Apple sold an average of four iPhones every second in the last financial quarter. That number is probably higher already, now that Santa has delivered a few million iPhones to moderately wealthy kids around the world. If you were lucky enough to find one under your tree then you’re going to want to set it up right. Whether it’s an iPhone 5S, a colorful 5C or an older model, like the iPhone 4S, we’ve got you covered with a comprehensive set of guides, tips, and advice.
Pop your iPhone out of its minimalist packaging and press that Sleep/Wake button to get started. The Setup Assistant is very easy to follow and it will hand-hold you through the process of connecting up your Wi-Fi network, creating your Apple ID (if you don’t have one already), and sorting out your backup with iCloud. The iPhone owes much of its success to an intuitive design that seamlessly integrates hardware and software. Everything should “just work,” but just in case it’s not clear, we are here to help.
If you are making the switch from Android then check out our guide on how to switch from Android to the iPhone.
In order to decide what content should be on your new iPhone, and ensure that everything is backed up, you will need to establish a connection with your PC or Mac.
Set up iTunes
There’s a good chance that you already have iTunes on your computer, but if not you’ll want to download and install it now. Download iTunes from Apple. Using the iTunes software requires you to connect your iPhone to your computer using the data cable provided. When you plug the USB into your computer it should automatically launch iTunes.
The iTunes software can be used to backup and restore your iPhone, it can be used to update the iOS platform, and it offers a convenient solution for loading content on and off the phone. Here’s how to download music to your iPhone, for example.
Set up iCloud
To free you from the tyranny of the cable there is the iCloud service. This essentially stores your content in remote servers online so you can access it on any Apple product using Wi-Fi or with your mobile data connection. It also allows you to sync things like calendars across devices. For a really comprehensive look at the possibilities, check out our guide on how to use iCloud.
If you don’t like iTunes and iCloud then there are alternatives. Here’s how to back up your iPhone to your computer without using them.
Protecting your new iPhone
Before we go any further, let’s get serious for a minute. Your iPhone is a desirable piece of technology and a pretty sizeable investment. It’s worth considering what you would do if it was lost, stolen, or broken. You can take steps to prevent that from happening.
Start with Apple’s free service for locating and remotely wiping your iPhone. Our guide on how to use Find my iPhone will tell you everything you need to know.
You should also think about investing in a case or a cover. We’ve got ideas on the best iPhone 5 and 5S cases, the best iPhone 5C cases, the best iPhone 5 screen protectors, and the best iPhone 4 and 4S cases. The right case could save you from scratches or a cracked screen. Repairs are not cheap. If you can keep your iPhone looking pristine, it will also retain a higher resale value.
Customizing your iPhone
The first thing to do to make your iPhone feel like your own, is to set the background image, or wallpaper. Go into the Settings app and choose Wallpapers & Brightness and then Choose Wallpaper. You can use your own photos, find an image online, or use a free app like Cool Wallpapers HD. The ideal resolution for wallpaper on the iPhone 5S is 1136 x 640 pixels.
You can bring your own audio spin to the iPhone as well, by setting up your own ringtones. Check out our full guide on how to make ringtones for iPhone to find out how.
A world of apps
There are more than 1 million apps in Apple’s App Store. There’s an app to serve just about any interest or purpose, but it’s not always easy to find what you want. We can get you started with a curated list featuring 120 of the best iPhone apps available, neatly divided into useful categories. If you want to find some good gaming action, you’ll find plenty of inspiration on our list of the best iPhone games.
Meeting your virtual personal assistant
Touch is tiresome. With Siri you can use voice commands to interact with your iPhone. It’s a convenient way to set up appointments, search for answers, and perform lots of other tasks. All you have to do to launch Siri is tap and hold the Home button. If you’re itching to put your new PA through its paces, then check out our guide on how to use Siri.
When it comes to daily use, the iPhone offers a number of tricks and shortcuts that will help you get more from it. We’ve got plenty of iOS 7 tips and tricks that will interest you, as well as a few iPhone 5S tips and iPhone 5 tips that you may find illuminating. We cover all sorts of things, from advice on how to use the camera, to handy shortcut gestures. You can also squeeze a bit more life out of your phone with our tips on how to maximize iPhone battery life.
When things go wrong
You hope for a smooth transition with any new device, but there are often issues to overcome. The iPhone is generally very easy to get to grips with, but if you should run into a technical hitch, we can help with that, too. Check out our roundup of common iOS 7 problems with fixes to overcome software issues. We also have some advice on how to deal with a few notable iPhone 5S problems and some pesky iPhone 5 problems.
Sometimes it’s tough to track the cause of a problem down and you just need to know how to factory reset an iPhone, which enables you to start over with a clean slate.
Staying up to date
Apple release updates to the iOS platform pretty frequently and you’ll get them direct to your iPhone. Major updates roll out all sorts of new features, but there are also incremental improvements that fix bugs and boost performance. Go to Settings > General > Software Update to see if anything is available. You can also check via iTunes by connecting your device to your Mac or PC and then selecting it under Devices before tapping Check for Update.
It’s best to make sure that your iPhone is fully charged, or to plug it in, before starting an update. If you have an older iPhone then you might be interested in how to download iOS 7.
It’s not just iOS that will be updated; your apps will also receive important updates from time to time. In iOS 7 this is handled automatically, but you can edit which apps should be updated automatically via Settings > iTunes & App Store and toggling the entries under Automatic downloads.
Apple has been fighting to keep the iPhone as a closed circuit. The philosophy that Steve Jobs espoused is all about delivering a finished end-to-end product. This means everything works exactly as intended, and it’s supposed to deliver the best user experience, but it also means that iPhone owners are not supposed to go poking around with the software and hardware.
The latest version, iOS 7, has been jailbroken, which is a process that allows you to install apps that aren’t on Apple’s official App Store and do things that aren’t normally allowed. However, most jailbroken apps and app stores aren’t compatible yet. If you have an older iPhone running iOS 6.1, check out our guide on how to jailbreak your iPhone. If you’re wondering why you might want to, then take a look at the best jailbreak apps and games to find out what’s on offer outside the App Store.
More iPhone tips
The iPhone really is a powerful tool and it’s capable of so much more than we can cover here, so we’ll update this guide with more useful links over time. Before you go we have a couple of extra guides for you. Start making video calls with our guide on how to use Facetime. Avoid telemarketers, the de-friended, and persistent ex-lovers as you learn how to block calls on the iPhone. Create a hard copy of your latest photo with our guide on how to print from an iPhone. Finally, find out how to connect your iPhone to your Xbox 360 to share music.
That’s it, you should be up and running with your new iPhone by now. Enjoy!