Somehow, for years, you resisted the lure of the iPhone.
You happily stuck with Android, while rolling your eyes at Apple fanboys and fangirls camping out ahead of the launch of a new device. You accepted the fact that it’s harder to find fitted cases and other accessories for your less popular smartphone. You even argued with friends about which operating system is better.
But as much as you tried to shrug off joining the iSheep, you’ve come to a sobering realization: you want a new iPhone. Like, a lot.
If you’re serious about making the switch from Android – perhaps the 10th anniversary of the iconic device is the year to pull the trigger – there are some things you need to know about what you'll give up. And you could probably benefit from learning how to properly transfer everything over to your shiny new iPhone.
How to switch
Before you attempt to switch from Android to iPhone, the first thing you should do is ensure all of your existing phone’s information is backed-up — whether you use a cloud service, microSD card, or transfer data over to a computer for safe keeping – just in case migrating your information from Android to iOS doesn’t work 100%.
Next, the best way to move your info over from Android to iPhone is with the help of Apple’s Move to iOS app, available on the Google Play store. You’ll need a device running Android 4.0 (“Ice Cream Sandwich”), and your iPhone must be an iPhone 5 or later, running iOS 9 or later. If it’s a new iPhone you’re buying, you’re covered.
You’ll also want to make sure you have enough storage on your iPhone to handle what’s on your Android, and memory card, if you have one. For example, a 64GB iPhone can handle your 32GB Samsung model and its 8GB microSD card.
To begin, ensure both phones are plugged into power, as one or both of them conking out before the transfer is complete can really mess things up. On both phones, join the same Wi-Fi network, and you’re ready to start.
If it’s a brand-new iPhone you’re setting up for the first time, look for the Apps & Data screen, and tap “Move Data from Android.” If you already finished setup on the iPhone, it’s best if you erase the contents of the device and start over (Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings). Upon setting up the iPhone, you’ll see “Move Data from Android” option at the bottom of the Apps & Data screen.
Now, on your Android device, open up the Move to iOS app on your Android device and follow the prompts, until you get to the part that asks you for a code. On your iPhone, tap “Move Data from Android” and then wait for a numeric code to appear. Enter the code on your Android device, and you’ll be prompted to select what you’d like to transfer over to the iPhone.
Here's what you can transfer through this app: Contacts, Messages, Photos and Videos, web bookmarks, Mail accounts, and Calendars. If your free apps are available on both Google Play and the App Store, some of them will also transfer over.
Now wait for the transfer to be completed and don’t interrupt the process. It can take a while, depending on how much you have to transfer over. Seriously, leave both devices alone until the loading bar on iPhone shows it’s completed.
Once the process is done, continue on with the iPhone setup. Tip: don’t be in a hurry to delete the contents of your Android, just in case some things didn’t transfer over. If some of your content didn't copy over, you can move that content manually – perhaps to a PC or Mac first.
If you want to download the apps that were on your Android device, go to the App Store on your iPhone and download them again. As you might expect, iPhone won’t have all your Google apps preinstalled, so you’ll need to download them manually, such as Gmail, Google Maps, and so on. You will likely have to purchase paid apps a second time.
But what about my music, you ask? If you use a music streaming service — like Spotify, Pandora, and iHeartRadio — there’s nothing you need to do. Simply re-download the apps you used previously, and log in with your credentials. (Same with your Netflix and Kindle app, and so on, as all the content is in the cloud.)
If you’ve got downloaded music files on your Android, you can connect your phone to a computer and manually drag and drop files to a folder on your computer. Unplug your Android phone and connect your iPhone, and then open iTunes if it doesn’t do it for you automatically. Now go to Library > Music and drag the music files into iTunes.
What to expect
OK, so you’ve made the switch from Android to iPhone. Getting used to a new operating system isn’t going to be difficult, but it will feel a little odd – at least for a while.
Here’s a (completely subjective) look at some benefits and drawbacks to moving to iOS.
While Android has come a long way, iPhone is simply easier to use. Those who don’t like technology (or don’t want to wrestle with it) will find iPhone just, well, works. The graphical touch-based interface is elegant, intuitive, and simple to master. There’s a cost to this ease of use – fewer customization options, which we’ll get to below – but iPhone is “grandma-proof,” if you will.
Generally speaking, iOS, as an operating system, is also more secure than Android. There are many more vulnerabilities to Android, including risks to receiving malware (malicious software) installed by an email attachment or phony apps at the Google Play store, which could infect your device or secretly access data off your device. Apple’s “walled garden” approach to its App Store, on the other hand, keeps more of the bad guys out. You’ll also find more “legitimate” apps at App Store compared to Google Play, which has many copycat apps under the same name as the original (though Google Play is getting better at flagging these).
Adding to its security, with iPhone you can only install apps from the App Store, while Android lets you install software from other places – online or “side-loaded” off a memory card or connected computer.
While many don’t like iTunes software (as it’s quite limiting), at least it does allow you to easily backup the contents of your iPhone; simply connect your iPhone to your Windows or Mac every night to charge it up, and it will automatically back-up the contents of your device to your computer’s drive – just in case your iPhone is lost, stolen, or damaged. Simply attach the new iPhone, and click Restore in iTunes.
If you have an issue with iPhone, you can take it to an Apple Store for some in-person help. This isn’t so easy with Android as there is no “Android Store.”
One last benefit to going to iPhone: you’ll easily find cases for your device, since it’s such a popular device, which means you have no excuse to protect your investment.
Moving from Android to iPhone comes with some downsides you should know about.
As an operating system, iOS is a lot more restrictive. You can’t delete some core apps, even if you wanted to. While you can move icons around, you can’t change what your homescreen looks like, such as adding large widgets for weather, sports scores, and such. You can’t install apps from places other than the App Store.
Apple plays favorites with its own apps — such as Apple Maps, Safari, Calendar, Messages, iCloud, and so on – meaning you won’t likely use your favorite non-Apple app as a default program for each category (like Gmail over Apple’s own Mail app). Plug your iPhone into your CarPlay-enabled vehicle and you can only use Apple Maps for navigation because Google Maps isn’t supported. Sigh. As you likely know, Google Maps is more comprehensive and accurate than Apple Maps.
Speaking of apps, you won’t find as many apps at the App Store compared to Google Play. There are still more than 2 million, though. If you run out of room for all your apps or media (like photos, videos, music, and ebooks), you cannot add an external memory card to your iPhone, as it doesn’t accept any.
While running your apps, don’t expect to multitask easily. Oh sure, you can play a song and browse the web at the same time, but unlike Android you cannot divide the screen in half to, say, play a video on the top of your phone, while reading mail on the bottom. iPhone is a lot more of a linear experience.
Siri isn’t as smart as Google Assistant, but at least you can install Google Assistant on iPhone. Be aware, however, you cannot make Google Assistant your default personal assistant (per above).
Other issues with iPhone over Android: the latest iPhones do not have a headphone jack, so you’ll need to buy Bluetooth-enabled headphones (and keep the battery charged up), or use an adaptor; battery life is a lot worse with iPhone compared to most Android phones and doesn’t support wireless charging (unless Apple addresses these issues with the latest as-yet-unannounced iPhone); and while many Android phones have a convenient “always-on display” (showing info like time/date and calendar appointments), iOS has no such feature.
As you can see, moving from Android to iPhone can be done, and without much consequence, there are some features you’ll gain – and perhaps miss – in the switch.
Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_saltzman. Or visit www.marcsaltzman.com.