Tools for making the transition to a new (Android) phone easier?

This weekend (I hope), Verizon is shipping me a new Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (the latest and greatest from Samsung). It is replacing my Samsung Note 4, which is about 3-4 years old and is currently on life support (the next step in trying to revive it would be a Factory reset and that has a less than 50/50 chance of working IMHO). The Note 4 is running fully updated Lollipop and all of my apps are fully updated.

I’ve manually backed up everything I could find to back up on my phone and I have Verizon Cloud. I know my contacts are going to transition easily through my gmail account (or Cloud), but I’m wondering about other apps and data. My primary questions are:

[li]Is there an app or service that would capture my current apps and automatically (or through a few actions) install them, with all data and settings preserved on my new phone? (I’m asking in hope, not certainty)[/li][/ul]
If not (probably not), then I have some specific apps/data/settings I’d like to address as simply as I can:

[li]Chrome- this came with the phone and I’d like to transfer the bookmarks to the browser on my new phone[/li]
[li]Google Maps- I have about 20 nav/destination shortcuts in folders on my screen and I’d like to transfer them to the new phone. I couldn’t find them during my recent manual backup.[/li]
[li]Message+- Last time I changed phones, I used SMS Backup to save my texts, but it was too difficult to get them onto my new phone. I’d like to get all my texts and attachments that are in Message+ into the equivalent app on the new phone. [/li]
[li]WhatsApp- Same as Message+. I have messages, attachments, and groups in WhatsApp. I’d like to start my new phone with these restored to the app.[/li]
[li]*Photos & videos *- I’m used to whipping out my phone and showing photos and videos from a few years ago. Do I have to manually drag them back onto the new phone? What about the ones that are attachments in texts?[/li][/ol]

Most of my other apps (airline apps, hotel apps, Kindle, etc.) just need installation and sign-in to restore them to the state they are on my current phone (though I am not looking forward to downloading all my Kindle Library).

I’m putting this in GQ because I really want some factual answers, even if the facts are disappointing.

These links should help:

This one included specific instructions for backing up Chrome bookmarks:

If you are using Chrome with a google account, the bookmarks should sync through there (see ) and it should just be a matter of logging in with the same account on the new phone. I know some things about maps are synced similarly, but I’m not sure shortcuts are one of them.


The “easy transition” for Android to Android seems to rely on some Samsung settings that don’t exactly show up as described in the article on my phone. It does look like I’ve defaulted to Syncing everything that can be synced to Google.

The Chrome shortcuts are widgets I make by going to the widget selection for a screen pressing on the Google Directions icon and a window opens for the address and a title/name. When I save, it appears on the screen and I drag it to a folder. Over the years, I’ve built up quite a few for places I travel to/from. I could start over, but that would be annoying as hell. I just can’t seem to find where the damned things are stored!

I don’t see it mentioned explicitly so far: Samsung has an application called Smart Switch, it’s supposed to transfer most stuff, especially if your old phone is a Samsung. Details here.

I think this will work for all of the “native” Samsung apps and the Google Apps, but I can’t find a description of which apps are included and which aren’t (I was astounded the last time I did this that text messages were not included in any transfer).

I’m very nervous about WhatsApp and any “non-native” apps, even the widely used airline and hotel apps with Smart Switch.

Here is a video for transferring from an older device to a Galaxy Note 8. Perhaps it’s also relevant to a Note 9?

Google Play knows which apps you’ve used in the past, and more importantly which ones you’ve paid for.

Verizon handles most of the other stuff. What is mainly lost is the arrangement of icons, folders, etc. I’m sure there’s an app for that.

Thanks to all of your answers above, I’m in a little bit less of a panic.

First, it looks like Android has gotten better at transferring to new phones since I last had to do this in late 2014. Samsung Smart Switch is apparently pretty intelligent at trying to replicate what you had on the old phone. Google Drive backs up all(?) of the apps, including data and settings and Google Play restores apps and their data. I found the WhatsApp settings to back the app up to Google Drive, and with that, I should be fine for transfer of WhatsApp. I will probably download SMS Backup & Restore just for insurance and peace of mind with respect to my SMS texts, but might not need it.

