What to Know When Switching From Android to iPhone

The content you can take and the software you need

If you've decided to switch from Android to iPhone, you're making a great choice. But if you've been using Android long enough to accumulate a decent number of apps and a good-sized music library — to say nothing of photos, videos, contacts, and calendars — you may have questions about what you can transfer to your new phone. Luckily, you can bring most of your content and data, with a few notable exceptions. Read on to learn what you'll be able to move to your new iPhone.

Haven't bought your iPhone yet? Use your budget, storage capacity needs, and hardware preferences to see which iPhone is best for you.

Software: You Probably Need iTunes or Move to iOS

One of the most important things you'll need is software to help you move content from your Android to your new iPhone. There are two major ways you can do this.

You can download Apple's Move to iOS app from the Google Play Store. This is an Android app that helps transfer your data. Just download it and follow the onscreen instructions.

Android to iPhone Journey
Android to iPhone Journey.

Depending on how you plan to use your iPhone, you may want to use iTunes to transfer data between your phones. iTunes used to be the only way to control what content—including contacts, calendars, and apps—was on your phone, that's no longer true. These days, you can also use iCloud or other cloud services. 

Still, iTunes is perhaps the easiest way to transfer data. So, even if you don't plan to use iTunes forever, it might be a good place to start your switch. You can get iTunes free from Apple, so you'll just need to download and install iTunes on Windows or install iTunes on a Mac (or on some versions of Linux, too).

If you decide to keep your Android device, iTunes features that work for Android include playing Apple Music content, playing iTunes music, and AirPlay streaming.

Sync Content to Your Computer Before You Switch

Before switching from Android to iPhone, it's crucial to back up your Android phone to your computer. This includes syncing your music, calendars, address books, photos, videos, and more. If you use a web-based calendar or address book, this probably isn't necessary, but better safe than sorry. Back up as much data from your phone to your computer as you can before starting your switch.

What Content Can You Transfer From Android to iPhone?

Probably the most important part of moving from one smartphone platform to the other is making sure that all of your data comes with you when you change. Here's the scoop on what data can and can't transfer, and how to do it.

Music: Yes

One of the things that people care most about when switching is that their music comes with them. The good news is that, in many cases, you should be able to transfer your music.

If the music on your phone is DRM-free, just add the music to iTunes and you'll be able to access it when you sync your iPhone to a computer. If the music has DRM, you may need to install an app to authorize it. Some DRM isn't supported on the iPhone at all, so if you've got a lot of DRMed music, you may want to check before you switch.

Windows Media files can't be played on the iPhone, so it's best to add them to iTunes, convert them to MP3 or AAC, and then sync them. Windows Media files with DRM may not be usable in iTunes at all, so you may not be able to convert them.

If you get your music through a streaming service like Spotify, you won't have to worry about losing music (though any songs you saved for offline listening will have to be re-downloaded on your iPhone). Just download the iPhone apps for those services and sign in to your account.

Photos and Videos: Yes

The other thing that's most important to many people is their photos and videos. You definitely don't want to lose hundreds or thousands of priceless memories just because you changed phones. This, again, is where syncing the content of your phone to your computer is key. If you sync the photos from your Android phone to a photo management program on your computer, you should be able to move it to your new iPhone.

If you've got a Mac, just sync the pictures to the pre-installed Photos program (or copy them to your computer and then import them to Photos) and you'll be fine. On Windows, there are a number of photo-management programs available. It's best to look for one that advertises itself as being able to sync with the iPhone or iTunes.

If you use an online photo storage and sharing sites like Flickr, Google Photos, or Instagram, your photos will still be in your account there. Whether you can sync photos from your online account to your phone depends on the features of the online service.

Apps: Sort Of

Here's a big difference between the two types of phones: Android apps do not work on the iPhone (and vice versa). So, any apps you've got on Android can't come with you when you move to iPhone.

Luckily, many Android apps have iPhone versions or replacements that do basically the same thing. Search the App Store for your favorite apps.

If you have any paid Android apps, you'll have to buy them again for the iPhone.

Even if there are iPhone versions of the apps you need, your app data may not come with them. If the app requires that you create an account or otherwise stores your data in the cloud, you should be able to download the data to your iPhone, but some apps store your data on your phone. You may lose that data, so check with the developer of the app.

Contacts: Yes

Wouldn't it be a pain if you had to re-type all the names, phone numbers, and other contact information in your address book when you switch? Luckily, there are two ways you can transfer your contacts from Android to iPhone.

First, sync your Android phone to your computer and make sure that your contacts are completely synced to Windows Address Book or Outlook Express on Windows (there are many other address book programs, but those are the ones iTunes can sync with) or Contacts on Mac.

The other option is to store your address book in a cloud-based tool like Yahoo Address Book or Google Contacts. If you already use one of these services or decide to use one to transfer your contacts, make sure all of your address book content is synced to them, then read about how to sync them to your iPhone.

Calendar: Yes

Transferring all of your important events, meetings, birthdays, and other calendar entries is reasonably similar to the process used for contacts. If you're using an online calendar through Google or Yahoo, or a desktop program like Outlook, just make sure that your data is up to date. Then, when you set up your new iPhone, you'll connect those accounts and sync that data.

If you're using a third-party calendar app, things may be different. Check the App Store to see if there's an iPhone version. If there is, you may be able to download and sign in to that app to get data from your account. If there isn't an iPhone version, you probably want to export your data from the app you use now and import it into something like a Google or Yahoo calendar and then add it to whatever new app you prefer.

Movies and TV Shows: Maybe

The issues around transferring movies and TV shows are similar to those for transferring music. If your videos have DRM on them, it's likely that they won't play on the iPhone. They won't play if they're in Windows Media format, either. If you bought the movies through an app, check the App Store to see if there's an iPhone version. If there is, you should be able to play it on your iPhone.

Texts: Maybe

Text messages stored on your Android phone may not transfer to your iPhone unless they're in a third-party app that stores them in the cloud and has an iPhone version. In that case, when you sign into the app on your iPhone, your texting history may appear (but it might not; it depends on how the app works).  

Some text messages can be transferred with Apple's Move to iOS app for Android.

One of the big attractions of the iPhone is the secure iMessage texting platform. Believe it or not, there's a way to use iMessage on Android.

Saved Voicemails: Probably

Voicemails that you've got saved should be accessible on your iPhone. Generally speaking, voicemails are saved in your account with your phone company, not on your smartphone (though they're available there, too). So, as long as you have the same phone company account, they should be accessible. However, if part of your switch from to iPhone also includes changing phone companies, you'll likely lose those saved voicemails.

Was this page helpful?