If your new phone runs on a different operating system to the one you've been used to, here’s how you can switch without losing any of your important data.
Unboxing a new smartphone is always exciting, but that thrilling sensation can be tempered by the realisation that you have to copy over all your precious photos, videos, contacts and more from your old phone to your new one. While this sounds laborious, it’s not as hard as you might think, although it does get trickier the older your phone is.
Moving from Android to iPhone
If you’re moving from an Android handset to an iPhone, then the easiest way to transfer your data is to use Apple’s free ‘Move to iOS’ app.
Install the app on your Android device and follow Apple’s instructions. The app will use your Wi-Fi network to copy over your contacts, text messages, web browser bookmarks, email accounts and calendars as well as any photos or videos that you’ve taken. These will then be installed on your new iPhone during the set-up process.
‘Move to iOS’ can’t directly copy over your Android apps, however. For any free apps on your Android handset, it will present you with the option to download free iOS equivalents. In the case of any in-app purchases for apps that are available on both Android and iOS, you’ll need to check with the app developer to see if those purchases can be used on your new iPhone.
A notable limitation is WhatsApp – your messages can’t be transferred from Android to iPhone or the other way around. If you switch mobile operating systems, you’ll have to live without your old WhatsApp messages.
For any apps you’ve bought, you’ll have to find and purchase iOS equivalents or alternatives in the App Store and download them manually.
In the case of music and files such as PDFs and e-books, you’ll have to copy them over to your new iPhone manually. To do so, follow Apple’s official instructions.
It’s worth bearing in mind that the ‘Move to iOS’ app requires the Android 4.4 KitKat operating system or later. This should cover all but the very oldest Android phones, as Google released KitKat in 2013.
Moving from iPhone to Android: Google Drive
When switching from iPhone to an Android handset, the method you’ll use for transferring your data will depend on which model of Android phone you’re moving to. In most cases, you can upload your contacts, calendars, photos and videos from your iPhone to Google Drive using Google’s free app (currently the Google Drive app, but the back-up function will soon be moved to the free Google One app).
Your data will then be downloaded from Google Drive to your new Android phone during the set-up process. To use this method, follow Google’s official instructions. This could take quite some time, depending on how much data you have and the upload and download speeds of your internet connection.
There are some catches with this approach, however. The official Google Drive app now only works on iOS 11 or later, so you can’t install and use it if your iPhone is stuck on an older version of iOS.
The Google Drive method will, by default, compress your photos and videos before uploading them. The drop in quality won’t be noticeable to most people, but you can choose to upload them in their original state if you wish. To do so, however, you’ll need to have enough storage space on your Google account – by default, 15GB is included for free. If you don’t have enough space, you’ll have to buy more from Google or pick and choose which ones you wish to keep and transfer them over uncompressed.
Moving from iPhone to Android: Google Pixel phones
If you’re switching to a Google Pixel phone, it will come with a Quick Switch Adapter. Using it, you can directly connect your old iPhone to your new Pixel phone using your charging cable. As your data will be transferred directly over this cable, it will be done far more quickly than it would using the Google Drive method.
The Quick Switch Adapter method also has the advantage of copying over data that isn’t transferred using the Google Drive method. This includes your texts, iMessages and music. It will also automatically install the Android versions of your free iPhone apps.
There is still data it can’t transfer though, including paid apps, in-app purchases, phone settings and Safari bookmarks. To use the Quick Switch Adapter method, as well as see the full list of data that it can’t copy over, refer to Google’s official instructions.
Moving from iPhone to Android: phones from Huawei and others
Some Android handset manufacturers have their own apps for copying over data from your old iPhone, such as Huawei and its Phone Clone app. Once installed on both your iPhone and new Huawei phone, it can copy over your contacts, calendars, photos and videos. It should be faster than the Google Drive method as the transfer occurs over a direct Wi-Fi connection. To use Phone Clone, follow the instructions on Huawei’s website.
Samsung, meanwhile, has its Smart Switch app. It can download data that you’ve backed up from your old iPhone to your Apple iCloud account. It can transfer your contacts, calendars, reminders, notes and any photos that you’ve taken. Samsung has more details about how to use Smart Switch.
To see if there’s an equivalent app specifically for your Android handset, check with the manufacturer.
In any case, it’s worth looking for exceptions as to what data can and can’t be transferred, such as WhatsApp messages.
No matter which method you use, it’s critical that you de-register your phone number from Apple’s iMessage service – ideally before removing your Vodafone UK SIM card from your iPhone and inserting it into your new Android handset. If you don’t, texts will continue to be routed to your old iPhone rather than your Android handset.
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