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The smart way to switch to a new Android phone

Ah, a new phone. Isn’t there just something strangely special about that moment of opening up a box, peeling off the protective plastic, and powering up a pristine pocket-computer for the very first time?

Unfortunately, after that fantastical startup animation finishes, reality usually sets in — and you realize you’re in for a long, exhausting journey of copying stuff over, setting things up, and trying to get your fancy new phone to look and act the way you want.

To be fair, moving from one Android phone to another has gotten a heck of a lot easier over the years. But despite all that progress, it can still be a daunting process that’s filled with both quirks and uncertainty. And all the internet’s advice about moving from an iPhone to Android won’t help you one bit.

This guide, however, will. If you’re already in the Android universe and preparing to move from one Android phone to another, these are the steps and the variables you need to consider. Follow ’em closely, and you’ll be up and running and enjoying that new phone smell in no time.

Part I: Prepare your old Android phone for switching

Believe it or not, a successful Android phone move starts on your old device — the one you’re ready to leave behind. Before you even start thinking about your shiny new replacement, we’ve got two important areas to work through and make sure are fully prepared for migration:

Android service syncing

First and foremost, the reason switching from one Android phone to another is so much easier than it used to be is largely thanks to all of the simple syncing systems built into our devices. So take a minute to make sure you’re taking full advantage of those possibilities. It’ll set your phone-moving voyage up for much smoother sailing.

And here’s the best part: If you use all of Google’s built-in Android migration mechanisms, you don’t even need Samsung Smart Switch or any other proprietary systems (and you can safely skip over those if the prompts come up during your new phone setup). Everything with the core Google Android phone-switching tools should just work, once fired up properly — and in most cases, it’ll require very little thought or effort.

To start:

  • If you aren’t already using Google Contacts on your phone, download the app now and migrate your phone’s contacts into the service. That’ll get your contacts off your individual device (and/or out of your phone-maker’s limited and proprietary storage system) and make ’em immediately available on any device — phone or computer, no matter who made it — as soon as you sign in.
  • Open up Google Photos, tap your profile picture in the upper-right corner, and confirm that your images and videos are being backed up to the service. If they aren’t, consider activating that option. It’ll keep everything you capture on your camera perpetually synced and available on any device where you sign in — including a computer! — and make your life immeasurably easier as a result.
  • Take a look at your text messaging setup. With most phones and messaging apps, Google will now automatically back up and sync up your messages and then bring them over to your new device. Google’s own Messages app makes this process especially straightforward and manageable. (And make yourself a mental note: If for any reason your messages don’t get migrated over as expected, an app called SMS Backup & Restore will help you handle that after the fact quite easily.)
  • Download the Google One app, if it isn’t already on your device, and look for the box about your current device backup on its main screen. Tap that box, then tap “Manage backup,” and you should be able to see exactly what types of data the system is set to sync for you and when it last backed all of that up. Make sure both “Device…

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