How to Activate New iPhone from Old iPhone within Seconds

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The other day, we did a quick guide on how to activate an unlocked phone with Verizon by yourself at no cost. In this article, we’re going to continue on the topic, whereby I’ll show you how how to activate new iPhone from old iPhone successfully.

YES, the whole process is pretty easy and the same on all the carriers, including the free government cellphones like Cintex. But during my usual perusing, I’ve noticed some people still have some difficulties, especially on the topic of iCloud.

In any case, this guide covers in detail everything relevant you should know on activating your iPhone. It includes a quick solution you can adopt if your iCloud doesn’t have enough space to back up all your old data.

Footnote: Free iPhone Deals Are Still Ongoing in 2022

Indeed, there are a number of carriers offering some great iPhone promotions if you’d like to upgrade or replace your previous device. Such offers include the free phone deal if you switch to T-Mobile, Verizon, MetroPCS, and Boost Mobile.

The aforementioned Cintex Wireless also has a free iPhone on its lifeline program. And even though the freebies here are pre-owned (refurbished) series, you’ll still have to activate and also set them up using your unique ID.

Free Apple iPhone DealAbout the Promo DealTotal SavingsBuilt-in Memory
Verizon-Locked iPhone 12 5G-Enabled PhoneNo Trade-In Required$700.0064GB, 4GB
T-Mobile-Locked iPhone 12 Mini BOGO/ Trade-In$630.0064GB, 4GB
Cintex Wireless iPhone 8 4G LTE SmartphoneLifeline $260.0064GB, 2GB
Metro-Locked iPhone SE (2nd Gen) LTE PhonePort-in Required$40064GB, 3GB
Verizon-Locked Apple iPhone 11 Pro MaxNo Trade-In Required$545256GB, 4GB

Is an Unlocked iPhone Easier to Activate than the Carrier-Locked iPhone?

When you purchase (or win a free deal) an iPhone or any other brand of phone, it will be either factory unlocked, carrier-unlocked, or carrier-locked.

  • Factory-unlocked: this is the phone that comes directly from the manufacturer when fully unlocked. It’s most common in purchases from local dealers, but sub-carriers like Pure Talk and Google Fi also deal in unlocked devices
  • Carrier-locked: Just as the name, these are the phones that come when locked to a particular network. You can’t use them with other carriers until the original carrier lifts this connectivity barrier
  • Carrier-unlocked: these are the phones that were previously locked to another carrier but are now unlocked.

As for our question, the steps to activate or set up an iPhone are the same whether locked to a certain carrier or unlocked. But, YES, you might find the process much easier with an unlocked device than the carrier-locked ones. Why so?

Well, first, a factory-unlocked iPhone means Apple produced it as such before releasing it to the market. Thus, you can activate with a SIM from about any carrier without connection issues- especially when carrying out the process over a cellular connection.

How to Activate New iPhone from Old iPhone within Seconds

The Cellular route usually uses your active carrier data to complete the activation. Thus, might be tricky to activate a Carrier-locked iPhone on a different SIM card and you don’t have WiFi.

Note: the activation mentioned here is not the part for signing into your Apple ID account. I’m referring to the very first step to activate your iPhone– can be a new or an old device that was recently reset (erase all content and settings).

How to Activate New iPhone from Old iPhone in Seconds

Sadly, it’s impossible to activate an iPhone offline as you’d do with Android phones. The process usually involves communication with the Apple activation server, which requires WiFi or cellular internet.

I’ve seen people say you can do the activation of the phone via iTunes while offline. But the truth is that your PC with the iOS firmware will still need an online connection to update the iPhone.

On top of that, our topic is on how to activate new iPhone from an old iPhone. If I’d assume right, you’ll be moving with your old crucial data, and being online is crucial for the transfer to work.

Other essentials and (optional) details you might need to activate your new iPhone are:

  • Your phone/s charger
  • Your old Apple ID & password
  • A working camera on the old iPhone
  • The unlock passcode of the old iPhone

What to Do:

Step 1: Begin by Backing Up your Old iPhone

Would you like to have your old photos, videos, contacts, settings, and other important files on the new iPhone? If yes, you’ll need to first back up your old iPhone before you’ve even powered on your new iPhone for activation.

The backup process can take several minutes up to an hour as it depends on your amount of data, internet speed, and the traffic on Apple servers. You can back up your data in either iTunes (Finder for users on macOS Catalina) or iCloud.

But in my opinion, iCloud is the best backup option as you can access your saved data anywhere, even without your computer. You could also get additional temporary iCloud storage if your available space wasn’t enough to move all your old content.

