Moving iPhone 4 from AT&T to iPhone 5 on Verizon? Have I got the article for you!

Posted by Paul Braren on Oct 3 2012 in
  • HowTo
  • iPhone
  • Mobile
  • 10-iPhones-migrating
    • Things like Google Voice integration with iPhone 5 voicemail (on Verizon) sound interesting?
    • Wondering how well all your old stuff will migrate over to your new hardware, and which apps may have a little trouble making the move?
    • Curious about how long line number portability takes, and the exact steps you should take in what sequence to get this right?

    It's like a server or laptop deployment plan: with some thought, planning, and attention to detail, you can make the move pretty smooth, for your entire family. And be prepared to spend some quality time on the phone with both carriers, but it's worth it, especially if you're blessed to be in an area with great LTE coverage.

    The speed of the cellular data connection, coupled with a dramatically better browser speed (evident even on WiFi) make for a pretty amazing boost in your overall experience.

    My extended family had 6 iPhone 4 phones from July 2010 through September 2012, on my AT&T account. Not a single cracked screen or serious scratch.

    But since AT&T couldn’t estimate when their LTE is coming to my town, and already having experienced excellent Verizon LTE coverage in our area, we decided to make the switch.

    On October 1st, 2012, the first of the 6 iPhone 5 phones arrived. I know I’m not alone in attempting this sort of migration, I began by using this first iPhone 5 as the guinea pig. So this article is based on my experiences with this process, in the United States

    I had read some background articles first including:

    7 Things To Do When Switching iPhone Carriers

    and I’m hoping I can save some others some time and trouble by letting you know what this procedure looks like, and how long it takes, before even getting stated. The first bit of advice is to try this on the weekend, or an evening, where you have less need to use your iPhone for anything else, since the backups and restores can take hours, as can the phone line portability migration.

    Some of these steps may not apply to you, for example, I’ve had never done an iCloud backup and restore before, and I had a corporate profile that had to be removed first, preventing iCloud backups.

    Steps 14 to 24 below also apply to iPhone users who replace their phones for any reason.

    So let’s get started.

    1) Order Verizon phone
    Do not choose the Line Number Portability option, as both AT&T and Verizon warned me this could lead to days without cellular service, especially with backordered phones. Just wait on moving the number until the new phone arrives, with its temporary, Verizon-assigned phone number.

    2) Update iPhone 4 on AT&T to at least iOS 5
    If you’re on iOS 5 already, skip ahead to step 3 

    If you’re not, you’ll need iOS 5 for the iCloud integration features.

    Tap General, Software Update, Download and Install if over the air updates are you style


    Use the latest version of iTunes (currently 10.7) and your sync cable to get the job done over USB, selecting your iPhone along the left edge of iTunes, then clicking the “Check for Update” button

    Whichever method works for you, doesn’t matter.

    Don’t bother going to iOS 6.0 on your iPhone 4 device if you haven’t already, since you’re about to land on iOS 6.0 on Verizon anyway.

    3) Copy all photos to your computer, or be sure iCloud backup includes “Camera Roll”
    Here’s a example, showing my iPhone’s photo folders that I copy:


    Once you’re sure you got all the photos, delete all the photos in those DCIM folders on the iPhone

    You need to highlight all photos in all DCIM subfolders, then press the Delete key, since Windows Explorer won’t let you delete the folders themselves.


    Settings / iCloud / Storage & Backup / (last backup name, tap right arrow) / Camera Roll (on)

    All sorts of details about iCloud and backup troubleshooting at iCloud: Troubleshooting restore issues with iCloud Backup

    4) Copy Voice Memos off (they won’t migrate automatically)
    So you’ll need to use iTunes sync to save them, then perhaps something like uploading them from a PC to DropBox, so the new iPhone 5 can use it’s DropBox app to access the files.

