I bought a new iPhone to replace my old one.
My iCloud had been full for a while because of photos. So I took care of that first before doing a device backup to iCloud.
Before powering on the new one:
- I disabled photos sync to iCloud and deleted all photos from iCloud.
- I performed a device backup to iCloud.
- I confirmed that iCloud showed no data was being used by photos, and that the backup had finished uploading.
Then I powered up the new phone. During setup, I did the "hold phone near each other" sync process, and part of that process prompted me to download the backup that I had just made (I did so). I finished setting up the new phone, and then powered down the old phone. I completely powered it down (holding down the button). I have not powered up the old phone since.
After that point, I checked my photos -- they were empty. No photos.
Many hours later (at least four), before bed, I checked photos again. Still empty, no photos.
The next morning, I checked my photos. Suddenly, they were all there. And I mean all of them, not just the recently-deleted ones that used to be in iCloud. I know this because my iCloud has been full for at least 6 months and has long since stopped syncing, but there were photos from last week.
I'm certainly not complaining, because I planned on finding a way to transfer them over anyway, but I am surprised, confused, and a little bit weirded out.
How did my old phone's photos end up on my new phone, even though they weren't in iCloud and my old phone has been completely powered off the entire time?