What You Need to Know About Upgrading to an iPhone Xs or Xr

Topic: iPhoneI just got a new iPhone Xs Max. I had an iPhone 6s which I liked a lot, but it’s been a few years and with more travel I thought I’d enjoy having a better device with me. There are a few things that bit me in the duff.

  1. Some two-factor authentication (2FA) apps like Duo or Google Authenticator store their data in the iPhone Secure Enclave, which isn’t backed up to iCloud or via iTunes. That means that when you switch devices (or if you lose your device) you could lose access to your accounts, or it’ll be a serious pain to regain access (which is the point of 2FA). So don’t trade in your old phone until you’ve re-registered everything!

    @funnelfiasco suggested to me that I switch to Authy, which allows backups and multi-device access. @millardjk suggested keeping screenshots of the registration QR codes, which could be a security issue but would help immensely for reregistering between apps. @vcixnv suggested that SAASPASS was a solution for him, instead of Authy. Thanks Ben, Jim, and Britton!

    (I went with Authy by the way, and I used the Google Authenticator features rather than Authy-specific stuff in what is probably a futile attempt at avoiding lock-in).

  2. No button is kind of a pain in the duff. Get the home screen by swiping up from the bottom bar (the “home bar”).

  3. Switch apps by swiping left and right on the home bar, or by swiping up from the bar to the middle of the right side of the screen. Yes, that’s convoluted. I miss the button.

  4. Summon the control center by swiping down and towards the center from the top right (same as with iPads now). You can customize those controls in Settings -> Control Center -> Customize Controls. That might be new in iOS 12, or not, but I hadn’t noticed it.

  5. There was a feature called “Reachability” on the old phones, which will bring the top of the screen down. On my new phone it was off. You can enable it by going into Settings -> General -> Accessibility and flipping it on. Once it’s on you can swipe from just above the home bar down to move the screen down. It’s still a bit kludgy, but hey.

  6. So I tried to shut the phone off, and discovered they moved it from the side button. Much cursing ensued. You now have to hold the side button and one of the volume buttons together for two seconds. It’s also the SOS function so when you do that you’ll have to enter the passcode again. I’m fine with that, I don’t want someone to point it at my face and gain access to my phone.

  7. If you want to take a screenshot it’s the side button and the volume up. If you tap on the screenshot afterwards you can mark it up or delete it, which is nice.

  8. Make sure that cellular data is on. Mine got shut off in the conversion. If your provider allows it make sure you’re using LTE for both voice and data. This is important on CDMA networks because the older modes didn’t allow for simultaneous voice and data. That’s a bummer if you’re using your phone as a hotspot. Settings -> Cellular -> Cellular Data Options. While you’re in there you might check out the WiFi calling options, too.

  9. Face ID is interesting. I think I like it so far, but it took a little to get used to it. My wife and I set our phones up so we can each unlock them without knowing each other’s passcodes (this is 95% being able to see a recipe on the other person’s phone while we’re cooking, and 5% me updating her phone). Instead of registering a fingerprint, Face ID allows for an “alternate appearance” which we just use for the other person. Settings -> Face ID & Passcode -> Add Alternate Appearance.

  10. With Face ID the auto-lock gets set to 30 seconds. Yuck. While I was in Settings -> Display & Brightness I also disabled Raise to Wake. If you just tap the screen it’ll wake up. I also set Settings -> Notifications -> Show Previews to “When Unlocked.” I don’t like others being able to see my incoming communications.

Overall, do I like it? Sure. The Xs Max is large and expensive and it’s taking me some time to adjust to the size (I’m a week into it), but I think I’ll like it overall going forward. I just wish some of this was on the “Welcome to iPhone” setup spiel, and not just Siri and Apple Pay.

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