    *5) Perform a backup with locally attached white sync cable on iTunes**
    preferably to an encrypted local drive

    *Optional, for VPN users who wish to do one last backup


    and be sure it completes without error


    you can also check this directory on your Windows System, where USERNAME is the name of your currently logged into user:
    C:\Users_USERNAME_\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup


    notice that the day and time of the folder match today’s date and time

    6) Remove any corporate profiles you may have (preventing backup to iCloud)
    (Optional, for VPN users)


    7) Settings, General, Profiles
    Configuration Profiles 

    (Email Address)
    (Profile Name)

    Tap “Remove” (then enter long unlock passcode)

    8) Remove long password lock
    Passcode Lock (type in long password) 
    Turn Passcode Off (type in long password again, one last time)

    9) iCloud Backup
    Storage & Backup 
    iCloud Backup On

    This next step takes a very long time (could be hours), so you should plug into wall power, avoid using your iPhone for calls, and are on good WiFi.

    Start iCloud Backup, then tap “OK”


    Yes, that long, took nearly 3 hours, but only for my first backup. Mine is a 32GB iPhone 4 that’s about 80% full, and 5Mb/sec upstream network connection:


    If you don’t wish to wait that long, you may wish to go with the iTunes route for backups and restores to your new iPhone 5, but that’s not something I tested, and I’m trying to wean myself from crummy iTunes anyway.

    10) Initial Configuration Quick Run #1
    Unbox the iPhone 5, go through new iPhone setup, saying no to everything, yes to the license agreement, and let it active with Verizon over cellular data connection (leave WiFi off), then test Safari to be sure you can browse the web (3G/4G/LTE, doesn’t matter, just testing whether data over Verizon is active).

    11) Place a test voice phone call, be sure it works

    12) Call Verizon, have them switch the phone number over.
    Here’s how my call went, your experience may vary!

    11:35am ET Oct 1 2012 
    Called Verizon at 800-922-0204 in the US, stating “Line Number Portability” and waited 8 minutes for operator.

    Read them my AT&T Account # (from top of pdf of AT&T bill)
    confirmed same pin (last 4 of social) on AT&T as on Verizon
    confirm same billing address

    I explained which of the old #s I planned to replace with a ported phone # from AT&T, and I was then transferred to an automated system to handle the consent
    (if your Verizon rep forgets this step, your port won’t happen until you call Verizon back and give consent)

    I was then prompted for last 4 of my social, then told by robot that it can take from 4-24 hours (wireless to wireless) for the transfer to complete, and 2-10 days for landline to wireless transfers.  I was also informed that the service from previous provider would automatically disconnect (which I later confirmed to be true).

    I was then told that if I want a status check on this port, call 888-844-7095 or visit:

    That's it, the robot tells you it's done with that number request, then asks if you have additional numbers to migrate, when I answered no, it hung up.

    Entire call took 16 minutes, ending at 11:51am

    11:51am:  I visited and saw this:


    11:51am:  AT&T phone still able to place calls, I then turned it off.

    11:55am:  I received a text message on iPhone 5 from Verizon, indicating the request had been completed, and that iPhone 5 should be turned off then back on again (later migrations showed this text message doesn’t always work)

    11:57am:  Turned AT&T iPhone 4 back on, said “No Service” at top left, and it cannot place calls, as expected.

    11:57am:  Placed call with iPhone 5 to a landline, got “Welcome to Verizon Wireless” message saying I’ll be transferred to an external operator, where I should be able to complete my call with a credit card.

    12:02pm:  Placed another test call from iPhone 5 to landline, still failed with another error message, either something about that I’m roaming and must dial area code, and another call said error 10-119-8

    12:21pm:  Turned iPhone off then on again, still can’t place test calls

    12:21pm:  I called Verizon Technical Support:
    800-922-0204,3 (Technical Support),2 (Internet), 1 (Internet Connection Inquiries), last 4 of social

    operator explained it takes as little as 90 minutes, and as long as 24 hours to complete reprovisioning of the SIM where both cellular data and voice calls with simply begin to work normally again (no further text messages will be received, and power cycling phone won’t help)

    12:25pm:  logged into and it shows the new phone number on the account, entirely replacing the Verizon assigned number the iPhone had arrived with

    02:07pm:  noticed LTE indicator came on, placed a test call to landlinie, CallerID showed ported-from-AT&T phone number, success.  Also noticed cellular data working, this migration is complete

    No need to worry about accidental data usage, as this little Verizon 13.1 fix that you should be sure is in place keeps working, even after the reset.

