I switched to a new iPhone – Don’t make the same mistakes I did

Although I’m the Home Tech Editor at Tech Advisor and you’d usually be hearing from me on the subject of air fryers, robot vacuums, or (my personal obsession) electrictoothbrushes, my phone is hugely important to me. It’s my outsourced brain and I rely on it completely, not least for work.

I talk to my colleagues on Slack, check apps for news and trends, use the Microsoft Authenticator app to get into my work account, use smart home apps for product testing, the camera for product photos and the Notes app for all kinds of work-related reminders.

In short, if something went awry with my phone, my work life would be hit hard. And yet I’d put little thought into the process of upgrading, the switchover itself, or what would be different with a new phone. Here’s what I found out and how you can avoid the same mistakes.

The result was a phone so hideous and sad-looking that no one would possibly want to steal it

I left my phone upgrade for too long

Once my phone was all paid off, I luxuriated in lower monthly bills and the carefree abandon of being able to knock my phone off the bedside table at any time, knowing it was at the end of its life and could be replaced instantly.

But the fact is that I didn’t replace it. And my carelessness meant that it suffered perhaps a few too many IQ-lowering smackdowns.

By the time I upgraded, my iPhone 11 was no longer a trustworthy companion. It became reluctant to charge, needing a lot of cable wiggling encouragement to start – and continue. Maybe the port had become a bit grimy. Maybe my charging cables had been bent underfoot one too many times. Either way, I’d often plug it in and return later to find out its battery life had only crept up by a measly percentage or two before, inexplicably, it decided to pause and chill.

It had also started to ‘faint’. I’d pick up the phone, tap the black screen, tap it again and finally prod it mercilessly, to be met with absolutely no response. At some point, the Apple logo would lazily appear and I’d rush to plug the phone in, only to find out that it still had 40-50% of battery life left.

There was also the case of the doppelganger app. My iPhone dock contains four apps, one of which is WhatsApp. One day I clicked on it and, instead of opening to reveal all the unanswered messages from my friends (an upgrade is never going to fix my own lazy communications settings), the app icon disappeared.

It blinked back on – and disappeared again when tapped. Finally, I reinstalled it via the App Store, only to find that the app icon had duplicated itself.

That was the final straw. Luckily for me, I know a few phone experts and was able to get top-tier advice on the best phone for my needs. So, choosing a new phone was the simple part. I went for the iPhone 14. Although I’d be missing out on features only available on Pro and newer iPhone 15 models like Dynamic Island and USB-C charging, it’s light in the hand, not too huge, has a good camera and solid battery life.

But…

I wasn’t prepared for phone switching disruption

First off, I needed to back up my phone to my Mac. I plugged it in but, thanks to the aforementioned charging issues, the “Emma’s iPhone” designation was flickering like a strobe in a David Lynch film. In the end, I found that if I held the phone aloft at an incredibly specific angle, the connection was stable enough to transfer my phone contents. So I sat statue-like for around 10 minutes with increasingly shaky hands, ruing my stupidity.

The phones then took it in turn to overheat, and I alternated between panic and prayers.

One of the coolest things about upgrading your phone now is how easy it is. Hold your phones close to one another and the data – apps, settings, wallpapers – will seamlessly transfer from one phone to the other.

Unless they don’t, in which case the stress is insane. The transfer paused repeatedly at the same point, probably because of the iPhone 11’s brain trauma. The phones then took it in turn to overheat, and I alternated between panic and prayers.

How would I live with a new phone that didn’t contain all the weird little lists in my Notes App? (The 10 best films about cults could have been lost to the world forever.) What about my trusty, albeit ill-advised, list of passwords? (Sorry. I will do better.) Or my 6,000+ (vitally important) selfies with friends, pics of dogs I meet around town and (often not very appetising) food photos?

And even when the transfer was complete, there were still unanticipated issues. That Microsoft Authenticator app I mentioned earlier, for example. Although, in one uncharacteristic moment of wisdom, I’d decided to switch phones during my week off, I still found I needed to sneak in and get a look at my email inbox thanks to a deadline panic.

…Except that I couldn’t, because the Authenticator app wouldn’t work on my new phone without help from our IT help desk. In the end, I wound up taking a call from IT in the middle of a day off, in the middle of a bookshop, behind a display of glossy paperbacks, having a whispered argument about the fact I couldn’t sign in to Teams.

I hadn’t considered how I’d deal with a new handset

My old phone had been looking scruffy in its final days, with a cracked screen protector and a fugly old case with a rubber band looped through it (my cheapo hack for avoiding cubital tunnel syndrome AKA “text claw”).

microsoft, i switched to a new iphone – don’t make the same mistakes i did

No-one was going this steal this ugly phone

Emma Rowley / Foundry

The result was a phone so hideous and sad-looking that no one would possibly want to steal it. I regularly wandered around central London with it in my hand, reading texts and taking photos of dogs whenever I felt like it. My phone was never stolen. Phone thieves would likely swerve their bikes away from me if I waved my phone near them. In fact, I’m pretty sure a kid tried to lift it from my bag and abandoned it when he saw the state it was in.

When I first went out with my new phone, I’d furtively check my bag every three minutes to make sure it was still nestled safely inside. If I needed to check a map, I’d hunch protectively over the phone like Gollum. But I’ve made some adjustments to using my phone outside now. I try to be more aware of my surroundings. And when I take it out running, it’s lovingly hammocked in its own Adidas bum bag, instead of strapped to my hand with a rubber band.

The biggest difference for me was battery life

I wasn’t prepared for the good stuff either

Although there are now only incremental differences between flagship phone models that are released from year to year, if you’ve had your phone for a while, these can add up to a phone experience that’s much faster, more slick and so much more convenient. And when you take into account the wear and tear on a phone that’s a few years old, getting a new one is well worth it.

The biggest difference for me was battery life. Although I tried to practise good charging habits, my old phone’s battery had obviously degraded over time. If I was out for the whole day, I’d have to carry a power bank around with me or hope to find somewhere to plug in. With a battery life of a day and a half (for reasonably heavy use) I can just head out at any time, without finding space a bundle of wires and tech, and know I’ll have enough charge for the day or evening.

Then there’s the camera. The upgrade between old and new phones is so pronounced that you can quite clearly see the point in my camera roll where I switched over. I’m no photographer but it does feel good to be able to point your phone and take a decent picture almost all the time. Even if it’s just another food pic to add to my 6,000 photos, it’ll be luscious.

Phone switchover tips

・Don’t wait until your current phone is glitchy, the switchover will be more complicated and you run the risk of losing information.

・Back up everything before you swap over – just in case.

・Do the switchover on a day off, and be prepared for some disruption.

・Buy a case, screen protector and any charging cables and plugs you may need in advance.

・Be prepared to change your phone habits to accommodate a pricier phone.

If you’re ready to upgrade, getting advice on a new phone is the easy part. Have a look at our round-ups of the best phone, best mid-range phone and the best budget phone to find the right handset for you.

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