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Setting up iPhone 12: The 10 best tips and tricks

Jason Cross, Kris Wallburg

Do you already have your new iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro in your hand? Then you can’t wait to get started. Before doing this, however, there are a few things to keep in mind.

EnlargeYou can't wait to get started with your new iPhone 12.

Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of a new iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro. Chances are you'll want to dive right into the smartphone right after you get your hands on the box, but try to contain your excitement and prepare a little first!

We have a little setup tip that you should keep in mind. Sure, it seems like unnecessary work, but this stuff is really going to save you a lot of time and frustration later.

1. Backup and restore

That's right, you'll want to back up your old iPhone after you've got your new iPhone 12 in hand so the backup is as up-to-date as possible. You can back up via iCloud, iTunes, or the Finder.

EnlargeYou can create a backup of your iPhone in the Finder.

For a Mac backup (macOS Catalina): Connect your old iPhone to your Mac, open a new Finder window and select your iPhone in the left column under the Places section. You will see a window that looks like the iPhone management window from iTunes. In the "Backups" section, select the "Back up all of your iPhone data on this Mac" option. It's a good idea to enable the "Encrypt Local Backup" option so your account passwords and health information are also backed up - just choose a password you won't forget. Click the "Back up now" button.

When the backup is done, plug in your new iPhone 12 and tell your Mac that you want to restore from the backup you just made. You can switch back to iCloud backups later, if you prefer, under Settings> iCloud> Backup. But it never hurts to back up your own Mac every now and then.

For a Mac backup (macOS Mojave or older): The backup process is similar to the one described above for Catalina, but instead you use the iTunes app. After you've backed up your old iPhone, plug in your new one. iTunes will walk you through the setup steps.

For an iCloud backup: No need to connect your old iPhone to your Mac. Just launch Settings and tap your Apple ID profile at the top, then go to iCloud> iCloud Backup and choose "Backup Now".

When you set up your new iPhone 12, you'll be able to restore your iPhone from this backup once you've signed in to your new device with your Apple ID.

If you happen to come from an Android phone (hey, welcome to the party!), There is the Move to iOS Android app that can help you get all of your Google account information in Mail, Calendars and Contacts, Move your camera and even transfer your Chrome bookmarks to Safari.

2. Update your old iPhone, then use "Quick Start"

iOS has a feature called quick start. It's practically magical. You just hold your new smartphone next to your old one and a small card will appear asking if you want to transfer all of your data to the new device. Then point your old phone's camera at your new smartphone (which shows a cloud of tiny dots) and enter your old smartphone's 6-digit passcode.

EnlargeWith "Schnellstart" your new iPhone will set up itself practically by itself.

You go through the rest of the setup process, e.g. B. Activate Face ID, and then your phone is ready to use, set up like your old iPhone. It will even ask you to update your old iPhone's backup if it hasn't been backed up in a while.

When you set up your iPhone this way, most of your settings, the layout of your home screen, and more will be carried over. This is a huge time saver. But it does require iOS 11 or later. So, if for some reason you haven't updated your iPhone to at least iOS 11 (or the most recent version, iOS 14) in years, maybe you should update it right away. You don't want to have to wait for a big update process once you've got your iPhone 12 in hand.

After you've finished setting up your iPhone this way, you should give it a little bit of time to redownload all of your apps. To begin with, your smartphone will display placeholders for your apps, all arranged and packed into folders, just like on your old iPhone. But your new iPhone actually has to download the apps again because every time you download an app from the App Store, your smartphone grabs a unique version that is specially optimized for that iPhone model. But your user data and settings will be carried over, and that's the important part.

As quick and easy as it is, we still recommend making a backup copy of your iPhone as described in number 1 above. If something really goes wrong during the setup process, you'll be glad you did!

3. Set up Face ID and Apple Pay

Yes, you should be using Face ID for maximum security - it's the fastest way to unlock your iPhone 12 and makes it less painful to use a complicated passcode since you don't have to enter it every time. Setting up Face ID is also much quicker than setting up Touch ID - the setup screen prompts you to slowly look around the circle a few times. It's much faster than tapping the home button a dozen times to enroll a fingerprint.

EnlargeFaceID is quick to set up - and secure.

Concerned about your Face ID privacy? Don't be. Photos of your face and other biometric data never leave your smartphone - Apple doesn't get any of them. And it's inaccessible to other apps, just like other apps couldn't access your fingerprints with Touch ID.

Since you need to have Face ID enabled in order to use Apple Pay, this would be a good time to jump into Apple's Wallet app and set this up. If you're new to Apple Pay, just follow the directions in Wallet to add a credit card or two. If you already had Apple Pay on your old iPhone, you'll find that your credit cards are gone on your new iPhone. Why? For your safety, of course. Your wallet history will still be there, but you will have to re-enter any payment cards that you want to use with Apple Pay.