    02:57pm:  began factory reset and choose iCloud restore

    03:10pm:  iCloud restore complete, I then answered a bunch of straight forward prompts, it hen re-download most of my Apps, but a warning that some may require iTunes/sync cable (not sure which)

    03:32pm:  can’t login to because the username is my old ported phone #


    03:35pm:  called AT&T at 800-331-0500, option 6 (technical support), option 4 (other), waited on hold 15 minutes.  Learned it would have been much easier for me to reconfigure my account access by just visiting the registration site:

    where I then setup a new login, then associated it with my phone numbers that was still left my AT&T

    04:00pm:  the set up complete on the iPhone 5, time to go

    13) Place another test voice phone call
    Ensure CallerID shows the ported cellular phone# properly

    14) Start the guided setup over, to restore from backup
    Settings, General, Reset, Erase All Content and Settings

    15) When prompted, connect to WiFi
    consider connecting to the 5GHz side of your WiFi network if you have it (802.11n) (the iPhone 4 had 802.11n but couldn’t see 5GHz side), or just go with the same WiFi you had.

    Login with iCloud ID to restore from iCloud backup.

    Leave the iPhone 5 plugged in, as this could take a while (depends upon how many apps you have, mine was about 20 minutes).

    16) Check all email accounts passwords
    The password for your various email accounts is forgotten, so the iPhone 5 will ask as soon as you first use it.  I found it best to just go into
    General / Mail, Contacts, Calendars / Accounts, and edit each accounts send and receive passwords

    17) You may have some apps that were “married” to your old device
    Those will need to be configured again. For example, Apple’s Find My Phone feature, fixed by going into your list of devices here:

    It can be tough to nuke the outgoing AT&T iPhone 4, since you don’t know which is which, given they both have the same name. To work around this, simply turn off the iPhone 4 you’re leaving, and refresh your browser, then delete the iPhone that could not be located recently:


    18) Many Apps forget who you are
    For good security reasons, explained here:

    Some Apps use device identifiers, including:

    Google Voice

    Place a test call with Google Voice, to get it married to Verizon (otherwise inbound calls are broken, found this out the hard way)

    In my case, I had forgotten to try the app, and was on the phone with Verizon support anyway. Told the rep that I wanted to turn off voicemail entirely (as I could on AT&T), she said I couldn't, but the L2 behind her chimed in, asking my Google Voice number, and they immediately integrated with my Verizon iPhone 5. In other words, my Google Voice message then replaced my voicemail on my iPhone 5, even when the phone is off. Nobody gets a cellular-only voicemail (which is confusing to Google Voice callers), or forever ring (the way I did it on AT&T, where if I was away from service, folks calling my cell directly got forever ringing). This is good!

    (shows up in offline mode, run again to return to online mode by login, and download any playlists again)

    Navigon USA*

    *You may want to email yourself your Favorites from Navigon on your old phone, following this procedure:

    You’ll need to delete the Navigon App from you new iPhone 5, and take care to go to App Store and order the same exact version of Navigon from your new phone, to get around this error:
    (found this out the hard way)

    19) Bluetooth
    If you have an Apple Keyboard or Car Kit or other paired Bluetooth devices, those will need to be re-paired.

    20) Settings / Do Not Disturb
    Helpful new feature in iOS you may wish to set up

    *21) Install Corporate VPN Profile again**
    Optional, if desired


    Set up a simple password lockout
    Settings / General / Passcode Lock

    22) Set Restriction to prevent easy disabling of Location Services
    Settings / General / Restrictions / Enable Restrictions /  Location Services

    This way, Find My Phone has a better chance of working if your iPhone is swiped from your hands while in use (unlocked).

    23) Reconfigure Apple’s Find My Friends App, very handy for busy families

    24) Pull the plug on AT&T
    If your feel you’ve completed the migration, and you’re convinced everything is working on Verizon, call AT&T to be sure you’ve discontinued your service.

    If you chose LNP (line number portability) to move your phone number over, the disconnect from AT&T is automatic, but any other phones left on that account are still there, and any corporate discounts that the primary account holder (in my case, me) still apply.



    Many of the keys steps above were found here:


    Thank you Chris De Jabet!

    This article is merely an FYI, and not intended to be some sort of support. Please see also these Apple resources if you run into issue:

    iCloud: Backup and restore overview

    Recovering iCloud or MobileMe data from iTunes backups for an iOS device

    iCloud: Troubleshooting restore issues with iCloud Backup