Verizon iPhone won’t restore from AT&T backup – Updated

***Update***

We had a revelation and came up with a couple solutions for you.  Please read our new article for a little more guidance with this problem.

Just this morning, I had a one of our clients call me and say they just purchased a Verizon iPhone and couldn’t get it to restore from their backup.  I promptly started a remote session to see what was going on.  I had him plug in the Verizon iPhone and checked everything out; it seemed fine.  I looked in the iTunes preferences and could see the old AT&T iPhone backup sitting there.  I tried restoring the iPhone, and it just wouldn’t see the AT&T backup no matter what I did.  Then I asked him to plug in the old iPhone to see if we could do a new backup.  Once he plugged it in, I knew exactly what was wrong… and my heart sank.

His old iPhone was running 4.3.2, and the new Verizon iPhone was only running 4.2.8.  Please continue reading this article to find out why he couldn’t restore his Verizon iPhone from his backup and why there was nothing I could do to help.

For months now, the Verizon iPhone has been running a different version of the iOS than its AT&T counterpart.  No one is sure why, and there are quite a few Verizon customers that are more than upset with Apple.  The phones are running the same software, the same hardware… the only difference is the way they talk to the wireless carriers.  CDMA (Verizon) is completely different from GSM (AT&T), so it’s possible that Apple’s having a hard time finding a way to merge the two communication protocols into one package.  I’m still confused about the lack of feature parity though… shouldn’t each device at least have the same version number and software features?

So, why is this a big deal?

You cannot transfer data from an iPhone running newer software to an iPhone running older software.  If you’ve been keeping your AT&T iPhone up-to-date and get a Verizon iPhone this weekend, you won’t be able to transfer your information because of the difference in version numbers.  4.3.2 versus 4.2.8 — there’s no chance of restoring the new phone from a backup.  That means that all local app data (game progress, text messages, sync’d documents, etc.) disappears.  You can use a third-party application to get the text messages, and you can make sure your documents are sync’d back to your computer, but there’s no way to save much of your in-app data.

What can you do?

The best option is to make sure you back up everything you can: copy all of your Camera Roll photos to the computer, transfer all of the purchases from your device, etc.  Once you do that, you’ll have to setup your Verizon iPhone as a new phone and start syncing everything back manually.  It’s not ideal; in fact, it’s the worst possible solution to what should be an easy transfer.

If you need any help with this process, let us know and we’ll see what we can do for you.

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