How To Transfer Data From Your Old iPhone To Your New iPhone 4S [iPhone Tips]

New iPhone 4S

If you’re worried about transferring contents from your old iPhone to your shiny new iPhone 4S, then don’t worry as Apple has you covered.

Apple has a nice knowledge base article on this subject. All you need to do is follow these steps to transfer content from your current iPhone to a new iPhone:

  1. Make sure you have the latest version of iTunes, which is currently iTunes 10.5. You can download the latest version of iTunes from this link. Please install it after you download it.
  2. Connect your current iPhone to iTunes and sync it. Verify that your original iPhone is backed up. For more information on how to do this, see iPhone: About backups.
  3. Connect your new iPhone to iTunes (on the same computer you used to back up your current iPhone).
  4. iTunes will ask you if you want to restore from a backup or set up your new iPhone as a new phone. When prompted, select the backup of your current iPhone. If iTunes does not prompt you to select a backup to restore when you connect your new iPhone, use iTunes to restore iOS on your new iPhone and try this step again.
    Note: During the process of restoring your old backup to a new iPhone, you may see the iTunes progress bar pause. If this occurs, please allow for additional time for the upgrade to complete.
  5. After iTunes finishes restoring the backup you selected to your new iPhone, the iPhone will restart.
  6. When your new iPhone appears again in the iTunes window, select it.
  7. Click the tabs (Music, Photos, and so on) and verify or change the items you want to sync.
  8. Click Apply to sync your new iPhone with iTunes.
  9. Verify that your saved SMS messages, email accounts, passwords, photos, notes, and other personal settings are present on your new iPhone. Note that you will be required to enter your email account and voicemail passwords again. If you do not remember your voicemail password, you can reset it.


If saved SMS messages, email accounts, photos, notes, or other personal settings are not present on your new iPhone, then restore-from-backup may not have been successful. In that case, verify your current iPhone is properly backed up (see step 2), then use iTunes to restore iOS on your new iPhone and continue following these instructions at step 4.

This guide is also applicable if you are planning to switch from an older iPhone to iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4 as well.

We also feel that it is better to update your current/old iPhone to the latest iOS software update – iOS 5 so that you don’t hit any compatibility issues while transferring data using this method as iPhone 4S will come pre-installed with iOS 5.

If you’ve backed up your data to iCloud that was launched yesterday then it’s another way to transfer contents from your current iPhone to your new iPhone 4S, but it would be a lot more time consuming so we prefer this manual process.

Hope this helps, let us know if you’ve any questions.

[via Apple]

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  • C3

    Does the backup work ok if you’re unlocked? I’ve got a 3GS unlocked on 5.13.04 software 4.2.1 and my new 4S should be here tomorrow….

  • Robbie142

    I am still operating on 4.2.1. I am new at
    This obviously. If I update to 5.0 won’t I lose all my Jailbreak apps? Sorry for the ignorance ..

    • topsy

      Yes you will loooooooose everything. And as for now, you only have tethered jailbreak.

  • fas

    I thought its simple that iTunes would do it with ease.

  • Jared

    I did this, but when my 4s came back, I lost Siri.

    • Jared

      I re-enabled Siri in Settings, but now every time I use her, all she says is “Something’s wrong”. She’s not computing.

  • Martinet

    I already set up my iPhone 4s as a new iPhone. I sync the new iPhone with the old iTunes library, and downloaded lots of new apps (which are not compatible to my old iPhone 3g). Everything is fine except that I found the 2 voice memos on my old one haven’t been transferred to my new one. Is there any other way to get those voice memos transferred? Looks like the way you mentioned is kind of inconvenient coz I already got the new iPhone set up and don’t have one backup for old one.

  • Zaba

    Is there a way to transfer all the contents in a jailbreak 3gs to a jailbreak 4gs?

  • Doesn’t back-up/restore restore *EVERYTHING*?

    I backup my old iphone running ios4.
    I restore it *OVER* my new iphone running ios5.

    Which ios do I now have on my new phone? 4? or 5?

