Setting up a new smartphone can be a pain but, thanks to Signal’s excellent transfer tool, migrating all of your conversations doesn’t have to be.
Signal brings a lot of great messaging app features to the table, one of which is a transfer tool (available for Android and iOS) that makes moving conversations from one phone to a new one as simple as can be. In light of all WhatApp’s tighter integration with Facebook/Meta — and all the privacy concerns around that — a lot of people have been turning to Signal as an alternative. Signal has many of the same features as WhatsApp, is getting new ones all the time, and offers the same level of end-to-end encryption for all messages. Given Signal’s open-source nature and lack of Facebook ownership, it’s also seen as a much more secure service.
Just like WhatsApp, however, having end-to-end encryption enabled for all messages does come at the cost of convenience. Unlike apps such as Telegram or Facebook Messenger, Signal can only be used on one phone at a time and all conversations are stored locally on the device. In other words, if someone logs into their Signal account on a new phone, they won’t immediately see any of their previous conversations. Thankfully, though, Signal’s migration tool does make it possible to move them across.
For people who use an iPhone and just bought the latest model, Signal reassures that the process is pretty straightforward. To get started, make sure both the new and old iPhones are close to each other, have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled, and Low Power mode disabled. On the new iPhone, install the Signal app from the App Store and complete the login/registration process. Once that’s done, tap ‘Transfer from iOS Device’ and then ‘Next.’ Now, open Signal on the old iPhone, and there should be a pop-up on the screen. Tap ‘Next’, a small camera will open, and then use the old iPhone to scan the QR code on the new iPhone. This then begins the transfer process, which should only take a few minutes.
Transfering Signal Messages Between Android Phones
Signal’s transfer tool has been available on the iOS app since 2020 and, as of March 2021, it’s also available for Android users. The steps are a bit different, though the end result is the same. On the new Android phone, install Signal, open the app, and tap ‘Transfer or restore account.’ Enable any permissions that are requested, tap ‘Transfer from Android device,’ and tap ‘Continue.’ Now go to the old Android phone, tap the profile icon, tap ‘Account,’ tap ‘Transfer account,’ and tap ‘Continue.’ From here, there are just a few final steps. Move the two phones next to each other, accept the alert on the new Android phone, make sure the seven-digit code on both devices is the same, and tap ‘Continue’ on each one.
Android users also have the option of transferring Signal messages with a backup file. First, you’ll want to make sure a backup file is made. On your old phone, tap the profile icon, tap ‘Chats,’ tap ‘Chat backups,’ and tap ‘Turn on.’ Follow the on-screen instructions, and within a few seconds, you’ll get a backup folder containing all of your message data. Once the backup file’s created, move it to the new Android phone, open Signal, tap ‘Transfer or restore account,’ tap ‘Restore from backup,’ and enter your 30-digit passcode.
No matter if chats are being transferred across Androids or iPhones, all conversations remain end-to-end encrypted just like they were on the old device, ensuring everything remains just as secure as ever. Having to manually transfer conversations in the first place is a slight annoyance compared to some of Signal’s competition, but considering nothing is lost from a data privacy perspective, it’s a pretty great solution all-around.
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