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As the smartphone industry becomes more crowded, manufacturers are stepping up their efforts to steal users from each other. However, once you return home from the store (or sign for that shipment), you will need to transfer your data from your old device to your new one. If you pay attention, it is not difficult. Here’s how to do it.
Four possible streams will be featured: Android to Android, Android to iPhone, iPhone to iPhone, and iPhone to iPhone. However, because there is no pure Android, it is likely that the manufacturer of your Android smartphone, especially if it is one of the biggest names like Samsung, OnePlus or Google, has its own proprietary data transfer system.
Normal disclaimers apply before you start. Always be connected to your local Wi-Fi (or know the SSID and password). Make a new backup of your old phone data. Know your Google or iCloud ID and password, depending on the type of migration you are performing. Before starting, make sure you’ve updated your old phone’s operating system as much as possible (but if you’re switching from Android to iPhone, avoid Android Pie – see “iPhone 8.x to Android” below). Lastly, keep in mind that the screens you see here may not exactly match what you see on your phone.
ANDROID TO ANDROID
It should come as no surprise that everything to do with Android is going to depend heavily on Google.
- When you turn on your new phone, the first steps will be the normal Terms and Conditions screen types. As you go along, you will eventually be asked if you want to bring your data to the new phone and asked to choose where the data should come from.
- Tap “A backup of an Android phone” and you will be prompted to open the Google application on the other phone. Do so and tap Next.
- You will be prompted to go to your old phone, launch the Google app (not the Chrome app; the Google app), and tell you to set up your device.
- Your old phone will show a Home screen without much information. Touch Next to begin.
- Both the old and new phones want to establish where your account is moving in case there is more than one phone in Bluetooth range. Touch the correct device icon on each phone.
- Just to be safe, the phones will display a screen with colored numbers and shapes to confirm that your data is heading to the right place. Those screens are supposed to match. Touch Next on your old phone (note there is no place to touch the new one).
- Enter your screen lock code on your old phone and approve the copy on your new phone. Presto: your account will appear on the new phone.
- Log into your Google account on the new phone. It may take a few minutes to download everything, but eventually all of your Gmail, Contacts, Calendars, Photos, and backups will appear. What will not appear are all your applications, so there is one more step.
- Launch the Google Play Store. Tap the menu icon, then tap “My apps and games.” It will show you a list of apps that were on your old phone. Choose the ones you want to migrate (you may not want to move carrier or brand-specific apps from your old phone to your new phone) and download them. While you’re there, update the apps that came with the new phone as well.
IPHONE TO ANDROID
Basically, going from an iPhone to an Android phone involves backing up everything to Google Drive and downloading it to the new phone.
- On the new phone, the first steps are the normal Terms and Conditions screens. As you go along, you will eventually be asked if you want to bring your data, and you will see a screen that allows you to choose where your old data will come from. Touch “An iPhone device”.
- Your phone will prompt you to open Safari and navigate to android.com/switch. The tricky part here is that they don’t explicitly say that you are supposed to do that on the iPhone. You are.
- If you don’t have Google Drive on your iPhone, go to the App Store and download it, then log into your Google account (assuming you have one). If you don’t already have a Google account, Google Drive will guide you through the process of setting up one. You will need a Google account to use Android.
- In Google Drive, tap the hamburger menu at the top left of the screen, then tap the Settings gear on the menu that slides out from the left.
- Tap Backup.
- Touch Contacts, Calendar Events, and Photos & Videos and slide the switch for everything you want to back up to Google Drive. It’s probably all of the above.
- Tap Start Backup and wait. Depending on how many things you have, it can take a while, like hours, to back up everything to the cloud. You probably want to connect your iPhone to power while this is happening.
- This is important: If your new Android phone has the same number as your iPhone (for example, if you are changing the SIM card), you must turn off iMessage and FaceTime or you will never receive another text message. In the iPhone Settings app, scroll down to Messages (it’s quite a long way down the page) and tap on it. Slide the iMessage switch to the left and turn it off. Go back to the Settings menu, tap on FaceTime (it’s just below Messages), and turn it off as well. (You can do all of this during the backup to save a bit of time.)
- Continue setting up your new Android phone, logging into Google with the same ID that you used on the iPhone to back up that phone to Google Drive. Eventually, all the backed up data will appear, safe and sound. Your apps won’t be there, of course, but your iOS apps wouldn’t work on Android, anyway.
ANDROID 8.X FOR IPHONE
If you are going from a new Android phone to an iPhone, there is a serious problem. Apple’s Android migration tool, Move to iOS, does not seem (at this time) to work with phones running Android 9 Pie (the latest version of Android). We were unable to connect it with iOS phones in our tests, and our experience seems to be echoed in online support forums. Older versions, Android Oreo (8.x), work.
Since Android Pie is fairly new and the migration tools are generally for older phones, this may not be a limiting factor for you. But you should definitely know before you start. There seem to be third-party workarounds that use your PC as an intermediary (AnyTrans seems to be a favorite), but we didn’t test them. Another possibility, if you have an older Android phone on hand, is to move your data to that phone according to the instructions above and then migrate to the new iPhone, as follows:
- After choosing the location and language on the iPhone, you are offered a Quick Launch screen to migrate from another iOS device. That’s not what you’re doing, so tap on Configure manually.
- Connect to the Wi-Fi network of your choice. (You can also do this over a cellular network, if you prefer.)
- Set up Touch ID / Face ID, or just set a PIN. You can come back and do the biometrics later.
- You will then be asked if you want to migrate data to your iPhone and from where. Touch Move data from Android and then touch Continue. A six or 10 digit code will appear.
- On your Android phone, go to the Play Store and download the Move to iOS app. Open it, tap Continue and accept the Terms and Conditions. A Find Your Code screen will appear. Tap Next in the upper right corner.
- Enter your iPhone code on your Android phone. The phones will pair.
- The Android app will ask you what data you want to move. Touch to select and touch Next.
- The data will be transferred. Continue setting up your iPhone.
- Once you enter or set up your Apple IDs, you will be offered the opportunity to download iOS versions of your Android apps, which is a nice touch.
IPHONE TO IPHONE
This is pretty simple, what you would expect.
- Place a new iPhone near an older one, and a screen will appear on the older phone, offering to set up the new one.
- The new phone will display a pattern on its screen; Take a picture of the pattern with the old phone, which matches the phones. The old phone will now prompt you to finish setup on the new device.
- Enter the passcode of the old phone. You will be offered the option to set up a biometric ID and your iCloud ID will be copied.
- You can then restore from an iCloud or iTunes backup, or continue to set the phone as new. Please note that you are already signed in to iCloud and iTunes; that’s what was transferred from your old phone. Pick the option that best suits your needs and you’ll be fine.
Final words: How to transfer your data to a new Android phone or iPhone
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