How to migrate SMS, MMS, call history from Android 6 to Android 8?
August 31, 2018 9:32 PM   Subscribe

Looking for easy/secure options to migrate data to a new phone, particularly SMS and MMS messages and call history. They are both U.S.-based Moto phones, if that makes a difference. My main concern is giving a 3rd party the ability to access all my texts/call history/contacts at once, so I want to be sure they're reputable and there's nothing iffy in their TOS/privacy policy or the ads they run if it's a free app, etc.

Source phone:
Moto X (2nd gen), Android 6 Marshmallow. I've been having issues with it for the past few weeks and it's overdue for a change anyway.

Target phone:
Moto G6, Android 8 Oreo. Brand new phone, haven't even completed the welcome wizard/workflow yet. Will be using SIM card from old phone.

Things I need help with migrating, in rough order of priority:
  • SMS - It'd be great to be able to choose which phone numbers to exclude or include.
  • MMS - If there isn't a good way to transfer the messages to the new phone, I can manually go through and be sure I've downloaded the images at least.
  • Call log/history - from the native phone; Google Voice isn't enabled for this account.
After looking through prior AskMes I now know about SMS Backup+ and SMS Backup & Restore. Would you recommend one of those or a different app in my case? It sounds like SMS Backup+ works by sending copies of all the texts as emails to Gmail; I'm trying to stay away from Gmail (I'd rather use a non-Gmail account) but I will consider it if that's clearly the best option. And SMS B&R has switched ownership a couple of times. Ideally I'd love to do something like an SMS export locally and import it into the new phone, rather than having to store the messages in the cloud first.

Other migration things I think I have covered:
  • Contacts - these are auto-synced to a Google account, so I'm expecting that they won't be an issue on the new phone if using the same Google account. For non-cloud backup purposes, I've also exported the contact list into a .vcf file that I can import into the new phone if needed.
  • (Google) Clock alarms and timers - I can manually recreate them on the new phone also, but if there's a better clock app with a backup/restore option that handles a bunch of different alarms and timers, I'm definitely interested.
  • Downloads, Music, Images, Videos - Not synced to the Google account, but I actually prefer not migrating them all over. Fine with backing them all up to a computer via USB and then transferring any to the new phone (also via USB) as needed.
  • Music playlists - most of the the ones I care about are connected to the Play Music app associated with the Google account. There are a few VLC playlists but I don't mind losing those and starting over.
  • Email
  • Browser bookmarks
  • Other apps - Fine with redownloading and setting them up again as needed.
Normally I'd figure this out on my own, but unfortunately I just don't have the bandwidth to research this as quickly as I'd like at the moment. Back in the day, there used to be an app called Moto Migrate which made it easy to do this between Moto phones (including SMS), but that's no longer supported. Any help/tips appreciated. Thanks!
posted by rangefinder 1.4 to Technology (7 answers total)
Best answer: Just last month I migrated from a Moto X Pure to a Moto Z3 Play. For the SMS/MMS and calls I used SMS Backup & Restore. It was actually local to do the migration, both phones on the same wifi network and on at the same time. You don't have to back up to Google and it doesn't go through them as far as I can tell, or anywhere else for that matter, though I originally installed the app to backup my texts to Google Drive because my X had started to get twitchy about a year ago and I didn't want to lose them.

It was over 28k text messages, and the migration worked. Even the photos in the texts. Though it took a while, and a couple of tries until I got the phones to both stay awake long enough, because it was a lot of data.

I wish that I could give you some other option, but this was the only one I found too. I was just happy that it worked, and that I didn't lose all of my texts the way I did last time I had to get a new phone (dead Moto X 1st gen to Moto X Pure).
posted by monopas at 10:28 PM on August 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

Also, I can confirm that all contacts and calendar and alarms (though not necessarily the chosen alarm noise if it is set to default), and depending on what you choose in the settings apps from Google Play, are moved if you sign into the same Google account.
posted by monopas at 10:33 PM on August 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

The best way to do this requires prior preparation involving rooting your phone and using Titanium Backup to back up your old phone and restore to the new one. It's very nice because it gets every app and all of their various files.

Assuming Moto hasn't ruined it, you should be able to migrate some of the stuff that doesn't sync (like SMSes in Messages) during the first run setup. It does require both phones have NFC since it uses Android Beam to actually do the data transfer. It should ask, and if you answer in the affirmative it will prompt you to tap the phones to each other.
posted by wierdo at 11:28 PM on August 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I just used SMS backup & restore and it works great though the phone that gets all my old messages then gets blocked up with a lot of notifications. I did it via Dropbox because I knew one phone was dying but you can do it with two live phones.

Contacts migrate with your Google account.

I use timely for my alarms, I didn't like the Google alarm some years ago and never checked back.
posted by jeather at 3:49 AM on September 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: SMS backup and restore can do what you want with no network at all. Backup to a file on the first phone, move the file to the second phone and then restore from that. It works fine.
posted by deadwax at 4:25 AM on September 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Good to know about Titanium Backup - unfortunately the Moto G6 doesn't support NFC but I'll keep it in mind for the next migration down the line.

Looks like a pretty convincing case for SMS Backup & Restore. I'll try that out.

Thanks, everyone!
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 12:14 AM on September 3, 2018

Response by poster: SMS Backup & Restore worked well - although I wasn't able to do the transfer over the network for some reason, the file export/import over USB seemed to work fine. Included MMS and the photos seems to have made it okay. Yay!

In case it helps anyone else:

Some links that I found useful:
- the FAQ for the app
- a how-to guide from Gadgethacks, with screenshots

After installing the app and before making any backups, I went into the app settings and changed two options:
- "App analytics: Allow anonymous analytics reporting to help improve this app": this is prechecked. Disabled it.
- "Remove ads": Enabled it.

I then configured the export settings. Made two exports for the messages: one with emoji, and one without (since the emoji version is apparently not readable outside of the app). I imported the one with emoji. I noticed not all emoji made it over but I'll take it. The export files have preset/suggested filenaming pattern that includes a datestamp which is helpful, and I was able to edit the filenames before saving locally.

I also really liked that I could select which conversations/phone numbers to include, so I was able to exclude a whole bunch of 2FA messages I didn't need anymore.

There's a separate file for call logs and that imported fine, too.

Other migration notes:
- Contacts appeared automatically as expected on the new phone after logging in with the same Google account.
- Things that did not carry over automatically: Google Play playlists, Clock alarms. Not a big deal; I replicated the alarms for now and will create playlists as needed. Thanks for the note about the Timely Alarm Clock; will check it out.
- Plugged in both phones to my computer via USB and easily copied over the files/music/custom ringtones, etc I wanted from the old phone to the new phone.
- It was easy to redownload/install the apps I needed from looking at my library on the Play Store.

Thanks again for your help! It made this migration go more smoothly during a hectic time and I appreciate it.
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 8:57 PM on September 4, 2018

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