How to Use the Cloud to Move Contacts Between Phones


Managing and moving contacts from one phone to another is definitely easier in the smartphone era, but for some, it can still be a challenge. Bring feature phones into the mix and it can be even more complex due to the devices’ lack of sophistication as compared to their smarter brethren. With contract consumers in the U.S. likely upgrading handsets every 18 to 24 months, and adding more contacts along the way, moving contacts from phone to phone can become a painful exercise on a recurring basis.

Google Android (s goog) phones actually make this process easy if users tie contacts to their Gmail account, and Facebook can be used as well. The webOS (s hpq) operating system offers a Synergy feature that can automatically pull in Facebook contact data. Apple (s aapl) iPhone owners can use the $99 yearly MobileMe service — which adds other benefits as well — for contact migration. But these, and many other similar solutions, become unwieldy if switching phones from one mobile platform to another. MoveMyContacts is a new cross-platform, subscription service that uses the cloud to manage, backup and migrate contact databases between hundreds of different phone models.

MoveMyContacts comes from Toffa, the same folks that built the popular GooSync service I used in 2007 (before Android arrived) to sync my handset to Gmail and Google’s Calendar. That worked so well that I decided to pull out my wallet and try Toffa’s latest service. MoveMyContacts costs £4.95 ($8.33 USD) for a 30-day subscription or £9.95 to use for a full year. Clearly, it’s priced low enough for very occasional or one-time use, but folks that migrate through handsets more often won’t have to spend much to use the service for a year.

After signing up and checking out through PayPal, the MoveMyContacts website walked me through the simple step-by-step process, beginning with choosing the phone model that holds my contacts. I picked the generic Android option (which works on Android 2.0 and up) and was directed to install the free Funambol Sync app from the Android Market, which I did on my Google Nexus One. Funambol is an open-source, data-sync solution that supports hundreds of mobile devices using the SyncML standard many third-party apps use for synchronization processes.

Upon installation of Funambol, I just had to log in to the MoveMyContacts servers, which was a simple configuration step. Immediately, the software asked if I wanted to import contacts from all of the accounts on my handset: personal Gmail, work Gmail and even Twitter. My only interest was for my personal contacts, so I chose that option only. The app then imported my 712 Gmail contacts in about two minutes. One button press later, and they were all sent to the MoveMyContacts server, which took another two minutes over a Wi-Fi connection. That put my contacts in the cloud, which were viewable directly on the MoveMyContacts dashboard.

From there, I chose to add a second device to test the contact transfer. I could have chosen another Android device, but decided to test with another platform, so I picked iPod touch as my other “phone.” Again, the MoveMyContacts website offered similar simple instructions to proceed, but didn’t suggest using the Funambol client from the iTunes App Store. Instead, the service recommended that I install the free Synthesis SyncML Lite from the App Store, which I did. I suspect that the process would work with either app, as both support the SyncML protocol. Using the Synthesis software on my iPod touch, I simply logged in to the MoveMyContacts server and tapped the synchronization button. Roughly five minutes later, all 712 of the contacts from my Android phone appeared on my iPod touch.

While the process might sound convoluted due to the application installations, it’s actually quite simple and fast. And because MoveMyContacts supports so many handset platforms from many hardware makers, the software part of the equation is bound to vary. The common denominator is the cloud, which does the heavy lifting and becomes your contact database book of record.

Although the service is useful for one-time contact transfers between devices, it can be used as often as you’d like while your subscription remains active. That means a yearly subscriber, for example, could routinely backup contacts to the MoveMyContacts server; useful if the phone hardware fails or in the case of a lost phone. There’s bound to be other similar solutions for free or for less money, but overall, MoveMyContacts is an effective way to do exactly what its name says it does. If I weren’t so reliant on Google and the Android operating system to manage my contacts, I’d likely continue my subscription of this service.


Charles Beer

There is another free service to do the exactly same job – Check it out and see for yourself. Cheers!


We need to stop paying for things because we’re lazy. And I’m sorry but I have backups of my contacts that I can get from my phone provider or … shudder… hardcopy… that don’t necessitate opening my phone to more 3rd party trash.

Kevin McCoy

I use and like Soocial,

Though to be honest it mostly just manages and backs up my Google contacts, since my mobile devices mostly sync with Google directly, especially as I move from being a Nokia user to being an Android user.

