How to export contacts from an old Samsung phone?
May 20, 2020 12:22 AM   Subscribe

I am helping a relative upgrade their phone remotely. The old phone is a Samsung SM-G361F. I think it is running Android KitKat or Lollipop. We have transferred most of the information to the new phone (a recent Samsung) successfully. However, the contacts on the old phone are stored in the Samsung Contacts app, and are not synced with Google. What is the easiest way to export the contacts, in order to send them to me over the internet?

What we have tried:

We have not found a way to switch on syncing of the contacts with Google -- perhaps this is only possible on newer versions of the app, or perhaps we haven't found the right place to turn this on

We have exported the contacts to internal storage, and to an SD card. I expected to be able to attach the contacts file to an email in Gmail, but the Gmail app only seems to allow attaching photos.

I have considered using a file browser app to find the exported contacts file. Is there a file browser that would enable me to select this file and attach it to an email, put it in Google Drive, or otherwise send it over the internet?

I am tech-savvy but not familiar with Android, and I don't have physical access to the phone. My relative is less tech-savvy, very capable with their phone but not able to spend hours experimenting with different methods. We can install apps through Google Play if necessary.
posted by beniamino to Technology (7 answers total)
Last time I had to do this, I used the "Phone Clone" app that's available on Google Play app store. I seem to remember that it allows you to specify what you want to sync between phones, and what not so you could "clone" only the contacts.
posted by Zumbador at 1:26 AM on May 20

Sorry now I see you don't have access to the phone and need to send the info over the internet. Phone Clone probably won't help you with that. Ignore me.
posted by Zumbador at 1:35 AM on May 20

It's unclear if you've attempted to use the Google Contacts app or just the Samsung Contacts app, but I'd recommend trying Google Contacts. It would need to be installed from Google Play [link]. The newest version of the app should allow your relative to sync any contacts on their phone to a Google account -- even if the contacts are currently stored in the Samsung Contacts app or in the phone's internal storage -- as described in this article.

After syncing the contacts to a Google account, your relative can then install the Google Contacts app on the new phone, log into the same account their contacts were synced to, and have those contacts sync to the new phone.

Obviously your relative should make sure everything syncs successfully to the new phone before ditching the old one.
posted by theory at 2:07 AM on May 20

Unfortunately, Google Contacts seems to be Android 6 / Marshmallow + only. There are other apps (e.g. here and here) that are Android 4 compatible and able to export contacts, but I'm not sure if these will have access to the Samsung contacts.
posted by beniamino at 2:29 AM on May 20

Since both phones are Samsung, could you try the Samsung Smart Switch app, which provides a few possible methods to transfer files? It claims to work well with older devices.

Alternatively, if your relative wants to move the contacts which have been exported to internal storage and the SD card into Google Drive, they wouldn't need an additional file browser app to do so. The Google Drive app should be able to see any files that are in the phone's storage.
posted by theory at 2:59 AM on May 20

Go to Contacts (the native one that comes with the phone). At the top are 3 dots (the menu). Click this, go to Share. It will put a radio button next to each contact, and at the top there will be one that says All. Click All. Now click the share button that pops up and chose gmail. Address and send the email it creates. The contacts will be attached.

You will need to have the gmail app installed to email through gmail, although you can always use the native email app and it will work just as well.
posted by ananci at 3:23 AM on May 20

Somehow we resolved this. These suggestions were very helpful though I don't know exactly what steps were relevant to the final solution. In the end, a .vcf file was shared with Google, and this resulted in the contacts appearing in Google Contacts on the new phone. Thanks, all.
posted by beniamino at 8:54 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]

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