How To: Move Contacts From an Old SIM Card to Your iPhone

Sim Card Pile

If you’ve just bought an iPhone and are dreading manually re-entering in all your contacts, there’s a relatively quick and painless way to transfer them into the iPhone using your old SIM card. Below are instructions on how to do this.

An important thing to note is that only the first phone number for each contact from the old SIM will be transferred to the iPhone. Any secondary numbers will not transfer (eg, cell, work, etc). Also note that some phones, such as Blackberry devices, don’t store contact info on a SIM card. In that case, you’ll need to take your phone to an AT&T Wireless store to transfer the contacts.

How to Transfer Contacts from an Old SIM Card:

1. Shut down the iPhone by holding down the sleep button, then swiping the “Slide to Power Off” prompt:

iPhone Shutdown

2. Remove the SIM card that comes with your new iPhone and place the old SIM card from your previous phone into the iPhone. You can remove the iPhone’s SIM tray like this:

3. Go to Settings:


4. Tap Mail, Contacts, Calendars:


5. Scroll down a bit, then tap Import SIM Contacts:


6. Wait for the iPhone to finish importing, then turn off your iPhone again:

iPhone Shutdown

7. Take out the old SIM card, and put back in the new SIM card.

8. Start up your iPhone again by pressing the sleep button

Congratulations! The contacts from your old SIM should all be tucked away in your Address Book. The next time you sync with iTunes, they will backed up onto your computer as well.

Troubleshooting & Notes:

  • The iPhone can only accept contacts that use A-Z and 0-9 in their name, so you may have to go through your old phone, and edit all your contacts to stick to this naming convention.
  • If the transfer didn’t work, your old phone may not have stored your contacts on its SIM card, but rather kept them locally. To remedy, check if there’s an option on the old handset to move all the contacts to a SIM card. Do so and follow the steps above.
  • Still not working? Sometimes, old SIM cards don’t work in the iPhone. Try this. Put your iPhone’s new SIM card in the old phone, then copy that phone’s contacts on the iPhone sim card. Again, this only works if your old phone can store contacts locally.
  • Still not working? Some phones may be able to sync their contacts with your computer, for example, to the Address Book on a Mac or Outlook on a PC. Both of those programs can be used to sync the contacts to the iPhone. Also on a Mac, you can try the iSync application if your old phone uses bluetooth or USB.
  • Finally, if none of these work, try taking your phones in to AT&T (or whoever your local provider is), as they may have devices to transfer all the information.
  1. Fiona O Connor says:

    Thank you so much for your information..was very frustrated at the thoughts of entering contacts manually!!! lifesaver!!

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