How to switch to a new phone without losing your Contacts

Modern smartphones have full Gmail or Outlook support and can synchronise your Contacts. Once you setup your Gmail or Outlook to synchronise your cell phone contacts, every time you switch to a new phone, all you have to do is setup your Gmail/Outlook on the new phone and all your Contacts are wirelessly copied to the new device. Easy. Also, any changes you make to your contacts in Gmail desktop are synchronised to your device, and vice versa.

Here are the steps to take to make sure your Contacts synchronise across devices:

cell phone contacts icon - backup contacts android

1. You need a Gmail or Outlook account
Every Gmail or Outlook account has the Contacts service attached to it, so if you have one, you’re good to go. If you don’t have one, create one. You can create one on your phone by going to Gmail.com or Outlook.com. If you already have one, you don’t need to create another. You can use your existing account.

2. Setup On Mobile
On the phone where you have your Contacts right now, launch the Gmail or Outlook app and setup your Gmail account on that phone for email. Then go to the Settings menu and check any options to enable synchronisation of Contacts and Calendar. If you had your account setup before now, you are good to go.

3. Import Your SIM/Phone Contacts
If you have your contacts on your SIM or phone contacts, open your Contacts app -> Menu -> Import/Export -> Select to export from SIM/Phone and import to your Gmail/Outlook account.

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Once done, you are good to go. All your contacts on your SIM or phone have been added to your Gmail/Outlook Contacts. From now on, to add your cell phone contacts to any new device, just setup your Gmail or Outlook account on the device in question and watch the magic happen.

Note
When adding new contacts to your device, always select the option to “Save as Google/Outlook contact”. Some devices will insert your email address in place of Google or Outlook account.

Did I miss out anything in this tutorial? Do chip in with a comment below, so I can keep refining the guide for you. Got more questions about this? You’re welcome to ask and I will try my best to answer them.

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Mister Mobility

I started blogging about mobile in 2004 as a fun way to share my passion for gadgets and mobile services. My other interests include digital media, speaking and teaching, photography, travelling, and dancing.

24 thoughts on “How to switch to a new phone without losing your Contacts

  • July 4, 2012 at 11:25 am
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    Great tip~ the advantage of this method is that this makes moving about.of (perpetually updated )contacts and calendar entries ~is seamless, irrespective of platform.

    …as long as those devices can access the internet.

  • July 4, 2012 at 11:57 am
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    Nice tip. I was going to mention it when someone asked how to migrate to Android from Symbian with contact, calendar etc but stopped because I felt someone was going to go into the litany of Android and data guzzling.

    About the best and smoothest method option for those not paranoid about data leakage on their devices.

  • July 4, 2012 at 1:07 pm
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    @Eye_Bee_Kay Glad you finally moved to teamandy; will join you guys soon irrespective of the data guzzling like we say!

    Whoever sticks to that (Dying Symbian) is not ready for an upgrade I must say.

  • July 4, 2012 at 4:12 pm
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    Bad news. I lost all my contacts while doing this. Thank God I have a recent backup on memory card. Thinking aloud….

    “And I was lucky to dial this babe no sha, thank God I get am for call log. how I go just lose no wey I just collect now now to gmail”

    I couldn’t setup the mail exchange sync properly..don’t know what i’m doing wrong oo

  • July 4, 2012 at 4:27 pm
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    EASIEST method. Had to take the pain to extract all my wife’s contacts and calendar from different devices and enter them into Google contacts. Now she can easily switch from her smartphones to the tab and on pc with all contacts updated.

  • July 5, 2012 at 1:47 am
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    Easy and smooth way of contact transfer with a big BUT.

    I stumbled on this method many years back when I got a Sony Ericsson Xperia X10. I didn’t know what I did but on getting another android, this time from Starcomms, my first synch brought in all the contacts from the Xperia. GREAT. Then I closely checked and to my horrors, I had some names replicated thrice and some even four times. That was the first problem. How did it happen? I later realized that the Xperia was duplicating my contacts with each sync instead of blending. I promptly went online hoping to correct the anomaly once and for all but on getting to google contact, I discovered one cannot mark/select contacts and delete. You have to do it one at a time. That was more than a year ago. I don’t know if this has been corrected. Correcting over 2000 contacts with duplicates one at a time sure is not a simple task.

