How to ditch your iPhone for Android—and take your files with you
From Apple to Google.
So, after all that happened at Google’s 2019 I/O conference, you’ve decided to abandon your iPhone and jump into the welcoming arms of Android. Maybe it was Android Q with its new dark mode and gesture-based navigation system, or something else, but you’ve made up your mind. Unfortunately, making this swap is not a simple question of popping your SIM card out of one device and inserting it into another.
First, you need to carefully extricate yourself from Apple’s iOS ecosystem, full of native apps like iMessage, iTunes, and others. In this guide, we’ll lay out some of the hoops you need to jump through to preserve your data, and explain what you can bring with you and what you can’t.
Do you already use Google or Microsoft apps?
Switching over will be a lot easier if you already use Google and Microsoft apps on your iPhone. In fact, the same goes for any cloud-based apps, including Netflix and Spotify. Because they store everything online, these apps make it very straightforward to jump between devices and across platforms.
If you lean on Google programs, then when you get your new Android device, it should come with these apps pre-installed. All you’ll have to do is log in, and your data—your archived Gmail emails, your Google Maps history, your Hangouts messages—will appear.
Even if you’re not all-in on Google, Microsoft makes top-quality apps for both iOS and Android. If you rely on Outlook and Office on your iPhone, then go ahead and install the same apps on your Android device, log in, and enjoy.
In general, if you plan to switch frequently between Android and iOS devices, stick to platform-agnostic apps that work similarly on both operating systems. They’ll make the process extremely easy. However, if your iPhone relies heavily on Apple’s own apps, then the swap will require a substantial amount of work, because Apple doesn’t make many of its programs available on Android. Read on for more information on dealing with this issue.
Move text messages and email
To keep track of your past chats, you’ll want to bring your iMessage and email conversations with you. That’s only partially possible.
The sad fact is, you cannot transfer your iMessage conversations from iOS over to Android. Apple doesn’t make an Android version of its app, nor does it allow any other developers to access it, so you’re out of luck. Mac users can check iMessage from their computers, but others won’t be able to access the app after jumping to Android.
So before you leave, make sure to de-link your mobile number from iMessage—assuming you’re taking it with you to your new phone. Go to Settings > Messages and toggle off the iMessage switch. Then visit Settings > FaceTime and turn off the FaceTime toggle switch as well. This removes the association between your phone number and Apple’s proprietary services, which will prevent you from having any problems receiving messages or calls on your new Android handset. If you forget to do this step before you get rid of your iPhone, don’t worry—perform the task remotely at this web page.
Luckily, you can bring the Apple emails stored in iCloud. You just need to import them into Android’s Gmail app: Open Gmail on your new phone, tap the Menu button on the top left, hit your Google account, and select Add account > Other. Now enter your iCloud username and password. (If your Apple account uses two-step authentication, you’ll first need to create a Gmail-specific password at this web page.) Now you can either keep using your iCloud email address within the Gmail app, or just treat those old messages as an archive and switch to a Gmail address.
Move contacts, calendars, photos, and home videos
It’s relatively easy to transfer some of the items you store in iCloud—such as your contacts, calendars, photos, and videos—to Google’s servers. But you need to start this process before you ditch your iPhone.
First, download the Google Drive for iOS app to your old device. Open it and sign in with your Google account credentials. Next, tap the Menu button on the top left, followed by the cog icon and then Backup. Now you’ll see a list of items, including Contacts, Calendar events and Photos & videos. Select all of the entries that you want to transfer to your new Android phone.
Now, tap Start Backup and copies of this iPhone data will move to Google Contacts, Google Calendar, and Google Photos. Now you’ll be able to access your files when you sign into your Google account on your new Android phone.
A quick note on photos and videos: These files will transfer to Google Photos, which gives you an unlimited amount of storage—as long as you agree to let it resize your photos down to 16 megapixels and your videos down to a 1080p resolution. If you opt to store this data at their original quality, they will count against your cloud storage quota. Google Drive gives you a total of 15GB of free storage space, shared across Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos. The latter can really eat up your quota if you choose to store images at full resolution. But if you end up needing more room, you can pay to upgrade: Prices start at $2 a month for 100GB.
Move music, movies, and TV shows
Apple only makes one app that really works with Android: Apple Music. If you subscribe to the service, then you can take all your playlists and songs with you on your leap to Android, including files you’ve uploaded from your iTunes account. However, you do have to pay a subscription fee to keep using the app.
That said, not all of us choose Apple Music. If you prefer a different app, and you still want to transfer your MP3s to an Android device, you can do so using a computer with Google Play Music. Open your computer’s web browser, head to Google Play Music’s web portal, click the Menu button on the top left of the page, and choose Upload music. Now drag tracks from your local storage into your browser window. You can do this same thing through the program’s desktop uploader. Either way, your files will sync to the cloud, and you’ll be able to stream or download them through the Google Play Music app on your new Android device.
Movies and TV shows are more complicated, because Apple doesn’t make an iTunes video player for Android. You can watch your existing iTunes videos on other devices, such as a Mac, Apple TV, or iPad, but not on an Android phone or tablet. However, any videos you obtained from non-iTunes sources should be just fine. Streaming apps—like Plex, Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, and of course Google Movies & TV—all work seamlessly across Android and iOS. Just log into your account on your new device and you’ll be good to go.
Move documents and other files
Now that you’ve tackled most of your files, all that’s left to move are documents and other strays. Your method for shifting them to Android will depend on the iOS app where you store them.
For example, cloud-storage programs Google Drive and Dropbox work seamlessly across Android and iOS. We’d recommend you download one of these options to your old phone, use it to save your iPhone files, and then log into the same app on your new device.
What about files saved to Apple’s office suite? You won’t find Pages, Numbers, or Keynote apps available for the Android platform. So, if you have files created in these apps, you’ll need to export them in a common format. Open a file with the app, tap the Menu button (three dots) on the top right of the screen, and pick Export. Choose either a PDF or Microsoft Office format (both will work fine with the Google Drive, Dropbox, and Microsoft Office apps for Android), then select a save location. If you’ve installed Google Drive or Dropbox on your iPhone, go ahead and save it there.
That’s just about all you need to transfer. After all, your cloud-based apps, including social media, will work exactly the same as soon as you log into them on your new device. Go forth and leave Apple behind!
This article was updated on May 8, 2019.