android / digital lifestyle / smart phones

Android transfer SIM and Phone Contacts to GMail Contacts

Problem: Move SIM-only and Phone-only contacts from deactivated Android phone into GMail account, where it will automatically sync onto new phone… using nothing but ‘Net.

Solution: Here’s what I did. (This assumed a deactivated, but not wiped phone with good working WiFi.)

0. Get deactivated phone on WiFi, since otherwise it got no data.

  1. Applications->Contacts->Menu->More-> Import/Export. Import from SIM. (This copies SIM data to Android’s internal Phone contacts list).
  2. From the same menu, Export to SD card. Take note of location of file. This is a “VCF” file which will be automatically recognized later on.
  3. Install (totally awesome) ES File Explorer app over WiFI.
  4. Run ESFE and navigate to .vcf file noted in Step (2). Menu->Share and email it to the GMail account.
  5. Open email in GMail, click on attachment. Follow prompts to add to Contacts. You probably want to follow prompts to Merge, so you don’t get duplicates.
  6. Done!

Discussion you can skip:

The title you see above is what I googled, to no avail. The problem is the same words are used in so many other scenarios. Heaven forbid you use the word Sync. Anything with “Sync” in it simply coordinates GMail contacts on your Phone with GMail contacts on your email account. If you have Phone-only or SIM-only contacts, they stay in their respective data silo.

The “obvious” solution was to move the microSD or SIM card over to the new phone, or use a USB card reader in a PC. That was not an option here.

The REAL problem:

Wireless companies are shipping phones that default saving added numbers to Phone instead of GMail. Many do not offer an option to do otherwise, or when you choose the GMail option it throws away all entered data except the phone number (I’m looking at you, Verizon/HTC Thunderbolt), an extremely user-hostile move.

On top of that, Android has no default “export Phone to Gmail” or “sync Phone contacts to Gmail Contacts” option.

Then end result is user’s data in a data silo, and it requires either an external App or sneakernet to get it out.


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