I try to import the contact list from an old Samsung to an IPhone (SE 2020, running the latest iOS) and it looks like more challenging than it should.

What I tried so far :

  • Sharing contacts from the old phone to the IPhone, using Bluetooth, which apparently means sending a vcf file, give a useless error message (Old answers on this site suggests that IPhone can't do that)
  • (After sending the files as a heap of vcf file to the IPhone, using an Android Phone Bluetooth), I can import each of them into the IPhone contact list. But I can't find any way to import them all at once, and the import procedure involve at last 4 different taps.
  • (After sending the files on a desktop computer) Trying to import the vcf files into an ICloud account synchronized with said IPhone give an equally useless error message.
  • The SIM Card use a different format (SIM vs Nano-SIM), so I can't try that.

All of this while trying to convince an increasingly frustrated user that computers are supposed to be good at transfer data from a place to another and they don't need to copy all of their contacts on paper and then manually on the IPhone.

Search engines theses days only give you these useless "content marketing" articles promoting their backup tools.
ChatGPT tips, either don't works (e.g using Bluetooth) or are wildly incomplete

  • Which export option does the old phone offer? One VCF per contact, a bulk VCF with all contacts, others? Also, can you add links to the other Q&A you mention and include the actual error message (text or screenshot) you get when attempting the various methods?
    – nohillside
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 7:55
  • One vcf per Contact :(
    – phone_user
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 8:03
  • Which error message did you get on iCloud?
    – nohillside
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 9:03
  • PS: I wouldn't be surprised if there is no easy way unless you use a computer inbetween (as you did below, you probably could have bluetoothed the contacts directly to the computer).
    – nohillside
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 9:12
  • @nohillside maybe. But since this is an issue dozens of millions users presumably encountered in the last decades, I hope someone had a better answer. I no longer have access to the ICloud account, but the error did not give any details. i also got an error while trying to import the same file on a owncloud instance contact web app. Thankfully, the Iphone Contact app accept the vcf files happily Thanks for the edit btw
    – phone_user
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 20:25

1 Answer 1


What worked :

  1. Transferring all the contact by Bluetooth to a non-Apple phone (a modern Android Samsung in this case). This generate a heap of vcf files
  2. Transferring theses files to a Windows desktop computer
  3. Concatenate these file, using the copy *.vcf contacts.vcf command (or cat *.vcf > all; mv all contacts.vcf on a Mac or Linux)
  4. Sending the contacts.vcf files to the iPhone via mail
  5. Importing the contacts.vcf file

As @nohillside said, I could probably shortcut the second phone from step 1, assuming the computer from step 2 can speak Bluetooth.

  • Instead of mail, you could use Files on iPhone to pull the file from any Samba share. Or, from a Mac, use Airdrop.
    – nohillside
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 9:18

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