How to transition from iPhone to Android
So you’re all set to make the trip across the Android bridge. In this guide, we’re going to help you get past any trolls you might encounter, unscathed. If you’ve been thinking about switching from an iPhone to an Android device and you’re already heavily invested in Apple’s ecosystem, you’ll encounter a few obstacles, but they’re far from insurmountable.
We’re going to take a look at how to transfer contacts and other data, switch to Google services and deal with your music, photos, and videos. To round things off, we’ll provide a few additional tips to help you get used to Android, quell some common fears, and point out how best to take advantage of your new platform’s highlights.
Making the transition
Before you embark on this journey to the promised land of Android, take one last look around you. There are a few things you’ll have to leave behind. Many of the cases, docks, and other accessories you bought for your iPhone are not going to be compatible with Android smartphones (it’s worth checking, though, because some are). Your iOS apps cannot go with you, but you’ll find most of them have Android counterparts awaiting your arrival. Any DRM-protected content you bought in the Apple App Store or iTunes is stuck there (you can easily and legally remove the restrictions from music, but not from TV shows and movies).
Last, but not least, there’s your iPhone itself. Before you wipe it with a factory reset, you’ll want to work through the rest of our guide. When you’re done, assuming you’re not gifting your iPhone to someone, then you might want to peruse our guide on how to sell an iPhone without getting ripped off.
Using phone manufacturer apps or tools
Before we dig into various methods for moving over different bits and pieces from your iPhone to your new Android phone, it’s worth mentioning that you can often save some time by using the tools that the maker of your new smartphone provides. You’ll usually be asked during the setup of your new phone if you want to copy over files from your old phone.
If you buy a Samsung phone, like the Galaxy S10 Plus, for example, you’ll get a USB-OTG connector in the box which allows you to plug in your old iPhone and copy over a lot of files and data. You can also use the Smart Switch software. If you don’t get such an option on your new Android phone, or you lack the connector you need to plug in, don’t worry because we’re about to run through some alternative methods.
You’ll want to transfer your contacts before you sell your old device. Check out our guide on how to transfer your contacts between iPhone and Android for a simple method that employs iTunes and Gmail.
You could also use iCloud. Turn on Contacts in Settings > [your name] > iCloud on your iPhone. Log into the iCloud website on your computer and click Contacts. Click the gear icon at the bottom left, and choose Select All, then click the gear icon again and select Export vCard. Now log into Gmail, tap the red Gmail in the top left, then Contacts, or head to Google Contacts in your browser, click More, and tap Import.
It’s also possible to do this with the free My Contacts Backup app. Install it on your iPhone, launch it, tap backup, and then email the backup file to an email account on your Android phone. You’ll get a VCF file which you can import into your Android contacts app.
If you want to use the process as an excuse to thin the herd and edit your contacts, then you might consider doing it one by one. In that case, just open the contact you want to transfer on your iPhone, and select Share Contact to send it as a text message or by email.
Syncing your calendar
This is easy if you’ve already set up your Google account and Gmail (which you’ll need for your Android phone anyway). Go to Settings > Accounts & Passwords > Add Account on your iPhone and add your Gmail account or select it from the list, then turn on syncing for Calendars. If you want to ditch your iPhone for an Android device, but keep your iPad, the Gmail app is a good way to keep your calendar and contacts synced. You can even sync multiple Google calendars to your iPad if you need to do so.
You can also download an app to sync your calendar from iCloud, assuming you have Calendar switched on in Settings > [your name] > iCloud. You could try One Calendar to sync all of your calendars into one place, or check out some of our recommendations for the best calendar apps.
Switching from Apple to Google services
Apple is renowned for that tightly integrated ecosystem, but if you’re switching to Android you’ll want to start using more Google services. Your Google account has gradually come to serve as a passport for a wide range of services, and cross-platform synchronization has improved drastically over the last couple of years. Forget about iCloud and Safari, you can find all the same functionality, and more, via Google. As long as you are signed into your Google account, you can access all your contacts, bookmarks, appointments, and files on any device.
