Home / iPhone / Just got a new iPhone or iPad? Do these 6 things right away to get it set up – CNET

Just got a new iPhone or iPad? Do these 6 things right away to get it set up – CNET


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Setting up a new phone or tablet can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! 


Sarah Tew/CNET

You’ve just unboxed your shiny new iPhone 11 or iPad. Now what? The latest iPhones have ditched the home button and rely solely on gestures to get around, and the iPad also has its fair share of gestures you’ll need to master. The iPad also runs its own OS now, iPad OS, which is separate from iOS 13, finally giving Apple’s tablet a dedicated operating system.

So, there’s a lot to know, whether you’ve used an iPhone or iPad before, or it’s your first taste of an Apple phone or tablet.

My suggestion? Sit down with your favorite drink, a strong Wi-Fi connection, and put aside an hour or two to set up and navigate your new device. Trust me, it’ll be time well spent. Let’s dive in.

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Back up your old device before setting up the new one. 


Angela Lang/CNET

Get started with your new iPhone or iPad

If you have a new iPhone or iPad: Back up your old device to iCloud before setting up the new one

Setting up a new iPhone or iPad is a fairly straightforward process, but if you’re using a backup from a previous model, it’s a good idea to do some housekeeping before creating your final backup. Start by triaging your old photos and old apps you haven’t used in months to save space and speed up the process. 

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Once you have decluttered your old device, iOS 13 has a new feature that’s by far the easiest way to transfer everything over. Or, if you’re an Android user, Apple’s Move to iOS app will move all of your most important information. 

If you’re switching to iPad, then you can restore your new tablet from an iPhone backup to carry over your settings, information and apps. 

Getting around your new iPhone or iPad

The first thing you’ll need to learn about using a newer iPhone is how to get around without a home button, which Apple removed in the iPhone X. 

The iPad’s app switcher is pretty darn cool. 


Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

On the iPad side, the entire lineup, regardless of whether or not it has a home button, relies heavily on gestures for multitasking and navigating the interface. For example, you can have multiple apps open on the same screen, or multiple windows of the same app open at the same time, but you’ll need to know how to make that happen. Here’s our guide, complete with animated images that explains it all.

After you get used to FaceID, you’ll forget it’s even there. 

Important: Use a passcode and Face ID

The 2018 iPad Pros and newer iPhones all have a facial recognition feature called Face ID that you use to unlock your phone, open Apple Pay for mobile payments, and complete purchases in the App Store. Using Face ID is convenient and secure, so you don’t want to skip this step. Learn a little more about Face ID and how to set it up

The setup process will prompt you to set up a passcode, which we can’t recommend enough. Our phones and tablets have our most private information on them, and you wouldn’t want someone going through it, would you? 

Touch ID, which is what Apple calls its fingerprint reader in the home button, is still a thing on some iPad models and older iPhones. If your device has a home button, be sure to set that up for fast unlocking, convenient mobile payments and security. 

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iOS 13 and iPadOS have a lot of new features, some of which are a bit, well, hidden. 


Jason Cipriani/CNET

Learn your device’s basics

Get to know your new device

Any new Apple device will have iOS 13 or iPadOS 13 preinstalled, meaning you’ll have to jump right in and learn all of the fresh features. There’s a new dedicated dark mode, an easier way to connect to Wi-Fi networks, new features in Messages and a desktop-class version of Safari for the iPad. Here’s how to use all of that, and then some

Not every feature is obvious, though, and that’s alright. Hidden features are often the best kind, and we’ve dug up plenty of gems, such as a way to delete apps from the update screen, or the ability to use a mouse to control your iPad. Yeah, it’s pretty cool. 

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The ability to record your iPhone or iPad screen is built into the OS.


Jason Cipriani/CNET

If you find yourself struggling with things like viewing your notifications or Face ID not working the way you think it should, we offer some sage advice for troubleshooting common problems

Taking and sharing a screenshot is a quick and easy way of getting help troubleshooting an issue, or to show off a high score in your favorite game. You can take a screenshot by pressing the side button plus the volume-up button at the same time on newer devices, or if you have a device with a home button, press the power and home buttons at the same time. 

Although, sometimes taking a screenshot just isn’t good enough. You can record your iOS device’s screen with a built-in tool — here’s how

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Don’t forget to set up iCloud backup. 


Sarah Tew/CNET

Keep your iPhone or iPad backed up

After setting up your phone and learning its ins and outs, take an extra five minutes and ensure it’s being backed up regularly with your iCloud account. In 2020, there’s no reason you should lose any information when you get a new phone. 

If you have a Mac and have MacOS Catalina installed, you already know iTunes is nowhere to be found. Backing up your iOS device is still possible, it’s just done via Finder now

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You’ll thank yourself in the future if you take a few minutes now and set up Find My. 


César Salza / CNET

Make sure Find My is set up

Last, but certainly not least, is to double-check that Apple’s Find My service is set up and working. With Find My set up, you’ll be able to locate and track, as well as remotely lock or wipe your lost device. If you lose your iPhone or iPad, you’ll thank yourself for taking the extra time now. 

See? That wasn’t that bad, was it? Whether you have a new Mac, new PC, or even an Echo device, as long as you take your time and don’t rush through each step, you’ll learn a lot along the way and save yourself time down the road.

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Once you master the iPad, it can quickly turn into a laptop replacement. 



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