How to transfer contacts from iPhone to iPhone

How to transfer contacts from iPhone to iPhone: 5 ways

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In this article you will find 5 different ways to transfer contacts from iPhone to iPhone: with or without iCloud, with or without iTunes as well as with the help of AirDrop feature. As a pleasant bonus at the end of the article, find a guide on how to import contacts to your new iPhone without your old device! The methods described in this article will work for all iPhone models including iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro.

Note: If you have your contacts stored on your SIM card, follow the official Apple tutorial on how to import SIM contacts to your iPhone.

Anyway, let’s get started! Choose the method you prefer:

If you don’t know what any of the above means (what is AirDrop, really? How should I know if I need iCloud or iTunes method?) we would recommend choosing the easiest way to transfer contacts without iCloud, which is described right below.

How to transfer contacts from iPhone to iPhone without iCloud

The easiest and fastest method to transfer contacts from iPhone to iPhone, here we go! This method will work even if your two iPhones are signed in to different Apple IDs, because the method doesn’t involve iCloud. The undisputable advantage of this method (apart from it being one of the fastest ones) is that you can select which contacts you want to transfer, and even edit them before you move them to a new iPhone. Another awesome feature enables you to merge your iPhone contacts, old and new, as there will be no overwriting.

Let’s get started!

  1. First, download CopyTrans Contacts – it will help you with the transfer.

    Download CopyTrans Contacts

  2. Next, install and run CopyTrans Contacts. If you need help, refer to the installation guide.
  3. Connect the iPhone you want to transfer contacts from. Please wait until all your contacts finish loading (the spinning wheel in the bottom right corner should disappear): Contacts loading in CopyTrans Contacts
  4. You will see the list of contacts on the left and contacts details on the right. Select all contacts by clicking on the checkbox next to ‘Contacts’: Select all contacts on your iPhone

    TIP: If you don’t see your contacts in CopyTrans Contacts interface, follow this troubleshooting guide.

  5. Click on ‘Export selected’: Export selected contacts from your iPhone
  6. After that, select ‘iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch (multiple .vsf files)’: Transfer iPhone contacts to iPhone vcf files
  7. Select a folder to back up your contacts to. I’ve created a new folder on my desktop for this purpose. Click OK: Select folder to backup iPhone contacts to
  8. Halfway there! Let’s connect the destination device. In my case, the device is empty, so there’s nothing showing up in CopyTrans Contacts interface. That, however, is about to change… Click on ‘Import contacts’: Import contacts to iPhone
  9. Choose to import contacts from a file: Import contacts from a file
  10. Next, find where you backed up your contacts to (in my case I backed them up to a folder on my desktop), select all the contacts (.vcf files) by pressing Ctrl+A on your keyboard, then click ‘Open’: Select all vcf files to import contacts
  11. All the contacts you selected will now be imported to your iPhone: Contacts imported to iPhone voila

How to transfer contacts from iPhone to iPhone without iTunes

This is another “icloudless and itunesless” method to transfer contacts from one iPhone to another. This method will require iTunes or CopyTrans Shelbee backup – but not to worry, you can make a new one at any time! So, let’s start transferring contacts to your new iPhone.

  1. It starts with downloading CopyTrans Shelbee:

    Download CopyTrans Shelbee

  2. Install and start CopyTrans Shelbee. If you need help, refer to the installation guide.
  3. If you already have an iTunes or CopyTrans Shelbee backup, you can skip this step and go to the next one. If you don’t, connect the iPhone you want to transfer contacts from and make a backup. Here are the instructions on how to make a full backup with CopyTrans Shelbee. Backup iPhone without iTunes
  4. Now connect the iPhone you want to transfer the contacts to. You will need Shelbee to perform Custom restore of your contacts. Follow the guide on how to selectively restore contacts to your new iPhone from iTunes or CopyTrans Shelbee backup. Restore selected data CopyTrans Shelbee custom restore
  5. That’s it! After custom restore has finished, the contacts from your old iPhone will be waiting for you on your new device.

How to transfer contacts from iPhone to iPhone with iCloud

If you prefer using iCloud, this method is for you! Keep in mind that this way you won’t be able to select the contacts to transfer, it will transfer all of them. Here’s how to transfer contacts to a new iPhone using iCloud sync:

  1. Make sure you are logged in with the same Apple ID on both iPhones. Both should be connected to Wi-Fi.
  2. Make sure the contacts on your older device are synced with iCloud: go to Settings > click on your Apple ID at the top > iCloud > make sure the Contacts toggle is on: Sync contacts to icloud
  3. If you aren’t logged in on the iPhone you want to transfer the contacts to, open Settings > tap Sign In to your iPhone > enter your Apple ID & Password > Enter your iPhone Passcode > Click ‘Merge’ to upload and merge your contacts with iCloud: Sign in to iCloud to merge contacts
  4. Now wait until all the contacts are synced with your new iPhone. That’s all!
  5. You might have some contacts that haven’t been transferred over. It means that those contacts are not in iCloud: most likely, they are contacts that were created on the device and weren’t pushed to iCloud. You can use CopyTrans Contacts to transfer iPhone contacts to iCloud.

