How to transfer contacts, messages, photos, and WhatsApp chats from one Android device to another


Google has dramatically improved Android from its Gingerbread days in almost every aspect. However, Android still lags behind iOS in providing a one-stop backup and restore solution.

In Apple’s world, one can simply transfer their contacts, apps, messages, photos and other important documents from one device to another through iTunes. This essentially means that you can switch to a new iPhone from your existing iPhone with the exact same setup with the same set of apps, contacts, and messages in no time.

In the Android world, things are slightly more complex. With no such official tool from Google, OEMs have come up with their own solution to transfer content from one device to another but it usually fails to work properly with devices from other OEMs.

Despite these hurdles though, it is actually quite easy to transfer your contacts, messages, and photo from one Android device to another provided you are ready to invest a fair bit of time in the process. If your answer is a resounding yes, follow the guide below.

How to transfer contacts from one Android device to another

There are multiple ways through which you can move your contacts from one Android device to another. While the easiest one involves using one of the many apps available on the Play Store, my recommendation would be to use Google Contacts.

With Google Contacts, you first ensure that all your contacts are backed up to the cloud. Then, when you log in to your new Android device, your contacts are automatically synced to it. This way your contacts remain in the cloud where they are safe and secure and can be easily retrieved in case you ever lose your smartphone.

For the below guide, I am assuming that you are not already backing up your contacts to Google Contacts. If you are, then you don’t need to bother with the steps shown below. Simply log in to your new Android device using your existing Google account and all your contacts will be automatically synced to it.

Step 1: Open the Contacts app on your Android device and head over to its Settings. You should see an Import/Export option. Select the Export option from the list which will lead to a vCard file being exported to the internal storage of your Android device. Once exported, transfer this file to your PC.

Alternatively, you can simply transfer this vCard file to your new Android device and import all the contacts to it from the Contacts app. Make sure to select your Google account and not the device during the import process though.

Step 2: On your PC, head over to Google Contacts. Makes sure to use the same email ID that you would be using on your new Android device.

From the menubar on the top, select More followed by Import. Then click Choose file and point the window that opens up to the vCard file you had transferred to your PC from your phone. The import process will take around a minute to complete after which all your contacts should show up on Google Contacts.

Step 3 Now, on your new Android device, simply sign in with the same Google account in which you imported all your contacts to. Wait for a few minutes and all your contacts will automatically show up in the Contacts app.

Post this, save any new contact on your Android device to your Google account and not to your device locally. This way, the new contacts would automatically sync to Google Contacts.

The whole process might be a bit tedious but will be more convenient in the long run.

How to transfer SMSes from one Android device to another

Transferring your SMSes from one Android device to another is a fairly straightforward process and will hardly take you a minute or two.

Step 1: On your old Android device, download SMS Backup & Restore from the Play Store. Start the app and grant it access to your messages, calls, and device storage.

Step 2: Tap the Set up a backup button and then select whether you’d like to backup your messages or call logs or both. My recommendation would be to only backup your messages since restoring call logs on a different Android device usually ends up creating some issues.

If you have MMSes or SMSes with emoji and special characters that you’d like to backup, make sure to enable the appropriate option from under Advanced Options.

Step 3: You now have the option of backing up your messages to Google Drive, Dropbox, or locally on your phone. Depending on your preference select one of the options. If you select Dropbox or Google Drive, you will have to configure a folder where you’d like to backup the messages as well as provide the app with the necessary permissions to access your cloud storage account.

If you store the file locally, you will have the option of specifying the backup folder. By default, all backups are stored in the ‘SMSBackupRestore’ folder on the internal storage of your Android device.

Once done, tap Next where you will have the option of setting up recurring backups. This is a handy option to use if you receive a lot of important SMSes. If not, turn off the option.

Finally, press the Back up now button to initiate the backup. Depending on the number of messages you have, the process can take up to a minute or two to complete.

Step 4: On your new Android device, install SMS Backup & Restore and follow step 1 from above. Then, simply swipe to the right, select Restore followed by the backup location i.e. Google Drive, Dropbox, or local. If you are selecting the local option, make sure to transfer the backup file from your old Android device to the new one.

How to transfer photos and WhatsApp chat history from one Android device to another?

To back up your photos and transfer them to a new Android device, check out the article below.

Read: Here’s everything you need to know about Google Photos

You can also follow the steps mentioned in this guide to transfer your WhatsApp chat history from your old Android device to the new one.

What about apps and associated app data on Android devices?

Sadly, there is no official way in Android to easily transfer apps and their associated data from one device to another. You can transfer the APKs — the installation file — of the installed apps from your old Android device to a new one but even that process is tedious and unnecessarily complex. Simply downloading the apps once again on your new Android device from the Play Store and setting them up again is simpler and a far easier thing to do.

Do drop a comment and let us know how the whole experience of transferring data from one Android device to another was for you.

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  1. Is there a way to transfer from Android to iPhone? Trying to transfer Whatsapp History and can’t find a way to do it.

    • Unfortunately, there’s no way right now to transfer WhatsApp data from Android to iPhone because WhatsApp uses iCloud backup on iPhone and Google Drive on Android. WhatsApp should ideally shift to Google Drive for both or offer two solutions so that users can choose.

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