I recently met a friend, who for the sake of being politically correct, I will describe as not well versed with the technical stuff. He lost his Android phone; got mugged or something, and now was complaining of how he lost so many contacts and has to begin from scratch populating his phonebook.
Then I realized that if he was using an iPhone, he would have immediately noticed he had the option of backing up his phone, each time he connects to a Mac computer or Windows PC with iTunes installed. Since he was using an Android phone, the option of backing up the smartphone is not well pronounced from the get-go; though it is there.
Google Accounts a MUST for you to install Apps from Play Store
When you first use an Android phone, it comes with typically some Google apps right out of the box. Something that has landed Google into trouble with anti-trust government agencies in Europe and now in the U.S. More on that here and here.
For you to download and install apps from Google Play Store, you must sign in with your Google account. Hell, even to use the Google apps that come shipped with your Android devices – such as Gmail, Messages, Google Maps, Google Search, YouTube, Chrome, Play Music, and Photos – you need to sign into your Google account.
Here comes the problem with most people not well versed with the ‘technical set up of their phones’. While saving contacts on your Android phone, the first time you will be presented with the option of saving it on the SIM card or on your Google account. That is the email address you signed into your Google account.
Perhaps as a habit of using feature phones, the well not so technical user always go for ‘save contact on SIM card’. So what happens when you lose your phone? All your contacts saved on your SIM card gets lost.
Though some service carriers like Safaricom do provide the option of backing up contacts on your SIM card. But that service has now been redundant given smartphone provides users the option of backing up contacts to their cloud. This service might still be useful to those who didn’t get the memo; your Android phone back up data if you allow it.
Benefits of Saving Contacts to Cloud v/s on SIM Card
If you opt for the option of saving contacts on your Google account on your Android device instead of on your SIM card. Should you ever lose your phone and get a replacement. All you need to do is log in to your Google account on the replacement phone and all your contacts will be downloaded automatically from the cloud.
You can also access contacts saved on one Android device across all Android devices you have signed into. You can also access them on the web by going to contacts.google.com on your desktop.
From there you can manage your contacts, like deleting duplicates, merging contacts, and check on who you contact the most.
Stopping Google from knowing too much about you
To be honest, personally, I surrendered this war on data privacy especially when it comes to Google. The search engine giant runs the internet and every mobile digital gadget connected to the internet.
If you want to use the best apps in the market while on mobile or desktop. You have little options from apps like Chrome as a web browser, Google Maps as navigation apps, Gmail as a free emailing client.
Unless you work for some government agencies or doing clandestine activities like hacking drug trafficking. It takes a lot of effort and money to keep your data away from Google. They harvest your data, so they can sell to marketers who then pay for the free services you get from Google search as the search engine, Gmail, YouTube, etc.
There is no such thing as free lunch. The only way to stop giving Google too much information about yourself is to start paying for premium services. Opting to save your contacts on the SIM card instead of Google servers, will be too little, as you will still end up using their other services. Hell, you will probably keep using their Android smartphone.