I don’t have hard data on this, but most people probably rank switching to a new phone somewhere around “dental cleaning” and “trip to the DMV.” A few years ago, I felt that way, too. Dozens of phone reviews later, switching devices has become just as routine as taking out the recycling every week.
Sure, sometimes things get mucked up and I have to tag in my wireless carrier (thanks a bunch, eSIM), but I’m living proof that it’s possible to switch to an entirely new phone every week without suffering any serious emotional or social consequences. And you can, too! I promise it’s not as painful as it seems.
I’m living proof that you can switch to a new phone every week without suffering any serious emotional or social consequences
Most people will probably load a cloud backup from an old device when setting up a new phone, which is by far the easiest way to go about this if you can. But maybe you’re doing something more ambitious, like switching between iOS and Android, or you just want a fresh start on a new phone.
Here’s how I manage the chaos, including the very first things I do on every new phone. Hopefully you’ll find some tips to help smooth out the process the next time you switch or, at the very least, a little encouragement to take on the journey.
Sometimes, as a treat, I get to use a reasonably sized phone like the Samsung Galaxy S23.
The first thing I do is turn off RCS or iMessage on the old phone. I cannot stress enough how important this step is. It’s not necessary when switching iPhone to iPhone or Android to Android, but if you’re going from one platform to the other, you’ll be in a world of hurt if you forget this step. Ask me how I know.
You might also need to port your two-factor authentication tokens from the old device before you reset it. Google Authenticator now lets you use cloud backup to avoid this step, though it’s a little less secure in theory.
You’ll also want to make sure your contacts are synced with your Google or iCloud account before switching — first-party apps like Switch to iOS and Samsung Smart Switch are helpful here. You can transfer photos, too, if you keep those on your device rather than in the cloud, but personally, I take way too many photos to transfer them all every time. I back up my keepers to Google Photos, which is easy to do on both the iPhone and Android and makes switching between the platforms a lot easier.
Syncing contacts is fairly straightforward, but your message history is another thing. You can move SMS texts between platforms with those first-party switching apps, and chats on iMessage or RCS can be easily ported to a new device on the same platform. But RCS and iMessage don’t mix, so you can’t easily bring those conversation threads to your new device.
Personally, I just let them all go and start a new conversation on each new device. That’s not for everyone, and it’s one of the biggest pitfalls to consider if you’re thinking about switching platforms.
With all that out of the way, I pop in that good ol’ SIM card… unless I’m using an eSIM-only iPhone 14. In that case, I weep gently during my drive to the closest Verizon store, where I ask a kind sales representative to give me a physical SIM card.
Switching phones on eSIM is tricky at best, and it flat-out won’t work if I’m changing to a phone that isn’t on sale yet. (A scenario that is admittedly unique to my circumstances.) Thus, the switch back to a physical SIM and the trip to the store. I’ve tried ordering a SIM and doing this myself. I’ve tried doing it over support chat and by phone. It rarely goes well.
Have you met my bestie, 1Password? It’s the first app I download on every new phone. The random passwords it generates are way more secure than anything I could think up, and it’s a lifesaver having it all in one place. Even if you don’t change phones frequently, I highly encourage you to use a password manager.
With that done, I download a handful of must-have apps (shoutout to Strava and Starbucks) and check for app updates by smashing that “Update all” button in the App Store or Play Store. The vast majority of the apps I use regularly are free and available across both platforms. In very rare cases, I have paid for an app twice to have it on both Android and iOS. That stinks, but honestly, having my beloved Pocket City 2 available on all the devices I use is totally worth 10 bucks.
Finally, I head to the settings menu to check for a software update (and a Google Play framework update on Android phones). This isn’t just phone reviewer stuff; it’s good tech hygiene when you set up a new device.
If you’re switching an eSIM, don’t call your carrier on the old phone. I learned this the hard way switching to the Pixel 7 Pro.
Those are the essentials. Here’s a short list, in no particular order, of other preferences I set up on new devices:
Turn on the battery percentage in the status bar because I crave this information always.Max out the display and performance settings. Some phones don’t turn on the screen’s highest refresh rate by default, and if you paid for a phone with a 120Hz screen, by god, you should be able to use it.Max out the screen timeout. Who wants to keep waking up the screen while you’re following a recipe?Turn on the always-on display if it’s available.
Switching to a new device or OS can seem daunting when you’re so comfortable with your old one, and I’ve had my share of uncomfortable moments making a switch to a new phone. You can use the tools that phone manufacturers include to help you port over all your old apps and preferences, but even if you don’t, I promise that making a switch to a new device isn’t as awful as it looks. Just trust me on the password manager thing.