The Easiest Way to Move Your Cellphone Data to a New Phone

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Man with new cellphone
Dusan Petkovic /

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If you’ve just bought yourself a new phone, you’re probably excited to start using it. You can’t wait to test out the new camera, choose a new wallpaper, and play around with all the new features. Then, reality hits and you realize how much data you have on your current phone that you don’t want to lose — messages, contacts, apps, music and all those precious selfies! But never fear. Nearly all of it can be easily transferred from your old phone to your new phone in a few steps, depending on the model of your device.

Easiest ways to transfer your data

The easiest way to transfer your phone data to a new cellphone is to transfer the data wirelessly or by using a cord. This method eliminates the need to back up your cellphone data onto your computer or into the cloud. It simply transfers data directly from one phone to another.

Unfortunately for iPhone users, this method is only an option for Android phones. You can upload your data onto a new iPhone, but you would have had to back up your old data first.

Wireless transfer

If you have a new Samsung Galaxy phone, you can easily transfer your phone data wirelessly by using the Samsung Smart Switch App. This is a seamless way to move your contacts, music, photos, text messages, and other content.

Transfer through USB cable

The other option is to connect your two phones together with a USB cable. (You may need an adaptor depending on your phone.) Some newer Android phones will provide this cable and adaptor in the box that your phone came in — the Pixel 3a did when I got it! When you turn on your new Android phone, simply follow the instructions to transfer your data over.

This method will transfer almost everything, including:

  • Installed apps
  • Wallpaper
  • Contacts
  • Photos
  • Call history
  • Text messages

How to back up your phone data

If you’re unable to transfer your data over to your new phone using the above methods, then you’ll need to first back up your phone’s data to your computer or to the cloud. If you have automatic back-ups enabled on your phone, then you’ll already have a version saved to the cloud or your computer, but you should still do another back up before you switch phones.

Once your data is backed up, it’s easy to then transfer it from the cloud or your computer to your new phone.

Backing up an iPhone

You can back up your iPhone a couple of ways:

  • Via Wi-Fi to iCloud.
  • Via cord to iCloud or to your computer.

Steps to back up your iPhone using Wi-Fi:

  • Connect your iPhone to Wi-Fi.
  • Go to Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud.
  • Tap “Back Up Now.”

Steps to back up your iPhone via cord:

  • Make sure you have the latest version of iTunes on your computer.
  • Open iTunes and connect your iPhone to your computer.
  • Select your iPhone when it shows up in iTunes.
  • In the “Backups” section, you can choose whether you want to back up your data to iCloud or to your computer.
  • Click “Back Up Now.”

Backing up an Android phone

You can either back up your Android data to the cloud or to your computer. The most common method of backing up your Android phone is to back it up to your Google account.

Steps to back up to your Google account:

Depending on which Android phone you have, the selections may vary slightly here, but the basic steps to back up your Android data are as follows:

  • Go to Settings > Advanced > Backup.
  • Turn on your backup service.

Instructions for Samsung Galaxy phones:

  • Go to Settings > Cloud and Accounts > Backup and Restore.
  • Choose “Back up my data” under the account you want to back it up to.

Your data will be backed up to the account that you chose.

Steps to back up to your computer:

  • Plug your Android phone into your computer.
  • On your device, open the notification that says “Charging this device via USB” and select “File Transfer.”
  • Manually drag your files from your phone to your computer.

This method is definitely the least convenient, but it’s still an option.

What can be backed up and transferred

You can back up almost everything on your phone, including your:

  • Text messages
  • Photos
  • Apps
  • Contacts
  • Notes
  • Videos
  • Music
  • Alarms
  • Call history
  • Wallpaper
  • Wi-Fi passwords and connections

There are a few things that data transfers or back-ups from phones don’t include, such as:

  • Voicemails
  • Face ID or fingerprint ID settings

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