When the time comes to move to a new phone, you’ll probably feel an inevitable sense of trepidation. Sure, you’ll be excited to get your hands on a shiny new device, but how on earth are you going to move all your data over?
There’s so much to consider. You’ll have apps, customized settings, photos, contacts, backgrounds, downloads — it’s daunting. Even if you’re efficient, it can take a whole weekend to get yourself set up on a new handset.
But it doesn’t have to be so complicated. With a bit of planning, you can make the transfer a seamless experience. You just need to know which settings and apps to use.
Here’s how to make the process of moving your data to a new Android device as painless as possible.
1. Settings: Android Backup Service
The most important tool for ensuring an easy transfer is to use the Android Backup Service. It’ll save some of your most personalized settings to the cloud, including:
- Google Calendar settings.
- Wi-Fi networks and passwords.
- Home screen wallpapers.
- Gmail settings.
- Display settings.
- Language and input settings.
- Date and time settings.
Some third-party apps will also be backed up, but it changes on an app-by-app basis. Not all apps are compatible.
To turn on Android Backup Service, head to Settings > Backup and reset and make sure Backup my data is turned on.
If you have more than one Google Account on your device, you need to select which account you want to use for saving the backups. Make your choice under Backup account.
When you turn on your new phone for the first time, it will ask you to enter your Google Account credentials. If the phone recognizes a backup on the servers, it will ask you if you want to use it. Tap Yes.
Samsung users have access to a proprietary app called SmartSwitch Mobile. In addition to the data Android Backup Service saves, it will also move your text messages, phone logs, contacts, and email accounts.
Sony users can try Sony Xperia Transfer, HTC offers the HTC Transfer Tool, and LG provides LG Bridge. They all perform a similar function.
Remember, because they are all proprietary features, they are only useful if you’re switching to another phone from the same manufacturer.
2. Photos: Google Photos
There are a number of apps you could use to move your photos from one device to another. OneDrive and Google Drive will both suffice, as will some manufacturer-specific apps. However, the easiest and most streamlined approach is to use Google Photos.
Not only does the Picasa replacement sync photos between all your devices (mobiles and tablets), but since mid-2015, Google has also offered a desktop uploader. It means any images on your various computers will also be accessible on your phone, thus making it the best holistic tool available.
First, make sure all your photo files are being backed up. Be careful! You might have several device folders (such as Camera, WhatsApp Images, Animated GIFs, Screenshots, etc). You need to manually turn on backup for every folder whose contents you want on your new phone.
To backup a folder, open Google Photos and go to Menu (three horizontal lines) > Settings > Backup and Sync > Back up device folders. Slide the toggle next to each folder you want to keep.
When you log onto your new phone, all the photos you backed up should instantly be viewable in the app.
Download — Google Photos (Free)
3. Passwords: LastPass
Android phones offer a feature called Smart Lock for Passwords. The principle is sound; Google keeps your app passwords on its own servers. When you reinstall the app on a new device, the phone will recognize it and pre-populate your username and password. Unfortunately, the feature requires developers to build the associated technology into their apps, and many haven’t done so.
Of course, Chrome can also save your passwords, but it’s not good practice to store passwords in a browser. It won’t have the same standard of security as a dedicated password manager.
My favorite dedicated password manager is LastPass, but there are lots of great options to choose from.
The best part of using a password manager is they require very little setup. Just install the app on your new phone and you’ll have all your credentials on-hand immediately.
Download — LastPass (Free)
4. Messages: SMS Backup & Restore
Yes, SMS and MMS are now ancient technologies, but a surprising number of people still use them. If you rely on the aging communication method, you might have valuable information tucked away in your message history.
The most reliable way to move the data to a new phone is to download SMS Backup & Restore. It does exactly as the name suggests: you can backup your messages on one device and restore them onto another. Obviously, you’ll need a copy of the SMS Backup & Restore app on both devices.
The app also lets you send backups to your preferred cloud storage provider, choose which specific messages to backup, and schedule recurring backups.
And remember, if you’ve joined the instant messaging revolution and use WhatsApp, it’s easy to move data onto your new phone. Just fire up the app and go to Menu > Settings > Chat backup and tap on Backup.
Download — SMS Backup & Restore (Free)
5. Personal Data
You can manually move any data on your phone that doesn’t fall into one of the prescribed categories. You might have to do this if you have audio, old podcasts, or important documents saved in random folders on your device.
First, use a file explorer to check the folders on your phone. If there’s content you want to salvage, you have two options:
- USB Cable — You could use a USB cable to transfer the data from your phone to your computer, and then from your computer into the same folder on your new device.
- SD Card — If your phone has removable SD card, you can move data onto it, then transfer the card to your new phone.
6. Third-Party Tools
Finally, if all these steps sound like too much hassle, you could try using a dedicated app from the Google Play Store. The best app for non-rooted phones is arguably Helium.
Helium will backup and sync your apps and your data to the cloud. It works with multiple devices, and you can restore your data with a simple click. You’ll need a copy of the app on both phones and your computer desktop.
In addition to your apps and settings, the app will sync your contacts, SMS, various user accounts, Wi-Fi settings, and call logs.
Download — Helium (Free)
How Do You Move to a New Phone?
Of course, moving all your data is only one part of switching to a new phone. Even if you transfer everything, there are still lots of steps you need to take on your new device before you can confidently say it’s ready to use.
I’ve shown you a few different ways to migrate your data, but there’s no one way that’s objectively the best. A lot of it depends on how you use your phone and how much of your data you want to migrate.
Once your data is in place, you can move on to exploring the best Android has to offer.
Image Credits: PILart/Shutterstock