Upgrading From iPhone 4S to 5s

First of all, is it just me that thinks the small “s” at the end of 5s just makes it look like more than one iPhone 5? Anyway. This is a summary of what it took to upgrade from my old iPhone 4S to the new iPhone 5s.

Finding an iPhone 5s

On release day I was on a business trip in Oklahoma and I knew there was no way I would be camping out in front of the Apple Store at the local mall to get a phone. I decided to hop online at 2AM local time to try to buy one with the intent of picking it up at the store near my house. Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option. They did offer free shipping to my house, which would be fine, but the date listed was one when I would be on yet another business trip, so I passed and thought I’d try my luck at swinging by the store in Oklahoma.

There was a line of around 100 people waiting in the concourse of the mall. An Apple employee asked which model I was looking for, and promptly told me they were sold out. I checked the AT&T store in the same mall and they had some left, but not in the color I wanted. Not one to spend hundreds of dollars on something that isn’t exactly what I want, i declined.

The first time I was able to go to the Apple Store at the Lehigh Valley Mall was Sunday, September 22. I got there right at 11 AM when they opened and the employee at the store told me that they were sold out, but getting shipments in all the time. He also told me that starting at midnight I would have the option to buy online and then pick up in the store, if the store had any in stock. This sounded like a great idea. Just for the heck of it I did try the two local AT&T stores as well as Best Buy. All were sold out.

Monday morning I checked the Apple website by selecting the finish, model and carrier I wanted and then on the right side of the web page, under “Available for pickup” heading there was a “Check availability” link. Of course, none of the stores anywhere near me had any in stock. Under “Available to ship” it just said “October” and, well, I didn’t really want to have some nebulous date like that tied to a purchase of hundreds of dollars.

Around 2:30 PM, just for the heck of it, I checked again, and while the Lehigh Valley Mall’s Apple Store didn’t have any in stock, they did have them at the Apple Store at the King of Prussia Mall. Yeah, King of Prussia is a little over an hour away, but I spent more time than that just going from store to store around here trying to locate a phone. I placed my order and at the end of the work day I backed up my 4S before driving down to King of Prussia.

Picking Up My New Phone

Driving to King of Prussia shouldn’t be that bad, it’s only 50 miles or so, but oh, right, all of Philadelphia uses the same 4 miles of road near that mall. Anyway, I got to the store and checked in. The employee who did so seemed a bit miffed by the fact that I bought my phone online for store pickup. As I was waiting for an employee to bring me my phone a guy came in and asked if there were any 5s phones in stock (I have no idea how to properly pluralize 5s. 5ss?). The employee who checked me in told him that they didn’t have any, but he could check back tomorrow.

I told the guy who was seeking a phone that I bought mine online with the store pickup option and the Apple employee shot me the look of death. Apparently this was some secret people weren’t supposed to know about or something. The clearly miffed employee said “they’re probably going to stop doing that.” Whatever I got mine and if that guy who wants a phone is able to buy one, good for him too. (Note: As of Tuesday afternoon, under “Available for pickup:” it says “Not Eligible. In store purchase only”)

Simon, the extremely helpful employee (not the surly one with the iPad who checked me in) brought me my phone and asked if I was interested in a case for it. My 4S had gone naked for two years without incident, but I figured it was worth a shot, since the new Apple-branded cases were supposed to be very thin. I slipped my phone into the case, and it was OK, bit they weren’t offering it in a color I would want. You’d think if they were making a silver phone they’d offer a gray case, or at least a few more non-pastel options. Anyway, that case was a pain in the butt to remove from my phone. I tried pushing the phone through the camera hole, then prying, and contorting the case, to no avail. Simon looked pretty concerned and offered to try, and after a minute or two of prying, removed the well made, but powder blue, case from my phone.

Setting Things Up

Now that we’d determined that my phone wouldn’t be wearing a case I mentioned to Simon that I had enabled two-factor authentication for my iTunes account and I wasn’t sure how that would work with activating a new phone, since, to my understanding, the whole point of the two-factor authentication is that if you add a new device to your account, you’re supposed to get a text message with a secondary code to enter in to authorize the device. Since this was my only iOS device, how would I get the text message? He said he wasn’t sure, but he didn’t know of anyone else who had a problem, so we proceeded.

I’m not sure if it’s good or bad, but at no point did it ever hint that there was two-factor authentication required to set up my new phone. A friend speculated that since they needed a bunch of information from my driver’s license and some other things with my cell phone carrier that may have been why, but what the heck?

