I have an iPhone from another age (pre 2008) which is ready to be commissioned as defunct and replaced with a new 4S. My question, is how to back up the contacts form the old iPhone and transfer them to the new one.

The question of backing up iPhone contacts could seem simple at first sight, but in my case it comes with a headache.

I do not use Outlook. I cannot use the iCloud on my old iPhone. I do not use iTunes sync and manage my iPhone manually, so would strongly prefer not to use iTunes at all.

I was thinking placing the contacts on my SIM card, but iPhone only supports getting contacts from SIM and not saving them to SIM.

I was also thinking bluetooth, but learned that bluetooth is only used for iPhone accessories and cannnot be used for iPhone data transfer whatsoever.


8 Answers 8


You can extract your iPhone contacts and back them up to your computer via CopyTrans Contacts.

Then use the same program to transfer the contacts from your computer to your new iPhone.

  • Mac users can use PhoneView instead. ecamm.com/mac/phoneview Commented Jun 17, 2013 at 16:18
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    @KenAspeslagh but one must buy PhoneView ($29.95) to be able to back up more than 10 contacts :(
    – Adriano
    Commented Nov 11, 2015 at 14:38

Well... back in the day when I had iPhone i used to sync my contacts with Gmail. Here you will find the instructions on how to do it. (Youll need to have iOS version 3.0+)

For detailed information and pictures refer to: http://support.google.com/mobile/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=138740

  1. Open the Settings application on your device's home screen.
  2. Open Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
  3. Press Add Account....
  4. Select Microsoft Exchange. iOS 4.0+ allows multiple Exchange accounts. However, if you're on a device that doesn't let you add a second account, you could also use CalDAV to sync Google Calendar and IMAP to sync Gmail.

  5. In the Email field, enter your full Google Account email address. If you use an @googlemail.com address, you may see an "Unable to verify certificate" warning when you proceed to the next step.

  6. Leave the Domain field blank.
  7. Enter your full Google Account email address as the Username.
  8. Enter your Google Account password as the Password.

Notes about passwords: Be sure that you have a strong password for your Google Account. If you see an error message saying "Invalid Password", you may need to unlock your account by solving a short CAPTCHA. Go to https://www.google.com/accounts/UnlockCaptcha. If you are a 2-step verification user, please use an application-specific password instead of your regular password in this field.

9 - Tap Next at the top of your screen.

9a - Choose Cancel if the Unable to Verify Certificate dialog appears.

10 - When the new Server field appears, enter m.google.com.

11 - Press Next at the top of your screen again.

12 - Select the Google services (Mail, Calendar, and Contacts) you want to sync. To receive and respond to meeting requests on your device, both Mail and Calendar need to be turned on, and New events needs to be enabled in your Google Calendar settings.

To enable 'New events', sign in to your Google Calendar using the web browser on your phone or computer. Go to Calendar Settings > Calendars

Click on the Notifications for the calendar you want to sync. Under Email check 'New events' (and any of the other Invitation settings you want enabled e.g. changed events, cancelled events, event responses), and click Save.

  1. Unless you want to delete all the existing Contacts and Calendars on your phone, select the Keep on my iPhone (or iPad or iPod touch) option when prompted. This will also allow you to keep syncing with your computer via iTunes.

If you want to sync only the My Contacts group, you must choose to Delete Existing Contacts during the Google Sync install when prompted. If you choose to keep existing contacts, it will sync the contents of the All Contacts group instead. If there are no contacts on your phone, the latter will happen -- the contents of your All Contacts group will be synced.


Another app to give a shot is Airbook (I wrote it :) ). It'll create a vcf backup and store it on your DropBox, Box, Google Drive or MS Skydrive accounts, where you can manage these backups too. It'll also help you import contacts from these backups by either adding them all or choosing before importing as a premium feature. Contacts are merged automatically.

There's also an emergency contacts access feature that allows you to view your contacts on somebody else's phone (which can be either iOS or Android based) in case your battery runs out or you lose your phone (requires at least one backup).

Here are the links:

  • just tried Airbook on iPhone 5 and it does not work :/
    – Adriano
    Commented Nov 11, 2015 at 15:19
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    I'm sorry to hear that! Maybe I could help you out - if you could share what went wrong - or what steps you took, what you expected and what you saw - it'd help me improve the product as well. Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 17:26
  • it started creating the contact file (exporting contacts to it), then crashed at around 80%. I tried several times again, and had the same issue.
    – Adriano
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 7:57
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    There must be a corner case for contact data that I've missed. Could you please share the diagnostic data from your phone? Simply go to Settings -> Privacy -> Diagnostics & Usage (towards the bottom) -> Share With App Developer (enable the switch if visible). Also, if you have a lot of contacts with profile pics, please go to Airbook's settings, check the 'Exclude contact's photos' option and then try exporting. Thanks! Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 8:43
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    Yeah, it's a memory overload problem. The diagnostics data won't be needed now Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 10:08

If you're a Mac user then the way to do this is PhoneView. http://ecamm.com/

  • 1
    I would like to say this product has saved me much time and data. It works well and the people that support the program are responsive and helpful.
    – bmike
    Commented Aug 26, 2013 at 17:02
  • but one must buy PhoneView ($29.95) to be able to back up more than 10 contacts
    – Adriano
    Commented Nov 11, 2015 at 14:39

Very Simple! use Disk Aid

I am attaching the link for your reference

Hope this helps :-)


iOS supports the vCard format natively, so you just need to export your contacts to a vCard format. There are plenty of apps in the store that can do this, My Contacts Backup is free and seems to have good ratings, but just search for vCard in the App Store to have a look at some others.

You can email the vcf file to yourself, and if you open it in Mail.app, it should offer to import all the contacts.

No need for any syncing voodoo. That said, once you get a new iPhone, I've found iCloud has done a good job of dealing with my contacts, on my Mac, iPhone and iPad.


I'm Michael and I work for connex.io, an address book app.

With our service you can easily do this. You just sign-up, connect both of your phones let them sync and you are done. Our trial gives you full service, so you have access to all of the features of connex.io.

We also keep your address books clean, complete, up-to-date and sync the across all of your connected devices and services.

If you want to check it out here. or if I can help you further at [email protected]


I think it is possible to use the iCloud module on your PC (this is the iCloud app for your computer), then connect your old iPhone to your computer and use the iCloud program to backup your iPhone contacts. If you are on a Mac, it is much easier - you can back up your old iPhone contacts directly with the Mac Address Book (no iTunes required).

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