Want a new Android phone? Old Android to Android 13 is easy (smartphone upgrade guide)

OK, you want a new Android phone. One of the biggest fears in upgrading your Android phone is whether you can copy everything to the new phone. Android 13 makes that easy and foolproof.

Copying should be flawless if your old phone uses Google Android 10 or later and you use Google Apps like photos, contacts calendar, messages, and phone. It will make a mirror image of your old phone, including settings. All you must do on the new phone is open each App and type in your login and password (for security reasons, these are not copied)

Phone brands tested without issue are Motorola, Google Pixel, and Nokia, which use pure Android. If you want to upgrade from one of these to another brand, their use of industry standards makes that easy, too.

But there can be issues with other brand phones

The problem is when you use non-Google Apps and third-party cloning software like OPPO Clone Phone or Samsung Smart Switch.

OPPO often includes a full suite of Google Alternative Apps as well as Google Apps (as Google cannot be used in China). Clone Phone will import data from Android to OPPO’s alternative Apps. But it will only export to another OPPO Phone. We suggest you use Google Apps and Google Copy, as switching to and from OPPO to another brand is flawless.

Samsung has created an entire ecosystem outside Google, and its phones ship with its Apps. Nothing is wrong with this if you want to invest in the Samsung ecosystem (we feel it is increasingly closing like Apple’s iOS iPhone). Some Apps, however, only run on Samsung phones.

You must create a Samsung and Google accounts and accept any privacy implications. By default, Smart Switch copies data to its Apps but does not always copy back to Google Apps.

For example, Samsung’s App versions of

  • Email, calendar, contacts, Notes, don’t transfer to Google Gmail, calendar, contacts, etc.
  • Messages (SMS and RCC) do not transfer history to Google Messages.
  • Samsung Pay does not transfer to Google Wallet or support gift cards from Uber, 13 Cabs, etc.
  • Browser does not transfer history and Bookmarks to Chrome.
  • Phone does not transfer history and call logs.
  • Samsung Health only works with Samsung Galaxy phones and devices like the Watch series.
  • Voice recordings do not transfer to Google Voice Recorder.

Summary: It is better to use Google Chrome, Gmail, Drive, Messages, Photos and Wallet for maximum upgrade flexibility. Avoid proprietary copy programs and use Google’s copy facility to set up a new phone.

Let’s be clear on copying

Smart Switch or Clone Phone will copy your old email/contacts/messages/etc., from Google Apps – one way. But Google’s copy cannot copy data from Samsung/OPPO apps to Google Apps. Of course, you can manually export most Samsung or OPPO App data and import it to Google Apps – it is just not as easy to switch.

How to copy from an Android 10 or later to Android 13

Google’s built-in copier works from Android 10 or later to Android 13. If you have an earlier version, read the section on making and restoring from a Google Drive Backup. If you have an iPhone, read Escape iPhone’s walled garden – Android 13 makes it easy.

#1 (all versions) Passwords are 100% necessary – not negotiable.

Make sure you have your Gmail account login and password. It is your key to Google Drive and new Android installs. Also, ensure you have a list of app logins and passwords. If you don’t know, you can open each app and click on Forgot Password to set up a new one (you may have to log out of the App first).

Hint: Use the free LastPass password manager (Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, or iOS) or Google’s built-in (Android only) to record and remember your logins and passwords.

#2 – Make a backup of the old phone to Google Drive

Open Settings>System>Backup. You have 15GB in your Google Drive account (less what you have used). It will backup photos/videos (to Google Photos), Apps and app data, Contacts/SMS, Cal History, and Device settings. Select Turn On and Backup now. You can also use this to restore to a new phone, but we suggest using a USB cable instead – it is faster.

Hint: If you have more than 15GB of data (usually photos), you can download these to a PC with a USB cable or Flash Drive using OTG cut-and-paste). It will be faster than a cloud backup.

#3 – Make sure both phones are fully charged and updated.

Take the opportunity to remove any old apps you don’t use. Settings>Apps>See All Apps. Don’t remove any that start with Android or Google. Also, check for an Android update Settings>System>System Update>Check for Updates.

