This post is for those of us upgrading from an earlier iPhone, especially the 4S forward. Those new to the iPhone likely will not encounter what's discussed below. I've marked this as a question so others can contribute other solutions/options.
Finally received the new iPhone 6 Plus purchased in early late Sept or early Nov... don't remember. Setting it up turned into a real mess that I believe, were it not that I spent my career in Info Tech, part of the time with Apple, some with Microsoft and so on, the average human will likely end up screwed to the wall when setting up the new generation of iPhone. Here are the issues:
1) Activation and Setup are TWO different and distinct operations. I add this as there are many posts around that seem to have the two mixed together as one process. Activation is accomplished correctly by following the first two or three steps of the Verizon instruction sheet that ships with the phone. Activation is when the carrier (Verizon) sets their system to recognize your new phone on its network. It takes a couple of minutes and works just fine. Once activation is done you need to do the setup on the iPhone.
2) The instructions sheet moves on from activation to the steps for setup. At this point you can throw away the instructions because they flat do not work. This, however, is not Verizon's fault; Apple created this mess.
1) If you installed the upgrade to iOS 8.0 and then the upgrade to 8.1, or if your old phone was set to update automatically, this can cause trouble during setup.
2) In the middle of pushing out this new iPhone, Apple also released an update of iTunes. You need the CURRENT version of iTunes--absolutely. On a Mac you likely have it set to update automatically and, if not, check for it and install BEFORE setting up your new iPhone. On a PC running Windows opening iTunes triggers a search for new versions and alerts if you need to update. Do that from the dialog on the Windows screen if it shows up.
3) Apple shipped the iPhone 6 models with an under the radar version of iOS 8, iOS 8.0.2, and I don't think they released it via the usual channels so most of us never got it. So what? Well, IF the version of the OS you are running on your old iPhone (4S and above) is higher than 8.0.2, as in you installed the 8.1 update, the Restore from Backup in iTunes bombs out. Bottom line--if you didn't install the 8.1 update on your old phone, DON'T.
How To Survive Setup:
Some of this is from the mouth of an Apple Tech Support rep...
1) You MUST have/know--your Apple ID and Password (these are the same as you use to access the App Store)--the security access code for your router so you can link to the wireless connection--your keychain code or password if you intend to use it on the new device--the passwords for your email accounts that you use on your iPhone.
2) You MUST install the most current version of iTunes and BACKUP the contents of your old iPhone. There are two options; one is to the local computer, the other is to iCloud. I recommend the local computer since iCloud access could be problematic if your setup hangs.
3) Turn on or wake up the iPhone and go through the setup screens. DO NOT turn on Find My iPhone when prompted. DO enter you Apple ID and password when prompted because that gives you access to the iCloud.
4) At the screen instructing you to connect the device to iTunes, plug in the NEW iPhone. Its icon shows up in the upper left part of the screen. It's small so look carefully. On a Mac iTunes finds the phone quickly. On a Windows PC, a driver is installed before the phone's icon shows up in the iTunes window.
5) Click on the iPhone's icon in the iTunes window. This takes you to a window with an upper and lower panel AND HERE IS WHERE YOU EITHER GET IT RIGHT OR SCREW IT UP.
6) In the upper pane is a button (an option) to Reset Phone. This is the option you want--it is counter-intuitive--and Apple Tech Support passed this along. At this point it DOES NOT MATTER if you reset the entire phone because there is no personal data on it yet. NOTE: If you select Restore From Backup and your OS's are out of sync you could end up in a real worm hole (I did).
7) When the Reset is complete THIS IS THE TIME to click Restore From Backup. You won't run into OS conflicts because in the Reset process your iPhone gets iOS 8.1 installed. The restore can take a while and depends on the amount of data in the backup. Depending on your Sync settings apps from your old phone may be transferred, as will music, videos, contacts and so on. You'll know it's finished when the progress bar at the top center of the iTunes window goes away.
😎 EJECT the iPhone by clicking the eject button in the iTunes window.
9) Go to Settings/Cellular and enable LTE--the new, faster Verizon network. You can enable it for Voice, Data or both. Doing this improves signal strength and call quality.
10) Poke around the iPhone and be sure everything critical came over to the iPhone 6 or Plus.
11) IF it did AND you're going to sell it or do the trade-in $200 thing (a whole other can of worms), ON THE OLD PHONE go to Settings/General and at the very bottom of the choices on the right is one to Reset the phone and you want to select Reset and Erase All Settings And Data. You will be asked for your access code and, perhaps, password before the process begins, AND there are two prompts asking you to confirm this is what you REALLY, REALLY want to do. This should disconnect the phone from iCloud and clear your access code settings.
That should do it. HOWEVER... I don't know if this will happen to you or not. I ended up back at the Hello setup screen several times and if you just make your selections again it works just fine. I don't know why it does this nor do I care. It's not the user's fault.