When it came time to choose whether to set up as a new phone, restore from iCloud or restore from iTunes, I wanted to restore from iTunes, since, if you backup to your computer, and encrypt the backup, it is supposed to store everything, including passwords, etc. Because of this, I brought my MacBook with me to the store. I was concerned however with how restoring from a backup would affect the new apps that the 5s comes with that wouldn’t be in the backup. (iPhoto, iMovie, Keynote, Pages, and Numbers are all normally paid apps.) Simon told me that it wouldn’t be an issue, that upon buying the new phone, my AppleID account was updated so when I went to the App Store I would be able to download those apps for free. Sweet!

I chose “Restore from iTunes” and plugged my new phone into my laptop. The time remaining counter started at ten minutes. Then counted. Up. At one point it was saying over an hour, and I didn’t want to spend the next hour in the Apple Store waiting for this thing to think. Simon told me just to unplug the phone and it would restart and I could just set it up as a new iPhone until I got home. We did that and with my new phone in hand, I headed home.

When I got home, I followed Simon’s instructions and tapped Settings > General > Reset > Erase all Content and Settings. This effectively wiped my phone clean and then allowed me to do the “Restore from iTunes” that I was trying to do in the store. It took about forty minutes for that to complete. In fairness, my MacBook is from 2007 and I had a 64 GB iPhone that I was replacing, so theoretically there was a lot in that backup. Upon completion of the backup the phone restarted and I was able to finish the setup of the device. Great.

Except no.

My contacts were there, my pictures were there, but there were no apps and no music. I thought for a minute and decided to try a sync with iTunes. About an hour later the sync finished and sure as anything, everything was there. It was just like I left my old phone. I didn’t need to log in to any apps, all of my games were in the same place where I left off. Perfect!

Selling My Old 4S

At this point I needed to decide what to do with my old phone. I could use it as an iPod to play games on, but why would I want to do that when I already have a phone to do that on? I Googled around for the best places to sell your iPhone and Gazelle and GameStop seemed to be the best options. Apple has a way to trade in your phone for store credit, but you have to mail it in, and then you can only use it at the Apple Store. *IF* you can find an Apple Store that has iPhones in stock, you can trade in your existing phone at the store for credit toward the new phone, but that only helps if you can find a store with them in stock. Since I already bought my phone online, there wasn’t a way for me to turn in my phone at the store and credit my account.

I decided to go with GameStop since they were offering the same amount as Gazelle, there would be no wait, and I would get cash. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, because when some places say “cash” they really mean they’ll mail you a check. I went to the local GameStop with my freshly wiped 4S (same steps as wiping the 5s to start over. Note: if you are using iOS 7, it will prompt you for your iTunes password. This is to deactivate “Find my iPhone” so the next person can use your phone and it won’t be locked to your account, effectively bricking the phone.) and the employee told me he couldn’t accept my phone because he needed to get into the settings screen, and the store didn’t have wifi which would be necessary to get through the initial setup screens. I walked over to Home Depot, which has free wifi, and went through the setup screens. When I did so I didn’t enter in my AppleID account, and the phone warned me that I wouldn’t be able to download apps, but that was OK.

I walked back to GameStop and the employee looked at my phone, had me sign a few forms stating that the phone wasn’t stolen, removed the SIM card, asked for my name and address (Though he never asked for ID, so I dunno.) and then handed me $200.54. In cash.

Seriously. Sell your old phone.

Lightning Cables

Since the new iPhones all use lightning connectors, that meant all of the 30-pin cables I had were useless to me. I decided to give those to a friend instead of letting them sit in a drawer and while Apple does sell their own cables, my experience with the cable that came with my 4S showed me that whatever sheath material they use, isn’t very durable. The 5s cable was made of the same stuff, so I wasn’t looking to spend big bucks on a cable that would fall apart at the slightest nick.

Having good experiences in the past with Monoprice I went to their website and sure enough, I found cables for less than half of what Apple was charging. The reviews were good, and if they’re of the same quality I’ve had with other cables from Monoprice, I’ll be very satisfied.


  • Buy online with in-store pickup if you can. There’s no sense in driving all over the place.
  • Make a full, encrypted backup of your old phone into iTunes before going to the store.
  • Choose “Restore from iTunes” when setting up your new phone
  • Sync with iTunes to get all of your apps and music on your new phone
  • Sell your old phone at either Gazelle or GameStop
  • Buy your lightning cables from Monoprice

Disclaimer: I wasn’t compensated to endorse any of these products or services.