Robert Triggs / Android Authority
Have you unpacked a new phone for the holidays? It can certainly be exciting, but switching phones can be stressful. You need to back up everything and remember all your account logins, all on Christmas morning. If you’ve wisely put off switching for a few days, we’re here to help. U.S android authority reviewers have become pros at switching between devices every few weeks without much of a headache. Here’s how we do it.
Want to get even more out of your phone? Don’t forget to check out our roundup of the best phone accessories you can get!
Things to do before switching phones
- Before you switch phones, make sure you: Backed up your important data, contacts, photos and files. Next, we will walk through how to do that quickly to make sure you can transfer phone data quickly. We have a completely separate guide to backing up your Android phone for security while this article focuses on backups and preparation for phone switching and data transfer.
- Do you also want to be sure your old and new phones are fully charged and ready to go without major interruption. Some manufacturers will add dongles or cables to help you transition from the old device to the new one. If so, that’s great, but it’s not always expected, and many people are switching to used phones without dongles and proprietary cables.
- Do it on Wi-Fi. With many downloads and uploads about to happen, you want to be on Wi-Fi if possible, not your carrier or network data. Have your WiFi password handy for your new phone!
- Switching from iPhone to Android? This guide is not really for you, but you can check this one out: How to Switch from iPhone to Android.
- Tip before we start: don’t swipe as long as you can: If you can, don’t wipe your old phone for as long as possible. You can never be quite sure if there is a reason to reboot the old phone. For example, some banking apps like to allow individual devices and not authorize new devices until the old device has been manually unpaired. It’s a strange world in apps sometimes, and keeping your old phone for at least a week or two can save you some hassle, like waiting on hold to help customer service. It’s a worst case scenario, but it happened to us!
Install backup apps
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
We highly recommend using some free Google apps to prepare for a backup if you’re not already doing so. Google also makes it extremely easy to back up your photos, videos, and other files using Photos and Drive.
Google Drive is great because it allows you to upload files from your phone and access them from almost any other device. Using the app, you can save all important documents in the cloud and get them back to a new smartphone after logging in with your Google account.
With Google Photos, you can choose to back up every photo and video on your phone to the cloud. If you back them up in their original quality, it will count towards your online storage space.
Unfortunately, unlimited storage on Google Photos ended in June 2021. It will then count towards the 15 GB of free cloud storage that each user gets. If this isn’t enough, you can sign up for Google One and pay for more space.
Also see: The best alternatives to Google Photos
Using in-app backups
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
A useful feature for more complex apps with essential information is their own backups. For example, if you’re sending messages via WhatsApp, you can go into the settings and let the app save your chat data to a Google Drive account so you don’t lose a message. Signal offers the same, while Telegram stores your chats in the cloud so they can be accessed as soon as you log in to your new device.
You might be surprised at how many apps offer these types of services, but you’ll need to check all of them that may contain your most important files, especially if you have documents or a dedicated photo or vault app.
Transfer data from one phone to another
Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority
Option 1: Android’s built-in backup option
In recent years, Google has perfected Android’s backup and restore feature and made it easy to switch to Android. As long as the option is enabled, your phone should store your app data, call history, contacts, device settings, and even text messages in your Google Drive account.
Full Android backups can be enabled by going to Settings > Google > Backup. Keep in mind that the steps may be slightly different depending on the phone you have. Backups happen automatically in the background, but they can be started manually on Android phones by pressing the Back Up Now button.
Read next: Back up your Android phone
By going this route, when you enter the setup process on a new Android phone, Google should give you the option to recover all this data from the cloud. Just select the latest backup and the handset will do the work of copying data over.
An important tip: You cannot restore a backup of a more recent Android version to a phone with an older Android version. That means you can’t restore an Android 12 phone to an older Android 10 phone: the process assumes you’re constantly upgrading. But if this is a problem, you need to update the Android 11 phone first. It’s just going to take some time.
Option 2: ADB Backup
One of the lesser known backup methods is recommended only for power users and developers using Google’s Android Debug Bridge (ADB) tool. You can back up most of the data on your phone and your installed applications. The backup file is even saved to your computer and can be accessed or restored to any Android device at any time. That gives you more control over your backup options and allows you to send the same base station to multiple phones at once.
But since this process involves using Google’s developer tools, we caution you to use this option only if you have previous experience using ADB or if you’re okay with going slow and careful on your journey.
You must use the . download and setup Android SDK on your computer to get started. First, enable developer options and USB debugging on your smartphone. Then connect it to your computer and make sure ADB is working properly.
There, type in and start adb backup -apk -shared -all -f
Make sure that your smartphone screen does not go to sleep during the backup process. It will stop working and will not save any data from your device.
When you have set up your new device and connected it to your computer, enter the adb restore
Unfortunately, ADB backups aren’t perfect. Some take a route of having a backup file on a local computer rather than in the cloud. Unfortunately, it doesn’t necessarily capture everything.
Transfer apps from one Android to another Android phone
Joe Hindy / Android Authority
Moving apps around is pretty easy, with a few options available.
1. Restore from previous backups
If you’ve backed up your device, the first step is to give Android access to your backups. This includes the list of apps you had installed on your last phone. Your new Android phone will automatically reinstall all available apps from the Google Play Store. Unfortunately, some apps will remember you, but some require you to sign in again. That’s because of developers’ choices; It’s not your fault!
2. Go to your Google Play Store library
You may not want to replicate all your apps when you switch phones. It’s often a good idea to skip that option and start with a clean phone. However, you can quickly access your previously installed apps. To do this, open Google Play Store > Menu (three vertical lines) > My apps & games > Library.
This will list every app you have installed on every device associated with your account. This can be a long list of forgotten friends with many decisions to make. It might be faster to do the same, just from a computer on the internet, or slower, depending on the number of clicks.
Forget passwords and 2FA. not
Joe Hindy / Android Authority
One of the most prominent pain points when switching between devices is logging into each app again. Some developers have implemented the ability to sign in with your Google account (or other social media accounts). However, many require usernames and passwords that you need to remember.
The easiest and safest way to go through this process is to use a password manager like LastPass or 1Password. Not only do these services allow you to generate and secure incredibly complex passwords, but these apps can quickly insert your credentials so you don’t have to remember them. Unfortunately, not every app implements the AutoFill API. So you will eventually have to copy your password directly from the password manager.
In addition, several apps can verify Two Factor Authentication (2FA) logins. We strongly recommend that you secure every possible account with some form of 2FA. You do have to be extra careful when changing phones. Being locked out of even one 2FA secure login will be painful to say the least.
The good news is, finally, popular 2FA apps like Google Authenticator finally gives you the option to backup 2FA to transfer to another device. People like Authy and LastPass have been doing this for a while too.
If you are rooted…
If your Android phone is rooted, the fantastic tool Titanium Backup can create a near-perfect copy of your entire smartphone. Of course, you can reinstall any app you had on your old handset. It also tries to remember your in-app preferences and can sometimes even keep you logged in.
Of course, not many people root their devices. Fortunately, all of the above solutions make for an almost seamless backup and restore experience. So you don’t have to worry about jumping through hoops to get Titanium backup to work.
How do you backup and restore your phone? Let us know if you’ve seen any useful new apps or techniques as Android continues to evolve and evolve.