Apple iPhone users once looked down their nose at the army of Android phones out there—and let’s be honest, many still do—but these days that’s a
hard stance to take. Android apps are flourishing, the handset selection is amazing, and manufacturers like Samsung, ZTE, Huawei, OnePlus, even Google
itself, are innovating at a pace that puts Apple to shame. There are Android phones/phablets out there with 21-megapixel cameras, 6-inch screens,
displays with edge support, super-fast processors, and hours and hours of battery life on a single charge. If all that has you itching to make the switch,
that’s understandable. Maybe Apple’s grip on the iOS ecosystem is annoying. Android may suffer from extensive fragmentation —thousands of versions of
the OS running on hundreds of devices—but like Windows or Linux, it’s more open for that very reason. And you’ll get your update…eventually. That
openness isn’t a guarantee: you’ll have to pick a manufacturer for the Android device you want and each has their own issues. Many overlay their own
“skin” on the operating system for example, or add apps you may not want. The only way to get a pure Google Android experience, with OS updates
that come through as soon as Google releases them, is to get a handset from Google itself. Thankfully the Google Pixel$649.99 at Verizon Wireless and
Google Pixel XL$769.99 at Verizon Wireless are among our favorites, each earning an Editors’ Choice award. So once you’ve got an Android phone picked
out, what do you do? You’ve invested in the Apple iPhone ecosystem for years—maybe even a decade—so what do you do to make the switch from
iPhone to Android without any digital tears? Here are the steps to take.
Prep Your iPhone for Transfer
Apple provides an app for those looking to go from Android to iPhone, but Google doesn’t have a direct equivalent for an iPhone-to-Android switch.
Instead, you’ll have to go through a few steps to get everything important from one platform to the other. (And yes, you’ll have to reinstall, perhaps
even re-purchase, your apps when switching to Android.) Kill iMessage There are several proprietary things Apple offers iPhone users, like iMessage, which
allows users to message each other without eating into monthly text allotments. On iPhone, iMessages appear in blue and SMS texts are green; it’s an
easy method of seeing if you’re messaging someone else with an iPhone or not.
The problem is, if you’ve got an iPhone number you want to move to an Android handset, you need to turn off iMessage support. If you don’t turn it off,
messages sent to the same number on your new Android may get tossed into the void of Apple’s servers, or “iMessage purgatory.” Turn off iMessage on
the iPhone by going to Settings > Messages and deactivating the switch next to iMessage. (While you’re at it, go into Settings > FaceTime and turn that
off as well.) You can experiment by sending messages to people you know have an iPhone; if the messages are green, it’s working. If you ditched your
iPhone without taking this step, fear not. Visit Apple’s deregister-iMessage page and under “No long have your iPhone?” enter your phone number. A
confirmation code will be sent to your new phone indicating that iMessage is deactivated. (If that doesn’t work, call 800-MY-APPLE and ask for tech
support, with your Apple ID and phone number at the ready; they can manually de-register your number on their servers.) Cable Sync If you’re moving to
a Samsung-made Android phone in the Galaxy lineup, you’re in luck: there is a dedicated switching app called Samsung Smart Switch, which moves
contacts, photos, messages, and music to your new device. It also works on BlackBerry or even a different manufacturer’s Android phone. The software
will find what’s transferable, and you pick what you want to move to the new Android. You’ll need a USB On-The-Go (OTG) cable to make the
connection. There is no PC involved or even cloud backup— you do a direct cable transfer from old device to new (but the option is there to go to a
Windows PC or Mac if the phone is older than a Galaxy S6 or Note 5). Cloud Sync While there is no dedicated switching app from Google, the Android
team recommends using Google Drive Free at iTunes Store. The iOS app is a free download, and it’s also free to sign up for a Google account (if you don’t
have one already).
Once you’re signed in to Google Drive, go into the app and select Menu > Settings > Backup and you get the option to back up your iPhone contacts
(to Google Contacts, which is part of Gmail), Calendar events (to Google Calendar), and all the photos and videos you’ve taken (to Google PhotosFree at
iTunes Store). You need to pay for extra space on Google Drive to hold it all. Google Drive comes with 15GB for free; after that, you pay $1.99/month to
get 100GB or $9.99/month for 1TB. Google recommends keeping the Drive app open on the screen until the backup is complete, so don’t plan on
getting much else done because a big backup could take hours. There are more manual ways to do the above. For example, with contacts, you can
always go on a desktop Web browser to iCloud.com, log in with your Apple ID, go to Contacts > All Contacts, select all, click the Settings icon (the gear),
and export all contacts as vCards in a VCF file. Then you can import that into your Google Contacts. Email the VCF file to yourself on Gmail as a backup;
depending on the type of Android device you have, just downloading the VCF file on it can also import it to Google Contacts. But if you already have
Google apps all over your iPhone, you may not even have to worry about much of this, as you likely already have Google Calendar and Google Photos
already performing background backup/synchronization of your events and photos; not to mention Google Maps, Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets,
Chrome, and more, which all will work as well on either phone.
