No iPhone 7 headphone jack? Here's how to switch to Android
If Apple really does eliminate the headphone jack, you may decide it's time to jump ship. Here's how to make the move.
Rick BroidaSenior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Save for the battery, the headphone jack is probably the single most ubiquitous feature in all mobile electronics. You find them in iPods, iPads and iPhones; Android devices of all stripe; laptops and tablets; even some e-readers.
Apple thinks you don't need one.
At least, that's the rumor. For months now, we've been hearing that the iPhone 7 will do away with the headphone jack, ostensibly to make room for an extra speaker and/or slightly larger battery. And the latest leak seems to indicate in no uncertain terms that the rumors are true.
So how will you listen to music? You'll ditch your wired headphones for a Bluetooth set, buy a new pair designed expressly for iPhone 7 or use an also-rumored Lightning-to-headphone adapter -- which would almost certainly preclude your ability to charge your iPhone with headphones on.
No, thank you. Let me just say here, and for the record, that this would be Apple's dumbest move, well, ever. (And there have been some dumb ones. Antennagate, anyone? MobileMe?)
In fact, a colleague of mine -- an iPhone user since the beginning -- recently said that if Apple eliminates the headphone jack, he'd switch to Android. Purely out of spite, mind you. And I've had similar thoughts. I strongly prefer iOS to Android, but I don't think I'd buy an iPhone 7 if it had no place to plug in headphones. Maybe I'll see what all the Samsung Edge fuss is about.
Indeed, I suspect such a change would drive a lot of iPhone owners to Android. How hard would it be to make such a move? Not that hard, really, but you'll definitely want to do some advance planning -- starting now.
Plan your move
First things first: make a list. You'll want to catalog everything that needs to migrate from iOS to Android, starting with these broad categories:
Data (inclding contacts, appointments, notes, passwords, etc.)
Photos and videos
Data will be the trickiest part; everything else should be fairly easy. Let's take a closer look at each category and how you'll proceed.
This is a great time to make a list of all your installed apps, then decide which ones you really need on your new phone. (If you're anything like me, you've probably got dozens you never touch. So why bother installing them?)
More than that, identify the apps you love and can't live without, then make sure each one has an Android equivalent. For example, do you own any iOS-only smart-home devices? That might be a factor in your decision to switch. Most iOS apps are also available for Android, but there may be some that aren't.
However your list ends up, there's no way to actually copy apps from iPhone to Android phone. Instead, you'll simply install the same ones from the Google Play store. For any apps that require you to sign in, make sure you know your usernames and passwords. Speaking of which...
Your phone is a phone, after all, so you'll obviously want to move your address book. Same goes for your calendar, notes and other PIM-type miscellany.
Although this data is stored locally, on your iPhone, it's also synced to iCloud. And that's a good place to get at some of it, starting with your contacts and calendar.
If you don't want to spend any money, there's a manual option -- at least for your contacts: Export all your contacts in vCard format, then import that file into Gmail. Here's how to do that:
Step 1: Using a desktop browser, sign into iCloud.com using your Apple ID.
Step 2: Choose Contacts, then click the gear icon in the lower-left corner. Click Select All, then click the gear again and choose Export vCard.
Step 3: Now open Gmail in another browser tab. Click the GMail pull-down in the upper left corner, then choose Contacts.
Step 4: In the lefthand sidebar, click More and then then Import. Select Choose File, then import the vCard file you exported in step 2. Once the import process is complete, you can use the Find & merge duplicates option if you discover any doubles. (It happens.)
For some kinds of data, all you have to do is install the Android version of the corresponding app and then sign into your account. Dashlane, Dropbox, Evernote, Kindle, Mint -- any app that syncs with a cloud counterpart will automatically bring your info to your new phone.
Migrating music will be easy or slightly challenging depending on your current setup. Here are some common scenarios and their corresponding options:
You subscribe to a music service If you're already using something like Apple Music, Pandora or Spotify, you're all set: Just install the corresponding apps on your Android phone, then sign into your account. Any music you'd downloaded for offline listening will need to be downloaded again, but that's a snap -- especially if you use playlists.
You store music on your iPhone and sync with iTunes Although Android has no iTunes equivalent, per se, there's a utility called Google Play Music Manager that will automatically upload your iTunes library (up to 50,000 songs) to your Google cloud account. You can then stream and/or download it via the Play Music app.
Photos and videos
Your iPhone is probably home to years' worth of photos and videos -- media you'll definitely want on your Android phone. Although you could manually copy everything from the iPhone to your PC and then over to your new phone, there's an easier (albeit slower) way: the Google Photos app. Here's how:
Step 1: Install the app and sign in to your Google account.
Step 2: Tap the Menu icon (upper-left corner), then Settings, then Back up & sync.
Step 3: Toggle on the Back up & sync option.
The app will slowly but surely sync all your photos to your Google cloud account, where you'll have access to them in the Android Photos app.
Take note, however, that this backup can take a long time -- hours or even overnight depending on how many photos and videos you have. That's another reason it's good to get started on this now, so all your images are ready and waiting once you get your new phone.
If you're like most users, you have a couple email accounts -- one for work, perhaps, and maybe one on Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo.
The vast majority of mail services rely on IMAP, which means mail resides on a server until it's deleted. That's a good thing, because all you have to do is add those same accounts to your new Android phone and presto: You've got mail. There's nothing to manually transfer over. The only challenge might be connecting to your company servers -- but that's what your IT guy is for, right?
Don't forget security
There's one key difference between Android and iOS: security. Apple routinely takes heat for its stringent app-approval process, but when was the last time you heard about a rogue app wreaking havoc on iOS? Android, meanwhile, occasionally suffers malware incursions, most recently in the form of fake Pokemon Go apps.
I'm not saying you need antivirus software for your Android phone, merely that you should be aware of the greater security risks that accompany it. Don't install apps from unknown sources, and always make sure you're getting the correct, legitimate version of any given app (like, say, Pokemon Go).
Quick poll: Did Apple goof?
With all that out of the way, let's talk about the bigger issue: If Apple does indeed eliminate the headphone jack (and all signs suggest it will), will you switch platforms? Or do you not think it's that big a deal? Will you simply sit tight with your current iPhone and see how the whole thing plays out?
I'm sure this will spark some lively discussion. Keep it civil, folks -- they're just phones, after all.