When we originally wrote this guide in 2013, it was a long-winded piece because - in essence - it was a pain to transfer everything. Fortunately that is no longer the case. Both Apple and Google have simplified the switching process, each in an attempt to woo users of the 'other' mobile OS to their side.
The great news if you want to ditch your iPhone and get an Android phone is that the two operating systems are pretty much identical in terms of features they offer. In some respects, the latest version of Android has more to offer.
Google just updated its Drive app for iOS so it can back up your iPhone data to the cloud in one go. This means you don't have to sync photos and videos to Google Photos, contacts to Contacts and calendar events to Calendar: it will do it all automatically for you.
So if you want to move from iPhone to Android we explain how to:
- Transfer contacts
- Transfer calendars
- Move your videos and photos from iPhone to Android
- Move eBooks and magazines from iPhone to Android
But first, should you switch from iPhone to Android? Read on for things you might not have considered that could change your mind - it's not as straightforward as it seems.
Should I switch from iPhone to Android?
The top Android phones match the iPhone's build, features and performance, but not all Androids are equal. There are myriad Android operating systems, and iPhone users need a recent version of Android in order to replicate the iPhone experience on their new handset. Remember that unlike the iPhone, there's no guarantee your phone maker will upgrade Android when a new OS comes out. (Only Google Nexus and Pixel phones come with that assurance.)
The good news is that on any Android handset email, calendar, Twitter and Facebook work much as they do on an iPhone. And if you already use Gmail for email, you won't have to do anything about email.
Do consider accessories, speakers, adaptors and cases you have amassed for your iPhone, however. You will of course get a charging cable with your new Android, but don't assume that any other accessories will work without an adaptor (or at all).
Apps are also a factor. Your favourite iOS apps should be on Google Play, but check before you commit to Android. Factor in the cost of replacing your paid-for apps: app makers charge separately for each platform on which you install their wares, so tot up the cost of the apps you simply can't live without.
There's no iCloud on Android, and you can't install Apple-only apps such as FaceTime and iMessage, but there are plenty of cloud storage providers (including Google's own storage system is Google Drive - again, arguably superior to iCloud because it's accessible on all of your devices). Plus there's now Google Duo for video calling, and Allo for messaging, but you can also install Skype, Whatsapp and lots of other apps which work across iOS and Android.
Bear in mind that if you don't have an iPad or any other iPhones, you will lose what you have spent on iCloud storage for the forthcoming year and should go into your iPhone's Settings, then iCloud, Account, Storage plan and Downgrade options to ensure you don't pay again next year.
One last cost to consider: music and videos you have purchased from iTunes. Almost all iTunes music files are DRM free, and Android handsets will store and play them. But TV shows and movies you have purchased from Apple are a very different story. There is no legitimate way of viewing iTunes video on an Android phone - the same is true of Newsstand magazines and iBooks. If you have a large library of both, this could be a deal breaker. We explain how to transfer music, movies and books below.
How to move contacts, videos, photos and calendar events from iPhone to Android
If you haven't already, download the Google Drive app from the App store on your iPhone. Launch it, and sign into your Google account (create one if you don't have one). If you already have the app, make sure you update it to the latest version.
Bear in mind that we're talking only about personal videos in your camera roll, not purchased videos (we'll get to them in a minute).
- Tap the hamburger (three horizontal lines) at the top left, and tap Settings in the menu which appears.
- Tap on Backup
- Tap each entry in the list to choose options
- Tap Start Backup
You will need to plug your phone in so it's charging, and it will also need to be connected to Wi-Fi. As the warning says, the process could take several hours.
If you want the original full-resolution photos and videos, you will need enough Google Drive storage free as these count against your quota. If you just select 'High Quality' you get unlimited storage for free.
How to move from iPhone to Android: Move videos from iPhone to Android
Videos you have ripped from DVDs will play on Android, although you may have to install a third-party media player app. But videos purchased from iTunes are unlikely to play nicely due to digital rights issues.
Android is host to multiple video services, including Google Play Movies & TV, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, but there is no Apple Video app.
How to move from iPhone to Android: Move music from iPhone to Android
If you sync your iPhone with a PC or laptop, your music should be on it. If you purchased music from iTunes on your phone, just sync it with the computer to transfer the music. The music files may be in AAC format (Apple's own), but Android phones can play these. The only exception is music purchased before 2009 in AAC Protected format. You can, however, upgrade these to non-DRM versions.
One of the great things about Android is that your phone appears on your PC like a storage device or memory stick. Drag and drop music files on to it (preferably into the Music folder) and Android will do the rest. This is the same for ripped CDs and music purchased from myriad stores, and you can purchase music on your Android device from whichever download or streaming store you choose - not just iTunes.
You can also sign up for and use Google Music to transfer your files. Click here for full instructions on how to move music from iTunes to Android via Google Music.
If for some reason you don't have your music on a PC or laptop (or Mac), you will have to do that first. On an old iPod of ours we used TouchCopy from WideAngle Software to do this, but it costs around £25. Once your music is on your computer, you can simply attach your Android via USB and drag-and-drop the music files.
How to move from iPhone to Android: Move eBooks and magazines from iPhone to Android
eBooks in all formats for which there is no DRM will transfer across easily. Simply back them up to your PC, attach the Android phone and drag and drop them across.
Most of us read digital books and magazines on our phones and tablets via apps such as Kindle, iBooks, Zinio and Newsstand, however. The availability on Android of your preferred service dictates whether or not you will be able to move across books and magazines.
On Android the Kindle works perfectly. Install the app, sign in and your books are there to read. On recent Android OSes you can also install Google Play Books - this is similar to Kindle, so you can check both for the best price. Any books you purchased through iBooks are gone, though. You need an iPhone or iPad to read them.
It's the same story with magazines - you can read PC Advisor on Zinio and Magster as before, but issues of PCA you bought on Newsstand aren't available on your Android phone. Instead you can subscribe to our magazine via Google Play Magazines.
If you have an existing subscription check with the individual publisher to find out what your rights are. Because Google, Apple, Zinio and the others all have fingers in this particular pie we suspect you are unlikely to be able to port a subscription from one device to the other. The best-case scenario is a refund.