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How to switch from Android to iPhone: A complete guide

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, consider what you can’t take with you. Your phone case won’t be compatible with your new iPhone, and your dock may not be either, but there’s a good chance that any other Android accessories you bought will work. If they rely on Bluetooth, then they’ll work just fine. 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, as iOS doesn’t support launchers. 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
Simon Hill / Digital Trends

The easiest way to move from Android to an iPhone is to use Apple’s Move to iOS app listed on the Google Play Store. This app will transfer your 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.

However, in a nutshell, your Google contacts will merge into the iPhone’s Contacts app when you add a Google Account to the device. We have more on this in our guide on how to set to a Gmail account.

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 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 Apple App Store page.

Google Maps, Chrome, YouTube Music (or 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 more at home.

iPhone 11
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:

  • The iTunes Store and the App Store — One for media and one for apps. Simple!
  • Music, Books, and Apple TV — Apps for accessing your content purchased through the two stores.
  • Safari web browser — Can sync bookmarks across all your Apple devices.
  • iCloud — Can back up your files, contacts, calendars, and photos.
  • CarPlay — Navigation and content access while driving.

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 the largest collection of free education content available through iTunes U.

If you love games, then we highly recommend the subscription service, Apple Arcade, which gives you access to a great library of games, free of ads, for $5 per month. Here are some of our favorite Apple Arcade games to whet your appetite.

Moving photos, videos, and music

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

Generally, you don’t need to manually move files from Android to iOS unless they’re items you stored in the Downloads folder. All the music, movies, TV shows, eBooks, and so on you purchased through the Play Store are accessible through Google’s apps for iOS — you can even download these items for offline use. You don’t need to export and import media unless you want to abandon Google altogether.

Meanwhile, your photos and videos taken with the Camera app can be accessed on an iPhone if they were backed up using Google Photos or another cloud service. For instance, if you set Dropbox for Android to automatically back up your photos and videos, then they’re stored in the Camera Roll folder and accessible from any other device, including your iPhone.

Before wiping your Android device, be sure to back up this content to the cloud if you have enough space. You can get 100GB of Google One space for $2/month if you need more — you can always cancel the subscription at any time. This and similar services typically have apps for Android, iOS, and iPadOS, making transfers easy.

For files you manually downloaded to your Android phone, your best option is to upload them to a cloud service, like OneDrive or Dropbox, and then re-download them to your new iPhone.

Apple iPhone 7 Plus
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Another option is to transfer your downloaded files using a wired or Bluetooth connection. We provide a guide on how to do so for Windows, MacOS, and even Chrome OS. You essentially copy the files from your Android device using a computer and then move them over to your new iPhone.

If you just want to manually transfer your photos, we provide a lengthy standalone guide for moving photos to Windows, MacOS, and Chrome OS. Be sure to back up any new photos you have on your iPhone first.

Keep in mind that whatever you import into the Photos app on your iPhone is accessible on all other Apple devices, even a MacBook or iPod Touch.

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 that special goodbye or 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.

Welcome to iOS

At first glance, it’s bound to look strange around these parts, and there are some things you’ll probably miss about Android, but iOS is designed to be intuitive, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble settling in. Let’s see if we can make it as soft a landing as possible.

Finding your way

Most modern Android phones have multiple navigational modes. For instance, stock Android 11 offers three: Gesture only, two-button, and three-button. If you’re accustomed to using gestures only, then handling an iPhone will be easy. If you typically navigate Android using the two-button or three-button layout, using an iPhone may be a little jarring given Apple ripped out the physically Home button starting with the iPhone X.

The only exceptions are the iPhone SE, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and older, which has a physical Home button that always takes you back to the Home screen. In general, any Back options will show up at the top left of the screen; otherwise, tap that Home button to reverse out of an app. You open recent apps or multitasking by tapping the Home button twice. You can also hold the Home button down to launch Siri and ask questions, get directions, set up appointments, and more.

While Android crams the Quick Action menu at the top of the Notification Shade, Apple splits these two components apart, as you’ll see on the list below. Here’s how to navigate iOS on devices without the physical Home button:

  • Go to the home screen: Swipe a finger up from the bottom.
  • See all open apps: Swipe a finger up from the bottom, pause, and lift when the apps appear.
  • Access search: Swipe a finger down from the middle of the screen.
  • Open the Control Center: Swipe a finger down from the top right corner. This is similar to the Quick Action menu on Android.
  • Open your notifications list Swipe a finger down from the top left corner.
  • Access Home View: This is Apple’s version of Google Feed. Swipe a finger right from the left edge on the Home or Lock Screen.
  • Access Siri: Press and hold the Power button (although you can say “Hey Siri” and it responds).
iPhone 11 Pro Max screen upside down
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

You’ll find that the pull-down Notifications Bar is familiar to Android, but by default, notifications will show up on your lock screen as well. You can always change this in Settings > Notifications. Just remember that if you tap or swipe on the notification it will probably open the relevant app. You have to tap the small cross at the top right to dismiss a notification. Some pop-up notifications do offer interactions now, so you can dismiss a notification or write a quick reply without leaving the app you’re in.

