Don’t restore from backup (for a bit of a detox)

I’m two weeks into owning my iPhone 11 Pro and I have to say two things have jumped out since I’ve started using it.

The first is that I didn’t think I’d use the wide angle lens much, but in the past couple weeks, being able to walk around with a phone that shoots similar to 12mm, 28mm, and 50mm lenses has been incredibly handy. The quality of photos that come out of it are impressive, but it’s more the versatility of having almost a lens for every kind of photo I might want to take (if it had a lens somewhere in the 100mm-200m range my needs would be complete). Anyway: the camera lives up to the hype.

Second, and more importantly, this was the first iPhone since the first one in 2007 that I started (mostly) fresh on. I’ve done a download backup/restore from backup on every phone until a couple iOS versions ago they made it even easier where you just bring your old phone near your new phone to copy from cloud backups.

Over the last 12 years, I’ve amassed about 500 apps and though I’ve spent the last couple years trying to turn off notifications for all but the vital ones, having 12 years of history and cruft and settings across 500+ screens meant no matter how much I tried to quiet my phone, it would alert me constantly throughout the day.

So for this phone, I made the move to start fresh, but logging into and linking with my existing iCloud account. This gave me zero apps on the device, but I did get all my photos and contacts and Notes and Shortcuts back.

Getting to re-install just the apps you can remember you need was liberating. I stopped at about 20 or 30. And most importantly, as I added each new app I scrutinized its settings, to make sure I minimized notifications and exposure of my data.

As a result, I have a new fast phone with three great cameras that only puts up alerts on 2 or 3 apps I really need for “red phone” communication. Other than that, nothing else can bother me. I frequently go hours between notifications and it’s been remarkably relaxing to gain some control back. I’ve been able to recalibrate what having a phone in my pocket means, and it’s been a huge positive change.

Whenever I upgrade to a new phone in the future, I’m going to skip dragging all my apps and their history and settings over from my previous devices and go this route from here on out.