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16 Steps to Getting Your iPhone 7 Set up the Right Way

by Stewart Wolpin on September 27, 2016

How to Set Up Your iPhone 7 the Right WayFor most iPhone owners, it's an annual September ritual: update your iPhone to the latest iteration of iOS and take a few days to learn all the new features and capabilities of Apple's latest mobile operating system. And/or, maybe even get a new iPhone while you're at it, with the new iOS already installed.

We at Techlicious try to do both both upgrade and get the new iPhone on the first day of availability so we can help guide you through both the iOS update and maybe even setting up a new iPhone.

If you're upgrading to the iPhone 7 (6s or SE), we assume it's from an older iPhone – and congratulations, especially if you're moving up from the battery hogs that were the iPhone 5 and 5s. If you're switching from an Android phone such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 – we're so sorry – you should use Apple's Move to iOS app to move your data over; you'll find the app in the Google Play store. (Ignore the low rating of the app; its seemingly suspicious 2.5 star score is due primarily to low rankings left by Android lovers/Apple haters.)

1. Backup Your Old Phone

Back up and restore

Before you do anything else, connect the phone you're replacing to your PC and open iTunes. Once in iTunes, tap on the icon for your phone (top left of your screen) and perform a backup to your PC, which will be faster than using WiFi.

2. Upgrade Your New Phone to iOS 10.0.2

Yes, Apple has already issued two upgrades to iOS 10. And, while you're at it, make sure you keep your phone upgraded each time Apple issues an OS upgrade. Apple upgrades its iOS to fix periodic bugs, but mostly to close security vulnerabilities that pop-up from time-to-time. iPhones are generally more secure than Android phones, but only if you keep your iPhone current. There are numerous Apple fan sites that regularly report when the company releases a new version of iOS. If you value you and your phone's security, try and to keep your iPhone OS up-to-date. Your iPhone will perform better and safer if it's running the most current OS version.

To perform the update, connect your new phone to your computer. The update will download faster from Apple and onto your iPhone when its physically connected via a cable to your PC and iTunes than via Wi-Fi.

3. Restore Backup to Your New Phone

Click on Restore Backup. How long your restoration will take will depend on how much data you had on your old phone. Even with more than 10,000 music tracks, our Backup Restore took only around 30 minutes.

4. Replace Your SIM Card

Your phone connects to your carrier's network via a SIM card, which is placed in a tray in the right side on the iPhone 6s. Depending on where you got your new iPhone, you may need to transfer the SIM card from your old iPhone to your new iPhone. Two things: First, starting with the iPhone 5, Apple went with a smaller "nano" SIM card, so the "micro" SIM card from your iPhone 4 or 4s will be too big for your new phone (here's a list of which SIM card will fit with which Apple device). Contact your carrier to get a new card, if one wasn't already included. Second, you'll need a safety pin or small unwound paper clip to push in the pinhole to pop the SIM card tray out. Be careful: both the tray and the new nano SIM card are REALLY tiny. Perform the switch over a clear counter or table top to avoid misplacing either piece.

5. Make Sure Your Phone is Activated 

Did you buy your new iPhone from Apple or from your carrier? In either event, don't assume that your new iPhone will immediately work. Sometimes, whomever sold you your phone doesn't automatically switch the service from the SIM card in your current phone to the SIM card in your new phone. Before you go out and use your phone in the real world, turn off the Wi-Fi and either try to make a call or access the Web. If one or both don't work, call your carrier to switch the service to your new iPhone. You'll need your new iPhone's serial number and IMEI numbers, which are located both on the iPhone box or in Settings > General > About, toward the bottom.

6. Change the Name of Your New iPhone

When you restore a backup of your old phone to a new iPhone, your new iPhone inherits the old iPhone's name. In iTunes, when you have the iPhone information on your screen (click the iPhone icon in the upper left hand corner), click on the name of the phone on the top of the contents list on the upper left. When the name is highlighted, you'll be able to overtype it to replace the old name with a new name of your choice. You may not see the new name reflected on the iPhone itself, however, until you disconnect it from your PC. Also, when you send or respond to an email on your iPhone, each email is labeled by default at the bottom with "Sent from my iPhone XX." To make sure the "XX" in this line displays your latest iPhone model, go to Settings > Mail > Signature to change what appears beneath each email you send. Or, eliminate the "Sent from my iPhone XX" altogether, and/or replace it with something more personal. 

