Google ContactsSource: Ara Wagoner / Android Central

Switching to a new phone involves a lot of work: you have to make sure your apps and settings are transferred over correctly, along with your photos and videos, text messages, and contacts. Thankfully, Google's built-in tools seamlessly back up data to your Google account, making it easier to bring all your data — including your contacts — over to your new phone.

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How to back up your phone's contacts to your Google account

Google has a robust backup utility that automatically backs up all data on your phone to your Google account, including contacts, texts, app data, photos and videos, call history, and even your device's settings. It does all this in the background without your intervention, and when you're switching to a new phone, you can rest assured that all the data from your old device will transfer over seamlessly.

All the data is stored in your Google Drive, and the best part is that the data doesn't count toward your Drive's storage quota. The only outlier to this rule is if you have photos and videos backed up in original quality; in that case, they will take up space on your Drive. But the portion allocated for contacts, app data, texts, call history, and device settings doesn't affect your Drive quota.

Take it from me: I usually switch phones once in two weeks, and I rely exclusively on Google's backup utility to bring all my apps, contacts, photos, and data over to a new phone. The setting is enabled by default, but here's how you can make sure your phone is automatically backing up contacts to your Google account.

  1. Open Settings from the home screen.
  2. Scroll down to the bottom of the page.
  3. Tap System.

    How to back up your phone's contacts to your Google accountSource: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central

  4. Hit Backup.
  5. Make sure Back up to Google Drive is enabled.
  6. Select Contacts to see when the data was last backed up.

    How to back up your phone's contacts to your Google accountSource: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central

Google backs up data once a day, and if you want to be doubly sure that the data is current before switching to a new phone, you can always initiate a manual backup by hitting Back up now in the Backup page.

If you're on a Samsung phone, you'll find these options in the Google sub-menu instead. Navigate to Settings -> Google -> Backup to find these options.

How to make sure new contacts are always saved to your Google account

Now that you know that all the contacts on your phone are automatically backed up to your Google account, it's time to make sure any new contacts you add are saved to your Google account. If you're using a Pixel or Android One device, all contacts are automatically saved to your Google account.

But if you're on a Samsung phone, contacts are saved to your Samsung account by default. You have to switch that to your Google account if you want new contacts to be backed up to your Google account. Here's how to do that on a Samsung phone:

  1. Open Contacts from the app drawer.
  2. Hit the Plus icon at the right corner to add a new contact.
  3. In the contact creation window, select the menu at the top.
  4. Choose Google to save new contacts to your Google account automatically.

    How to make sure new contacts are always saved to your Google accountSource: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central

How to manually export contacts to Google Drive

If you don't want to use Google's built-in tools and are looking for a manual way to export contacts, you can do so directly from the Contacts app.

  1. Open Contacts from the app drawer.
  2. Hit the hamburger menu on the top left corner (three horizontal lines).
  3. Go to Settings.

    How to manually export contacts to Google Drive Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central

  4. Choose Export.
  5. Give Contacts access to your phone's internal storage.
  6. Choose a download destination, and hit Save to download the file.

    How to manually export contacts to Google Drive Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central

All the contacts data is exported as a single .vcf file. If you didn't change the destination directory, the file will be located in the Downloads folder. Here's how you can upload it to Google Drive:

  1. Open Files from the app drawer. On Samsung phones, this is called My Files.
  2. Hit the hamburger menu on the top left corner (three horizontal lines).
  3. Go to Downloads.

    How to manually export contacts to Google Drive Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central

  4. Long-press on the contacts.vcf file.
  5. Hit the Share button.
  6. Select Drive.
  7. Choose the folder you want to save to in Google Drive, and hit Save.

    How to manually export contacts to Google Drive Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central

The .vcf file is now in your Google Drive, and you can now use it to manually import contacts when switching to a new phone.

How to manually import contacts to a new phone

If you want to manually import contacts to a new phone, all you need to do is navigate to Google Drive and download the .vcf file onto your new phone. Save the file in the Downloads folder. Once that's done, here's how to import it into Contacts:

  1. Open Contacts from the app drawer.
  2. Hit the hamburger menu on the top left corner (three horizontal lines).
  3. Go to Settings.

    How to manually import contacts to Google Drive Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central

  4. Choose Import.
  5. You'll get a dialog box asking if you'd like to import contacts from a .vcf file. Hit Ok.
  6. Select the contacts.vcf file that you exported from your previous phone. The Contacts app should then import all contacts to your new phone.

    How to manually export contacts to Google Drive Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central

It is very straightforward to have your contacts and other data on your phone backed up, and if you need to, you can always use the manual option and upload the .vcf file containing all the information to your Google Drive.

Value above all

Google Pixel 3a XL

Still a great phone in 2020

The Pixel 3a XL continues to be one of the best phones in the market today. You get clean software backed by robust internal hardware, a fantastic camera, and timely updates. Honestly, the 3a XL makes an excellent case for not shelling out $1,000 for flagships.

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