As iPhones and Android phones get more powerful and gain more enterprise support, many folks are leaving the rounded realm of BlackBerry for the two big touchscreens. Most BlackBerry owners have built up an extensive list of contacts from their many, many texts and emails, and might wonder how they'll survive the trip. But take heart: you don't need to pull out your SIM card and pray, or load cumbersome transfer software. In fact, you're one text message away from transferring your contacts to nearly any smartphone.
BlackBerry offers desktop syncing software, imaginatively titled BlackBerry Desktop Manager, that can import your calendar and contacts into Microsoft Outlook, Windows Calendar, LotusNotes, and a few other organizer apps. If you're planning to sync your new iPhone or Android with Outlook or another one of those apps, you might do well to go ahead and bring them onto your PC or Mac, load them into Outlook or the like, then rely on that app to pass them on to your next phone.
But then again, the company with the most server space in the world wants to help you instantly synchronize your contacts from one phone to another, so why not let them? Google's Sync app and service works with BlackBerry phones, along with iPhones, Nokia phones, older Windows Mobile (6.0 and 6.5) models, and any phone that supports SyncML. Android phones have built-in Google account syncing, including contacts, and most any modern smartphone worth its salt (including WebOS and Windows Phone 7) offers some kind of Google/Gmail contact syncing. Worse comes to worse, Google lets you export your contacts in the generally friendly CSV and vCard formats.
So let's get started. Open your BlackBerry browser and head to m.google.com/sync. You'll be prompted to download the app Google made just for BlackBerry phones. Alternately, use your desktop browser to open google.com/mobile/sync, then click the "Download app" link under the BlackBerry heading, where you can enter your mobile number to have a direct link sent by SMS to your phone.
On most BlackBerry phones, the Google Sync app should install itself automatically, after you approve the download. Once it's installed, you can find the Google Sync icon on your home screen (or in your app list). Click it, and you'll first need to enter your Gmail address, or your full email address at a Google Apps account, into the "Login" field -- which brings you to a decision point, if you're not already experienced with Gmail and Google Contacts.
If you already use Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, or any other Google product that requires a password, you already have an account you can push your Google Contacts into. That makes Google's Sync product pretty convenient, but it might also mean a merging of your personal (Google/Gmail) contacts with your business (BlackBerry) contacts. What's more, Google Sync also sends your calendar items from your BlackBerry to the Google Calendar connected to that Google account, and syncs your existing Gmail/Google contacts back onto your BlackBerry.
Note: If you have a Google Apps account through a job, organization, or your own web domain, you can always use that account for syncing as well by typing out your full "firstname.lastname@example.org" address.
If you don't use Gmail, nor have many contacts stashed away in your Google Contacts, neither is much of an issue. If you do, you can either grin and bear the bulk merging, or create a new Gmail/Google account for syncing your BlackBerry contacts. Google Contacts is not, at the moment, the most agile and customizable contact management system around, but it is free and easy to connect to on any almost phone.
In either case, arm yourself with the login and password from your new or existing Google account, and log into the Google Sync app on your BlackBerry. You'll arrive eventually at a Welcome screen, which sports a "Sync" button at the bottom. Hit that button, and wait while your contacts make their way from the palm of your hand into "the cloud." If you've got a lot of contacts on your BlackBerry or in your Google Account, this could take a while; ditto with calendar items on both sides. Give it some time, then head to google.com/contacts and log in with the Google account you just synced up. Look through the contacts there; search out a few key people, ensure their data looks correct, then grab that device with the lingering new-gadget smell.
Looking at a shiny new iPhone? You're going to basically set up a Microsoft Exchange sync to Google's servers, just like you would with work. Google has outlined the setup steps at their Google Sync page. The short version is: Head to Settings on your iPhone, choose "Mail, Contacts, Calendars," select "Add Account," then pick Microsoft Exchange from the offerings. Enter your full Gmail/Google email address in the Email and Username fields, and your password in Password (leaving Domain blank), then hit Next in the upper-right corner. In the new Server field that appears, enter m.google.com. Ensure you've selected contacts to be synced when given the option, and note you can sync calendars and Gmail/Google Apps messages, too, if you'd like. If you have existing contacts on your iPhone, you'll be asked whether to merge them with your Google/BlackBerry contacts, or replace them--it's your call.
If you're rocking an Android phone, you likely already signed in or set up a Google account when you booted your phone for the first time. If you synced to a different account, or don't see your BlackBerry contacts after a good wait, head into your Settings by hitting the Menu button on your home screen. Next, scroll and select Accounts & sync. If your BlackBerry-synced account shows up, select it and ensure Contacts is checked as a synced item. If you need to add an account, tap the "Add account" button at bottom -- move through the usual steps.
Both iPhones and Android devices, synced through Google, will keep your contact list up-to-date on both your phone and through Google Contacts. When you want to add and edit names and details with a bigger keyboard, you can do so on the web, and when you need to move phones again, you'll be covered.