Touch ID & Passcode7. Taking Your Fingerprints 

If you're upgrading from an iPhone 5 or older, you'll find your new iPhone wants to take your fingerprints during setup. Using your fingerprint – what Apple calls Touch ID – means not having to input that now-longer six-digit code every time you want to unlock your phone and not having to type in your Apple ID each time you want to make an Apple Pay or iTunes purchase.

During set-up, you'll be prompted to place one of your fingers on the Home button, which doubles as a fingerprint sensor – I use my thumb. Wait for the iPhone to tell you to "Lift Your Finger" and "Place Your Finger" – this will make the process faster and less confusing. After your iPhone set-up is complete, you can add additional fingerprints. My wife and I each put our thumbprint into each of our phones so we both have access.

8. Hey Siri, it's me 

Siri, of course, is Apple's sometimes wiseass and sometimes not always helpful personal assistant – although she's new and improved in iOS 10. With the iPhone 7, you can now simply say "Hey, Siri" from the lock screen to get her attention. This allows you look up facts, dial contacts and more from your lock screen — but not change settings or unlock your phone. If you're concerned about other people having this type of access to your phone, go into Settings > Touch ID & Passcode and scroll down to turn off access to certain items, including Siri, from the lock screen. Check out our guide to making Siri work better.

9. Apple Pay

Apple PayIf you're new to the Apple 7, you'll be new to Apple's pay-by-phone system. Since we had Apple Pay already, we only needed to input our card's 3-digit security number to move the account to the new phone when did a Restore From Backup, so we're not sure if you'll be prompted to add a card to Apple Pay during the initial setup if you're upgrading from a 5 or 5s, or even a (gulp!) iPhone 4. Our advice if you're new to Apple Pay: whenever you encounter it, skip the Apple Pay setup until after your iPhone is operational. The process is relatively painless – you just use the phone's camera to capture the information on your card (it's kind of cool, actually) – but you probably just want to get your iPhone working normally first.

Additional Set-up Tips

Once your iPhone tells you it's ready to go, you'll still have some setting up to do so your iPhone runs smoothly. Continuing with the items below:

10. Change your Lock Screen Notifications

From the lock screen, slide the screen to the right, and a brand new notifications panel appears. There you will find widgets that pull information from your calendar, the weather app and nearby local transit information and news, among other information. You'll want to scroll down to the bottom where it says Edit to select which widgets run on your lock screen.

The information in regular notifications — calls, texts and so on — is now more in-depth and interactive. You can now read and respond to text messages, among other tasks, even from the lock screen. That also means these things are easier for someone else to access. If you want more privacy, adjust the amount of information that appears for each notification and whether the app delivers lock screen notifications at all by going to Settings > Notifications. There, you can select settings for each app.

You may also want to restrict what can be accessed when your phone is locked. Go to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode, and you'll see a list entitled Allow Access When Locked. Here, you can toggle on and off access to Today View (those widgets), Notifications View, Siri, Reply with Message, Home Control and Wallet. Home Control, a new feature of iOS 10, lets you control devices like smart lights and other smart home devices. For each of these, you'll need to weigh your privacy versus convenience.  

11. Automatic App Updates

Since Apple apps are all carefully curated to remove unwanted malware and spyware, there's no reason to manually update apps as you do on an Android phone. That's why Apple let's you automatically update apps in the background – but you have some choices to make. Go to Settings > Apps and iTunes Stores and turn on Updates for Automatic Downloads. If you have a small data plan, make sure you toggle Use Cellular Data to off.

Go to Settings-General-Background App Refresh – it should be at the bottom of the first screen you see – and choose the apps you want automatically updated.

