How long does it take to transfer photos from old iPhone to new iPhone?

Quick answer

The time it takes to transfer photos from an old iPhone to a new iPhone can vary depending on several factors, such as:

  • The number of photos being transferred
  • The size of the photo files
  • The method used to transfer the photos
  • The speed of the WiFi or cellular data connection

On average, transferring a few hundred photos via a direct wired connection takes 5-10 minutes. Transferring a few thousand photos wirelessly could take 1-3 hours. The actual time will depend on your specific situation.

Detailed answer

When it’s time to upgrade to a new iPhone, one of the biggest challenges is getting all your photos and videos from your old device to the new one. With people taking more photos and videos than ever before, transfer times can really add up.

So how long does it actually take to transfer all those memories to your shiny new iPhone? The answer depends on a few key factors:

Number of photos/videos being transferred

This is probably the most significant factor determining iPhone photo transfer times. The more media you have saved on your old iPhone, the longer it will take to get it onto the new device.

As a rough estimate:

  • 100 photos = 1-2 minutes
  • 500 photos = 5-10 minutes
  • 1,000 photos = 10-20 minutes
  • 5,000 photos = 1-2 hours
  • 10,000+ photos = 2+ hours

Of course, these are just ballpark figures. The actual duration will also depend on the resolution and size of your photos and videos. More high-res photos will take longer to transfer than smaller, lower quality images.

Transfer method

There are a few different ways to transfer photos from an old iPhone to a new one:

  • Wired direct transfer: Connect both iPhones with the included cable. This is the fastest option.
  • Wireless transfer: Transfer between iPhones wirelessly via Bluetooth or WiFi. Speed depends on connection strength.
  • iCloud transfer: Upload your photos to iCloud from old iPhone, then download to new iPhone. Limited by internet connection speeds.
  • Computer transfer: Import photos to computer, then sync them to new iPhone. Depends on computer hardware/connection speeds.

Wired transfers will always be fastest, allowing you to move hundreds or even thousands of high-res photos in just 5-10 minutes.

Wireless transfers may start out fast, but will slow down as more data is moved between devices. Expect wireless transfer times of photos libraries to increase into the hours.

The slowest transfer methods involve using the cloud or a computer intermediary. This adds multiple steps and relies heavily on internet speeds. Thousands of photos could take a couple hours or more going this route.

Internet connection speed

If you’re transferring photos wirelessly or via the cloud, internet speeds become a factor. In general:

  • Cellular data transfers slower than WiFi.
  • Fast/robust WiFi speeds up transfers.
  • Poor/spotty WiFi slows down transfers.

Here are some approximate transfer speeds for different connections:

  • Cellular data: 5 Mbps
  • Average WiFi: 30 Mbps
  • Fast WiFi: 100+ Mbps

To ensure the fastest wireless iPhone photo transfer, connect both devices to the same strong WiFi network. Avoid using cellular data if possible.

Photo and video resolution

Higher resolution photos and videos take up more storage space and require longer transfer times.

Apple iPhones allow you to shoot photos at several resolutions:

  • 8MP (3264 x 2448 pixels)
  • 12MP (4032 x 3024 pixels)
  • 18MP (4032 x 3024 pixels) – iPhone 11 Pro/Pro Max

The 12MP and 18MP photos will have much larger file sizes than 8MP shots. Videos can be shot in HD, 4K and even Dolby Vision HDR on newer iPhones – which will drastically increase file sizes.

The more high-res photos and videos you have, the longer it will take to transfer them to your new iPhone. Lower resolution photos will copy faster.

Tips for faster iPhone photo transfer

Based on the factors above, here are some tips to speed up transferring photos from your old iPhone to a new model:

  • Use a wired connection between iPhones whenever possible.
  • Connect both devices to the same high-speed WiFi network for wireless transfers.
  • Avoid transferring over cellular data connections.
  • Consider compressing photos before transferring if time is critical.
  • Transfer smaller batches of photos at a time instead of your entire library.
  • Keep your devices near each other and avoid multitasking during transfers.
  • Disable power-saving mode on iPhones during lengthy transfers.
  • Close any unnecessary apps running in the background on both devices.

Following these tips will help ensure the quickest transfer times when moving your photos and videos to your shiny new iPhone.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I transfer photos while my old iPhone is still active?

It’s generally better to transfer your photos before you activate your new iPhone. Leaving your old iPhone activated during the transfer process allows you to dedicate all its resources to copying photos faster.

Once the new iPhone is activated, your old iPhone will be cut off from iCloud services and some transfer methods will no longer work correctly.

Does erasing my old iPhone speed up transfers?

Erasing and resetting your old iPhone to factory settings can allow it to dedicate more memory and processing power to transferring photos faster. However, this also means you can’t use your old iPhone as normal during or after the transfer.

Will transferring photos also move my apps and settings?

When transferring photos between iPhones, only images and videos will be copied over. Your apps, contacts, settings and other data will not be affected. Some transfer methods allow you to move additional files and data, but photos can be copied independently.

Can I choose which photos get transferred?

Most transfer methods will move your entire iPhone photo library by default. However, you can selectively choose which albums or even individual photos to transfer if you don’t want your entire collection to make the move. iTunes and iCloud allow selective transferring.

What gets transferred along with my photos?

In addition to the image and video files themselves, related metadata like timestamps, location tags, album organization and favorites will also carry over when transferring your photo library.

Will my photos transfer at original quality?

Yes, iPhone photo transferring will preserve all the original data, resolution and file size when moving your pictures and videos to the new device. There will be no compression or downgrading that could reduce visual quality.


Transferring all your treasured photos and videos doesn’t have to be a lengthy pain when upgrading to a new iPhone.

With a direct wired connection, a few hundred photos may only take 5-10 minutes to transfer. Even thousands of photos will usually complete in an hour or two.

To ensure the fastest transfer times:

  • Use a direct wired connection between devices when possible
  • Connect both iPhones to a fast, stable WiFi network for wireless transferring
  • Avoid slower cellular data connections
  • Consider compressing photos before transfer if speed is critical

Following these best practices will keep your iPhone photo transfer moving as quickly as possible, so you can get back to enjoying your new device right away.

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