January 26, 2021

Data Transfer Jitters

4 min read
It took me a week to get up the nerve to set up my new...

It took me a week to get up the nerve to set up my new iPhone. It’s kind of like moving. It’s a lot of work schlepping stuff — boxes or data — and a lot can go wrong. You finish, and you think you never want to do it again. I have a 5G phone now, and I’m hopeful the camera in the iPhone 12 Pro Max makes me happy for several years to come. My wallet hopes so, too.

After all the reports of Apple cutting back on accessories this round, I was surprised to a see a connector cable in the box. I can always use another lightning cable, I chirped, when I picked it up. But it’s a USB-C-to-lightning connector. I appreciate the cutting-edge foresight, Apple, even though my PCs are still locked in the USB Type-B age. It’ll definitely come in handy for my new battery pack.

I did the porting myself like a lot of people who bought a phone since COVID-19 roared into our lives. I used to go to a Verizon store to buy a new phone because I had so much to lose — photos, contacts, notes, music — if something went wrong in the handoff from one iPhone to another. I had to get over that this year and hold my own hand through the process.

Kudos to Apple and Verizon for making that incredibly smooth. I was so nervous about my digital stuff getting from here to there that I wasn’t even insulted by the dummied-down instructions that seemed aimed at a 10-year-old, an English-as-a-second-language student and an early-onset dementia candidate. Verizon gave the choice to watch a video or follow written steps. I’m a word person so I took that route.

The “Save your stuff” section had 11 steps (including “You’re all done”) with elementary instructions like “tap the settings app,” tap Wi-Fi, choose an available network, and go back to settings. When it instructed to “Tap your Apple profile,” it added the helpful, “It’s located at the top of the settings menu.” Another tech journalist might have been insulted, but I lingered at each step like my life depended on it. My digital life did. So I followed instructions, backing up photos, contacts, mail and the apps I wanted. Some I let go.

I had several “ooh” and “ahh” moments setting up the new phone. Verizon has an app to transfer content, but Apple made it easier using Bluetooth in the Quick Start feature. I placed the old phone over the new one to begin activation of the new device. The phone number popped up on the new phone like a magic trick. I plugged in the last four digits of my Social for verification, then called Verizon from my landline to complete activation.

That’s where I encountered my first hitch. The computerized Verizon agent told me to enter my account PIN. Which account, I wondered? I put in my phone’s PIN…. wrong number. I tried my Apple password. Nope. I hung up in a slight panic, scratching my head about which account number it wanted. I walked around, thought about it, called back, guessed another familiar code and tapped it in. Bing bing bing! Given that the entire process was automated, how would I have progressed if I hadn’t guessed the right code? It would have likely added another hour to the process to get live help.

I tapped the restore from iCloud option, and my content transferred from the iCloud to the new phone. My apps were positioned where I left them on the old phone, and Spotify was at the song I last played on my autumn playlist. All my hard-earned Word Blitz trophies were intact.

A thousand times ‘yes’

Then my Watch pinged me and asked if I wanted to pair. Yes! Yes I did! I was wowed again. I did a final checklist before letting my old phone go, including making sure Find my iPhone was turned off, a dealbreaker on trade-in if you forget that step. Then I installed the iOS 14.2.1 update, which took close to 10 minutes, without a comforting progress bar. I was starting to think something was wrong when the phone finally restarted and the familiar apple appeared.

Before hitting reset, I checked to make sure my 19.56 GB of photos were on the new phone.

They weren’t. That started a more impressive panic. The only three photos on the iPhone 12 were three screen shots I had taken for this column. A look at my profile showed that the photo download paused and would resume when the phone cooled down(!). That lengthy software update evidently taxed me and my phone equally. I left the phone to chill and did some dishes. When I came back, the photos were there. I hit reset, thanked my faithful iPhone 11 for its service and popped it in the mailer for the trade-in.

Straight A’s to Apple and Verizon for a very well executed DIY phone upgrade process with only very minor hiccups. In the age of COVID, it’s hard to imagine standing next to a store employee to do it, and I may feel that way long after a vaccine. COVID has changed retail forever, say the pundits; they may be right.

Not all sales can be handled well online, though. I bought a case on Amazon but it feels flimsy, and the elastic grip I bought doesn’t stick to the silicone case. Now I have to start over, and the only way I’ll have a good feel for a case is to pick through a selection in a store. Sometimes you just need the hands-on experience.

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