Nonetheless, the temporary storage is only available on devices with at least iOS 15, thereby incompatible with iPhone 6 or earlier. The storage plan will also expire after 21 days, though you could request an extension of another 21 days if your new iPhone hasn’t arrived yet.

Step 2: Unpair your Apple Watch

Yes, indeed, you’ll want to unpair your Apple watch from the old iPhone before you activate and set up the new device. Plenty of people usually forgo this step.

But unpairing your watch automatically backups its data and settings. Thus, all you’ll have to do is to restore with the new iPhone (or if you’ll have a new Apple watch too).

Step 3: Power on Your New iPhone

After the backup, turn on the new iPhone by pressing and holding the power button (for about a second or two seconds). The screen will light up with an Apple logo, followed by a warm “Hello” and then a selection of languages.

Choose the language you’d prefer to experience your new phone on, plus your country or region. The information should be as accurate as possible since it will determine how details like date, time, contacts, and others will appear.

Step 4: Quick Start the Activation & Activation

Once you choose the region, you’ll get a prompt to “Quick Start” your new iPhone using peer-to-peer communication with the old phone. The method only requires you to bring the two devices closer together and turn on their Bluetooth. Then:

  1. You’ll get a pop-up window on the old iPhone requesting to use your Apple ID to activate the nearby (new) device. Allow the request by tapping the “Continue” button. The two phones will start to communicate almost immediately. But you’ll receive an animation pattern to complete the pairing on the new iPhone you’re trying to activate.
  2. When you receive the animation (which takes about 1-2 seconds), position the rear camera of the old device to scan it (animation). If the scan is successful, the old device will display a message “ready to transfer data to the new iPhone”.
  3. Meanwhile, the new iPhone will send a prompt to enter the passcode of your old phone (if available). And once entered, you’ll get a progress message “it may take a few minutes to activate…”.
  4. The new iPhone will then jump to the option to set your Face ID/ Touch ID. But you can ignore it and “Set Up Later in Settings
  5.  After setting your Face ID/ Touch ID (or if skipped), you’ll now come to the option to Transfer Your Data. You can Tap “Transfer from iPhone” while our two devices are still connected or “Download from iCloud”. Go for the latter if possible as it is faster.
  6.  Next, follow the onscreen instructions until you now have the same “Transferring Data” screen on the new and old iPhone.  

Step 5: Activate the New iPhone Manually

If unsuccessful with the “Quick Start” method above, tap the “Set Up Manually” tab on your new iPhone. The device will ask you to Choose a Wi-Fi Network that you can use for the activation.

If you don’t have “WiFi”, you can opt to “Use Cellular Connection”, provided the SIM card in the new iPhone has active data.

 Step 6: Complete the Initial Activation

Once the new iPhone connects to the internet (by either WiFi or cellular), you’ll get the prompt to set up Face ID or Touch ID. Click “Continue” and follow the onscreen instructions that appear to enable the security feature.

Alternatively, you can choose to “Set Up Later in settings”.

Step 7: Restore the Apps & Data From the Old iPhone

The next step to activating your new iPhone involves restoring your information and data from the old device. You can skip the step by tapping “Don’t Transfer Apps & Data” and complete the activation. But in doing so, you won’t be able to restore your data until you factory-reset your iPhone and restart the activation from the scratch.

So, to get the data from your old iPhone to the new device, choose your backup storage: Restore from iCloud, Restore from Mac or PC, or Transfer Directly from iPhone. Then, follow the onscreen instructions until the end.

Irrespective of the choice of backup storage, the instruction to restore your data revolves around enabling Siri and other settings.

Other Notes:

  1. Your phone must remain on throughout the entire activation process. So, you might want to plug into power to make sure of it
  2. In direct (iPhone to iPhone) data transfer, both devices must remain close to each other. So, you might also have to plug both of them into the power if the batteries were low
  3. On iCloud backup restore, you’ll need a stable internet connection to ensure all your content downloads
  4. The timeline for backup recovery usually varies with the amount of information and data saved. It can take as low as a minute up to over an hour to restore.
  5. You can’t restore all your data offline, including in iTunes. Yes, it contradicts what you might have read else. But your new iPhone must be linked to the Apple server to carry out the process.

 Activate Your New iPhone via Carrier

Although not all, these are some of the key details you should know on how to activate a new iPhone from an old iPhone. It’s pretty straightforward since the Apple setup wizard will have the onscreen instructions to guide you.

If you keep on getting an error message (like Could Not Activate iPhone…Try Again), check your internet connection. Unlike Androids, Apple devices can’t activate and complete the activation/ setup offline.

Nonetheless, the error message sometimes can be from the overloading of Apple servers. Thus, you’ll have to either wait the “few minutes” they recommend or use your carrier to activate your phone.