The Contacts app on Android.

Android gives you a few options for transferring your contacts to a new device. By default, everything should be synced when you set up a new device, but even if sync is disabled, it’s easy to move your contacts over.

The Easy Way: Sync With Your Google Account

Almost all Android devices sold outside of China come with Google services, including the ability to synchronize your contacts between devices. This should be enabled by default when you sign in with your Google account, but here’s how to make sure. We’re writing this guide using a Pixel 2 XL running Android 9.0, but it should look similar on other Android devices. We’re also using the stock Google Contacts apps, which you can download from the Play Store. These steps may not be the same on other Contact apps, so if you’re having issues, we recommend using Google Contacts.

Start by opening the Settings app and tapping “Accounts.”

Android settings

Tap your Google account.

Google Account settings

Tap “Account Sync.”

Account sync settings

Ensure that the “Contacts” toggle is enabled. It must be on for your contacts to synchronize.

Google account sync

That’s it! Your existing contacts will synchronize with your Google account, and they’ll be there on any new Android phone you sign into.

The Manual Way: Backup and Restore the Contacts File

If your phone doesn’t offer Google services—or if you just want to copy things over yourself—you can back up a .vcf file that has all your contacts inside. Start by opening the Contacts app, then select the menu icon in the upper-left. Again, we’re using the Google Contacts app here.

Android's contacts app

Tap “Settings” on the menu.

The menu in Android's contacts app

Tap the “Export” option on the Settings screen.

Android contact settings

Tap “Allow” on the permission prompt. This will give the Contacts app access to the photos, media, and files on your Android device.

Contacts permission prompt

Tap the “Save” button in the lower right.

Downloading contact data

You can move the .vcf file to your new phone by copying it to a USB drive, transferring it to a PC, or your favorite cloud service. When you get the file moved to the new phone, open the Contacts app again. Tap the menu icon in the upper-left.

Android Contacts

Tap “Settings” on the menu.

Android's contacts menu

Tap “Import” on the Settings screen.

Android Contacts' settings menu

Select “.vcf file” in the window that pops up.

Importing a VCF file in Android contacts

Browse to the .vcf file from your previous phone and open it.

Selecting a VCF file to import

Your contacts will import to your new phone, and you can start calling and messaging your favorite people.

Tom Westrick Tom Westrick
Tom Westrick has been writing about technology professionally since 2014, but he started poking and prodding at electronics as a teenager. His work has been published on Android Central, iMore, and Windows Central. When he's not writing, Tom is a Tier-1 Help Desk Technician, songwriter, and guitar player.
Read Full Bio »