Set Up, Sync, Restore and Activate Your New iPhone 4S

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When a new iPhone lands on your doorstep, all you want to do is dive into its 500,000 available games and apps and join the legions of other iUsers who’ve become surgically attached to their device. But like any smartphone, there are a few unavoidable tasks that must be completed to get your iPhone 4S set up.

These are more than just technical necessities, however. Chances are you’re already an iPhone user who is upgrading to the latest handset, or an iPod Touch user looking to branch out into GPS and cellular data apps. It’s likely you already use iTunes, and want to load your existing multimedia library onto your exciting new lifestyle companion. Follow this guide, and your iPhone 4S will be set up and personalized in no time at all.

Backup Your Old iPhone or iPod Touch

Setting up your iPhone 4S can begin before you even receive the handset. If you’re already using an older model of iPhone, or you’re upgrading from an iPod Touch, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort by syncing with a computer and creating a backup of your current content and settings.

When you buy something from iTunes or the App Store, the purchase is associated with your Apple ID – not a specific device. So as long as your iPhone 4S is going to use the same Apple ID, all the music, video, games and apps you’ve collected so far won’t go to waste.

If you create a backup of your current iOS device before you wipe it, give it away or sell it, that backup file can be restored to your new iPhone 4S. After syncing the 4S by following these guides, it’ll look exactly like your current device, retaining all your folders, settings, playlists and content.

Insert Your SIM Card

So, your iPhone 4S has arrived. Congratulations! We’re sure you’re going to be very happy together.

Bearing in mind that this is still a phone, as well as a portable computing revolution, your first job might as well be taken care of before you switch your beautiful new iPhone 4S on. Without a SIM card, your iPhone doesn’t even know it’s a phone. The SIM provides all the information your iPhone 4S needs to connect to the cellular networks, and for the cellular networks to send all your calls, text messages and bills (unfortunately).

The iPhone 4S has a SIM card tray hidden away on the right-hand side of the device. Insert the SIM removal tool that comes with the iPhone 4S into the hole, and the tray will eject. Should you lose that small item, an opened-up paper clip works just as well. Here’s a bit more information about the iPhone and its SIM cards that should prove useful.

Activating Your iPhone 4S

Once the SIM card is sitting comfortably in its tray and is back inside the shiny new iPhone 4S, you’re ready to switch it on. Press the Sleep/Wake button on top of the device.

At this stage, however, the iPhone 4S is still an empty box, waiting for you to fill it up with games and apps. To connect to the network provider that supplied your SIM card and, most likely, the handset itself, you need to activate them both. This is where iTunes comes back into play.

Connect the iPhone 4S to your computer using the USB cable you’ll find in its box. If iTunes doesn’t launch automatically when a new iPhone is detected, double-click its icon on the desktop to start it up. Once it’s running, iTunes will detect that you’ve got a brand new iPhone 4S waiting to be brought to life. Follow the on-screen prompts in iTunes to activate both the device and its SIM card. Here’s a guide to help you along the way.

Restore Your iPhone 4S

Once it has been activated, your iPhone 4S is fully up and running. But it’s still a brand new device that needs all of your apps and folders and settings putting back together again. If this is your first iPhone, then it’s ready for you to leap onto the App Store and start having fun.

If this is an upgrade or replacement, one more step in setting up your iPhone 4S will have it looking just like your previous model. The backup you performed before the handset even arrived is still waiting for you in iTunes, and will recreate the look and feel of your previous Home pages and settings with very little effort.

Leave the iPhone 4S connected to your computer and select the option to restore the device from a backup after activation. Select the backup file you made earlier on from the drop-down menu, and iTunes will load it onto your iPhone 4S. Here’s a couple of step-by-step guides that take you through the process, though it’s mostly automatic once initiated.


This post is part of the series: The iPhone 4S

Wondering whether to buy an iPhone 4S? Unsure what to do with it if you do buy one? This technology series covers everything you need to know about adopting Apple’s hardware and software upgrade to the outstanding iPhone 4S.

  1. iPhone 4S Hands-On Review
  2. Setting Up Your New iPhone 4S
  3. Tips and Tricks for the iPhone 4S
  4. Android vs. iPhone 4S