You can also add widgets to the Home View screen. Here’s how:

Step 1: On the Home View screen, scroll down and tap the Edit button at the bottom.

Step 2: Tap the Plus icon located in the top-left corner.

Step 3: Tap on a widget to add it to your Home View screen.

Step 4: Repeat Step 2 and Step 3 to add another widget, or tap Done to finish.


This is probably the most jarring change for Android users: The lack of an App Drawer. Typically they’re accessed by swiping a finger up from the bottom. Not on an iPhone. Here you must swipe a finger left from the right edge of the screen to access your App Library.

You can add an app shortcut to your Home Screen (or any additional Page) by long-pressing on an app in your library and selecting Add to Home Screen on the pop-up menu. Think of this as your App Drawer, only Apple crams it to the right instead of tucking it under the Home Screen.

iPhone 11 Pro Max screen
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Most apps you obtained through Google Play are available on the App Store. In fact, you’ll likely see more recent versions on Apple’s platform first — Google Assistant is the perfect example — because there are only a handful of different iPhone models available versus the uncountable numbers in the Android army.

To get you started, we provide a big list of the best iPhone apps and the best iPhone games.


Apple’s iOS (and iPadOS) don’t support Launchers, so customizing your Home Screen is limited. Your iPhone ships with shortcuts to Apple’s stock apps on the Home Screen, like Mail, Maps, Photos, Notes, the App Store, the iTunes Store, and so on. It’s a bit more cluttered than Android’s Home screen, but you can remove these shortcuts by doing the following:

Step 1: Long-press on an app icon.

Step 2: Tap Remove App.

Step 3: Tap Move to App Library.

This doesn’t delete the app but merely removes the shortcut from your Home Screen and the associated pages. To delete an app, long-press on the icon and then tap the X that appears as the icon wiggles in place. To create folders, drag one shortcut icon onto another.


Setting your iPhone wallpaper is easy. Here’s how:

Step 1: Tap to open the Settings app.

Step 2: Tap Wallpaper.

Step 3: Tap Choose a New Wallpaper.

Step 4: Select a wallpaper from Apple’s stock selection (Dynamic, Stills, or Live) or select one retrieved by one of your installed apps, like Photos, Instagram, or Zedge.

If you want to make a wallpaper, here are some example resolutions:

  • iPhone 12 Mini: 2340 x 1080
  • iPhone 12/12 Pro: 2532 x 1170
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max: 2778 x 1284
  • iPhone 11: 1792 x 828
  • iPhone 11 Pro: 2436 x 1125
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max: 2688 x 1242
  • iPhone SE: 1334 x 750

You might want to make your wallpaper slightly larger to account for the parallax effect (aka the wallpaper movement when tilting the screen).


For ringtones, you can choose whatever you like, or make your own. For more information, check out our guide on how to make ringtones for iPhone.


Apple’s iOS now supports widgets, just like Android. To add a widget to your Home Screen, do the following:

Step 1: Press and hold anywhere on the Home Screen.

Step 2: Tap the + symbol in the top left corner.

Step 3: Tap on the widget you want to add.

Step 4: Select one of three sizes on the following screen.

Step 5: Tap Add Widget to complete.

For more information about widgets, check out our guide on the best and most useful widgets in iOS 14.

Software updates

Both Apple and Google routinely knock out updates that are quickly pushed through carriers. The big difference is that on Android, updates must be integrated into third-party builds and then tested and approved by the carrier. That means Google’s Pixel phones will see updates — new OS versions as well — first and then trickles down to Samsung, LG, and whatnot. This is why a Pixel phone may sport Android 11 while Samsung phones still have Android 10.

With the iPhone, updates are universal and easy to apply. Older models might not support the latest software, so iOS is not entirely free of fragmentation, but it’s certainly much less of an issue. You have the option to do it wirelessly via Settings > General > Software Update, or you can plug it in and do it through iTunes. To get the most out of iOS 14, the latest version of iOS, here are a handful of useful iOS 14 tips.

Battery life

Apple works hard on battery life for the iPhone and some users report that their juice keeps on flowing for longer than it does on some Android flagship phones (this is highly debatable). Whether you find an improvement or not, most of you are probably going to want to find ways of maximizing that iPhone battery life.

razer phone vs iphone x wireless charging

The latest iPhones all support Qi wireless charging, so you can snag yourself a wireless charger or use the same one you had for your Android phone and charge up without having to plug it in.

Extra iPhone options and tips

While Android has Duo, Apple provides FaceTime for video calls. We provide a guide on how to use FaceTime from launching and activating FaceTime to group calls and audio-only options.

If your iPhone’s giving you serious issues, you might consider checking out our guide on how to factory reset your iPhone. We also provide yet another set of instructions on how to block calls on an iPhone, perfect for ignoring those auto warranty scams and other annoying spam.

If you decide to go back to Android one day, we have a guide for that.

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