How to set up a new iPhone or iPad

By By Jim Martin Dec 5th 2017
If you've just got your first iPhone or iPad, here's how to get it set up with all your contacts, email, music, calendar, apps and more.

So you've got yourself a shiny new iPad or iPhone. Setting one up is really easy, and here we'll show you how to how to choose the right options, create an Apple ID, get your email working, install essential apps and more. The video above shows the process for an iPhone, but it's almost identical on an iPad.

There's no need for a laptop or PC as you can use an iPad and iPhone without one. The only thing you'll need is a wireless router so you can connect to the internet and activate your new device.

You'll also need to insert a working SIM card if it's an iPhone. A tool for removing the tray is included in the box, but a paperclip or pin usually does the trick, too. Some iPads have a SIM tray for mobile data, but you don't need a SIM to set up and use an iPad. 

If you've bought an iPhone or iPad for your kids, here's how to make it more child friendly

Step 1: Hold down the power button for a couple of seconds until you see the Apple logo appear on the screen, then release it. You'll then see a 'Hello' message and you can swipe to the right to begin and choose your language. 

Now choose your region. This should be the country where you live, as it will affect localisation such as the time and date format, currency, keyboard layout and more.

It's time to connect to a wireless network, and the iPhone or iPad will search for nearby networks: choose yours from the list. If you don't know your router's network name check on the labels or in the manual. Usually, it's the one at the top of the list as it will have the strongest signal.

Enter the password for your Wi-Fi network and once connected your iPhone or iPad will activate by contacting Apple's servers. An iPhone will also ask you to insert a valid SIM card for the activation process.

Choose whether or not to enable location services. It's best to enable them as many apps use your location, and it's generally useful. You can choose in the Settings app later which apps are allowed to use your location.

You'll be asked next whether to set up the device as a new iPhone or iPad or restore an existing backup.

If you're upgrading from an old iPhone or iPad, it's usually best to restore the most recent backup. This backup may be stored online in iCloud, or it may be on your laptop or PC in iTunes.

Note that you can only restore an iPhone from an iPhone backup, and an iPad from an iPad backup.

If it's your first iPhone or iPad, choose 'Set up as a new iPhone or iPad'. If you're switching from an Android Phone to iPhone, there's a useful app you can download from the Google Play store called Move to iOS. This will help you transfer everything (or at least most things) from your old phone to your iPhone.

If you already have an Apple account, sign in using your email address and password. If not, tap Create a free account. You can skip this, but it will mean you can't use many of the iPad or iPhone's features, and you won't be able to install any extra apps.

Agree to the Terms and Conditions (you can't use your device if you don't), and you'll see a message saying it's now ready to use. 

Tap Use iCloud on this screen. You can choose not to, but you'll miss out on a lot of useful features. Tap the About iCloud link to learn more about what it can do for you. One of the most important features is the ability to locate your iPhone or iPad if it's lost or stolen: Find My iPad (or iPhone) is enabled automatically when you tap Use iCloud.

Assuming you use iCloud, you'll also be asked which addresses and numbers you'd like people to be able to send you messages via iMessage. You can tick or untick email addresses and phone numbers in the list. iMessage is Apple's messaging app that lets you send messages (including text messages), photos and videos to other iMessage users.

To avoid confusion, it's best to use just one email address for iMessage and FaceTime.

Next is the option to use iCloud Drive. This is for storing documents online and it's best not to use it if you have older Apple devices which can't be upgraded to iOS 8 or OS X Yosemite (the operating system for Mac computers). If you only have the new iPhone or iPad and a Windows computer, you can enable it safely.

You'll be asked next to create a passcode. Don't skip this, because it means others can't get access to your iPhone or iPad if you lose it or leave it lying around. The latest iPads and iPhones will ask you to create a six-digit passcode.

Depending on the model of iPhone and iPad, you'll also be asked to register a fingerprint so you can unlock your device by touching the scanner, or if it's an iPhone X, it will scan your face for Face ID.

After that, choose whether or not to use Siri. Siri is Apple's digital assistant that lets you dictate messages, set alarms, launch apps, perform web searches and much more. It's well worth using Siri.

If your phone supports it, you'll be asked if you want to enable 'Hey Siri' which learns your voice so you can talk to Siri without touching your phone - handy while driving.

Decide whether you want to send error reports to Apple (you don't have to) and then you'll be greeted with this message. Tap Get Started to start using your new iPhone or iPad.

How do I set up email on an iPhone?

The first thing you'll probably want to do it get email set up. Here's how to add your Gmail account, but the process is very similar for other email accounts.

Many email accounts also include contacts and calendars which you'll choose to enable (or not) in the previous step. Here's how to transfer contacts from an Android phone, and Apple has a Move to iOS app which you can install on an Android phone to make the switch easier.

How do I install apps on my iPhone and iPad?

That's the basics done, but if you want more, here's how to set a song as your iPhone ringtone and we also explain how to transfer photos from your computer to your iPhone (or iPad).

To install new apps, tap on the App Store icon and browse the thousands upon thousands of apps. To install one, just tap Install. When it's ready the button will change to 'Open', or you can find the app's icon on one of your home screens: swipe left and right to scroll between home screens.

To save you searching, we've put together a great list of the best apps to install on a new iPhone or iPad

Finally, if your lose your iPhone or iPad, here's how to use Find My iPhone

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