12. Background App Refresh

iPhone can automatically update your apps in the background, when they're not actively running. If your data plan is minimal, you may not want your apps to automatically update unless you're actively using them. To turn off background app refresh, go to Settings > General > Background App Refresh (9 items down) to turn on or off background app refresh for all apps, or allow access for each app on a case by case basis. 

13. Wi-Fi or Cellular App Connectivity

You also have an option about how your apps connect to the Internet when you're actively using them. Go to Settings > Cellular (4 items down) and scroll down to see a list of apps. Turning on an app allows it to connect via cellular, turning it off means that app will connect only via Wi-Fi. For instance, you don't want to inadvertently start watching a movie on Netflix when there's no Wi-Fi and burn through your monthly data allotment in two hours.

Sometimes the Wi-Fi connection isn't what it ought to be so, at the bottom of the list, you can choose to let a cellular connection help out Wi-Fi for those apps you really need to have access to the net. If you have a limited data plan, you'll want to be careful here. You may find yourself burning through data quickly at home, when you think you're just using Wi-Fi.

14. Wi-Fi Calling

If you get spotty reception at home or another location you frequently visit, you'll want to turn on Wi-Fi calling to ensure your calls come through. Go to Settings > Phone > Wi-Fi Calling. There you can choose to turn on the feature. You'll be prompted to enter your emergency address, which should be the address where you'll be using Wi-Fi calling

15. Set up People Identification

Among the myriad new iOS 10 features is photographic face detection and the creation of a People album in Apple's Photo App. Once you get your phone updated, go to the Photos app and tap the People folder. You'll be able to create folders for faces you photograph frequently, and any subsequent photo with that face will appear in the correct People folder (at least theoretically), a really handy way of fast finding favorites photo with frequently photographed faces. Finally.

16. Buy More Lightning Headphone Adapters 

Attach the included Lighting-to-3.5mm adapter to your favorite headphones. Immediately. You don't want to grab both your new iPhone and your old headphones, only to find yourself out-and-about without a way to connect them. Then, go and buy one or two additional headphone adapters ($7.90 on Amazon), and put them in a bag you always carry or your car where it'll be handy, just in case. Next month, Belkin is due to release its Charge RockStar ($39.99), a dual Lighting jack accessory that will enable you to listen and charge – or connect two Lightning headphones – simultaneously. Given the iPhone's lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack, we expect to see a lot of similar adapters.

Your new iPhone is filled with features and options to customize your\ phone experience. For instance, you can turn on a low-power mode to ensure your phone doesn't poop out just when you need to make an emergency call, enable Night Shift to reduce the amount of blue light exposure at night or turn on a Do Not Disturb" mode to keep your phone quiet when it's on the nightstand and you're trying to sleep (all by swiping up from the bottom of any screen to reveal the control panel). So take the time to explore the many settings in "Settings" to discover everything your new iPhone can do.

Updated on 9/27/2016 with information on iPhone 7 and iOS 10

[Image credit: Apple]


iPhone 6, Phones and Mobile, Tips & How-Tos

Discussion loading


From MWT on September 28, 2015 :: 11:57 am

I was having the same trouble with the apps that you described. None of them were transferring to the new 6s Plus. It was taking me forever to re-install them one-by-one, but your method was much quicker and easier. Thanks!



From Josh Kirschner on September 28, 2015 :: 12:05 pm

Glad the advice was helpful!



From Lori on October 05, 2015 :: 8:36 pm

Thanks man, Very helpful.

My apps didn’t all come over either.

You saved my night



From Marleine on February 07, 2016 :: 2:28 am

I cannot ‘open’ any business card that was sent to my 6s as an Snd and also cannot send any photos from sms. What’s app works perfectly with both. Do you know which setting I can change. Phoning for help does not really help



From Karen on August 03, 2016 :: 4:29 am

Followed this step by step when transferring from old to new iPhone. Had same problem with some apps not going over but did them manually so all good. Cheers.



