How to Transfer an App From iPhone to iPhone

You just got a new iPhone. Great stuff and hope you enjoy it! But, what becomes of all your existing apps and data left behind? Are they, along with the phone, relegated to a dark and impenetrable void of sadness and confusion (also known as a bedroom cupboard), or do they go with you to the iPhone 13 Pro Max promised land? Stick around and we’ll unpack the quickest ways to transfer your iPhones apps (data included) over to your new iPhone.

How to transfer apps to a new iPhone using iCloud

iCloud is Apple's own cloud storage service for iOS/macOS and…(drumroll), a great way to get your apps over from one phone to the other. The process works the same as any other backup, where you’ll store your existing phone’s data (in this case apps) on the cloud, only to restore and load it up on the other side.

Here’s how you’ll share your apps from one iPhone to another using iCloud.  

  1. Connect the old iPhone to your Wi-Fi. Make sure the network connection is stable AND make sure you have enough storage space left on iCloud. 
  2. With your Wi-Fi running, head into “Settings” on your home screen and navigate down to your account name. From there, select “iCloud” where you’ll see an option for “iCloud Backup.” 
  3. Tap on “iCloud Backup” and the slider to the right will turn green. Below that, you’ll see an option to “Back Up Now.” Select this and the backup process will start. And once the backup is complete, you’ll have a mirror copy of all your iPhones data in the cloud.  
  4. Now you can head over to your new iPhone and either insert a new or existing SIM card into the device to get started. Turn on your new iPhone, to transfer your apps. 
  5. Turn on your Wi-Fi network and navigate to the “Apps and Data” screen. From there, tap the option to “Restore from iCloud Backup.” Enter your Apple ID to sign in and choose the backup you created. Wait for iCloud to restore your files and applications and…you’re done! 

How to transfer apps to a new iPhone using the App Store

iCloud will send everything over to your new iPhone which is all well and good. But, if you’re looking to be selective and transfer specific apps and files from point A to point B, you can use the App Store. Apple devices are great at keeping records with every app you’ve ever downloaded (past or present) being backed up on the phone for when you need to access old data or move existing applications over to a new device. 

Here’s how you can transfer your apps from old to new iPhones using the App Store.

  1. Jump into your new iPhone and navigate over to the App Store. 
  2. Search for the app you’d like to install and select the “Get” button next to the app name. 
  3. A cloud icon will let you know you’ve already downloaded this app in the past. Tap the cloud to install the app and wait for it to download.

Keep in mind, there's a difference between uninstalling and deleting an app. Uninstalling an app on your phone will save specific details in the app's data, meaning you can pick up where you left off when moving over to your new iPhone, with the same details, avatars etc. Deleting an app permanently will erase your progress, meaning when you reinstall the app onto your new iPhone (using the above steps), you’ll more than likely need to start from scratch, especially true when it comes to things like mobile games. 

How to Share Apps from iPhone to iPhone by AirDrop

Method number three for moving apps from old to new iPhones is by AirDropping them from one device to the other. AirDrop lets you send files or applications from iOS to iOS (or other Apple products) through close-range wireless. One of the simplest ways to transfer your apps over to your new device, AirDrop works the same as sending Android apps using Bluetooth. 

Here’s what you’ll need to do to transfer your iPhone Apps using AirDrop. 

  1. Navigate to “Setting” on your old iPhone, then to “General” and select “AirDrop” from the dropdown list. Save your new device as a contact and choose the “Contacts Only” option when navigating through AirDrop. Don’t select the “Everyone” option, unless you'd like to share your app with, well…everyone? 
  2. Hold down and select the app(s) you’d like to send over to your new device. 
  3. Hit the “Share” button and choose the destination device (your new iPhone).
  4. Then go over to your new iPhone where you’ll see an option to “Accept” or “Decline” the incoming AirDrop. Accept the request on your new device. 

And you're done! There's no limit on how many times you can AirDrop. All you’ll need is a stable Wi-Fi connection to get the process started. 


How to Move Apps from iPhone to iPhone by iTunes

Last but not least, method number four for moving existing iPhone Apps to a new device is via iTunes. Similar to iCloud, the process entails you backing up your apps to the iTunes cloud and reinstalling them on the other side. 

For this to work, you’re going to need to have iTunes installed on your Mac and you’re going to want to make sure that the factory content and settings on your new iPhone iOs device have been erased. You can do this by navigating to “Settings”, then to “General” and on the scroll down bar, tap “Transfer or Reset iPhone”. From there,  tap “Erase All Content and Settings.” 

Here's how you’ll move existing apps to your new iPhone using iTunes.

  1. Connect your old phone to your computer with a USB cable. Then, open iTunes, find your device and select it.
  2. Select the “Summary” option next to the device. You should then see an option to “Sync” or “Back Up Now.” Click on either and, once done, you can disconnect your phone from your computer.
  3. Take your new iPhone, insert your SIM card and turn on the device. Then, follow the onscreen prompts until you get to the “Apps and Data” option. Select “Restore from iTunes Backup” and hit “Next.” 


Why Didn’t my Apps Transfer to the New iPhone 12 or 13?

Okay, almost done, but one last thing. What if you’re not seeing your apps on your new devices after backing them up and sending them over using iCloud, or iTunes. It could be something as straightforward as an interrupted Wi-Fi connection.

If that’s not the case, there are some other troubleshooting tricks you can try.

  • One thing to keep in mind is an app's terms of service. A majority of the time, your iCloud backup will download your existing apps to a new device. However, previous apps may no longer be available to you if their monthly cost has gone up, or the software has become outdated, or the app is no longer available on the App Store. 
  • Make sure you’re using your correct Apple ID password. If you purchased content using different Apple IDs, take a moment to make sure you’re entering the right password, otherwise, the App will not be recognized by the new device. 
  • When it comes to iCloud, your device may be installing/restoring your previous phone's applications in the background. To check if backups are running behind the scenes, you’ll need to navigate over to “iCloud” and then to “iCloud Backup.” You’ll then see a message as to whether your device is still being restored, and if that’s the case, you’ll need to stand by and wait for the process to complete.