breakdown of where you can take an unlocked iPhone.

CDMA iPhones: Compatible with Verizon and Sprint, these iPhones can switch between these two carriers as long as they’re unlocked.

GSM iPhones: Compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile, these iPhones can switch between these two carriers as long as they’re unlocked.

To put it simply, there is absolutely no way for you to unlock your Verizon iPhone and use it on an AT&T plan or any other incompatible combination from the list above.

Port Your Phone Number

Port Your Phone Number on iPhone

Unless you’re looking for a clean start, you’ll probably want to port your phone number to your new carrier. Porting your number is a simple process but it is contingent upon one thing—that you do not cancel your current contract with your current carrier.

Canceling your current carrier before you’ve ported your phone number by signing onto a new carrier will mark your phone number as “available” and you’ll no longer have access to it. And the second you give it up, it’s going to be thrown out into the ether for anyone to grab. Once you give away your phone number, there’s no getting it back. With that said, keep your contract with your current carrier, sign onto a new carrier, tell them to port your phone number, and when all is said and done, call your old carrier and cancel your contract. Doing any of these steps out of order will lead to a lot of frustration.

Switching iPhones is a Fun Experience

There is no better feeling than having a new smartphone in your hands. It feels exotic—like nothing you’ve ever touched before. And you can take it out of your pocket knowing that your peers will look on in envy. Just make sure you understand the process of upgrading your iPhone as well as the limitations that come with such a transition. Today, there’s not a whole lot you need to worry about when switching iPhone, but underestimating the process can be a troubling experience.