    BIG BUT 2. > I got a Samsung chat with double sim last year and did sync via mail for exchange. The small phone took in only up to its capacity and stopped when it was full. That I understood.. But when I tried calling a doctor friend, I found out I couldn’t because I had Dr, Dr, Dr, all about 50 with no other names. Why? Because this is a dumb phone with no facility for special fields like middle name so those all got cut off along with surnames. I had to manually add back 50 surnames. Funny thing, the next sync removed all my corrections and I was back wit Dr, Dr, Dr…. Needless to say, the Samsung Chat had to go after a month of frustrations with mail for exchange syncs.

    Got my SGN two months ago. Very first sync brought back all my contacts from the google cloud plus all the redundant ones and the replications. So, I settled down, did all the corrections sacrificing one night of sleep. Naturally, I promptly switched off automatic sync.

    So, for me, it has been a mixed bag.

    Any idea how to do multiple selection and delete on google contact online?

    • July 5, 2012 at 7:38 am
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      Bankole

      Congratulations all. Now Google knows who you know

      Indeed. As will any alternative sync provider one chooses to use.

      Privacy is dead. I have an article in drafts about that. Hmmmm. Let me go dust it up and publish. Will be right back.

  • July 5, 2012 at 7:23 am
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    Thanks for this Mr. Mo. The Android device had given me issues for months, but I had to sync my contacts when I inserted my MTN sim on the phone. The sim had been with me for years and most of my contacts have the number. It was quite awkward when I received calls and had to rack my brain to recognise the voice because I didn’t have the contacts on the phone.

    Now, I am good to go and I have all my contacts on my phones. Isn’t it great?

    @deoladoctor, there is an option to merge duplicates on google dashboard. You can try that.

  • July 5, 2012 at 2:54 pm
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    All I do on my Android is when I’m creating contacts, I make sure they are saved as Google contacts not phone contacts. One i save, it is immediately synced to my Google account. And if you have old numbers from your sim that have not yet been synced, there is a simple option that allows you to sync all your contacts (both phone and sim) that are not yet on your google account, in one movement. Works like a charm. As long as you don’t have sync off in your settings, just make sure you always save new contacts as Google contacts and Google gives you real-time syncing of your contacts. The only small perk is that I have repetition of contacts in my phonebook. To solve that, i just play around with my settings and make sim contacts invisible. So i only see one of every contact

  • July 5, 2012 at 2:58 pm
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    @ Mr Mo. and Bankole, I do agree with you guys. But this is not an isolated case. Even on Facebook, your email, and even here on this blog, someone is watching your every move. You can choose to be paranoid about it, or you can choose to just live your life. Keep over-dependency on technology to the barest minimum, stay out of crime, and you’ll be fine

  • July 5, 2012 at 4:53 pm
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    Duplicate contacts ca be merged by going to your gmail, click on the dropdown menu as Mr Mo directed, then on “more” dropdown menu, you will see “find & merge duplicates…” click on it and you are good to go.

  • July 7, 2012 at 5:43 pm
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    My experience with google contacts sync is a lot like deoladoctor’s. It was all well and good when I only had an android device but after purchasing a bb, syncing to it duplicated my contacts several times, both on the bb contacts list and on the google servers. I had to manually delete the duplicates (wasting several hours over several days) and even then, the changes weren’t synched back to google contacts. Instead, d duplicates were appearing again. So, I promptly switched off google sync on the bb, deleted the duplicates on google sync one again (this time, it took weeks) and tried deleting the duplicates from the bb until I got tired. I then tried to delete all the contacts on the bb so I can do a fresh sync but that didn’t work too. Even when I used a tip I found on crackberry (and was posted here a while back) to delete all contacts, it didn’t work, even though it gave me a confirmation message. So, since then, I’ve ensured that google sync on both android and bb is off and I’ve had to live with the up to 8 duplicates of each contact on my bb address book.

  • January 21, 2014 at 4:07 pm
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    Still doesn’t help with BB OS10 though. *sigh* 🙁

  • January 22, 2014 at 7:15 pm
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    I’ve sorted it now though, thank you. The solution was right there but for some reason refused to work.

    Daalu 🙂

  • January 19, 2018 at 8:30 am
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    Thanks, Mister Mo, this is really helpful, your write-up on this is easy and understandable.

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