You've just bought a brand-new iPhone. But how do you transfer all your contacts from your old iPhone to your new one?

Apple introduced iCloud back in 2011 and its cloud service can be used to easily transfer contacts from one device to another. But if you don't use iCloud, don't worry, as you can always use iTunes or third-party software instead. (We'll show you how to use these, too.) If you're running iOS 10 or later you should see iCloud as an option right from the first power-on.

Note that you only get a limited amount of iCloud storage space for free from Apple: just 5GB. If you need more, you'll need to pay 79p per month if you need 50GB, £2.49 per month if you need 200GB, £6.99 for 2TB. The 79p option is adequate for most users although if you are going to be using iCloud Photo Library you'll benefit from more.

If you'd like to tidy up your address book while you're at it, take a look at How to delete duplicate contacts on iPhone.

Transfer contacts to a brand-new iPhone

Transfer contacts to a brand-new iPhone

To transfer contacts to a brand-new iPhone:

  1. On your old iPhone, make sure you're logged into your iCloud account and connected to Wi-Fi. To check if you're logged in open the Settings app. As long as you're running iOS 10.3 or later, the name associated with your Apple ID will appear at the top of the Settings app. In earlier versions of iOS you'll need to open Settings and select iCloud - if your name and Apple ID are displayed at the top of the page then you're logged in and ready to get started.
  2. If you aren't logged in, do so (your iCloud ID and password are the same ones you use if you buy something from the App Store or a tune from iTunes).
  3. Once you're logged in, make sure that the option to sync contacts is toggled on. Go to Settings and tap the name at the top > tap iCloud > scroll down to check Contacts is green.
  4. Next you need to scroll down, tap iCloud Backup, and make sure it's turned on. Now tap 'Back Up Now'. (In iOS 10.2 and earlier, go to Settings > iCloud > Backup and tap 'Back Up now'.) The length of time this takes depends on how much content you're backing up and the speed of your internet connection.
  5. Now you can set up your new phone using the iCloud backup. During the initial setup of your new iPhone, you'll be prompted to give your Apple ID details.
  6. When asked to choose from a backup or set up as a new iPhone, select 'Restore from iCloud Backup'.
  7. Select the latest backup from the list and the restore will begin. The length of time this takes depends on your internet connection.
  8. Once the restore has finished, the phone will restart and should be ready to use.

Transfer contacts using iCloud

Transfer contacts using iCloud

If you've already set up a new iPhone and want to transfer your contacts without factory-resetting the entire device and starting again, you can do so simply and easily using iCloud.

  1. Make sure that you're logged into the same iCloud account on both iPhones and connected to Wi-Fi.
  2. On your original iPhone, go to Settings, tap the name at the top, tap iCloud, scroll down and make sure the option for Contacts is toggled on. (In iOS 10.2 and earlier, you will find it in Settings > iCloud.)
  3. Once contact syncing has been enabled, scroll down to iCloud Backup (or just Backup) and tap Back Up Now.
  4. On your new iPhone, go back to the iCloud section of Settings and make sure Contact syncing has been enabled.
  5. Once its been enabled, open the Contacts app. From the top of the list of contacts, pull down so that a spinning icon appears at the top: this is the app refreshing.
  6. Within a couple of minutes, the contacts from your old iPhone should start appearing on your new iPhone.

Transfer contacts using iTunes

Transfer contacts using iTunes

If you don't use iCloud, you can use iTunes to transfer contacts from one iPhone to another.

  1. Plug your old iPhone into your PC/Mac and open iTunes. (It's best to use the latest version if possible.)
  2. Select your iPhone from the menu bar (you should see a little phone icon to the right of the Music/Films dropdown), click Info in the lefthand bar and make sure Sync Contacts is enabled.
  3. Click Sync to sync your iPhone and all its contacts with your PC/Mac.
  4. Once this is complete, unplug your old iPhone and replace it with your new iPhone.
  5. In iTunes, select your iPhone from the menu bar, click Info and make sure that Sync Contacts is enabled.
  6. Scroll down to the Advanced menu, and make sure Contacts is selected under the 'Replace information on this iPhone' submenu. This will wipe any contacts currently stored on your iPhone and replace them with your PC/Mac contacts, which should be the contacts from your old iPhone if you followed steps 1-3.
  7. Click Sync to apply the settings and transfer contacts to your new iPhone.

Transfer contacts using third-party software

Transfer contacts using third-party software

If you've tried the previous options and they haven't worked, or you're just keen to try an alternative method, you can try some third-party software instead. This can sometimes be the simplest way to transfer contacts - but it isn't free.

For this tutorial, we've chosen to use AnyTrans to transfer contacts between two iPhones. There are other options available, but the contact-syncing feature of AnyTrans is available for both PC and Mac, and costs $39.99.

  1. Launch AnyTrans and connect both iPhones at the same time.
  2. In AnyTrans, select your old iPhone and click on Contacts.
  3. Select which contacts you'd like to transfer to your new iPhone (Ctrl + A on PC or Cmd + A on Mac to select all).
  4. Click the 'To Device' button in the top-righthand corner and select the new iPhone.
  5. Your contacts should start to transfer almost instantly.

Transfer contacts to new iPhone if old one is broken

Transfer contacts to new iPhone if old one is broken

This is the worst-case scenario. Your iPhone was stolen, or you drowned your iPhone in the toilet - it happens. How are you going to get your Contacts onto your new iPhone?

If you're in luck then your iPhone will have been backing up to iCloud anyway. As long as you set up iCloud when you first set up your iPhone you should have a backup that would have been made every night when your iPhone was plugged into a power socket.

In that case, you can follow the steps above to restore your old iPhone contacts (and everything else) on to your new iPhone. You can also log on to iCloud on the web and see your contacts there.

If you don't have an iCloud backup it is possible that you might have a backup in iTunes. In that case, follow our advice for recovering your backup from iTunes above.

If you haven't got a backup, then there are a couple of options:

You might be able to use an app like PhoneRescue by iMobie, WonderShare Dr.Fone for iOS or Tenorshare iPhone Data Recovery to recover contacts from an old iPhone if the software is able to recognise the iPhone when you plug it into a computer.

And if that doesn't save the day, you'll just have to put a post on Facebook or another social network asking friends to send you their contact details.

Good luck!