How to Restore an iPhone to a New Phone

By Diana V. Faustmann

Using either iTunes or your device, you can restore your iPhone to a "like new" state. The process reinstates your device's original factory settings and erases all your content. This comes in handy when you want to give or sell your iPhone to someone, and when you want to troubleshoot. But before proceeding, make sure to preserve your latest iPhone backup where it cannot be overwritten (see Resources), especially if you intend to invoke your old settings, data, purchases and other content at any point in the future.

Things You'll Need

  • iPhone
  • iPhone cable
  • Computer with Internet connection

Step 1

Launch iTunes on your computer. Connect your iPhone to your computer using the cable that it came with. Preferably, plug your cable into a USB port that is directly on your computer; USB ports on a keyboard or other external USB hub have less power and can hamper the process.

Step 2

Select your iPhone's name when it appears under "Devices" on the iTunes sidebar on the left. This will display a series of tabs to the right containing items that are currently stored, settings and other information on your iPhone.

Step 3

Select the "Restore" button in the "Summary" tab. A window will pop up asking whether you want to back up your device before restoring. Click the "Back Up" button.

Step 4

Wait for the backup process to complete. Another window will then pop up confirming whether you want to restore your device to its original factory settings and warning that all your media and data will be erased. Select "Restore."

Step 5

Wait once again for the restore process to complete while keeping your iPhone connected to your computer. Your device will restart itself and cycle from an image of the Apple logo to a "Connect to iTunes" screen showing iTunes on the top, your iPhone cable on the bottom and an arrow in between.

Step 6

Disconnect your iPhone when it displays the "Connect to iTunes" screen if you intend to give or sell your device to someone else in its original factory condition. You may disregard the steps that follow.

Step 7

Keep your iPhone connected to your computer past the "Connect to iTunes" screen if you want to reconfigure your device from scratch. A "Set Up Your iPhone" screen will ask whether you want to set up your device as new or restore it from a previous backup. Select "Set up as a new iPhone." Note that this process will erase all your previous iTunes backups.

Step 8

Wait for your iPhone to display an "iPhone is activated' message. Your iPhone will be like new and completely devoid of content. You now can set a new device name, and configure new sync settings on iTunes and new iPhone settings on your device.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you don't have access to iTunes, you can also restore your device to its original factory condition on your iPhone itself. From the Home screen, select "Settings," then "General," then "Reset." Then tap "Erase All Content and Settings." This process takes a few minutes to complete on an iPhone 3GS or later, but may take several hours on earlier models, depending on the amount of stored data and media.
  • If you encounter problems or errors while restoring your iPhone, consult Apple's troubleshooting guide. (See Resources.)