How to transfer an Android phone’s contents to another handset

How to transfer an Android phone’s contents to another handset

Regardless of how well it’s looked after, or how infrequently it’s used, even the most cossetted mobile phone eventually needs replacing.

When that day comes, the process of swapping over user data and account settings can seem daunting.

Apple has historically made this easy by developing its own walled-garden infrastructure. For better or worse, one iPhone and one version of iOS are very similar to the others.

Android devices haven’t always been so straightforward to replace, but Google has worked hard on simplifying the process.

As a result, it’s easier than ever to transfer an Android phone’s contents onto another device.

Below, we explain how to port settings, user data and unsaved information from one Android device to another.

Any port in a storm

There will be slight variations on how you transfer an Android phone’s contents to another phone depending on the makes and operating systems.

In the example below, we’ve ported data from a Samsung Galaxy S7 onto a Google Pixel 5, which runs the latest version of Android.

Any transfer onto a modern Android handset should closely follow these steps:

First, use a SIM card removal tool (resembling a tiny chrome tree) to open your old phone’s SIM card tray.

Take the card out and insert it into the new device prior to turning it on for the first time.

Most SIM cards are of the nano variety, measuring around 12mm by 8mm, with a slight chamfer at one corner. They only fit into SIM card trays one way.

Turn on the new handset, choose your preferred operating language, and set up a WiFi connection.

After a few minutes, once the phone has done some basic setup, it will ask if you wish to copy apps and data.

This is achieved by plugging the new handset into your old one using a USB-C cable or a USB connector.

The old device should automatically recognise the new handset’s presence.

Once you’ve confirmed your identity on the old handset, data transfer can begin.

You’ll be able to choose which data you transfer across, including (but not limited to) apps, SMS messages, device settings and any saved photos and videos.

Google should have automatically backed up your contacts and Gmail settings to the cloud, so this doesn’t require copying.

Wait a few minutes to ensure phone contacts appear – a new handset will be busy installing software and data, so contents may not appear immediately.

If your contacts remain absent, reinsert your SIM card into the old handset, copy all contacts onto the SIM (the exact procedure varies by device), and reinsert the SIM into the new phone.

By this point, your new handset should have imported phone contacts and some preferences.

Spot the difference

It’s clearly unrealistic to assume that a new handset will be identical to the old one.

Any apps still available in the Google Play Store will have been installed, but ones which have been discontinued since you installed them on your old device will be absent.

You’ll have to log into accounts like Amazon Kindle and WhatsApp, some of which might send security messages to linked email accounts as they detect access on an unfamiliar device.

Reregistering with banking and financial apps can be a pain, but it’s necessary to ensure an authorised user is porting across to their new device.

(You may have to deactivate some financial apps on your old phone before they’ll work on the new one, by logging in on the old handset and manually decommissioning them).

Your new phone will have different notification sounds, which can be adjusted in the Settings > Sound and vibration submenu.

Individual app and function noises (such as the sound allocated to incoming emails) can be changed in the Settings menu of that app or package.

For instance, to change an incoming SMS notification sound in Android 11, go to Messages > Settings > Notifications > Incoming Messages.

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