Hadrian/Shutterstock.com

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.

Update to Get the Latest Features

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.

Activate Your Apple TV+ Trial and Watch Some HDR Video

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.

Redeem Your Apple Arcade Trial and Play Some Games

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.

Note: Both the Apple TV and Apple Arcade trials will revoke service when you cancel the trial, so now might be a good time to learn to use the iPhones Reminder’s app and set a reminder to cancel the trial right before you’re charged.

Shoot Some Cinematic Video

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

Get Acquainted With Photographic Styles

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.”

iPhone Image Processing Pipeline
Apple

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.

Got an iPhone 13 Pro? Shoot Some Macro Photography

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.

Tim Brookes

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

Grab a MagSafe or Fast Charger

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 20w USB-C adapter

Apple 20W USB-C Power Adapter

Apple's 20w USB-C charger is a travel-sized adapter that's perfect for quickly charging your iPhone or iPad.

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.

Apple MagSafe Charger

Apple MagSafe Charger

Charge your iPhone wirelessly with this first-party charger that connects magnetically and provides more juice than standard Qi wireless chargers.

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

Download or Create Some Shortcuts

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.

Perfect Your Home Screen and Control Center

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.

iPhone 13 Pro? Put That LiDAR Scanner to Use

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.

Wireframe View in Polycam
Tim Brookes

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.

Don’t Forget to Protect Your iPhone

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.

The Best iPhone 13 Cases of 2022

Best iPhone 13 Case Overall
Apple Silicone Case with MagSafe for iPhone 13
Best Budget iPhone 13 Case
Spigen Liquid Air Armor
Best MagSafe iPhone 13 Case
Apple Clear Case with MagSafe for iPhone 13
Best Wallet iPhone 13 Case
Smartish iPhone 13 Wallet Case
Best Rugged iPhone 13 Case
OtterBox Defender Series SCREENLESS Edition Case for iPhone 13
Best Clear iPhone 13 Case
Phone Case for Symmetry Clear for iPhone 13
Best Thin iPhone 13 Case
Totallee Thin iPhone 13 Case
Best Leather iPhone 13 Case
Apple Leather Case with MagSafe
Profile Photo for Tim Brookes Tim Brookes
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 Full Bio »