With the Pixel and Pixel XL, the company's first home-made smartphones, Google decided to make part of the usual pains of phone setup disappear. With it proving so useful, the same feature was also included on the following Pixel 2/2XL and Pixel 3 family of devices.
If you've made the decision to switch from Apple's ecosystem across to the Android-powered Pixel, you'll be glad to know that doesn't automatically mean losing all of your information, contacts or media files. You can take them across with you quite simply, to take away the biggest obstacle often found with switching devices.
iPhone to Pixel 3 transfer: How to connect
As part of the retail packaging's included items, Google has added a small USB Type-C to Type-A adapter with the Pixel 3, meaning you can plug the USB end of your iPhone Lightning cable into one side, and plug the Pixel into the other.
Before you do that though, you need to start the Pixel 3 phone setup process, which initially looks just like any other Android phone setup.
iPhone to Pixel 3 transfer: Getting started
The video above was produced with the first Pixel, but the method remains mostly the same as it was then, and the first step of the setup process is inserting your SIM card. This goes in the SIM tray on the bottom edge of the device (if you have a previous Pixel, it'll be on the left edge).
There's a small, round SIM ejector tool in the packaging, inside the white envelope which also contains all your usual warranty and getting started guides.
Once you've inserted the SIM, the next step is to sign into a Wi-Fi network and then choose to copy data from another device.
iPhone to Pixel 3 transfer: How to transfer
After you've connected to a network and inserted the SIM card, your Pixel phone will prompt you to connect your iPhone and Pixel to each other using the aforementioned adapter and Lightning cable.
One minor note - it's worth ensuring that both phones are fully charged prior to transfer, because the iPhone also uses the Pixel's battery to charge itself, draining the Pixel's battery quickly.
It's also worth remembering that your iPhone has a built-in security system which won't let you transfer data to another device, unless you indicate that you trust the other device. That means you need to unlock your iPhone and choose "Trust" on the pop-up message that appears on your screen.
Once you do tell your iPhone to trust the Pixel phone, your Pixel will start gathering all the information it needs to perform the transfer. Essentially, it searches the iPhone for any data it can copy across. This process takes a few minutes.
iPhone to Pixel 3 transfer: What can you copy?
When the search is complete, you get a list of all the data you can transfer. You can choose which elements you want to copy across and which ones you don’t.
You can choose from the following:
- Apps (downloads Android versions of apps that are available)
- Calendar: Including iOS calendar entries
- Email (Gmail syncs automatically)
- Message attachments
- Music (anything stored on the device)
- Photos and Videos (anything stored on the device)
It's worth remembering that with so many cloud-based services like Google Photos, and music subscription services like Spotify, Google Play Music and Apple Music available on both platforms, some of these options are redundant. If you know you have those backed up already, you can choose not to copy them over.
However, if you don't use any cloud-based alternatives and do have all your media stored on your actual iPhone’s built-in storage, it can copy them all across to your new Pixel 3. Before starting it tells you how much storage space it'll all take up and give you an estimate of the time it's going to take to do that.
Once you’ve chosen everything you want to copy, hit "copy", then "next", and the data starts making its way across.
Thankfully, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL can do all of this in the background as you continue the regular Android setup process, including adding your fingerprint and security preferences (Pattern/PIN unlock etc.) and setting up Google Assistant.
iPhone to Pixel 3 transfer: Does it work?
For the most part, the feature works flawlessly, but there are a few caveats worth noting which can’t be worked around.
While Google can move your calendar appointments and events across in to your Google Calendar app, it can't stay synced with your iCloud calendar. So, if you share a calendar with another iCloud user, no new events, reminders or appointments will show up. Only the ones already in place will copy across, and they get synced to your Google calendar account.
As a way around this, you could download a third party email/calendar app and sign in using your iCloud details. Outlook for Android includes support for iCloud, and can handle both email and calendar in one application.
Likewise, all of your conversations from Messages app (including iMessage conversations) copy across into the Android Messenger app. That doesn't mean, however, that Android has suddenly gained the ability to send iMessages. It just stores all your conversations as SMS threads. When you reply, or continue the conversation, it does so using standard SMS text messages.
We found some music tracks didn't copy across, while some did. This could be down to the tracks being copyright protected.
Regardless of those minor issues, we love the simplicity and peace of mind that comes from knowing we've kept all of our conversations and contacts despite moving to a new smartphone platform.