iPhone to iPhone transfer process
Photo taken with iPad mini 4 – sorry about that ...

Back in the day, I used to do an iTunes backup and restore when buying a new iPhone, because that was both faster and more comprehensive than an iCloud transfer. However, Apple’s direct iPhone-to-iPhone transfer process now works so beautifully that it is, in my view, a complete no-brainer to use it.

I’ve just done it with my shiny new iPhone 13 Pro Max, and it really couldn’t have been a smoother experience …

iPhone-to-iPhone transfer process

First, simply switching on the iPhone 13 while it was close to my iPhone 12 automatically triggered a prompt on my old phone. I simply accepted the offer, and the transfer process got underway.

The progress bar admittedly needs a little work! While the bar moved okay, the initial time estimate was “About two hours” and that text didn’t change until about 40% of the way through, when it changed to “About one hour.” After that, however, it did decide to show estimates in minutes, and overall it was pretty accurate.

Apple has gradually increased the number of things that get included in iPhone-to-iPhone transfers. This now includes not only logins for almost all apps, but also Apple Pay cards. The only thing I had to do was confirm I wanted the same cards, enter their CCV numbers and the 2FA codes. That was much quicker than registering cards from scratch.

An even more welcome surprise was when my Apple Watch asked me, unprompted, if I wanted to pair it with my new phone. I confirmed, enter ing the phone passcode on my Watch, and that process too was automatic.

This did reveal one small glitch in the process: My old iPhone name was carried across, so my iPhone 13 got named as my iPhone 12. As I’m guessing I’m not alone in using this naming convention for my devices, it would be even slicker if the transfer process detected and updated it.

Finally, both phones confirmed that the transfer was complete, then my old phone asked me if I wanted to wipe it.

Instead of having to do these steps separately and manually, all I had to do was tap the Continue button and the phone confirmed it was removing my apps, my app data, my Apple ID, my Apple Wallet cards – and removing Activation Lock. All with one tap.

This really is a completely delightful process, and it’s exactly how tech should work. I take my hat off to the team within Apple who designed it.

Other immediate impressions

Hardware-wise, the new phone looks pretty much exactly like the old one. If I compare the two side-by-side, the narrower notch is visible, and maybe you can just about make out that it’s slightly taller. But without that direct comparison, I doubt I’d even have noticed.

Opening the Camera app prompted me to choose my Photographic Style. I tend to boost color temperature for a warmer look to most photos, so I selected the default Warm style for now, and will doubtless personalize it later.

The 3x zoom is a worthwhile improvement – 2x left, 3x right.

Cinematic is a separate tab to Video. I’ve literally only played with it for a couple of minutes, and my immediate impressions are mixed. Tap to focus works well, switching from Steph to Lexy (the furrier of the two).

Tracking Lock also worked well in my very quick test, though it is a bit too easy to accidentally activate.

However, when Steph turned to look at either the cat or the screen, the AI response was variable. A couple of times it noticed right away and did a reasonably smooth rack-focus style transfer of the focal point, but other times it took too long to notice or didn’t switch. The first time was because I’d accidentally engaged Tracking, but it was the same when I disabled this.

I know from early real-life results that I shouldn’t expect miracles from this feature, but I am really looking forward to playing with it. I’ll of course be playing with the still camera lots, too, and will report back on that next time.

I’m currently using my iPhone 12 Pro Max case as an interim step. It fits in terms of height and width, and the camera hole is wide enough to work (though looks odd), but of course the phone is thicker so sticks out slightly. It is, however, secure, so it’ll do until I get the chance to drop into an Apple Store this evening to buy a new one and decide whether I really want to buy a new MagSafe wallet just for the “detached” warning and “It was here before someone walked off with it” feature …

For now, though, I couldn’t be more impressed with the handover process!

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About the Author

Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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