Apple mavens: need help switching from old to new iPhone, with wrinkles.

Back in December, I unintentionally bricked my wife’s old iPad because I misunderstood some online instructions and thought I could associate it with a new Apple ID by doing a hard reset. Didn’t work.

Now I’ve just bought her a new iPhone SE (2020 model) and want to switch her over to it from her current iPhone 6s. She’s understandably nervous about this, since our lives now depend on our phones, and my experience with the iPad has made me a bit more concerned than I might otherwise have been.

I’ve been working with PCs for more than 40 years, and Android systems for at least 10, but I’ve never been an Apple person, and the iPad debacle has taught me that my PC- and Android-based assumptions and intuitions are not always valid in the Apple world.

So please help me transition her to the new phone as easily and painlessly as possible.

The Apple ID e-mail address in the 6s’ Settings (I’ll call it ID-A) is an older one and we can no longer access e-mail sent to it, so we want to change it to her current one (ID-B). We have the Apple ID passwords to both, so we can access both Apple and iCloud accounts online.

According to Apple, I can backup the old phone with iCloud or using iTunes on my PC, but I think there’s a problem with that:

Q1: If I set up the SE for ID-B, will I be able to restore the ID-A iTunes backup to it?

Q2: Do either of those backups include apps, account data, etc.? That page outlines what will and what won’t be backed up with each method, but doesn’t seem to say whether installed apps will be saved so that they could be restored to a new device.

Q3: What about her texts? How can I preserve her texting history?

It is apparently possible to change a device’s Apple ID, but that page isn’t clear about what happens to the existing data on the phone when you do that.

Q4: Is everything just left unchanged, or is it like switching to another user account, where you have a new desktop, data, and accounts, and the data and accounts of the old ID are no longer available?

If the former, it would seem that the best way to proceed would be to change the Apple ID of the 6s to ID-B, then backup everything and proceed with iPhone Migration. Somehow, I suspect that’s not what happens, and I’m reluctant to make any assumptions about it.

Q5: If the latter, is the old data erased, or can it be recovered somehow?

Q6: What other pitfalls should I be on the lookout for?

Thanks for your help.

This is part of the reason there are Apple stores (and the more-or-less equivalent phone company stores). If one of them is close (it occurs to me as I’m typing that they might be Coron- closed), I would take the phones there and have them transfer everything over.

My experience at both an Apple store and an AT&T authorized reseller is that they know what they are doing and are not likely to mess it up.

Yes, they are all closed, as is the local T-Mobile store (our provider), although I’m not sure I would have trusted a random T-Mobile store employee with this task. And I haven’t tried, but I assume that Apple’s and T-Mobile’s phone help lines wouldn’t be much help.

If other Dopers don’t have some answers/suggestions, I’ll try calling one or both of them.


Your situation is kind of complicated, but I’ll detail the big issue: Any apps and media (music and videos) purchased under the old Apple ID won’t work under the new Apple ID.
You are WAY better off trying to fix whatever is wrong with the old Apple ID as opposed to creating a new one.

What’s wrong with the old ID is that we can’t get mail at it. The address is at my wife’s previous employer.

We haven’t purchased any music or videos, and few if any paid apps, I think. Does that help?

There should be a way to switch the email address. The fact that it is used as the AppleID is irrelevant.

e.g. - I register with for an AppleID with an email address of with that as my contact email. Later I lose that domain, and can’t get email at anymore. You can change your contact email to, but your AppleID will still be

If she can’t get the verification email, you may need to contact Apple to change the contact address, but I think it’s still possible to do.

Since you can’t get to an Apple store (where they will do it for you), my ***strong strong strong ***advice is to call apple tech support and have them walk you through it.

Even if you have to wait on hold for a bit, it will be worth the peace of mind.

The phone is brand new and covered by personal help.

Thanks, all. I’ve taken GMANCANADA’s advice, and called Apple. I’ve never dealt with Apple support on the phone before, so I was pleasantly surprised to get a tech on the phone immediately. He was very helpful and well-informed, and I’m on the way.

The bad news is that unless I want to do a completely clean install on the new phone, reloading all the installed apps, and losing all her texting history, I’m stuck setting up the new phone with the Apple ID that uses her old employer’s e-mail address. I really wanted to be rid of that relic for two reasons: we can’t receive e-mail at it anymore, and it became a very bad place for her at the end, and I didn’t want the reminder hanging around.

But she’s just told me that she’d rather have that and the security of a quick and simple upgrade path. So there you are. The backup to iCloud is underway, and then I’ll use the automatic migration process.

I’ll just say that I dislike Apple’s completely inflexible connection between hardware and identity. Why in the world should an ID be irrevocably associated with hardware such that it has to be maintained even when upgrading the hardware? Why can’t a user change the ID if he/she wants to? I presume someone will say “security” or “anti-theft,” but I don’t see why this is the only solution to those problems.

There’s nothing stopping you from using a new AppleID. You just lose everything associated with it - Music, apps, email, etc.
How else would it work?

And, as I mentioned, there are ways to change the email address associated with your AppleID.

Okay, it seems as if I was misinformed about the inability to change the Apple ID. I found this article, and another call to support confirms that it is possible. Still checking whether this really will work.

