Restore iPhone Contacts from Backup: All Possible Solutions

Written By Axel Nash |

How do you restore iPhone contacts from backup? Your smartphone contacts are very important. For most people, they are a lifeline. A contact list contains the details of your family members, friends, business associates, colleagues, etc.

What do you do when a contact or several of your contacts go missing? You probably deleted them by mistake or they just disappeared while doing backup restore or sync. This is a very scary situation and you can get agitated real quick. There’s no need to fret as we will show you how to restore iPhone contacts from backup in this post.

Part 1: Restore iPhone Contacts without Backup

The first thing we will consider is how to restore contacts on iPhone without backup. What’s the scenario here? Usually, the issue is that you just got a new iPhone and you need to move or copy your contact list. You don’t need to use backup for this.

Another scenario is that you already have the contacts saved on your SIM card. There is a way to restore your contacts to your iPhone for each of these scenarios. Check them out below:

Method 1: Use SIM Card

This approach works if you already have your contacts on a SIM card. It is also perfect if you are moving your contacts to an iPhone from another iPhone or Android device. SIM cards can store a plethora of contacts in regular format. Let’s show you how you can move your contacts using a SIM card.

Step 1: Export the contacts to the SIM Card

If you are using an Android device, simply launch the “Contacts” app from the “Home” menu. Now, tap on “Options” at the top of the screen then navigate to “Settings/Manage Contacts.”

tap settings

Here you will see the option to “Import” or “Export” Contacts.

tap export to sim card

Simply follow the instructions to “Export” the contacts to the SIM Card.

Step 2: Import the contacts to your iPhone

After exporting the contacts to the SIM card, “Eject” it from the device. Most smartphones come with an ejector tool. Now, place the card in the SIM tray of the new iPhone then insert it into the device. When the device detects the SIM card, you can unlock it and navigate to “Settings.” From here, tap on “Mail, Contacts, Calendars.”

tap mail contacts calendars

Scroll to import “SIM contacts” and tap on this option.

tap import sim contacts

The process is pretty quick and soon, you should have your contacts on your iPhone.


  • Very easy process.
  • No need for backup or internet.


  • SIM card must fit into the iPhone.
  • You may lose additional information attached to contacts.
Method 2: Use AirDrop

If you want to know how to restore contacts on iPhone without iCloud, here’s another method. The AirDrop method is perfect for transferring files quickly between iPhone and Mac or another iPhone. All you need here is for the two devices to share the same wireless network. Once you sort this out, you can select a file and share it using AirDrop.

There is a challenge with this method. You cannot share more than one file at once. What this implies is that if you need to transfer multiple contacts, this method isn’t efficient. However, it is perfect for transferring a few contacts. Here’s how to restore contacts on iPhone without iCloud using AirDrop.

Step 1: Switch on AirDrop on each device.

To do this, go to the “Control Center” of your iPhone. You can do this via the top of the device if it has a Face ID. Alternatively, swipe up from the base of the screen. Tap the “wireless control box” and hold down on it for a few seconds. This action reveals a list of options including AirDrop. Tap on “AirDrop” then select “Everyone.”

tap airdrop and select everyone

Step 2: Launch the “Contacts” app on the device you want to transfer from.

Step 3: Scroll to the contact that you want to move and tap on “Share Contact.”

tap share contact

Step 4: Tap the “Airdrop” icon in the resulting list. You can then select the target device once it is detected.

tap airdrop

Step 5: You should get a notification on the target device. Tap on this notification to approve the transfer. Once you do, the contact saves in your contacts list automatically and you can find it in your Contacts app.


  • Easy and quick.


  • You can transfer just one contact per time.
  • Requires wireless network.

Part 2: Most Efficient way to Restore iPhone Contacts from Backup

Great, you now know how to restore contacts on iPhone without backup, but there’s a lot more you can explore. What if we told you that there is a more efficient way to restore iPhone contacts from backup?

In this section, we will discuss a very simple, efficient, and reliable way to move your contacts on iOS devices. It is called MobileTrans and it is a go-to desktop solution for data transfer, backup, and restoration. Amazing, right? There are three scenarios where MobileTrans comes in handy:

Scenario 1: When you want to transfer contacts between two devices e.g. iPhone and iPhone, two Android devices, iOS, and Windows. You can do that using MobileTrans - Phone Transfer.

Scenario 2: When you have an existing iTunes backup. You can restore contacts selectively using MobileTrans - Restore.

Scenario 3: When you have an existing MobileTrans backup. You can use this to restore contacts via MobileTrans - Restore. Note that you must have created a backup with MobileTrans Backup to employ this option.

