How to use the new iPhone Migration tool

Preparing a new iPhone is already quite easy. Thanks to iCloud and Apple's Quick Start (also known as automatic setup), you can transfer all data and applications from your old iPhone to a new iPhone or iPad, without having to enter your long and secure iCloud password.

Migration to a new device used to require an iTunes backup or an iCloud backup. What happens if you only want to copy everything directly from one device to another? Something like AirDrop? In iOS 12.4, you can do that. And you can even use a cable! Let's see how.

How to use iPhone migration

The new feature is called iPhone Migration and it works almost exactly like the quick start feature we already know and love. Simply turn on your new device and place it near your old iPhone.

  The iPhone migration begins with the well-known quick start process.
The iPhone migration begins with the well-known quick start process.
Photo: Apple

A panel will appear on your previous iPhone, asking if you want to use your Apple ID to configure the new one. Tap to accept, then point the previous iPhone camera at the point cloud on the new screen. This matches the devices.

Next, continue with the access code and face ID / touch identification settings, as before. The new iPhone migration step begins right at the end. Where you would normally see a message to restore from an iCloud backup, you can now also choose to transfer directly from another device:

  iPhone migration appears as a new option on the Data Transfer screen.
iPhone migration appears as a New option on the Data Transfer screen.
Photo: Apple

Simply tap Transfer from iPhone and copying will begin. Data and settings will be copied, as with the iCloud restore, only without iCloud. You will see instructions to approve the transfer of Siri, Apple Pay and some other confidential information.

iPhone Migration: Wireless or Cable?

The transfer is done wirelessly, directly from the device to the device, as with Apple's excellent AirDrop function. You will see an on-screen estimate of the remaining time for the transfer to complete. Anecdotal reports put this time around an hour and a half, but obviously this will vary depending on the amount of data to be copied.

You can also connect the two devices to each other using a cable. To use a cable, you must connect the devices to each other at the beginning of this process, using the Lightning to USB 3 camera adapter (also known as the camera connection kit) and a Lightning to USB cable.

The advantage of using a cable is theoretically speed. The disadvantage is that you cannot keep the devices turned on during the transfer.

Something important to keep in mind: applications will not be transferred between your devices. While all application data and settings will be copied, applications will be downloaded from Apple servers. Why? Because application downloads are optimized for the device that is downloading them, they may not be compatible with the new device.

Another note: all devices must have iOS 12.4 or newer for this to work.


I also have some questions about this process. How is iCloud data handled? For example, are photos and videos transferred from the photo library? Or downloaded from iCloud Photo Library later? We will see as we use the new function.

However, I really like this setting. It facilitates migration to a new device, even if it does not maintain a full iCloud backup. A +.


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