[Emily Litella]Never mind[/EL]

I don’t want to lose everything, obviously! I want to change IDs without having to start from scratch. The way it would work is that you’re allowed to change IDs, as apparently is the case (see my post above), contrary to what the first Apple tech I spoke to said.

But why do we even need Apple IDs in the first place? PC’s don’t have PC IDs. You can apply your own security systems if you want, or use Microsoft’s, or nothing. There’s no inherent need for a computer system to have an ID system like Apple’s.

You don’t NEED an AppleID, it just makes everything much easier - purchasing music, apps, videos, etc. with just a thumbprint, syncing between all your devices, storage of browsing history, syncing of passwords, etc. Apps purchased through the App Store (requiring an AppleID) can be loaded on any machine that is logged in with the same ID - no obnoxious copy protection schemes where apps stop working if you increase the RAM or change the hard drive.

But, it isn’t a requirement.

ETA: And, it allows remote recovery, tracking and wiping of computers and phones/pads.

You can set up an Apple device without an Apple ID? Huh! I didn’t know that. I’m learning a lot about Apple stuff today.

[EL] never mind [/EL]

Okay, all done. The biggest pain was backing the old phone up to iCloud before starting, which took more than 90 minutes. Once I had done that, and also backed up to my PC with iTunes, just in case (much faster), I used the migration process, which worked pretty much flawlessly. Everything moved over, including preferences like the Do Not Disturb schedule. Very impressive.

I re-entered a few passwords, switched the SIM cards, and everything checked out. The best thing was that her favorite game, Wordscapes, which she had paid for, and had advanced to a high level, transferred over with all her points.

Although no one here had the answers to my questions, GMANCANADA gave me the right advice, and I also learned that some of my prejudices about Apple aren’t fully justified. Thanks to everyone.

I’m glad it worked out for you. I can’t say enough good about Apple support. They recently spent hours with me to resolve a software issue on an 8 year old laptop.

As far as they Apple ID goes, the idea is exactly what Beowulf says, it make your life way easier. It transcends your devices, so anything you do: purchases, apps, photos etc with stay with you for any future devices you get, either replacements for the phone or a new computers, iPad etc, It also allows for family sharing, which is great. Anyone in our family buys a book, movie, song etc, we all get it too.

Unfortunately, one of the things Apple is truly shit at doing is explaining all the features they offer, why they’re so good and how to use them. I think this is a leftover from Steve Jobs whose philosophy was to build a lot of cool things in and people will just discover them out of curiosity and figure out how to use them. That just doesn’t happen for many adults.

I had a friend who had his iPhone for 5 years and hadn’t heard of FaceTime or iMessage. They have other things like a built-in electronic magnifying glass, compass, a level (which I use in my shop all the time etc.). They just added an electronic tape measure too.

Lastly - if you do change to your own Apple ID email, never set your apple ID up with your ISP email address. If you ever change ISP’s you will be in a the same situation as now. Always set up your apple ID with something that is not linked to anything you might leave (or want to leave) someday. Use a free one through apple, gmail, outlook etc. I learned that lesson the hard way.

Yeah, having no previous first-hand experience with them, I didn’t expect much. I was worried that between Apple and T-Mobile, they might have given me the runaround, each saying I had to go to the other for support.

We only have the two Apple devices, iPhone and iPad, and at the moment they’re set up on different IDs, because when I got the new iPad, I didn’t want to use my wife’s old employer’s e-mail. So we’re not really getting those benefits. But we don’t buy music, books, or movies from Apple anyway, so probably not a big deal.

I definitely agree with you on this.

Does the Apple ID have to be an e-mail address? Can I make it some other string? Considering how evanescent e-mail addresses can be, it seems a little short-sighted to use them as a key identifier that is something of a pain to change

Thanks again.

The same Apple ID has lots of small benefits, but I don’t know if there are any amazing “can’t live without” ones, for me at least. You’re right not to sweat it. That said, it does make life lots easier in the Apple world, so if you do get an inclination it’s probably with your while.

*Re: Email address **
Agreed - they are shitty at communicating the benefits and the cautions especially around picking your “first” Apple ID email address. Bear in mind however, you
don’t *need to switch over your actual email. Your Apple ID address can be used for only Apple validation, nothing else. As long you’ll always have access to it. (My wife only uses hers as her “iCloud” Apple ID address for Apple. She’s never once used it for anything else.)

AFAIK - it’s always an email since they use it as a two point authentication (i.e. “We will send an email to your Apple ID, click on the link to reset your password.”). I think this was the issue from your previous problem, you no longer had access to that email account? That’s why it’s important to set up your ID with an email you will have forever, not an ISP or work one. (Speaking from personal experience.:smack:)

What was the problem? Maybe I’ve just been up too late and I’m not seeing it, but why couldn’t you sign in to your Apple ID account page and click the “Change Apple ID…” button? Did you lose access to your work/school/isp email before you remembered to change the Apple ID or something like that?

Yes - essentially that’s the issue. If you lose access to your Apple ID email by changing jobs (my wife) or changing ISP’s (me) it only makes it a pain in the ass to make account changes in the future.

The OP’s post was his wife set up her first iPhone with her Apple ID linked to her no longer available work email. That is surmountable, you can switch by contacting Apple as long as you still have the password.

The really insurmountable issue is when you lose your Apple ID email access and either forget or lose your password. That was an issue the OP had in a previous post for an iPad gifted to them.