4. Update your apps

Great, now you should finally be on your home screen on your new iPhone. Go to the App Store first - you'll want the latest versions of all of your apps. To check for app updates, launch the App Store application and then tap your account icon in the top right corner. Under all of your account information there is a section on Updates and this is where you can get the updates. If you used the quick install, most of your applications should already be up to date.

Don't forget that you can automatically update your apps by flipping the Updates switch in Settings> App Store> App Updates. Or you can manually update your applications and see the "what's new" notes to see what's changed.

5. Pair your Apple Watch

If you're using an Apple Watch (or maybe you've just bought a brand new Apple Watch that fits your new device), you'll need to pair it with your new iPhone so that the activity data is in your health database and your new phone's notifications are sent to your watch to get redirected. First you need to unpair your watch from your old iPhone, either in the Apple Watch app on your old iPhone (tap on your watch, then on the "i" icon, then on Apple Watch, then enter your iCloud- Password when prompted) or on the watch itself (Settings> General> Reset).

Then launch the Watch app on your new iPhone 12, which will walk you through the pairing process, including a passcode, unlock behavior, and Apple Pay.

If your Apple Watch is not yet running on watchOS 7, you should update it. To upgrade, your Apple Watch must be connected to the charger within range of your iPhone and charged to at least 50 percent. Then look for the software update option in the iPhone watch app. Updating your Apple Watch can be a slow process, so it's a good idea to start early.

6. Learn about the new gestures and commands

As you may have noticed, your iPhone 12 doesn't have a home button. Where the home button used to be, you now have an additional, about half an inch large, magnificent OLED display!

Of course, if you come from an iPhone X, XS, or 11, it will be completely familiar to you. But if you're upgrading from an older iPhone or iPhone SE, there are a few new gestures to learn.

Here are a few basic commands to relearn now that your iPhone is button-free.

To return to the home screen: Just swipe up from the bottom of the screen. Very easily!

Jump back and forth between apps: Swipe left or right along the bottom edge of the smartphone to switch between the apps. You can "arch" your finger by sliding your finger up, sideways, and down again to "jump" between apps, or by simply sliding right along the bottom edge.

App switcher: Swipe up from the bottom edge and pause for a second while your finger is still on the display. App cards pop up quickly, and you can lift your finger and slide through them.

Close an app: If you need to close an app from the app switcher, just slide your finger over it.

Take a screenshot: Just press the side button and the volume up button at the same time.

7. Charge it up!

There's a reason your new iPhone 12 has that shiny glass back, and it's not because it's a throwback to the iPhone 4. No, this glass back is used to support wireless charging. To use this feature, you need a compatible wireless charger that uses the Qi standard. If you have one of these lying around, all you have to do is place your iPhone on the pad and watch it turn on. Say goodbye to the clutter of Lightning cables on your bedside table!

EnlargeThe iPhone 12 can be charged wirelessly with up to 15 watts.

With the iPhone 12, Apple introduced a new feature called MagSafe. This is a new magnetically attached charging puck that is similar to other Qi wireless chargers, only with a secure magnetic orientation. The precise alignment and the new internal circuit allow Apple to increase the charging speed up to 15 watts - twice as fast as conventional Qi chargers and almost as fast as a Lightning cable.

Of course, you can also charge your iPhone 12 via Lightning if you want. In fact, this is still the fastest way to charge your phone, provided you use the correct power adapter and cord. The iPhone 12 supports fast charging using the USB-C Power Delivery (USB-PD) standard. Anything over 15 watts will charge your iPhone quite quickly.

8. Create your Memoji

Animoji are cool, but Memoji takes them to the next level. If you're upgrading from an iPhone X or iPhone 11, you may have already created a Memoji. If the iPhone 12 is your first iPhone with a true depth front camera system, it will be your first opportunity to create your cartoon avatar.

EnlargeYou can design your Memoji as you wish.

Start by opening the Messages app, then post a new message or open an existing thread. Tap the Animoji icon at the bottom, then tap the + sign at the top of the Animoji list.

From there you can create your Memoji step by step.

9. Set up your Medical ID

Have you ever set up a medical ID on your iPhone? If not, this is a potentially life-saving feature that you probably shouldn't overlook.

10. Check out Apple's User Guide

Did you know that Apple maintains a very detailed (hundreds of pages!) User Guide that tells you everything you need to know about your iPhone 12 hardware and the latest version of iOS?

You can access the iPhone User Guide on the web, either browse it or search for what you want to know. It's a good bookmark page. You may want to download the free version of iBook from the Books app instead. If you need help, you might not be in a place with internet access.

Even if you've been using iPhones for years, you're sure to find some new tricks and features in Apple's official guide. If you look around, you can find out more about what your new iPhone 12 can do.

This guide was translated from our sister publication Macworld.com.