If you use your Android smartphone as the sole repository for your precious contacts, you don't have to worry about losing your phone. And if you accidentally delete that all-important number, you can get it back. Here we’ll show you how to use a clever feature built into Gmail to restore lost contact details.

See also: Best Gmail tips and Top 15 Android Lollipop tips, tricks, and hidden features

How to recover lost contacts from Android: use Gmail

It might seem odd to look for your contacts in Gmail rather than on your phone, but as the services are intertwined there’s a good chance you’ll find what you’re looking for here. When you add contacts into your Android phone using a Google service they are synced up with the online servers to hold a record, something that proves very useful if accidents occur. You can restore any contact that you’ve deleted in the past thirty days and Chat contacts from the previous 24 hours. 

To recover the missing details you’ll need to log on to the web version of Gmail, then in the top left hand corner where you see the word Gmail. A drop down menu will appear, from which you should select Contacts.

Restore Android contacts

Now you’ll see all of the contacts that Google has attached to your account, this will include entries for email addresses and phone numbers. In the lefthand column you’ll see a list of options. Click on More and then from the new headings that appear select Restore Contacts. 

Restore Android contacts

You’ll be given the choice of when you want to roll back to (an hour, a day, a week, etc.) so choose a point when the missing data was still on your phone. Click Restore and you should find the previously lost contact now back in the list.

Restore Android Contacts

How to recover lost contacts from Android: other methods

If you don’t have a Gmail account, or at least not one that you sync your contacts to, then recovering your data might be a little more difficult. There are several third-party apps that provide this service, which entails pulling the data from the deeper recesses of your handset’s storage using a PC or Mac. From the offerings we’ve seen, Recovery Android looks to offer support for a wide range of devices, with an interface that is simple to learn.

You can also try searching Google for your specific device and the contact app you use, to see if there are any internal settings that might come to your rescue.