Handing down my iPhone
January 26, 2012 10:40 AM   Subscribe

What is the best way to manage getting a new iPhone and effectively turning the old one into an iPod Touch?

I have an iPhone 3GS, currently running the latest iOS 5. I am planning to use my upgrade eligibility to get the latest iPhone, then copy all of my apps, data, music, accounts, and preferences (including multiple email accounts and a somewhat complicated calendar setup) to the new phone. Once that's done, I'd like to wipe all the personal data off the old phone and use it as a music player and all-around timewaster.

Complications: Ideally, the two phones will sync to the same computer, but separate login accounts.

Other specifications: Host computer is Windows 7 Pro, cell provider is AT&T. Wifi is available at home.

What steps should I take to get this done with a minimum of sim-card-swapping and low risk of locking myself out of the old phone somehow? Do I need to do the initial transfer to the new phone at an AT&T store? Do I need a separate Apple ID for each device? Is there an easy way to include the DRM-free portions of my music, book, and app libraries on both devices?
posted by expialidocious to Technology (6 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
No, you don't need a separate Apple ID for either device. It's not much different from someone having an iPad and an iPhone, really. Two different iOS devices, but they sync to the same iTunes library.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:11 AM on January 26, 2012

There is no complication, really. backup your 3GS, then restore your 4s from that backup.

Then (through itunes) reset your 3gs to factory defaults.

You set up a sync profile for each when they are connected and can sync playlists and content appropriately. I have a folder with 'iPhone content' with various smart playlists in it and one for my ipod with the same. It will work just fine for what you are doing and you'll just see a different device when each is connected - iTunes doesn't care that you have two phones rather than a phone and an ipod touch.

(I upgraded from a 3GS to a 4s a month ago, so this is first hand knowledge. You're over-thinking it).
posted by Brockles at 11:21 AM on January 26, 2012

You won't be able to swap sim cards between an iPhone 3GS and an iPhone 4S (or 4 for that matter) - the sims are different sizes.

That being said, based on the criteria you posted, you're crazy! Just kidding. It is going to be a bit difficult to manage the part of using one iTunes library between two login accounts. Is using two login accounts needed? If not what you want to do will be pretty straight forward.

If using one Windows 7 account for both devices:
  1. Back Up your iPhone 3GS to your computer with iTunes. This back up will be what you restore onto the new iPhone 4S.
  2. Go out and buy your iPhone 4S and port your phone number over to it. The process is pretty simple, and should be pretty quick. What will happen is your 3GS will show no service and your iPhone 4S will have no apps other than the pre installed ones. This is fine. Pay your money and go home. Note that at this time, your iPhone 3gs is basically an iPod. You're apps, your music, vids, books, are all fine and will work. For internets, you just need to be on Wifi.
  3. Once back home, connect your new iPhone 4S to your computer and launch iTunes. You should get a pop up asking you if you want to set it up as a new device or restore from backup. Select restore from backup and choose the iphone 3GS backup.
  4. When the iPhone 4S is done restoring, unplug and double check everything is copacetic. You can set the two phones side by side and just open apps to compare content.
  5. Once you've confirmed everything is fine, you can begin the wipe process for the iPhone 3GS. The easiest thing to do is to connect it to your computer and restore to factory settings.
  6. Boom, you're done. Time for scooby snacks.
If you insist on using a second login account then before you do any of the above, you'll have to move your iTunes directory (Found at c:\users\yourname\My Music\) to another location that can be shared by both user accounts. Again, the trouble really isn't worth it but if you must here's how:
  1. Back up your music directory. Go, do it now.
  2. Move your iTunes folder to someplace else (e.g. C:\Music).
  3. Hold down your Shift Key when launching iTunes and you'll get a window asking you to either create a new Library or choose one.
  4. Select the option to choose a Library.
  5. Browse to the new location (in the example above, browse to C:\Music\iTunes) and click "Open."
  6. iTunes opens and your stuff is there, playlists, album art, et al.
  7. Close iTunes and log out.
  8. Log in as the other user.
  9. Go back up six steps and repeat: Hold down shift key and launch iTunes, select Choose, etc.
  10. Great, you see everything like before. Why are you doing this again?
Now you can go up to the original steps above. Believe me, it's not worth the headache of moving your iTunes folder to do this. Just use one Windows account for both devices.
posted by inviolable at 11:34 AM on January 26, 2012

If you don't want to have to re-set up things like email addresses you should make sure to turn on the encrypted backup option.

In your shoes I would turn on that option, do the backup, then hie me to the Apple store. Buy your new toy, take it home and do the sync.

If nothing has changed since iPhone 4 days they'll activate it in the store and it'll now be where your calls go. You can take it home and plug it in and you'll get the choices about restoring from backup (since it'll be the first time you've synced it).

Once it seems like it's restored okay and all your crap is there you can go to the old phone and use the option under the Settings to wipe it clean. Once you've done that you'll be able to plug it into your computer and iTunes will identify it as a whole new device. DON'T choose to restore from backup and Bob's your uncle, you're golden.
posted by phearlez at 11:59 AM on January 26, 2012

I just did this, it was no big thing. I set up the new iPhone 4S by cloning from the backup of the 3GS. Then I wiped the 3GS, told it to be a new phone, and started over on it as a clean device. You can do this at home with your iTunes install.

BTW, don't upgrade your 3GS if you haven't yet. If you're lucky and have an older baseband firmware, you may be able to unlock the phone and use it as a cell phone on any GSM carrier. That gives it a lot of resale value, also lets you take it to Europe and not pay AT&T's outrageous roaming rates. Details about baseband versions here. Sadly I'd already upgraded my 3GS to baseband 05.16.05 and so can't unlock it and the bastards at AT&T refuse to unlock phones.

(Don't confuse unlocking the baseband with jailbreaking the basic phone. Pretty much all iPhones versions can be jailbroken right now, including the latest. I jailbroke my 3GS and promptly realized there wasn't really any software I wanted to install other than ultrasn0w to unlock.)
posted by Nelson at 1:16 PM on January 26, 2012

Is the 3GS going to be used by a different family member? That's the only scenario in which it makes sense to keep it around.

If so (which is why I assume you want to have it connect under a different user account), this is all perfectly doable. It's a little trickier getting your music and other files onto the other phone, it should be possible. iTunes has a feature called "home sharing" which lets you, well, share even DRM'd files with other Apple IDs in your household. I've done this between 2 Macs in my home; I'm guessing you can do it between 2 user accounts on the same Windows box.

It's wasteful to have 2 copies of every file (which is how this would work ordinarily), so you'll need to relocate the directory of iTunes files to a neutral location on your hard drive, outside your user folder. (there's a proper way to do this, I forget how. You'll need to check into it.) Then set up iTunes on (at least) the second account so that under Preferences: Advanced the "Keep iTunes music folder organized" checkbox is unchecked. Then import the iTunes folder into iTunes while running the second user account.
posted by adamrice at 2:17 PM on January 26, 2012

« Older Non-disposable menstruating with an IUD/IUS   |   Help me find the perfect kettle! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.