How to switch from Android to iPhone: A complete guide

Join the Apple club with our complete guide to switching from Android to iOS

iPhone XS Max
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

So you’ve grown tired of the Android wilds and bought your ticket to the land of Apple. In this guide, we’ll help you pack for the trip and serve up a few tips to help the transition go smoothly. Breaking free of Google’s ecosystem and its team of manufacturers will present a few difficulties, sure, but we can find solutions.

We’ll run through how to transfer your contacts, move your precious music, videos, photos, and find equivalent services on iOS to replace what you’re leaving behind. We’ll also help you find your feet with some tips, and show you how to get the best out of your newfangled iPhone. Let’s get started.

What you’re leaving behind

As you prepare to abandon Android, it’s worth considering what you can’t take with you. Your phone case is not going to be compatible with your new iPhone, and your dock might not be either, but there’s a good chance that any other Android accessories you bought will be. If they rely on Bluetooth to connect, then they’ll work just fine with the iPhone. Most speaker accessories and docks have iPhone compatibility as standard. Even traditional headphones will work with the latest iPhones, though you will need to buy a Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter.

You obviously can’t take your Android apps with you, but there are lots of great options on iOS, so you’ll be able to replace the vast majority. Wave goodbye to home screen customization, you won’t really find it on iOS. Last, but not least, there’s the question of what to do with your old phone. Your best bet might be to wipe it and sell it, because you’ll need some cash for that new iPhone.

Use Apple’s app

Move to iOS app
Simon Hill/Digital Trends

First and foremost, we have to mention the Apple app, Move to iOS, which is available for free in the Google Play Store and capable of transferring contacts, message history, photos, videos, web bookmarks, mail accounts, and calendars to your new iPhone. Ignore the poor rating, it’s a product of Android vs. iOS rivalry rather than a reflection of how well the app works. Simply download and install it on your old Android phone and follow the instructions to copy over the content you want.

If you prefer not to use Apple’s app, or it doesn’t work for you, fear not, as we have plenty of alternative methods below.

Transferring contacts

Naturally, you’ll want to take your contacts with you, and there are various ways you can do that. Start with this guide on how to transfer your contacts between iPhone and Android, and you’ll find it’s easy to handle the process using Gmail and iTunes.

Switching from Google to Apple services

When we covered how to switch from iPhone to Android, we discussed all the Google services that you might consider using in order to replace Apple’s offerings, but going the other way is a lot easier because the Google services you’ve been using on Android are all available on iOS as well. You can find a complete list on this iTunes page.

Google Maps, Chrome, YouTube Music (formerly Google Play Music), Google Drive, and even Google Assistant, among other things, can all be enjoyed on iOS. They might work a little differently from their Android counterparts, but if you’re heavily invested in using any of them, then their presence on iOS should certainly help you feel at home.

iphone xr home screen
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Of course, there are still many Apple alternatives and they’ll be set as the default options on your new iPhone. You’ll want to try out:

  • iTunes: Good for buying and organizing your music, movies, TV shows, apps, audiobooks, and more.
  • Safari web browser: Can sync bookmarks across all your Apple devices.
  • iCloud: Can back up your files, contacts, calendars, and photos.

There’s also the Maps app for turn-by-turn directions, and a lot of premium optional extras. Creative people will want to try iMovie and GarageBand. Workaholics will love Keynote, Pages, and Numbers. There’s also iBooks for reading, and then there’s the largest collection of free education content available through iTunes U.

Moving photos, videos, and music

Backing up your precious memories is vital. We took a look at how to back up, speed up, and clean up your iPhone or Android device, so you might want to start there.

If you’d like to copy files over a wired connection, then plug your Android phone into your computer using your USB-C or Micro USB to USB cable. Pull down the Notification shade on your Android phone, and make sure it’s connected. It should connect automatically in Media transfer mode (MTP). You should get a pop-up on your PC, which will give various options including Open device to view files. Alternatively, you can go to Start > Computer, and you should find it listed. Navigate to the files you want, and drag and drop them onto your computer. Here’s how to transfer files from an Android phone to a Mac.

To get files from your computer to your iPhone, you can plug your iPhone in and fire up iTunes. Select your device in the left panel in iTunes, click the Apps tab, and then scroll down to find the File Sharing section (if you don’t have a file sharing section, your iPhone has no file sharing apps installed). Choose the app you want to transfer the file to, and then drag and drop the file from your computer into iTunes onto the space on the right.

Apple iPhone 7 Plus
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

If you want to transfer all your photos, first make sure that any new photos you have on your iPhone are backed up, then go and select your device in iTunes again, and select the Photos tab up top. Make sure the Sync Photos box is ticked and tap on the drop-down menu to choose the Copy files from folder. Now pick the folder of photos you want to transfer. Be warned: You may lose any photos you have on the iPhone when you do this, so back up first.

Going wireless and using the cloud to transfer files can prove a whole lot easier. You could log in and use iCloud, but remember you only get 5GB for free. You can always bolster it with Google Drive, Google Photos, Microsoft OneDrive, DropBox, or another cloud service.

You can access any movies, music, or books that you bought through Google Play through the browser on your iPhone, or by downloading the right Google iOS app. For example, if you’ve been using Google Play Books on Android, you just download the Google Play Books app for iOS and your collection is instantly accessible. If you’ve been backing up files on Google Drive or uploading photos to Google Photos, then you can do the same thing – snag the iOS apps and you have instant easy access to sync them across.

It’s easy to transfer files using other cloud solutions. Most of the big names, like Dropbox, have Android and iOS apps, so simply download the iOS app, enter your account details, and copy across whatever you need.

It makes sense to import your music into iTunes, and it’s easily done. Make sure you have the Music Manager for Google Play Music installed on your computer, or Google Play Music installed to your Chrome browser, and select Download my library from the Download tab. Choose the folder you want to download to and then fire up iTunes and go to File > Add Folder to Library, choose the same folder, and it will all be copied across. Once you have all your music in iTunes, check out our guide on how to download music to your iPod or iPhone.

Moving your text messages

It’s often a wrench to leave behind your old text messages when you switch to a new phone. Most of them won’t be missed, but sometimes you’ll have a special goodbye or a romantic message that you want to keep. Unfortunately, there’s only one way we know of to do this, and it comes straight from Apple. It’s the aforementioned Move to iOS app, which can also transfer your contacts, photos, videos, mail accounts, web bookmarks, and calendars.

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