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Upgrading to a new iPhone


From time to time people need to upgrade their devices. One of those times is shortly after Apple's Fall Event, which is where we are now. When it comes to upgrade an iPhone, it can be somewhat straightforward, depending on what type of backup you have. There are two different backup possibilities. The two options are iTunes and iCloud.

iTunes has been the stalwart for music and has been used by millions of people for backing up their iOS devices. One of the benefits of backing up iTunes is that you can encrypt your backups. The benefit of encrypting your backup is that absolutely everything on your iPhone can be completely restored. This includes any health data that is on your iPhone.

If you backup via iCloud, your health data will not be backed up nor restored. This can pose an issue for some users. This changes slightly with iOS 11. Before we delve into that, let us look at the procedure for backing up and restoring a device running iOS 10.

Restoring an iOS Device with iOS 10.

When you restore an iPhone under iOS 10, there are a number of items that are backed up, whether it is to iCloud or to a computer itself. The items that are backed up to iCloud are:

  • App data
  • Apple Watch backups
  • Call history
  • Device settings
  • Health data
  • HomeKit configuration
  • Home screen and app organization
  • iMessage, text (SMS), and MMS messages
  • Photos and videos on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch
  • Purchase history from Apple services, like your music, movies, TV shows, apps, and books
  • Ringtones
  • Visual Voicemail password (requires the SIM card that was in use during backup)

The one item that is not backed up under iOS 10 is your health data. In order to provide some protection for your health data, it is not backed up via iCloud. In order to backup your health data, you need to use iTunes.

Backing up with iTunes

Our phones have some of the most important data that we own. This could include messages, emails, pictures, and countless other pieces of media. With such a significant amount of information, being able to get it back is important. One of the ways to do this is to store as much in "the cloud" as possible. This also comes with some possible downsides. What is you cannot access the service storing the information? What if the service disappears? What if you lose your device or it needs to be replaced? This is why having a good local backup is important.

One of the functions of iTunes that many users utilize is the ability to backup your iPhone. One of the capabilities of iTunes is to enhance your backups by encrypting them. Encrypting an iPhone backup is not a difficult proposition, however it does come with some responsibility. An encrypted iTunes backup is similar to a regular iTunes backup, but there is a password that is used to encrypt the iTunes backup. The downside with an encrypted backup is that you cannot restore an encrypted backup without the password.

It is recommended that you select a password that is secure and it is best to write the password down and store it in a secure place. You can also have your macOS Keychain remember the password, but it is always a good idea to have it backed up just in case something happens to your Mac.

The benefit of an encrypted backup is twofold. First, you will be able to backup all of your health data. This means any information that has been transmitted from your electronic health monitoring devices, such as a pacemaker, glucose monitors, or Apple Watch will be backed up. The second benefit is that no one can easily see what is in your encrypted backup, not without the password.

Upgrading an iPhone with a paired Apple Watch

Having an Apple Watch paired to your iPhone can make things a bit trickier when it comes to upgrading your iPhone. Your Apple Watch data should be automatically backed up. Having had an Apple Watch since it was released in 2015, I have been through the upgrade process a couple of times now. Here is the procedure that I use. Some of it may not be necessary, but I prefer to be safe than sorry.

  1. Backup my iPhone using and encrypted backup in iTunes using a lightning cable. The important piece of information to verify is that the last backup date and time are recent.
  2. Unpair the old Apple Watch so it will backup to the iPhone.
  3. Perform another encrypted backup of my iPhone in iTunes, again making sure the date and time are current.
  4. Restore the new iPhone from this latest backup.
  5. Pair the new Apple Watch to the new iPhone.

I suggest using a lightning cable because the process is much faster than doing a backup over Wi-Fi. This is not necessary possible with iCloud, but having a backup is definitely an important aspect to owning a iPhone.

The new Apple Watch should now be paired to the new iPhone. It will take a while for this to occur, particularly since there are two encrypted backups of the iPhone. The use of a lightning cable does make this go much faster than syncing via Wifi; hence why I always use the cable.

With iOS 11, this may not be necessary anymore, since the Health Data should be encrypted and backed up to iCloud. So before you upgrade to a new iPhone, upgrade to iOS 11 and then perform a backup. This backup should include your health data, which will make restoring to your new phone even easier.

An additional feature of iOS 11 is the new "Quick Setup" feature. Quick Setup will allow you to use an existing iOS 11 device to quickly setup your new iOS device. This means that you will be able to transfer your Apple account settings from one phone to another, which then means you will be able to more quickly restore your new iOS device from your iCloud backup.

I know for me, I will still be using the steps outlined above, mostly since I know they will work like I want them to. Additionally, my new iPhone will have all of the same settings as my old iPhone, which makes things much easier.

Final Thoughts

No matter when you upgrade your iPhone, you should make sure that you have a backup. It does not really matter, at least with iOS 11, if that is an iCloud backup or a backup with iTunes. If you do not have an Apple Watch, upgrading an iPhone is pretty straight-forward. If you do have an Apple Watch in the mix, it is not super difficult, just a couple of extra steps to be able to get your new iPhone up and running. There are some who are only getting new Apple Watches, and that is a whole other upgrade process that will need to occur.