How to transfer contacts from iPhone to iPhone

6 min read

When you get a new iPhone, it’s important to make sure the data from your old iPhone transfers properly. Even if you’re looking to start fresh with an entirely new account, there are likely a few contacts you’d like to port over. Friends, family, and other close acquaintances should be at the top of your list.

For those booting a new phone from an iCloud backup, contacts should migrate without a problem. That said, there are times even that fails to migrate all of your contacts, so you should know how to do it yourself.

We’ll show you how to transfer contacts from iPhone to iPhone, export contacts from iPhone and transfer contacts to new iPhone, and the apps that can help you tidy up your digital life with ease.

Transfer contacts to new iPhone without iCloud

The best Mac app to transfer contacts from iPhone to iPhone is AnyTrans

AnyTrans allows you complete customization and control of iPhone backups, including which data to backup. It’s also perfect for data migration between iPhones, or to a Mac. You can send images, contacts, messages, notes, calendar appointments and more.

First, you need to turn off iCloud contacts on your iPhone. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone
  2. Tap your Apple ID name banner at the top of the screen
  3. Select “iCloud”
  4. Toggle “Contacts” off

turn off icloud photo

Now that you’ve disabled iCloud Contacts, here’s how to transfer contacts from one iPhone to another using AnyTrans:

  1. Open AnyTrans on your Mac
  2. Plug in the iPhone you want to transfer contacts from
  3. Select the “More” icon at the right of the window
  4. Select “Contacts” on the left side of the window
  5. Select all the contacts you’d like to transfer
  6. Plug in your second iPhone
  7. Select “To Device” from the top of the AnyTrans app window
  8. Follow the on-screen prompts to transfer your contacts

transer contact from iphone to iphone

That’s how to transfer contacts between iPhones using AnyTrans. Simple!

Transfer contacts to a new iPhone using iCloud sync

Before we told you how to get contacts from iPhone to iPhone with AnyTrans, we suggested turning iCloud Contacts off. But what is iCloud Contacts, anyway?

iCloud is Apple’s cloud platform for syncing data between devices, including contacts. It’s why Notes you keep on Mac show up on your iPad or iPhone, and how the Photos app syncs between all of your devices. Alongside Apple services, many iOS and macOS apps choose to use iCloud to sync their various apps to all platforms in Apple’s ecosystem as well.

Transferring contacts to a new iPhone is as simple as backing your existing iPhone up and turning your new one on. Here’s how to back your iPhone up:

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Select your Apple ID name banner at the top of the screen
  3. Select “iCloud” 
  4. Choose “iCloud Backup”
  5. Select “Back Up Now”

icloud backup iphone

Once your phone is backed up, give it a few minutes to completely sync to iCloud. Then, turn on your new iPhone and set it next to your old iPhone to allow Apple’s Quick Start protocol to begin syncing. The process of syncing your two devices happens automatically, and Apple uses your most recent backup to sync all of your data, including contacts.

Transfer iPhone contacts using an iCloud backup

Keeping current backups of your iPhone is important, especially so you don’t lose track of contacts. As you text, call, email, and message people, they will be saved to your contacts list.

If you have an iCloud backup of your iPhone, booting to a new device from that backup is easy. Here’s how to transfer contacts from iPhone backups to a new iPhone using iCloud:

  1. Turn on your new iPhoneFollow the on-screen prompts until you reach a screen asking you to choose a WiFi network
  2. Select a WiFi network to join (preferably your home WiFi network)
  3. Choose “Restore from iCloud Backup”
  4. Sign into iCloud using your Apple ID
  5. Choose the most recent backup of your old iPhone

ios restore from icloud

That’s all you need to do. Your iPhone will boot from the backup you chose.

Before you backup an iPhone, it’s wise to get rid of content you no longer need. We won’t advise that you poke through your contacts list to decipher who to cull – but you should use Gemini for iPhone to eliminate unwanted photos from your device.

Gemini pokes through your iPhone’s Photos app to find duplicates, blurry images, and other photos you may want to get rid of. Chances are you don’t really need all of those screenshots!

Here’s how to use Gemini for iOS to thin out how many photos are on your phone, and taking up iCloud space:

  1. Open Gemini on your iPhone
  2. Select the category you want to delete photos from
  3. Swipe up to save photos, or down to delete them

gemini clear photos iphone

It’s that simple! You can also download Gemini for Mac and discover duplicate files, folders, photos, and other items that are occupying valuable storage space on your Mac.

AirDrop contacts one by one

If your contacts didn’t transfer via iCloud, or you forgot to include a few in your AnyTrans contacts transfer, it’s not a problem! You can still use AirDrop to transfer contracts between iPhones.

A word of caution before we tell you how to transfer contacts using AirDrop: it’s tedious, and you have to go one by one through your contacts list. It’s a great solution for transferring a few contacts, but we wouldn’t suggest it as the method to transfer all of the contacts in your list.

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Open the Contacts app on your iPhone
  2. Select the contact you’d like to transfer to a new iPhone
  3. Scroll down to the bottom of the contact and select “Share Contact”
  4. In the share sheet that pops up, choose the AirDrop transfer icon for the device you want to share to

If you don’t see the new iPhone available on the top row, select the AirDrop icon and choose it from the list of available apps. Should you not see it in the list of available AirDrop devices, you may have to enable AirDrop on your new iPhone. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone
  2. Select “General”
  3. Choose “AirDrop”
  4. Select “Everyone”
  5. Try to send the contact from your old iPhone via AirDrop again

turn on airdrop iphone

Enabling AirDrop on your new phone should make it discoverable on your old iPhone.

Using SIM-Card

Apple is increasingly moving iPhones toward a SIM-free world with its new eSIM capabilities in newer iPhones, but you can still use a SIM to transfer contacts between iPhones. In fact, some services will only save contacts to a SIM card, so it’s possible some of your oldest contacts are actually stuck on your SIM card!

A word of caution before proceeding: make sure your new iPhone can accept the SIM card from your older iPhone. Newer iOS devices use a nano-SIM card. If your iPhone is quite old, it’s possible you have a SIM card that won’t fit a new iPhone. You can visit a carrier store to receive a new SIM card, or have them trim your old one to fit your new device.

Here’s how to transfer contacts from a SIM card to your iPhone:

  1. Remove the SIM card from your old iPhone
  2. Open the SIM card tray on your new iPhone
  3. Place the SIM card in the tray of your new iPhone
  4. Open the Settings app on your new iPhone
  5. Select “Contacts”
  6. Choose “Import SIM contacts”
  7. Select an account to import your SIM contacts to


You really don’t want to lose contacts, especially those that are syncing to your iPhone in the background. As information changes, it may reflect in your contacts list without you knowing. If you have an older email or phone number for someone buried in a note somewhere, it may not work. It’s always smarter to keep your contacts list up to date, and backed up.

Apps like AnyTrans make backups and information transfer between iPhones a snap. It allows you full control of your backups and transfers, and is a great idea for trimming contacts from your list that you know you’ll never need again.

AnyTrans and Gemini are available for free along with over 200 apps in a seven day trial of Setapp for Mac. During your week-long trial, you will enjoy full access to the entire Setapp catalog, all free to use without any restrictions.

When the trial period ends, continued access to the complete Setapp suite is only $9.99 per month. It’s a magnificent bargain for so many apps, so why wait? Give Setapp a try now!

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