Contacts for backing up and sharing contacts
Messages for texting
Google Calendar for keeping on top of your schedule
Chrome browser can sync bookmarks and open tabs between computer and Android phone
Google Drive for backing up your files
Google Docs for editing and sharing documents
YouTube Music or Google Play Music for storing and streaming your music from the cloud
Google Photos for backing up and sharing photos and videos
Google Fit for tracking your health and fitness
Google Keep for notes and lists
Android Auto for when you’re driving
On top of all that, you’ve got YouTube for watching and sharing video, Google Maps for easy navigation, and Google Pay for wireless NFC payments. Then there’s “OK, Google,” or “Hey Google,” which activates Google Assistant (similar to Siri), not to mention a host of excellent Google apps from Google Translate to Google Trips.
Many of these things are available on iPhone as well, but the experience is optimized for Android. The fact that you can have all of these as your default options under one Google account makes it easy and accessible, and you’ll be tempted to use more and more Google services. There are also loads of great alternatives that you can use instead of — or as well as– Google offerings like Dropbox, and Mozilla Firefox.
Moving photos and videos
There are various ways of getting your precious files from your iPhone onto your Android, but we’ll start with the most obvious and basic. You can plug your iPhone into your Windows PC via USB and then choose Import pictures and videos for an automatic transfer, or Open device to view files (your photos and videos will be in the Internal Storage/DCIM folder) if you want to select individually. If you have a Mac, the import window should pop up when you plug your iPhone in and you can select files from there.
Once the files are on your Windows computer, plug your Android smartphone in via USB, and you should get a pop-up window where you can select Open device to view files. You can drag and drop files from your computer onto your Android. To do the same on a Mac, check out our how to transfer files from an Android to a Mac guide.
It may prove easier to transfer those photos and videos wirelessly, though it will take longer. You can do this using any cloud service. There are many options available on Android and iOS. Simply install something like Google Photos, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or DropBox on your iPhone, upload the files, and then install the same app on your Android, and download them.
For more details on using apps to back up and share your photos, check out our how to share photos on Android guide. You can use a number of the apps and services discussed there to transfer your photos and videos from iPhone.
Moving your music
If you want to get your music from your iTunes account onto Android, there are a few potential ways to go. The easiest is probably to sign in to Google Play Music on the same computer where your iTunes is installed. Now download the Music Manager, install it, and choose the iTunes option when it asks where you store your music. You’ll then be able to select Upload all songs and playlists. You can also select individual playlists and podcasts. Perhaps best of all, you can continue to use iTunes and automatically sync any new purchases to your Google Music account.
You can’t legally copy movies or TV shows from your iTunes to your Android smartphone because you would have to remove the DRM protection first. Unfortunately, that applies to ebooks purchased through iTunes as well.
If you’ve been using Apple Music, then you’ll find there is an Android app. You’ll need a subscription, but if you sign in with the same Apple ID you should be able to access your music.
Moving your text messages
This is a lot trickier than anything we’ve discussed so far, but some people will want to keep those precious text conversations and transfer them to their new Android smartphones. Thankfully, it is possible. One of the easiest methods is to use the free iSMS2droid app, but it may not work for everyone. It also requires you to back up your SMS to iTunes and then go digging around to find the right file to convert.
You can also use Samsung Smart Switch or Kies software to restore an iPhone backup (including text messages) to a Samsung Android smartphone. You’ll also find quite a few premium software options online that purport to allow you to copy text messages, contacts, photos, and even call logs, but we can’t vouch for their effectiveness. Many Android manufacturers have some type of data transfer app you can try and use as well.
Regardless of what method you use, don’t forget to turn iMessage off before making the switch. Leaving it on could result in SMS and MMS messages still going to your old iPhone. This is because Apple sends an iMessage instead of an SMS or MMS when it detects you’re both using iOS. To turn it off go to Settings > Messages and toggle iMessage off. You should also go to Settings > Facetime and toggle it off. If you no longer have the phone, you can request Apple to deregister your iPhone with iMessage here.
Making yourself at home on Android
Welcome to Android. At first, it may seem strange and unnerving, but you’ll soon get used to it. Here are some tips and suggestions to help you get your feet under the table and start to feel at home.