From Fawn Fairfoul on August 10, 2016 :: 12:02 am

Thank you so much for the tip on restoring apps!  I followed the instructions above and now they are all loading up again.  Yay!



From Josh Kirschner on August 10, 2016 :: 10:16 am

Glad it helped.



From Ann Willson on September 27, 2016 :: 1:55 pm

I have backed up my iphone to my computer. It is an encripted file and I’ve forgotten the password to the file. Is there any way to recover it.



From Josh Kirschner on September 27, 2016 :: 2:32 pm

There’s no way to recover an encrypted file if you’ve forgotten the password. That’s the advantage (or disadvantage, in this case) of encrypting your data. Though unless you deleted the files off your phone, you won’t have lost anything. Just start over with a new backup file on your computer.



From Ann Willson on September 27, 2016 :: 6:21 pm

I can’t uncheck the box for encription on itunes without the password. Trying to back up to icloud but the wifi is too slow. Thanks anyway.



From Erin Roberts on November 09, 2016 :: 10:25 am

Do you know anything about the iphone 7 plus using cellular data even when on wifi?  And no, I do not have WiFi Assist on.  Having to turn cellular data on and off when i enter or leave a wifi zone is incredibly inconvenient, but my data usage has suddenly gone through the roof.



From Suzanne Kantra on November 09, 2016 :: 11:17 am

There are a couple of things that could be happening.

First, if you use mobile hotspot on your phone, your laptop or child’s tablet or another device may still be connected and using data even if your own phone is now using your home WiFi.

Second, you may be using more data when you are on cellular than you did before but don’t realize it.

Go to Settings > Cellular and scroll down to see how much cellular data each app is using. If you don’t need to use cellular data for an app, turn off its ability to use cellular data.

You can also turn off downloads from iTunes using cellular data by going to Settings > iTunes & App Stores

And, turn off Background App Refresh by going to Settings > General and toggling off Background App Refresh for those apps you don’t need updated all the time in the background.

Hopefully these will help.



From Kim on December 31, 2016 :: 12:55 pm

I just got the 7 plus I’m not sure what happened but some of my data didn’t transfer like all my favorites in my contacts are completely missing. When upgrading previously everything transferred over not this time. Any ideas on how to get those contacts?



From madhu on January 02, 2017 :: 11:50 am

I have a new iPhone 7. But I can’t able to download apps in app apps also,



From Suzanne Kantra on January 02, 2017 :: 1:01 pm

Are you logged in with your Apple ID? If you scroll down to the bottom of the first screen for the app store, it should show you which Apple ID is logged in.

If you had an earlier model iPhone, the other way is to go to Go to Settings > iCloud > Storage > Manage Storage, then tap a device listed under Backups. Select a backup from before the transfer to the new device. You will lose any changes you’ve made since the backup, but it should pull in all of the apps you had before switching phones.



From David wood on May 15, 2018 :: 11:04 am

Hi. I have an iphone7 and am trying to link to my car blue tooth and it tells me to go into “setup” which i cannot seem to find now that the phone has been originally set up. help[ please



From Suzanne Kantra on May 15, 2018 :: 11:54 am

For your iPhone 7, you should go into “Settings” not “Setup.” Then select “Bluetooth” and make sure Bluetooth is turned on.

At that point, follow the instructions for your car. I’m guessing that the prompt you’re getting for “setup” is for you to go into your car’s “setup” screen or mode.



From Robert Wakely on October 28, 2019 :: 1:12 pm

How do I set the phone to ring when’s call is incoming



From Steve on October 08, 2020 :: 12:56 pm

I have an iPhone7 that needs to be set up.  User forgot passcode and after 10 attempts the phone is now going to setup mode.  User purchased a new personal iPhone and the phone dealer set up the new phone and somehow (I am thinking) included his work phone as the user states his work iPhone started making all kinds of noise.  Is there a site you can recommend where I can try to restore from the cloud (that is if the phone was set to backup) or to manually set up the phone?  Doesn’t want personal phone to sync with work phone or vis-virus.


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