Best way to migrate to a new phone

I just got my new phone (a 13 mini) in the mail today. I plan on setting it up on the weekend.

In the past, I always migrated my content via USB. I would use iTunes (now the Finder) to make a backup of the old phone, then restore that backup to the new phone.

Today, Apple has a relatively new mechanism, Quick Start, which claims to be able to move everything directly from one device to the other. Since my old phone is running the latest iOS 12, this is an option for me.

What do you think? Does Quick Start work well? Should I use it or should I just do it the old fashioned way and backup/restore via USB?

I know that I could also use an iCloud backup, but is there any real advantage to using it instead of USB or Quick Start? Especially since I don’t have an iCloud backup, so I would need to create a full backup as a part of this process.

John Gruber had a short piece recommending Quick Start about a week ago: see Daring Fireball: My Advice on How to Set Up a New iPhone or iPad: Quick Start Device-to-Device Transfer. There’s also a linked Twitter thread discussing many details.


Good article, but it is only comparing Quick Start to iCloud. I’d love to see a comparison to using a USB backup to a PC or Mac.

I used it for new iPads last Christmas and it worked seamlessly.

The advantages that Gruber mentioned about retaining information apply in comparison to migrating from any backup, whether from the cloud or a computer. I found that not needing to re-initialize Authy and moving the Apple Watch pairing to be especially useful. As I wrote previously, the one annoyance I have with Apple migrations, in general, is that the migration retains the name of the old device. I’d like any migration to initially let the user set a device name before proceeding.


I used it to migrate two iPhone 7s to iPhone 11s over the winter. It was seamless, and though it wasn’t fast, it seemed thorough and it worked especially well with the iPhone 7 that was nearly untouchable because (confession) I broke its TouchID sensor when I tried to replace the screen.

I did succeed in backing up that iPhone to an older iMac that had previous backups on iTunes, but I didn’t bother with the second one.

I recommend taking a backup of the old device to a computer and one to iCloud before doing the migration, no matter what method of migration you choose. At least one; that’s just a common sense precaution, plus it gets you partway toward a transfer.

I just migrated my IPhone 12 Pro Max to a 13 Pro Max using the direct transfer method. The two phones were sitting side by side on a counter, both plugged in to a power source. The transfer took a bit over three hours to move 281GB (over half of it photos). Some apps spun in later, even so.

The iCloud restore method would have taken a lot longer in total, but the new phone would have been usable much sooner. I haven’t tried a computer-based transfer recently to compare that speed. Maybe on my next iPad upgrade.

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I used Quick Start twice last week - once for an iPad and once for a 13 Mini. I didn’t take all the data over to the iPad so that was relatively quick. The Mini took about an hour.

I had made backups of my 2016 SE, iCloud, iTunes and iMazing prior to doing anything.

As suspected, I can no longer use iTunes for the 13 Mini (older computer)


That’s the impression I get too - that Quick Start achieves the same final result as using USB transfer via a computer.

(Although - I’m assuming that the “Encrypt iPhone backup” setting is on for the computer transfer, otherwise some data is omitted. I might be out of date here, though: I’m still using High Sierra and don’t know if that setting has gone away in more recent versions.)

When my wife upgraded to a new iPhone recently, we already had an iCloud backup, but we also did a backup to a Mac via USB, then used Quick Start. Using multiple systems this way takes a bit more time, but provides more options if something goes wrong.

I always backup via USB to my Mac before. Once that’s in the bag, I have no problem using Apple’s Quick Start. In fact, it worked fine for me last year, 2016 SE on iOS 14 → 12 mini.

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I’d say make a backup and then try Quick Start out. I think you’ll be happy with it, but if not, you can always restore from your backup.

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I upgraded to iphone 12 from an iphone 6Splus with the quick start. Just followed instructions to the T and it was flawless and fine. My friend did this for his wife and didn’t have the right passcode and got locked out. (A nightmare for him and his wife.) So, as long as you have all your correct passwords, you are fine.

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Bummer! I have mojave and can’t upload my music to my iphone. I don’t want to upgrade because I have too many old apps that I use-

Try WALTR - I am now in the same boat (Sierra). I bought it about a year ago for something else and it worked flawlessly. I hope it continues to work for music, else I’ll have to look into another option (in my loads of spare time)


Everybody I’ve heard from (a dozen or more) that used QuickStart was very happy with it. You can speed things up by wiring them together instead of using whatever wireless transfer they use. I agree with others that a backup first to iCloud or Mac is a must.

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Thanks to everybody. I made a backup and transferred everything with Quick Start. It seems to have done everything and took about 15 minutes, including the time to power-on the new phone. The apps all installed within the next 10 minutes or so. It even transferred my Apple Pay credit cards (I only had to re-enter the CVV numbers to get them to re-activate with the bank).

There was a glitch activating the new SIM card from Verizon, but I can’t blame Apple for that one. It kept saying “waiting to activate”, but wouldn’t actually activate itself. I called Verizon support (from another phone) and their phone tree, after asking a few questions, activated the line from their end. Then (as the recording suggested), I disabled Wi-Fi and rebooted the phone three times (they said twice would be necessary, but I don’t understand why more than one time should matter) and it is now able to communicate over the cellular network.

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Thanks for this; my new Verizon phone is coming Wednesday so I’ll keep this in mind if I run into the same issue.

I recommend reading Verizon’s upgrade/activation instructions on their web page before you power-on the new phone for the first time.

I didn’t. I turned it on right away and did a Quick Start upgrade. I think that might have caused my activation problems.

A quick summary of their instructions are:

  • Back up your old phone to iCloud and/or USB
  • Disable Find My iPhone on the old phone and then power it off
  • Power-on the new iPhone
  • You should be able to self-activate by confirming your phone number and entering your Verizon account PIN
  • Then proceed with Quick Start to complete the process

But I don’t think those instructions are entirely correct. I didn’t see any activation screens until after I started the Quick Start procedure. But maybe it would’ve been different had I disabled Find my iPhone and powered off the old phone first.

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Thank you. I will look for it and try it.

I would recommend against the iCloud backup method. I’ve never used it, but from what I understand you get logged out of all your accounts and no passwords transfer over (not sure about Wi-Fi network passwords, that would be a major pain if they don’t). I’ve always used the USB+iTunes method, good to hear of the successes with direct transfer.