How to Transfer Contacts From iPhone to iPhone

Copy contacts from your old phone

Upgrading to a new iPhone is exciting, but not if you lose the important things from your old phone, like your contacts. Transfer contacts from your old phone to your new one to avoid losing phone numbers, addresses, and other contact information. There are several ways to transfer contacts from iPhone to iPhone, including some that are built into the device.

iPhones transferring contact cards between them
Alex Dos Diaz / Lifewire

Instructions in this article apply to iPhones running iOS 9 and up.

How to Transfer Contacts From iPhone to iPhone With iCloud

The easiest methods to transfer contacts use features that come with the iPhone, such as iCloud. Since iCloud can keep data synchronized across all your devices, using it to sync contacts from iPhone to iPhone makes it an easy choice.

  1. Ensure that both iPhones are signed in with the same Apple ID and are connected to Wi-Fi.

  2. On both phones, open Settings, tap your name, then tap iCloud.

  3. Move the Contacts slider to on/green.

    Name, iCloud, Toggle button in iOS Settings app

    This step will upload your contacts to iCloud if they're not already there. If lots of contacts need to be backed up, it might take a while to finish.

  4. If a message appears about merging the contacts, choose that option so that none of the contacts are deleted.

  5. Because data from both phones first uploads to iCloud, and then syncs to both phones, you have sync all of your contacts to both devices.

How to Transfer iPhone Contacts by Restoring an iCloud Backup

Beyond the contact syncing process from the last section, iCloud can also make a backup of the data on your iPhone and then restore that backup onto a different iPhone. Here's how:

  1. Connect the iPhone to Wi-Fi.

    Backing up to iCloud requires lots of data. Use Wi-Fi instead of the cellular data included with your phone plan.

  2. On the iPhone with the contacts on it, tap Settings > [your name]. If prompted, log in with your Apple ID.

    Older devices may not display your name on this screen.

  3. Tap iCloud > iCloud Backup.

  4. Move the iCloud Backup slider to on/green, then select Back Up Now.

    If you see a message about your iPhone no longer backing up to your computer automatically when you sync with iTunes, tap OK.

    iCloud, iCloud Backup, Back Up Now buttons in iOS Settings
  5. The iPhone uploads your contacts and other data to iCloud. This backs up the entire iPhone, so it will take a while.

    You may need to upgrade your iCloud account to have enough storage for the full backup.

  6. On the new phone you want to have the iCloud backup added to, follow the standard new iPhone setup procedure. On the Apps & Data screen, choose Restore from iCloud Backup and follow the prompts to finish restoring the iPhone backup and copy your old contacts to the new phone.

If your new iPhone has already been set up, restore the backup data onto it by erasing the content and settings and choosing to restore from an iCloud backup when prompted.

How to Transfer iPhone Contacts Using iTunes

If you prefer to back up your iPhone to a computer, use iTunes instead of iCloud. Here's what to do:

  1. Connect the old iPhone to the computer you normally sync it with.

  2. Open iTunes and access the screen that shows your iPhone. If it doesn't open automatically, click the Phone icon.

    Phone icon in iTunes on Windows
  3. In the Backups section, click This Computer, then click Back Up Now.

    This Computer, Back Up Now buttons in iTunes for Windows

    If you're asked about encrypting the backup to make your iPhone more secure, either do so with the Encrypt Backups button. You can decline by selecting Don't Encrypt. You can change this setting later.

  4. Wait while the iPhone backs up to the computer. To monitor the progress, watch the blue progress bar at the top of iTunes.

    Backing up progress bar in iTunes for Windows
  5. When the backup is complete, eject the old iPhone and plug in the new one.

  6. To restore the new iPhone from the backup, select Restore Backup and follow the prompts.

If iTunes explains that you have to first disable Find My iPhone in order to restore the backup, do so through the iCloud > Find My iPhone option in the Settings app.

How to Transfer iPhone Contacts Using Web-Based Tools

iCloud isn't the only cloud-based service that stores and syncs contacts. Google and Yahoo are two other examples.

How to Transfer iPhone Contacts Using Third-Party Software

There's a robust world of third-party software that transfer contacts, usually rather quickly since they don't deal with iTunes or iCloud. My Contacts Backups is one example of a contact list backup app that works by having you email the contact list to yourself so that you can copy the contacts to your new iPhone. Just open your mail on the new phone, select the attachment, and import the list.

Why You Can't Transfer iPhone Contacts Using a SIM Card

Up close SIM card
Adam Gault / OJO Images / Getty Images

f you've used other phones that can transfer contacts from the SIM card, you might be wondering if you can do the same on your iPhone. This method backs up contacts to the SIM card and then you move the old SIM to the new phone to use the backup.

It's not so simple for the iPhone because the feature isn't supported with the iPhone SIM card. Learn more in How to Back Up Contacts to iPhone SIM.