How to Transfer Apps From Your Old Android to Your New Android

Moving apps to your new device is a snap

This article explains how to transfer apps from an old Android phone to your new phone. Methods include using the Android built-in Backup and Restore feature, or using the Samsung Smart Switch Mobile app if it's pre-installed on your device. Instructions cover Android Pie 9.0, Oreo 8.0, Nougat 7.0, and Android phones from all manufacturers.

Use the Android Backup and Restore Feature

First, check that your old device is backing up your data:

  1. Go to Settings > System.

  2. Select Backup. (You may have to expand the Advanced section first.)

    Android system settings screen

    Your menu settings might be slightly different depending on your phone's manufacturer and its Android version.

  3. Verify that the Back up to Google Drive toggle is on. If it is, you're all set.

  4. If it's toggled to off, slide it on and select Back up now.

  5. When the backup is complete, you're good to go.

You can't restore a backup from a higher Android version onto a device with a lower Android version.

Restore Your Data to the New Phone

Now you're ready to restore your data to the new Android. If you haven't set up your new phone, you'll be able to restore your data, including apps, during that process.

If you set up your phone and didn't restore your data, reset it to factory settings and start the setup process over again.

  1. Charge your new Android and power it up. Follow the prompts on the screen until it asks you if you want to restore data from another device. You can always opt to start with a clean slate when you get a new phone, but restoring data from an old phone makes the transition seamless.

    This process will vary slightly depending on your phone's manufacturer, carrier, and OS version.

  2. Choose the device you want to restore data from and tap Copy Your Data.

  3. Your Android prompts you to connect to a Wi-Fi network. Make sure it's connected to the same one as your old phone.

  4. From the restore options, choose either A backup from an Android phone (if you have your old Android on hand) or A backup from the cloud (if you don't).

  5. Using the same account you're logged in to on your old phone, sign in to your Google account.

  6. In the list of backup options, which includes your old Android device, select the correct one (most likely the most recent one). Then tap Restore to move the data and settings from your previous device. Tap Apps to select which apps you want on the new device.

  7. While your data is restored in the background, you can continue with the set-up process.

Use the Samsung Smart Switch Mobile App

If you have the Galaxy S7 or later, Smart Switch Mobile is pre-installed on your device. For older devices, download the app from Google Play or the Samsung app store. You can use the app to transfer data from an Android phone running 6.0 Marshmallow or later to a Samsung phone.

To access the app on the S7 or later, tap Settings > Accounts > Smart Switch. For any other phones, look for it in the app drawer.

Samsung Smart Switch app screen with content transfer options

There are three methods you can use with Smart Switch: Wirelessly, USB cable, or external storage (SD card or USB storage).

Using Smart Switch With a Wireless Connection

Here's how to transfer apps using the wireless method, which is the most straightforward.

  1. Launch Smart Switch on your new phone.

  2. Select Wireless > Receive > Android.

  3. Open Smart Switch on your old device.

  4. Tap Wireless > Send.

  5. Follow the screen prompts on your new device.

Using Smart Switch With a USB Cable:

Here's how to transfer apps using a USB cable.

  1. Plug in your old phone's USB cable.

  2. Connect that cable to a Samsung USB connector.

  3. Plug the Samsung USB connector into your new Samsung phone.

  4. Launch Smart Switch on your old phone.

  5. Adjust the USB setting on your old phone to Media device (MTP).

  6. Follow screen prompts to transfer apps.

Using Smart Switch With an SD Card

To use the external storage option, insert the SD card or connect the phone to the USB storage device that contains the apps you want to restore. Follow the screen prompts.

Samsung Smart Switch welcome screen on a desktop

Samsung also has Smart Switch apps for Windows and Mac. Download and launch the desktop app, connect your new phone to the computer, and follow the on-screen instructions to transfer apps and other data.

Backing Up and Restoring Games

How frustrating is it to start up a new phone, open your favorite game, and find that your progress has been erased? Fear not. With most games in the Play Store, you can easily back up your progress and bring it with you to each new device. A common way to back up games is through an app called Google Play Games. Compatible apps have a green gamepad icon on their Play Store listing.

Open the app, tap the three-dot menu in the upper-right corner, then select Settings and toggle Sign in to games automatically to the on position. Once you've transferred your games to the new phone, log in to your Play Games account to sync progress.

If your game is not Google Play Games compatible, back it up separately. Check the app's settings to see if there's a backup option. 

Other Considerations

For non-Google apps, double-check that those apps are backing up to Google Drive. For instance, you might want a messaging app to save your chat history. Most popular apps will have this option.

If you save passwords or bookmarks in Chrome or another mobile browser, be sure to sign in on all your devices so that your data syncs properly. Go to the browser settings and sign in if you're not already.

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