Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have an iPhone 4 and my wife has a 4s. We want to trade phones. Once we get Verizon to reassign the phone numbers, what's the easiest way to migrate the apps, settings and data between phones? BTW, the 4 syncs with iTunes on windows 7 and the 4s is paired with a OSX Lion machine.

share|improve this question
  1. Connect both phones to their current respective computers
  2. Open iTunes and perform a backup on both phones
  3. Swap the phones to the opposite computers.
  4. Once swapped, click on the Restore button in iTunes, then click Don't Back Up.
  5. When iTunes finishes the restoring process, set up your 'new' phone from a backup, making sure to click on your old phone's latest backup (the one you just completed.)

This should restore the new phone to your old phone's last condition.

share|improve this answer
You can also do this on the same computer if you don't have two that sync each device separately. If you are worried about mixing backups, power off the phones after the last backup and hold the home button when plugging it it, it won't sync but instead enter recovery mode where you can only restore (erase) it. – bmike Dec 1 '11 at 0:42
If you want to add an extra layer of safety/paranoia, back up your home directory's ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup directory(s) to an external drive after Syncing, and before swapping and restoring the two iPhones. – hotpaw2 Dec 1 '11 at 1:23
ryebread: thanks for the info. I'm planning to do this over the next few days. I don't understand the need for step 5. Wouldn't Restore process in step 4 be sufficient to swap the OS and data on the phones? Why is there a need to "set up your 'new' phone from a backup"? – Sajee Dec 19 '11 at 14:05
After you restore a phone, it is reset to factory defaults; (i.e. no user data) so iTunes will treat it like a new phone and you have to select a backup to restore it to, otherwise it will be like the day you bought it. Hope that helps! If you have any other questions, feel free to ask! – ryebread Dec 21 '11 at 20:28
That worked. Thanks! – Sajee Dec 23 '11 at 2:31

With iOS 5, iCloud can be a great solution.

Set up an iCloud account for each user. Each person set up his/her own account. After, go to Settings -> iCloud -> Storage & Backup and turn on "iCloud Backup" then tell it to perform an immediate backup.

After backup is complete, go to Settings -> General -> Reset -> Erase All Contents and Settings. Physically exchange iPhones, and when prompted set up the iPhone from the appropriate iCloud backup.

After the iCloud backup is restored, sync with the appropriate computer to pick up ripped media, iPhoto (or My Pictures) images, etc.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.