I just received a brand new iPhone from Apple.com. It booted up to a fresh "welcome" state, as expected. I did not do any kind of data transfer/import; I set it up as new. And I configured it with a brand new Apple ID / iCloud account not linked anywhere else.

And yet... it has 197 steps on it from a day in June, registered in 3 chunks at 3 different times that day (around 3AM, 5AM and 12PM California time -- it was shipped from California). Tapping on these steps shows additional metadata that verifies that the steps were indeed registered on this device, not synced from anywhere.

It also has one flight of stairs climbed from the same day in June.

How is this possible? Does the device register steps before it's been set up, and it was turned on multiple times in a day (including in the middle of the night) during some test/QA phase? Surely all new iPhone buyers are not receiving devices with ghost steps on them?

I considered that perhaps it had registered some steps I made while setting it up and before the correct date/time had a chance to sync. But that wouldn't explain the preexisting steps coming in 3 chunks at 3 different times of day that are many hours apart.

Could this indicate that perhaps the device is not as "new" as promised?

  • This kind of thing happened to my iPhone too. I got it only last month, but it says that there were steps recorded in 2016! My phone is an iPhone 14 pro max which released in 2022. Where are these recorded steps coming from?
    – nana
    Jan 6, 2023 at 0:31

2 Answers 2


This sound like a case of a product return - a customer who purchased it and returned it.

Now, you state that you purchased it as “Brand New” so Apple, of all entities, shouldn’t be repackaging returned items and selling them as new. Actually, they can.

Specifically, from that post, there’s an FTC opinion giving guidance on usage of the term “New Product.” Basically, they can take a previously opened product that may have even been turned on but generally unused and in new condition, repackage it as new so long as there is a conspicuous process behind how they do this.

It’s entirely possible someone bought this iPhone, tried it out (maybe for this specific feature) didn’t like it and returned it. Apple did a simple factory reset not realizing there was data stored, and repackaged it as new. Obviously, one got though the process that shouldn’t. Is it a major problem and fraud on Apple’s part? No. The process must be conspicuous, not perfect.

Simply contact Apple, tell them that it appears the product is used when it should be be new and you want a replacement. They’ll accommodates you.

  • There's no way to reset it back to the "Welcome" state OP references without resetting all data. If OP described everything correctly, then it must've been recording steps on the setup screen in the box somehow.
    – Ezekiel
    Jan 6, 2023 at 1:24

I would erase all content and settings and the check without signing in to any account.

This is almost certainly not a case where it’s “not new” and most likely a date / time error in your iCloud bucket of data or the device.

It’s hard for us to guess, though without seeing the pictures / data / and work on the device to look at the entire setup. This data only comes from encrypted backups or synced watches in my experience. Not even iCloud would put that data on the device other than as when a restore of a device backup happens.

  • 1
    Thanks for the response. What do you mean when you say "iCloud bucket of data"? No data of any kind was imported onto the device, it was set up from scratch.
    – Aaron
    Jul 28, 2020 at 21:50

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