Switching from an iPhone to the Nexus 4

After purchasing my Nexus 4 I had to do something slightly scary ... move my 'life' from an iPhone to the Nexus 4.

Thankfully I'd already made the choice to sell a portion of my soul to Google and have been using Google Apps (Free/Personal) for a substantial amount of time now. Yes, I realise that I may have problems if 'Google become evil' but that's a future I hope I don't need to write about for some time.

This meant I already had a head-start on someone using iCloud as the primary way to manage email, calendaring and other content. If you're this deep in Apple's pocket, this post may not be for you.

So let's move on to the things I was worried about losing ...


Email

This was a non-issue, as all of my email is hosted and accessed via Google Mail.

Calendar

Like email, this wasn't an issue as it's all part of my Google Calendar setup.

Images

Before performing a factory reset on my iPhone I plugged it in to the primary PC and used the "Import pictures and videos" option when the device was recognised.

Contacts

Contacts on my iPhone was the part that surprised me most. I thought I'd selected the option(s) in my account setup for Mail, Contacts, Calendars so that my contacts would be synced to my Google Contacts in my account. When I first looked at the contacts on my Nexus 4 I was surprised how few contacts there were.

It turned out that nearly all of my contacts were in the 'wrong group'. Some searching on the internet revealed a free application - Orbi Tools (SingularLogic SA) - that allowed me to copy/move contacts between groups. After testing with one or two contacts, and seeing the details appear in my Google Contacts, I was confident enough in the application that I did a 'select all, move' on the remaining contacts.

After that it was simply a case of using
Find & merge duplicates ...
in my Google Contacts to make sure everything was clean, tidy and mostly sensible.

SMS

Whilst I didn't expect to inject my SMS history into my new phone, I didn't want to lose everything from the iPhone completely.

If you are migrating away from a jailbroken iPhone you can just copy (scp) the sms.db file from your phone to the machine of your choice.

Stupidly, I used the confirmed order of my Nexus 4 as an excuse to upgrade to iOS6 and no longer had such easy access to the phone's filesystem. Thankfully I did not have encrypted backups of my phone in iTunes and was able to locate the SMS backup file on my PC. Once I knew what the file was it was a simple matter of copying it somewhere far from iTunes' grubby mitts and renaming it to something-meaningful.sql.

Other Apps and Data

Because I'd moved important things to remote/cloud based services and storage I didn't have a lot to worry about losing on the iPhone: important notes and lists are in Evernote; passwords and form details are in LastPass; interesting bookmarks are in pinboard.in; interesting articles to read are in Instapaper; etc.

By the time I'd decided to move from iOS to Android it was mostly an exercise in changing the device used to view remote information.

Final Thoughts

Making the switch wasn't nearly as painful as I thought it would be. As far as I'm aware all of my data is 'safe' - or still accessible through the same means I was doing before the move.

The move was definitely made simple by hosting and syncing most, if not all, of my data to remove services. If everything had been local to the iPhone I'm not sure I would have been able to switch to an Android device in the couple of hours I spent last month.

Overall, I'm extremely happy I made the move. There are some apps, and features that I do miss from the iPhone, but I think the benefits outweigh the drawbacks more than enough to keep me happy.