Note: iPhone contacts not syncing to iCloud? Follow this troubleshooting guide by Apple.

How to transfer contacts from iPhone to iPhone with iTunes

You can also transfer contacts to a new iPhone with the help of iTunes. The method is similar to the second one described above: you make a backup of the iPhone you want to transfer the contacts from, then you restore the whole backup to your new iPhone. The drawback of this method is that iTunes will overwrite the existing data on your iPhone, replacing it with the data from the backup. iTunes doesn’t allow for custom restore. If you don’t like this idea, go back to method 2 to selectively restore just contacts. If you are okay with restoring the whole backup to your new device, let’s get going:

  1. Download iTunes.
  2. Connect the iPhone you want to transfer the contacts from. Click on the phone icon on the top left: Click on device icon in iTunes
  3. Click ‘Back up now’. Wait until iTunes finishes the backup: Back up in iTunes
  4. Connect the iPhone you want to restore your contacts to. Keep in mind that iTunes will restore the whole iPhone backup, not just contacts. If you want to restore contacts only, go to method 2 (without iTunes).
  5. Click on ‘Restore backup’: Restore backup in iTunes
  6. A dialogue box will appear. Select the backup that contains your contacts (the one you just made) and click on ‘Restore’: Restore iPhone with iTunes select backup
  7. Now wait until the restore is finished. Restoring your iPhone is time-consuming and can take up to several hours. That’s it! This is how to move contacts from iPhone to iPhone using iTunes.

How to AirDrop contacts from iPhone to iPhone

AirDrop is a nice and secure way of sharing files (including contacts) between Apple devices. This method allows you to transfer contacts from iPhone to iPhone without a computer. The only drawback is that you can only share one contact at a time. If you don’t have a lot of contacts or just want to share one particular contact with your friend or colleague, that’s the way to go!

  1. First, make sure the two iPhones are close to each other and have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on: Wi-Fi and bluetooth turned on iPhone

    You can do so by swiping up from the bottom of the screen, which will open the control center. Tap on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth icons to turn them on.

    You can also do so by going to Settings > Wi-Fi and Settings > Bluetooth and switching the toggle on.

  2. Next, turn AirDrop on. Press and hold the Wi-Fi (or any other) icon in the control center to show other options, tap on AirDrop and tap Everyone. You can also start AirDrop by going to Settings > General > AirDrop > Everyone (or Contacts Only, if you only wish to get AirDropped by people you have in your contacts). Make sure Hotspot is turned off on both iPhones: Turn on AirDrop from iPhone control center
  3. Go to Contacts > pick the contact you want to share > tap Share Contact > choose the iPhone you want to share the contact with: Share a contact via AirDrop
  4. Click Accept on the other iPhone to finish the transfer: Accept contact via AirDrop

BONUS: how to import contacts without iPhone

Did you know that you can restore your iPhone contacts to a new device even if your older iPhone has been broken or stolen? The trick is, if you had backed up your device at least once, the info should still be somewhere on your PC. So, this method will prove effective if you have a new iPhone, but don’t have the old one (you lost it, it died, or you sold it already) and you have to restore from a backup. You can check for available backups automatically with CopyTrans Backup Extractor. Download and try it here:

Download CopyTrans Backup Extractor

For installation instructions, follow the installation guide. The other steps are as follows:

  1. Launch the program and wait for the backup hunt to be complete. It will take a few seconds. You will then see the list of all the backups available, including iTunes backups. If you want to see iCloud backups on the list as well, follow a couple of steps to connect to iCloud with CopyTrans Backup Extractor.

    CTBE: backup hunt

  2. If you’re in luck, then you will see a recent backup on the list, containing the contacts you need. Choose it and enter the backup password if the backup is encrypted.

    enter the backup password

  3. From the list of items to restore, choose “Contacts”.
    data type list
  4. Select the folder on your PC where you want the contacts to be extracted and start the process. Voila! The contacts are waiting for you in the folder you specified. They are now ready to be imported to your iPhone.
    16 contacts extracted result screen
  5. Now, let’s start importing! For that, we will need CopyTrans Contacts. If you haven’t downloaded it yet, now is a good time:

    Download CopyTrans Contacts

    If you already have it, let’s move to the next step.

  6. Launch CopyTrans Contacts and connect your iPhone. Give the program time to read the device’s info, then click on the name of your device and select “Import Contacts” in the top-left corner of the app, then choose to import from a file.
    import contacts button
    Import contacts from a file
  7. Choose the folder where you previously extracted your photos and select all or part of contacts for import.
    select contacts for import
  8. Enjoy your newly imported list of contacts! And do not forget to back up your device from time to time.
  9. contacts imported

Thanks for reading this lengthy article 🙂 Maybe you know another way of moving contacts from iPhone to iPhone? Hit me up! If you have any questions or problems, leave a comment below.

Avatar for Irina CopyTrans

By Irina CopyTrans

Irina is a marketing and tech-support specialist in charge of the English-speaking market, who dyes her hair in the color of her cats' fur (future cat lady detected) and enjoys sitting on her balcony on a rainy day reading books, watching TV shows, playing video games and drinking hot chocolate. With marshmallows.