How to Transfer Contacts From iPhone to iPhone

Copy contacts from your old phone

Phone data transfer illustration

Chunumunu / iStock / Getty Images

Upgrading to a new iPhone is exciting, but not so much if you lose all the important things you used to have on your old phone, such as your contacts. Transfer contacts from your old phone to your new one to avoid losing those numbers, addresses, etc.

There are a number of ways to transfer contacts from one iPhone to another, including some that are built right into the device itself. Below are five of the best ways to transfer your contacts.

Transfer Contacts With iCloud Syncing

The easiest methods for transferring contacts involve using the features already built into your phone, such as iCloud. Since iCloud can keep data synchronized across all your devices, using it to sync contacts between iPhones makes it an easy choice.

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

  2. On both phones, open Settings, tap your name at the top, and then choose iCloud.

    If you're using an old version of iOS, such as iOS 9, just select iCloud.

  3. Make sure Contacts is enabled. Select the button next to it if it's not already green.

    Name, iCloud, Toggle button in iOS Settings app

    If you see a message about merging the contacts, confirm it so that none of the contacts will get deleted.

    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. Contacts from both phones will now exist on the other one, effectively syncing contacts between the iPhones.

Transfer Contacts by Restoring an iCloud Backup

Beyond contact syncing, iCloud also lets you make a backup of all the data on your iPhone and then restore that backup onto a different iPhone.

  1. Connect your iPhone to Wi-Fi. This is important because the backup will require lots of data, something you don't want to attempt outside of Wi-Fi.

  2. On your old iPhone, tap Settings and then select your name at the top. If you aren't logged in with your Apple ID, you can do so now.

  3. Go to iCloud and then iCloud Backup.

  4. Tap the button to enable the iCloud backup feature, and then select Back Up Now.

    iCloud, iCloud Backup, Back Up Now buttons in iOS Settings
  5. The iPhone will upload your contacts and other data to iCloud. This is backing up your entire iPhone, so it's going to take a while.

    You might need to upgrade your iCloud account to get enough storage for the full backup. You'll be presented with upgrade options if you need them.

  6. Follow the standard new iPhone setup procedure. When you get to the Apps & Data screen, choose Restore from iCloud Backup and follow the prompts to finish restoring the iPhone backup and ultimately copy your old contacts to your new phone.

If your new iPhone is already set up, you can still restore the backed-up data onto it by erasing all the content and settings and then choosing to restore from an iCloud backup when asked.

Transfer iPhone Contacts Using iTunes

iPhone laying next to a laptop
heshphoto / Image Source / Getty Images

If you prefer to back up your iPhone to a computer rather than to the cloud, you can follow virtually the same process that was just described, but using iTunes instead of iCloud. 

  1. Connect your 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, select the phone icon.

    Phone icon in iTunes on Windows
  3. Select This Computer in the Backups section if it's not already chosen, and then choose 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 or decline by selecting Don't Encrypt. You can always change this later.

  4. Wait while your iPhone backs up to your computer. You can monitor the overall progress by watching the blue progress bar at the top of iTunes.

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

  6. Restore your new iPhone from the backup by selecting Restore Backup and following 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 Settings.

Transfer Contacts Using Web-Based Tools

Illustration of a wireless file transfer between two devices
Irina Griskova / iStock / Getty Images

iCloud isn't the only cloud-based service that lets you store and sync contacts. Google and Yahoo are two other examples.

Transfer Contacts Using Third-Party Software

Someone turning on an iPhone in front of a laptop
Milkos / iStock / Getty Images

There's a robust world of third-party software programs that can help you transfer your 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 whole contact list to yourself so that you can copy them to your new iPhone. Just open your mail on the new phone, select the attachment, and import the whole list at once.

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

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

If you've used other phones that support contact transfers via the SIM card, you might be wondering if you can do the same on your iPhone. This method lets you back up contacts to the SIM card and then just move the old SIM into the new phone to use the backup.

Unfortunately, it's not so simple for the iPhone because the feature isn't even supported with the iPhone SIM card.