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Buying a new phone? Here’s how to back up, transfer and wipe data from your old one

If it’s time to upgrade, there are a few details to take care of before selling, handing down or trading in your old one

A customer looks at the iPhone 12 in an Apple store on Friday, May 21, 2021, in New York.
A customer looks at the iPhone 12 in an Apple store on Friday, May 21, 2021, in New York. Apple will start shipping the newest iPhone to buyers later this week. The new slate of iPhone 13’s start at $699 for the mini and top out at $1,599 for the Pro Max with the most storage.
Mark Lennihan, Associated Press

Apple will start shipping the newest iPhone to buyers later this week. The new slate of iPhone 13’s start at $699 for the mini and top out at $1,599 for the Pro Max with the most storage. Of course users can purchase through carriers and receive a small discount for this new phone which comes with a larger battery and new camera features.

Since this rollout had relatively minor improvements from the iPhone 12, I’ve decided to wait to upgrade until the iPhone 14 makes its debut expected sometime next fall. But it’s unlikely Apple will miss my measly $1,000.

A recent survey from Savings found 10% of iPhone users plan to upgrade to the newest phone. While that may seem like a small number, there are an estimated 116 million iPhone users in the U.S. That means the iPhone 13 launch could translate into nearly 12 million people opening their wallets to get the latest and greatest offering from Apple.

If you plan to be among those purchasing a new iPhone (or any new phone for that matter), make sure you take proper steps during the transition. Backing up data, transferring it and wiping clean any phone you plan to sell, hand down or trade in is essential to retaining what you need and keeping it private.

How to back up your phone

If you’re already storing everything on the cloud, this task is pretty easy. Photos, messages, device settings and most app data will transfer automatically from iCloud and Google Drive when you sign in to your new phone. Android users should be careful, though, because Tom’s Guide points out Google’s backup doesn’t include text messages with photos or videos. You’ll need to use a third-party app if you want those precious memories included in your saved data.

If you aren’t using the cloud, you’ll need to backup all information from your Android or iPhone to a computer. You may want to do this even if you are using the cloud in case anything is missing when you boot up your new phone. iPhone users should be aware when backing up to a computer that some things like Apple Pay information and Face ID settings won’t be included.

It can give many people peace of mind to know all their data is always living in the cloud. To make the switch to using the cloud, go to your phone’s settings. For Android, go to System>Backup and for iPhone tap your Apple ID name>iCloud.

How to transfer data from an old phone to a new phone

If you need to transfer anything after that, it will likely be an app that isn’t developed by Apple or Google. If there is such an app you want to make sure retains all your information (like a high score on a game), you may want to check specifically to find out if it is backing up your information to the cloud or not. Go through each app on your current phone and decide if it has information you definitely want on your new phone. If it does, do the research to make sure it will transfer, even if that means contacting the developer.

How to wipe your phone clean

Deleting identifying information from your phone is necessary not only to protect private information from getting out, but also to prevent someone from deleting or changing your data stored on the cloud.

For Android, unlink your Google Account and any external device paired with it. Take out the SIM card, then go to Settings>Advanced>Reset Options>Erase all data (factory reset).

For iOS devices, start by disabling Find My iPhone in Settings and unpairing all devices linked to your phone such as an Apple Watch. Then go to Settings>[your name]>Sign Out, enter your Apple ID password and tap Turn Off. At this point, if you’re switching to a non-Apple phone, make sure to deregister iMessage. Remove the SIM card. Now go back to Settings>General>Reset>Erase All Content and Settings.

The iPhone I’m currently using is three years old. According to MacRumors, the iPhone 14 likely launching next year is rumored to be made of titanium, have possible satellite connectivity and of course boast better cameras and more power. I can only hope these rumors are true. But either way, when I upgrade, I will be sure to back up, transfer and wipe clean my old phone and you should too.