Steve Cheng

I have personally used IDrive Lite to move contacts between my Blackberry and iPhones and it worked like a charm. Movemycontacts seems to have too many steps to accomplish what you can do in a few clicks.


I prefer to use Bloove, which does way more. You can manage most things using a browser on a desktop rather than on the phone. Plus you can also archive stuff away. Over and above this it also does multi-phone synchronization. And given the huge number of devices they cover, their pricing is also extremely attractive (they have a free plan also).


Agreed with Stuart that I also not seeing any big benefit on the cloud storage. Being the main reason of security issue on cloud, unless people changing phone very often, otherwise i don’t feel i will opt for it. Wonder if there any technology to sync the contacts directly between phones using wireless or bluetooth? It make more sense to me.


Oh come on. Not again. Not security. I wander if people has in its contacts names of celebrities or what.


Just because my friends are not celebrities does not mean that they want everyone to have their contact information.


I appreciate your blog entry but the three systems you mention, WebOS, iOS and Android, are compatible with Gmail (Google) Contacts. I’m currently using Gmail sync among my iMac, my iPad and my iPhone without any problem for Contacts, Calendar, Notes and Tasks. There is no official Tasks app in iOS so I choose one compatible with Gmail but the official Notes, Calendar and Contacts app in iPhone/iPad support Gmail, and in the iMac the Contacs, iCal and Mail (for the Notes) give me 100% compatibility with Gmail Contacts, Calendar and Notes.

Much more. I owned a Galaxy Tab for several months and I integrated with my Apple’s stuff like a charm thanks to Gmail. If I add a Contact or Calendar Date in any of the devices in seconds I got it in all of them.

And WebOS release 2.0 does the same as far as I read in the users manuals (Pre2) so I guess WebOS 3.0 (TouchPad and Pre3) will have the same.

It’s fun and it’s free… and it’s Google.

Kevin C. Tofel

Agreed and those were just examples. I own or have owned devices that run all of those systems (and then some!) and I’ve relied on Google for my contacts for nearly five years. But not everyone uses Google — and those that do likely already know that their contacts are in the cloud and easy to get at. This post was for folks not using Google. ;)


mahjong – that’s fine if you kowtow to Google and don’t mind what they do with your information (including forthcoming hyperpersonal advertisements – there is no such thing as a “free lunch” after all), but I happen to think Kevin’s article was awesome and all about having options! Thanks Kevin (for those of us who are more agnostic and want options)!

Kevin C. Tofel

Appreciate the comment, Eddie. To be honest, it’s rare in tech to *not* have options, which is why I like to cover various ones. It’s up to each of us to choose the one that suits our needs best. ;)


Eddie, You shouldn’t interpret my comment as an attack to Kevin’s article. Maybe I don’t control the nuances of the language due to my poor English. I admire Kevin’s work. All I said… well… all I tried to said was that I use Google’s solution for contact sharing and I’m happy with it because is full cross-platform and free.

Raghu Kulkarni

Outside of GoogleSync, IDrive Lite has been the largest Mobile App to backup, restore and move contacts between smart-phones including iphones, blackberries and Android phones with over 25 million contacts. It is surprising that the authors missed it.

Raghu Kulkarni, CEO,

Kevin C. Tofel

Raghu, I appreciate your two emails and this comment pointing out your product today. But this article was a review of one product (and mentioned that there are likely others) so I’m personally disappointed by the “it is surprising the authors missed” your product statement. Were I to list every product that performs a certain value-add service, the list would likely scroll on and on, so the derogatory judgement isn’t really called for in my opinion.

Raghu Kulkarni

Kevin, My comment was not derogatory at all. We truly believe that your readers would benefit with a mention of a popular service that meets the topic of discussion. But of course it is your article and your decision.


I can’t see why I’d want something like this over a good desktop version where I didn’t have to access the WEB and my contacts remained my own contacts under my security. Also, a subscription can get expensive over time but a one time purchase for software would be less expensive.

Kevin C. Tofel

Stuart, you may not, but others might. Options are good as well as have different needs – this can be a cheap one-time use product or useful when traveling and not having web access, for example.


If you don’t have web access, how would you propose getting the contacts off “the cloud?”

Kevin C. Tofel

My bad: I meant web access on a desktop / laptop. I’m assuming that most people managing contacts in the cloud would have a web-connected smartphone.

Comments are closed.