I’m still a little nervous about the Google Maps directions widgets. It seems that Google backs up all data associated with its apps to Google Drive automatically, and that should apply to the directions widgets, but it is not explicitly stated anywhere I can find. I have them all in a couple of folders on my “travel” screen and if I knew how to find those folders in my phone’s storage, I could drag them to my PC for insurance.

I finally went to the trouble of going into Apps and actually inventorying my apps (in excel) it turns out I have 110 apps, but ~40 are what I’d call “native”, from Samsung, Verizon, or Google. I would expect these to transfer seamlessly. Of the remaining 60 apps, only one has data that would be convenient to have automatically transfer (Kindle) and isn’t covered by my plan above.

Just bumping this to report on how it went.

Between SmartSwitch (Samsung), Verizon Cloud, and Google Drive, all of the apps I have on my Note 4 transferred over to my Note 9 with most of their data and settings intact.

Most – I still spent about 2-3 hours re-verifying, logging in, and resetting most of the apps that I use regularly. With that and the multiple installation and updating going on, I made an evening of it. I also had to re-create my multiple screens of apps and widgets from my Note 4.

Then this evening, I gave up on finding a way to transfer the Google Maps Directions shortcuts on my old phone and spent an additional 2 hours accessing them on my old phone (sometimes actually opening them and scrolling to the bottom of the turn-by-turn directions to get the address) and manually creating, editing, and storing them on my new phone (a lot of the time was spent chasing the folders I’d created around the screen- the new phone is insane on trying to rearrange the icons if you try to slide the app icon on top of the folder icon- you’d think it was a new game!)

Bottom line: It went a lot smoother than when I tried it last time (2014), but it could be improved, especially when transferring not just within the same manufacturers phones, but within the same model family (and, of course, the same provider). The old phone knows the arrangements of apps and screens, why can’t that information be passed to the new phone? The Directions shortcuts, similarly, are just files/data stored somewhere on the old phone. Why not pass that to the new phone (Google- I’m looking at you)?

The Note 9 is (so far) a very nice phone, with a huge battery (taking it through it’s first day, a day in which my Note 4 would end at ~60% battery, it ended the day at 83%). It’s big, but still fits nicely in my jeans pocket (shallowest pockets I wear). It is gorgeous, but it is the first phone I’ve owned that didn’t have a textured body, so it shows fingerprints all over within minutes. But I’m liking the fingerprint sensor on the back. Very convenient for the way I pick my phone up one-handed.

I can’t say I am enamored with the Samsung SMS messaging app. It is rather colorless and there don’t seem to be any ways to add or change colors. I might go back to the Verizon Message+ I used on my Note 4. Also, for a bigger screen, the text on a lot of the displays (top bar, weather app) are pretty small. I’ll see if I just get used to it.

I recently did a migration from a Samsung to a Huawei phone using Huawei’s Phone Clone and it worked remarkably well: almost everything that was not tied to the specific machine address (like BLE pairings) transferred correctly.

Similar source and destination memory architecture (i.e. both had external storage) and SIM format probably helped. I have no idea how well it works (if at all) when the destination is not a Huawei.

I wish there was, if anyone knows of one, please post it here; I [del]think[/del] know I need a new phone soon.

^ You can get a cusyom launcher like Nova launcher and backup of your home screen layout. Here’s a tutorial for Nova launcher:

For arrangements on other screens, you can take screenshots and arrange manually.

I’ve just used the Nova Launcher desktop backup and import a week ago, on my old and new Moto Z phones. All my icons and shortcuts were copied to my new phone with folders and layouts intact, except if the app the icon was for, was not on the new device.

It worked really well, but it’s specific to you having all your stuff on the Nova desktop to start with. So not all that helpful for you. But Samsung Smart Switch supposedly does the same thing (I haven’t tried it, not being a Samsung fan).

Nope. I used Smart Switch and while it was smooth, it left me with a single pristine (except for a handful of standard Samsung apps like Message, Phone, Chrome, etc.) screen. I had to create new screens and populate them wth apps and widgets.

The home screen layout can be backed up and restored with Samsung Cloud.