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How to transfer from an old Samsung phone to a new one with Smart Switch

Smart Switch on the Galaxy S9+ and Galaxy S10e
Smart Switch on the Galaxy S9+ and Galaxy S10e (Image credit: Andrew Martonik / Android Central)

Upgrading from an old Samsung phone to a new one is made a whole lot simpler by using Samsung's "Smart Switch" software that's built into every one of its phones. With a cable and a few taps, you'll be able to transfer a majority of your phone's content to the new device and be up and running faster than you'd think.

How to transfer from an old Galaxy phone to a new one with Smart Switch

Before you get started, make sure both phones are turned on and have a good amount of battery. Every Samsung phone comes with Smart Switch pre-installed — locate it in your app drawer. If, for whatever reason, your phone doesn't have it, you can download it first from the Play Store (opens in new tab). Once Smart Switch is installed on both phones, you can get started:

  1. Open the Smart Switch app on both phones and hit Send data or Receive data on the corresponding device.
  2. By wireless, the phones will communicate automatically (using an audio pulse) and discover one another, then transfer wirelessly.
  3. By cable, plug both phones directly into one another with a USB-C to USB-C cable or a USB-A to USB-C cable with the included OTG adapter in your new phone's box.
  4. On the old phone, choose exactly what you want to send to the new phone, including messages, apps, images, your home screen setup and more.
  5. If you have several gigabytes of data to transfer, using a cable is greatly preferred to speed up the process.
  6. Expect a 5GB+ transfer wirelessly to take over 30 minutes.
  7. Tap Send and let the transfer occur. For the best (and fastest) results, leave both phones alone during the transfer.

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

Smart Switch is great, but you should also consider Google's cloud restore

Smart Switch isn't a comprehensive backup and restore program that will directly copy everything to the new phone, but it's a good way to fill in the many gaps left by the basic backup and restore system connected to your Google account. Don't expect Smart Switch to transfer all of your individual app data or copy over every bit of information, but it does a lot of the little things that you'll appreciate later when you're just using your phone rather than tinkering with settings.

In particular, one of the best things with Smart Switch is that it transfers your home screen layout, background, and settings to your new phone, making it easier to get started with your new device. In scenarios where you sideload an APK for whatever reason, Smart Switch will also bring that over to the new phone, eliminating the hassle of downloading the APK once again on your new phone.

However, as good as Smart Switch is, there are times when it fails to copy all the apps over. In those instances, there isn't much you can do other than manually go to the Play Store and individually download the apps. Google's cloud restore does a better job in this regard, with the service always ensuring that all apps associated with your account download to your new device. Een if something fails in the background, you can easily kickstart the download once again.

The best option would be to use Google's cloud restore for the actual apps, and Smart Switch for everything else, like settings, contacts, and texts. Between the two services, you should be able to transfer all data from your old phone to your new one seamlessly.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.