  • Robyn

    moved from iphone 3 to iphone 4s. made sure latest version of itunes installed. I synced the phone with itunes on a regular basis. on my device tabs, i just had “sync apps”, “sync music” and “sync tones” boxes checked, the other tabs were not checked to sync (my contacts are synced through my gmail acct). so i just right clicked on device name and selected “back up”. then i unplugged iphone 3 and plugged in iphone 4s and just right clicked on this device’s name and selected “restore from backup” (mine didn’t prompt me automatically so that’s why i had to right click for the restore). the iphone 4s brought over everything from old phone, pictures (even though this sync button was not checked), music, ringtones, etc. I was told by an IT person that if I did this, it would mess up the new phone but it looks perfectly fine to me. brought all my apps over the way i had set them up (groups of apps in the boxes even). all my settings were carried over. and the new apps from iphone 4s (game center, videos, etc) are still on the new phone (was afraid they would get deleted). i don’t understand why anyone would set this up as a new phone and manually setup up everything from scratch if they have an iphone prior to upgrading – just make sure to sync it regularly in your itunes acct and backup. I got super paranoid about my pics possibly not transferring but they are all fine (it was a “backup” in theory so I don’t know why I freaked out). I do recommend downloading Dropbox and uploading your photos there as a backup method though.

  • BobCov

    NEVER trust Apple software to take care of your iPhone, especially if it has been freed from Apple penitentiary. These instructions are not doing everyone a favor by implying that iTunes backup is really a backup. From the Apple site referenced in the above: “Previous purchases may not be restored if they are no longer in the iTunes Store, App Store, or iBookstore.” Okay, then that means it is NOT a backup. Look for a non-Apple app which actually backs up the entire phone with the option to include music and other media. I’m looking right now. OH, also ALWAYS use ExcelContacts app to export your contacts on a regular basis, especially before a backup and restore because iTunes in some instances will 1. Not restore your contacts and 2. Wipe out the only iTunes backup that had your contacts in it.

  • TinaC

    I purchased a 4S and transferred all my info & settings from my 3GS. Then I wanted to transfer all the info from my husband’s 3G to the 3GS. It wouldn’t transfer exactly so I restored the 3GS to factory settings. Then when I hooked it up it recognized it as my husbands phone. I hit the sync button and it progresses though everything & then says it’s synced. But nothing is transferring to the phone I walk the phone through the process & it gets to the point where it says connect to itunes. I’ve disconnected & reconnected it many times. Nothing seems to be working. Any ideas?

    • MV

      I’m having exactly the same problem. Any ideas?

      • Selena

        You can use the IMacsoft to help you transfer all the files(music, movie,contact, call list, SMS,etc) from the old iPhone to your new iPhone 4S, transferring just need a few seconds, I have tried it and everything works so well.

  • Angela

    Do messages you have on your previous iphone transfer to your new iphone??

  • Nickk

    Hi guys, I got a new iphone 4s from telstra, New with my sim it gets internet on 3g and wifi, but as soon as I back it up from one of my 3gs back ups I lose the 3g internet.
    I have reset the phone as new and I get it back, but as soon as i restore it again I lose it again.
    I found this ( file in my latest sync but should be there?

    this is that file when opened in bbedit



    how do i get into the backup or the phone to remove whats necessary to get my data going again

    • Nickk

      the disable_EDGE_3G was a profile to stop data but i deleted it before sync

  • Augoustinos Pavlakis

    I migrated from my Iphone 3GS to iphne 4s via itunes backup. All data were transeferred except music.
    The music file on the 4s reads ‘No content” Why ?

  • How do you restore an iCloud back up to a brand-new iPhone 4S,when your previous iphone 4s hit!!! excuse me DEAD and I mean UNRECOVERABLE. And the only thing you’ve got, is the latest iCloud backup of the Previous iPhone 4S and a new iPhone 4s

  • m

    how do you transfer the data that is in all my aps (i.e. to do list, security data etc) into my new iphone 4s

  • m

    how do you transfer the data that is in all my Applications (i.e. to do list, security data etc) into my new iPhone 4s

    • Selena

      iMacsoft help you transfer the data to your PC/Mac, then you can imigrate the data to your new iPhone 4s

  • Thomas

    I upgraded to a 4s and used it for a while but did not sync it with my itunes right away. Is there a way to restore it to get everything from my 4g but also keep all the current data already on my 4s?

  • c

    does this include messages and contacts on the old iphone 4?