If you don’t trust the cloud to handle all the backup and transfer stuff, you should make sure to back up your media
from your iPhone via iTunes. You know the drill: launch the iTunes software on a Mac or Windows PC and plug in the phone via USB iTunes loads, click the iPhone icon in the toolbar, and start a full backup (to the PC, not to iCloud). That’s great for restoring an iPhone in the future but doesn’t really help much with the move to Android, at least not directly. You want to go into the Finder on or the Windows Explorer on Windows and look for the iPhone as a separate device. You’ll be able to access the DCIM folders—copy them all to the hard drive to sort later, but know that you’ve got all the photos and video you’ve taken. Now, they can be individually re-uploaded to your new Android phone if or when needed. Sweet, Sweet Music .
Music is a different beast. Apple iTunes started as a music store and is and was all about making sure the digital rights management (DRM) on the songs
prevent a tune from being played willy-nilly wherever a purchaser may want (i.e., not on Apple devices). You have the option on a PC to download
the Music Manager from Google Play Music; use it to point to iTunes as your primary music source. It will recreate your iTunes playlists and upload songs
that don’t have DRM (such as any you ripped from CDs). You can keep 50,000
Of course these days, you may be more likely to just subscribe to Spotify Free at Amazonor Amazon Music Unlimited$9.99 at Amazon or even Apple
Music$9.99 at Apple Store for $10/month to get streaming access to just about every song, ever. For more, check out Amazon Music Unlimited vs. Spotify
and Apple Music vs. Spotify: Which Is Best? Moving Texts This one is hard, as it’s not supported by Apple or Google in any fashion, so you need third-party
apps to make it happen. The free iSMS2Droid can do it, by snooping around in your last iTunes backup of the iPhone. Samsung has their own Samsung
Kies software that will pull the texts out of an iTunes backup—but that only works for Samsung phones, naturally. You shouldn’t need that if you’ve
already used Samsung Smart Switch.
Welcome to Android
Okay, so you’ve got the new handset and moved all the data you can to the Android platform. Now how the heck to you learn this new OS? Interface
Difference The home button you’re so used to on iOS is probably not the only button on your new phone—it may also have Back and Multitasking buttons
on either side. Or it might not. It depends on the manufacturer. Google Pixel, for example, has no physical button on , only a home button on the
bottom of the screen, and a fingerprint scanner on the back. Unlike an iPhone, which has one home screen (the first screen of icons), you can have
multiple such screens on Android, organized in all sorts of funky ways. Or use special launcher apps to funk it up even more. Notifications work much the
same as on iOS 10—swipe down from the top to get access, and swipe them away if irrelevant, or click one to get more info. Widgets are also a big part
of Android; iOS has them now, but they seem like an afterthought. On Android, widgets can come with almost any app, allowing you different
configurations for how an app appears on screen, for example. Apps Galore It’s customary to say how great the Apple App Store is and how it’s got the
best selection, . But almost any well-known app you’d find on iOS is also on Android, sometimes with a little more power considering the lack of
restrictions. Start there to find the best of the best; hit the Google Play store App section to search for any app or game you miss from your iPhone days.
Unlike Apple—which is being accused in a lawsuit of being a monopoly when it comes to app sales by controlling it all— Android apps come from multiple
sources. While Google Play is the primary, it’s not alone. Amazon also has an App store; it’s meant primarily for Amazon’s own Android based devices, but
any Android device can get access. For it to work, in Android 4.0 or newer, go to Settings > Security and scroll down to Unknown Sources and turn it on.At amazon.com/getappstore, you’ll find Amazon Underground. It may not install instantly. Swipe down from the top of the screen if so, and click the notification entry for file Amazon_App.apk to install it. If you have an Amazon Fire tablet, it’s on there automatically. Underground focuses on free versions of apps, especially games, some of which would cost you in Google Play; Amazon pays the developers for you, based on how much time you use the app. For example, the game Goat Simulator is $5 on Google Play but free via Amazon Underground.
Other Google Play store alternatives for more apps include GetJar, F-Droid, and AppsLib. You may not find much that’s different, but pricing may vary
enough to get you some deals. When you’re ready to delete an app on an Android phone, you can generally hold a finger on it and swipe it upward— but
that typically only deletes the icon on the front page. To get rid of the actual app, go into the full Apps list and do the same—now when you swipe up it
should show an “Uninstall” option. Be Secure Unlike Apple’s iOS, which remains relatively safe from malware because of Apple’s tight-fisted control,
Android’s openness (and popularity around the world) leaves it open to attack. Be smart and safe, like you would with your Windows computer: install
some Android anti-malware. Get to the Root Rooting an Android phone is the equivalent of jailbreaking an iPhone—it voids the warranty to give the user
much more control and access to the hardware and software on the device. This is how a tweaker would go in and get all the performance possible out
of an Android phone, as well as how you can delete apps that phone manufacturer may have set as uninstallable. Rooting is a research intensive because it
can differ between not only devices but also different versions of Android. Generally, you can find a YouTube video like the one above spelling it out for
most any brand/version. Watch it carefully before you try. And back up the phone, first. Also, we recommend doing it only if un-rooting is an option.