Increasing the screen time to the maximum (usually 30 minutes) is a good idea. Settings>Display>Screen Timeout.

#4 – Prepare the new phone

Start the original Android setup process with a new (or factory reset) Android 13 phone. Stop on the screen that asks to ‘copy from an old device’.

#5 Connect (via cable if you want everything).

You will need a USB-C (new phone) to a micro-USB (old phone) cable. There are cheap adapters that convert your micro-USB to USB-A to USB-C.

You get everything if you use a multi-USB-C cable like the Zeus-X Pro 6-in-1 universal cable – $27.90, including free delivery from Amazon AU.

#6 Follow the onscreen instructions

Select ‘Copy from an old device’.

It may ask you to identify the old and new phones, request you scan a 2D barcode or copy from the old phone to the new phone.

It will then ask what you want to be copied – select all categories.

The copy process time depends on the amount of data and can take a few minutes or much longer.

Hint: If you have WhatsApp installed, chats and data are restored from the Cloud after you sign into your new Android device and open the app. To restore WhatsApp chats and data, you must first turn on WhatsApp backups on your old device.

#7 After copying

Check that your photos, contacts, etc., are on Android.

Open each Android App and enter login and passwords.

Put credit cards and loyalty cards in Google Wallet.

#8 Restore from a Google Drive Backup if necessary

Note: For security reasons, you can only restore to a new phone using the same Gmail account.

If you are missing Apps or data or your cable transfer did not work, you can restore from a Google Drive backup. If #2 Making a backup worked:

After selecting #6, ‘Copy from an old device’, ensure the USB cable is not connected. Select ‘Can’t use old device’. It should show you the old device in Google One.

Select Choose what to restore – usually All.

What about email?

Google provides a Gmail address and an email client to access Google Gmail, Microsoft Outlook, Yahoo, etc. Gmail can easily access your existing IMAP or POP email addresses without losing functionality or data. The good thing is that Gmail also manages the calendar, contacts, etc.

Enter your email address and password into Gmail (or MS Outlook), which should bring up all your mail.

New Android phone FAQ’s

Q: What happens if I stuff it up?

A: All your data is safe on your old phone in Google One Drive. On your new phone, go to Settings and search for Factory Data Reset. Once reset, you can try using #6 or #8 options again.

Q: Where can I get help if I really stuff it up?

A: Approved retailers like Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi, Good Guys, Bing Lee, Officeworks, etc., can recommend people to help. It costs a bit more to come to your home. Once you update an Android 13 phone, Google’s Switch program makes it easy and flawless for future upgrades.

Q: Can I do this with an Android tablet?

A: It is the same principle if you have an Android 13 tablet.

Q: Can I transfer Facebook, FB Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp?

Switch to Android will copy all the installed Apps, and all you need to do is log in, as all data is stored in the Meta Cloud.

Q: Will I have to pay for new Android Apps?

All Apps will be copied, need your login and password, and will not lose data. Paid Apps installed on the old phone will also be copied, and you will get a bill at renewal time.

Q: What about privacy and virus/malware?

Android 13 has a privacy dashboard and sandbox and is inherently secure. Often, users allow permissions they should not. We recommend the paid versions of Malwarebytes, Norton, or TrendMicro to keep Android users completely safe. Remember that Google Android and its Apps are free services, and you pay by providing anonymised data. You can limit this via simple and easy-to-find settings in your Android profile. It can suffer from poisoned Apps, and the Google Play Store immediately deletes them on discovery. Communication can be accessed by law enforcement.

Q: What are the best Android phones?

A: It is all about your needs. We publish a quarterly updated Best Android Phones 2023 – $200 to $2000 (smartphone guide). Some excellent fully-featured phones are in the $500-1000 bracket, and the $1000-2500 bracket includes Flip and Foldables.

It is all about choice, buying what you need and can afford, and not being locked in. Most switchers buy a lower-cost phone outright and access far lower-cost mobile data and phone plans from Woolworths, Aldi, Coles, Boost, etc., that use the Telstra and Optus networks.