My Advice on How to Set Up a New iPhone or iPad: Quick Start Device-to-Device Transfer

A bunch of you are probably getting new iPhones (and iPads) today. As someone who’s set up 5 new devices in the last week, my advice is to restore a new iPhone with the Quick Start device-to-device transfer, not iCloud backup. Don’t worry if it says it might take a little longer this way, it’s worth it. Get a cup of coffee or a bite to eat. A watched pot never boils; a watched transfer never finishes.

Device-to-device is better because it moves over all your login credentials. When you restore from an iCloud backup, you wind up logged out of a lot of apps on the new device. When you restore device-to-device, almost everything moves over. I know there are exceptions, but I don’t think I bounced into a single app that didn’t keep me fully logged in this week. If you tried device-to-device a few years ago and found it lacking, try it again now — Apple has improved this process every year since it debuted. Worst case scenario, you can always start over and use iCloud backup.

Also, you do not need to unpair your Apple Watch from your old iPhone using this method. You can just wear your watch the whole time. When the transfer is complete, the new iPhone will prompt you, asking if you want to move your watch to the new iPhone. Your mileage may vary but it just worked for me.

I posted this on Twitter tonight, and realized I should post about this here too. The Twitter thread has a bunch of Q&A’s about specific apps, like authentication tokens in Authy (they transfer fine).

Update, 25 September 2021: Lots of positive feedback from readers who took my advice. Perfect? No. But I’m more convinced than ever that device-to-device transfer is the way to go. Apple has done a lot of work, year after year, to keep making this migration experience better, faster, simpler, more complete, and more reliable. I see it firsthand, setting up multiple new iOS devices a year. The team behind this doesn’t get enough thanks, so let me say it: thank you.

Friday, 24 September 2021