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Tim Brookes is a technology writer with more than a decade of experience. He’s invested in the Apple ecosystem, with experience covering Macs, iPhones, and iPads for publications like Zapier and MakeUseOf. Read more…
So you just got a brand new iPhone—congratulations! Whether it’s from a friend or you gifted yourself, you might wonder where to start. Let’s run through a list of fun and useful things you should do with your new Apple gadget.
You probably want to get started taking pictures with your new camera and downloading games, but many of your device’s best features may be hidden behind a software update. Even if they’re not, these updates add stability and security fixes so it’s a good idea to get them installed as soon as possible.
Download and Install iOS update
Connect to your Wi-Fi and head to Settings > General > Software Update to update your device to the latest version of iOS. It may take a little while to download, so you can do more fun things while it completes in the background.
Every new iPhone comes with a free three-month trial of Apple TV which you can activate by opening the TV app that comes preinstalled on your iPhone. If you deleted the app in your haste, you can download it from the App Store again.
Some Apple TV+ programming
You can log in to your account using your Apple ID credentials from any other device (including smart TVs and laptops) to enjoy content there. But by far one of the most impressive features of the latest iPhones are the HDR displays which can hit peak brightness levels of 1200 nits on the iPhone 13 and 13 Pro.
In addition to your Apple TV trial, you also get an Apple Arcade trial that lasts three months too. You can redeem this by opening the App Store and tapping on the Arcade tab at the bottom of the screen.
Some Apple Arcade games
Apple Arcade is an all-you-can-eat subscription service that provides access to high-quality and exclusive games. There’s something for everyone including trivia games like SongPop Party, rhythm-action titles like Taiko no Tatsujin, remakes of retro classics like The Oregon Trail, and modernized iPhone favorites in the form of Tiny Wings+ and Jetpack Joyride+.
Many titles allow you to play with a controller, so you can connect a gamepad to your iPhone and play with your PlayStation or Xbox controller.
Both the iPhone 13 and 13 Pro include the ability to shoot in Cinematic Mode, which allows you to create “filmic” videos with soft bokeh and smooth focus transitions. You can even edit your video after you’ve shot it to further tweak your focus pulls before editing or sharing your clips. To access this mode, launch the Camera app and swipe until you see Cinematic Mode listed at the bottom (or side) of the screen. You can now hit record to track subjects, adjust the perceived aperture, and more.
RELATED: How to Use Cinematic Mode to Shoot Better Video on iPhone
Photographic styles are new for the iPhone 13 and 13 Pro, and they allow you to customize the look of your shots before you’ve even taken them. This works a little differently from simply shooting with a filter since the iPhone makes adjustments in the image processing pipeline rather than changing the look of the image “in post.”
This means that important details like skin tones are preserved even while boosting contrast and saturation in other parts of the image. You can switch Photographic Styles in the Camera app by tapping the relevant icon.
If you have an iPhone 13 Pro (there’ll be three camera lenses on the back instead of two), you can take photos in macro mode. This allows you to get up close and personal with subjects thanks to a very small minimum focus distance.
The iPhone 13 Pro does this using its ultra-wide camera, a lens option that’s missing on the iPhone 13. The default iOS Camera app will switch to macro mode automatically whenever you get close to a subject (something you can disable if you want).
RELATED: How to Shoot Macro Photography on Your iPhone
You probably noticed that your brand new iPhone no longer comes with a power adapter in the box (but you do get a USB-C charging cable). You can use this cable with just about any USB power adapter or laptop, and you can use your old iPhone charging cables and adapters to charge your iPhone too.
Apple’s 20w USB-C charger is a travel-sized adapter that’s perfect for quickly charging your iPhone or iPad.
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But if you want to take advantage of your iPhone’s ability to charge quickly (up to 50% capacity in around 30 minutes), you’ll need to buy a fast charger like Apple’s 20w USB-C adapter.
Charge your iPhone wirelessly with this first-party charger that connects magnetically and provides more juice than standard Qi wireless chargers.
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Starting with the iPhone 12, Apple’s devices have been able to take advantage of improved wireless charging with a MagSafe charger. These chargers provide 7.5w of power, up from 5w on standard Qi chargers, plus they snap on due to their magnetic nature (and they work with MagSafe cases too).
RELATED: The Best MagSafe Accessories for iPhone of 2022
If this is your first iPhone, you might be interested in learning how to create or use time-saving workflows in Apple’s Shortcuts app. You can use this app to create complex or simple workflows or download ideas that others have shared.
iPhone Shortcuts app
You can also use the app to create automations like automatically changing your wallpaper or performing certain actions when you launch a specific app. We’ve put together a few interesting automations to get you started.
Since Apple added the App Library to the iPhone in iOS 14, you no longer need to rely on folders and endless pages of apps to find what you want. You can now go completely app-less if you want and have a home screen full of widgets instead.
iPhone widgets
Widgets show you interesting or useful information at a glance. This could be the weather, recent notes, your upcoming Calendar appointments, or a random memory from your Photos app. You can take this concept a step further and create custom widgets (with transparent backgrounds if you like) to really make iOS your own in a way that many iPhone users couldn’t even dream of a few years ago.
You should also customize Control Center to show the most useful shortcuts to you. You can add buttons that allow you to access functions like the Apple TV remote, voice memos, and screen recording.
The iPhone 13 Pro has a LiDAR scanner that uses a laser to construct a 3D representation of the world around you. This feature greatly improves augmented reality (AR) performance in apps like Google Maps and games like Angry Birds AR or Smash Tanks.
It can also be used to create impressive 3D scans of the world around you using apps like Polycam. You can share these with the rest of the world or simply keep a 3D record of your favorite places to look back on in the years to come. You can use Polycam on a standard iPhone that lacks a LiDAR scanner too, but it relies on standard photos so that results might not be quite as impressive.
It’s worth noting that your LiDAR scanner is already used by your device’s camera to improve autofocus performance in low light by gauging the distance between you and the subject you’re pointed at.
To keep your iPhone in tip-top condition (and maximize its resale value, if that’s something you may be interested in), you should buy a case and keep it protected as soon as possible.
If you still don’t trust yourself, consider signing up for AppleCare+ to extend coverage and include a flat-fee repair cost for accidental damage too.
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