How to Transfer Contacts From iPhone to iPhone

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Upgrading to a new iPhone is always exciting, but an upgrade can be ruined if you lose important data along the way. Among the most important types of data that you want to be sure to transfer are your Contacts. After all, no one wants to re-enter names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses for dozens or hundreds of people.

There are a number of ways to transfer contacts from one iPhone to another iPhone, including some built right into the iPhone itself. This article covers 5 of the top means of transferring your contacts.

Transfer Contacts with iCloud Syning

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The simplest ways to transfer contact use the features already built into the iPhone, like iCloud. One of iCloud's features syncs certain kinds of data across devices using the same iCloud account to make sure they all have the same info. One of the kinds of data it can sync is Contacts. Here's what you need to do:

  1. Make sure both iPhones are signed into the same Apple ID account and are both connected to Wi-Fi.
  2. Tap Settings.
  3. On iOS 9, tap iCloud and skip to step 6.
  4. On iOS 10 and up, tap your name at the top of the screen. 
  5. Tap iCloud.
  6. On the old iPhone that has the contacts on it, make sure that the Contacts slider is moved to on/green. This will upload your contacts to iCloud if they're not already there. If they're not, and you have a lot of them, it may take a little while for them to upload.
  7. On the new iPhone, repeat all of these steps.
  8. When you move the Contacts slider to on/green, a menu will pop up from the bottom of the screen. Tap Merge.
  9. The contacts will download from iCloud to the new iPhone and you'll be done in a few minutes.

Transfer Contacts by Restoring an iCloud Backup

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Besides syncing contacts, iCloud also lets you make a backup of all the data on your iPhone and then restore that backup onto the new iPhone. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure you're connected to Wi-Fi. This upload will be a big one, so you'll want the speed of Wi-Fi.
  2. On the old iPhone, tap Settings.
  3. On iOS 9, tap iCloud and skip to step 6.
  4. On iOS 10 and up, tap your name at the top of the screen. 
  5. Tap iCloud.
  6. Tap iCloud Backup.
  7. Move the iCloud Backup slider to on/green. 
  8. The iPhone will upload data to iCloud, including contacts.
  9. On the new phone, tap Settings.
  10. Tap General.
  11. Tap Reset.
  12. Tap Erase All Content and Settings. This will erase any data that's on the new iPhone, so make sure you back up anything that's not already backed up elsewhere.
  13. Tap Restore from iCloud Backup.
  14. Sign into your iCloud account (it should be the same as your Apple ID), if asked.
  15. Pick the backup you just made of the old iPhone from the Choose Backup menu.
  16. Follow the onscreen prompts to finish restoring the iPhone and setting it up.

Transfer Contacts Using iTunes

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If you prefer to backup your iPhone to a computer rather than to the cloud, you can follow virtually the same process as just described, but using iTunes instead of iCloud. To do that, follow these steps: 

  1. Connect the old iPhone to the computer you normally sync it with.
  2. Open iTunes.
  3. On the main management screen, make sure This computer is checked in the Automatically Back Up section.
  4. Click Back Up Now.
  5. When the back up is complete, eject the old iPhone and connect the new one.
  6. On the main management screen, click Restore Backup
  7. Follow the onscreen prompts to select the backup you just made and put it onto the new iPhone. For full details and instructions on this read How to Restore an iPhone from Backup.

Transfer Contacts Using Web-Based Tools from Google and Yahoo

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iCloud isn't the only cloud-based service that lets you store and sync your contacts. Both Google and Yahoo offer similar tools, called Google Contacts and Yahoo Address Book, respectively. Both of these options can be used to transfer contacts from iPhone to iPhone.  

For full, detail instructions on how to use these tools, read How to Sync iPhone with Yahoo and Google Contacts.

Transfer Contacts Using Third-Party Software

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There's a robust landscape of third-party software products that can help you transfer your contacts. Usually, these programs are not dedicated solely to transferring contacts. Instead, they are designed to transfer all kinds of data, such photos, text messages, music, and contacts.

The programs are almost all paid. They often claim to deliver features that neither iCloud nor iTunes can, such as the ability to browse for individual files on your iPhone and to recover data that would otherwise be lost.

As with all software, the quality of these programs and their ability to do what they claim varies. There are too many programs to list here or to provide individual instructions for, but a little time at your favorite search engine will turn up a ton of options. 

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

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If you've used other cellphones or smartphones, you may be wondering if the easiest way to transfer contacts is just to use the SIM card. On other phones, you can back up data such as contacts to the SIM and then just move the old SIM to the new phone. 

Simple, right? Well, not on the iPhone. The iPhone doesn't allow you to back up data to the SIM, so this method won't work.

For an in-depth look at this issue, check out How to Backup Contacts to iPhone SIM.