In a word, you can easily restore your iPhone contacts with just one click. This means that transferring contacts just got easier. Asides from contacts, MobileTrans supports other kinds of data including call logs, videos, photos, calendars, notes, etc. Since this post is focusing on how to restore iPhone contacts from backup, check out these steps.

Step 1: Install and launch MobileTrans on your computer.

You need to first install this application on your computer. When the installation is complete, launch the app. You will see several options in the MobileTrans Welcome Screen. Select “Backup&Restore.”

backup&restore home

Step 2: Connect your iPhone or desired iOS device.

You need to make use of a lightning cable to connect your device to your computer. Once connected, there will be a pop-up window on your phone, click on “Trust”. Then go to Phone Data Backup & Restore and choose restore.

Step 3: Move the contacts.

In between the “Source” and “Destination” tabs, there’s a tab containing all the kinds of data you can transfer. Navigate through this tab and select “Contacts.” If you want to move other kinds of data, you just need to check the box beside the data type. The app also enables you to wipe the destination device before moving your data. Once you are done selecting the data you want to transfer, click on “Start.”

restore from mobiletrans to phone

When the process is complete, you will get a notification. Now, you can access your contacts on the destination device without hassle.


  • Simple and very efficient.
  • No risk of data loss.
  • Allows transfer of 18 different data types.


  • Not free.

Part 3: Alternative way to Restore iPhone Contacts from Backup

Would you like to know how to restore iPhone contacts from backup in other ways? There are a few methods that you can try out. We will discuss some of them in this section. Let’s get started.

Method 1: Use iCloud

What if you cannot make use of the methods discussed above? There’s no need to panic. You can still recover your contacts through iCloud. By default, the “Contacts” app on your iPhone syncs with iCloud. To retrieve your contacts, you simply need to launch the “Settings” app then switch it off and on. After doing this, you will restore the lost contacts. If this seems a little hazy, check the steps below to understand it better:

Step 1: Launch the “Settings” app and go to “iCloud.”

tap cloud

Step 2: Switch off “Contacts” then select “Keep on My iPhone.”

 turn off contacts

Step 3: Switch on “Contacts” then select “Merge.”

 click merge

Soon enough, all your lost contacts should reappear on your iPhone. Do you know that you can recover your contacts through To do this, you need a PC as well as your Apple account details (ID and password). Here’s what you need to do:

Step 1: Launch your web browser on your PC and enter “” in the address bar.

Step 2: Log into your account with your Apple account details.

Step 3: Click on the “Settings” button.

click on restore contacts

Step 4: Navigate to “Advanced” and click on “Restore Contacts.”

Step 5: You should see the different archives that you created before now. Check through their dates to see which one contains your complete contacts list. Select it and hit the “Restore” button.

Step 6: Confirm your action by hitting the “Restore” button again. This action begins the process and when it is complete, you get an email notification.


  • Easy process.
  • Backs up your contact list all over.


  • Loss of new contacts not saved to iCloud.
Method 2: Use iTunes

Apple developed iTunes to help its customers manage their iOS devices. What this means is that you can use it to back up the data on your iPhone. As such, you can always restore it when needed. iTunes also gives you the option of syncing your contacts. Here’s how to restore iPhone contacts without iCloud from one iPhone to another.

Step 1: Launch iTunes on your PC.

Step 2: Make sure that both iPhones run on the same version of iOS.

Step 3: Plug in the source iPhone with a lightning cable to your PC.

click on back up now

Step 4: Go to “Backups” under “Summary” and select “Back up Now.” This action saves all your data including your contacts. Ensure that you back up the data to “This Computer” not “iCloud.”

Step 5: Disconnect the source device and plug in the target device. Go to “Summary” and select “Backups.” Click on “Restore Backup” and choose the most recent backup file in the pop-up window.

click restore


  • Free method.


  • Restores your whole backup.
  • Both devices must be using the same version of iOS.
Method 3: Use Google Drive (or Gmail)

In this final section, we will show you how to restore your iPhone contacts through Google Drive or Gmail. To achieve this, take these steps:

Step 1: Unlock the device then launch “Settings.”

Step 2: Tap “Password and Account” under the items listed.

select passwords and accounts

Step 3: Tap on “Add Account” and choose “Google.”

select google

Step 4: Enter your Google Account details to log into Google then enable “Contacts.” This step restores your contacts from Google Drive to your device.

enable contacts


  • Easy to carry out.
  • Free


  • The device can get stuck.


In this article, we have shown you how to restore iPhone contacts from backup. We have also explained how to restore iPhone contacts without backup. Among these methods, using MobileTrans seems to be the most efficient way because it is quick and doesn’t pose the risk of data loss. However, efficiency, success rate, price, operation, and many factors may affect your decision, you can choose from these methods the one that suits you according to the actual needs.

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Axel Nash

Axel Nash

staff Editor

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