Jan Grewe has created a web based application to convert SMS Messages from iPhone so that they can be transferred into any Android phone using the SMS Backup & Restore app. The page has instructions to find the SMS database created by iTunes and then upload it for conversion. The web application generates an XML file which can then be copied to the SD Card of the Android phone and restored using SMS Backup & Restore.

If you don’t want to upload your messages to a remote site then Dr. Bil Kirmani, one of the users of SMS Backup & Restore, came up with a manual process of doing the conversion on a Mac. In his words:


I’m not suggesting that this is the easiest or the most efficient way to transfer all your old text messages from your iPhone to your new android phone, but it was “free” (apart from the donationware) and required no “programming” (if you don’t count excel functions).

I’ve broken it down step by step as much as possible, but this is not for the faint hearted. Maybe somebody clever could amalgamate all these steps into a script or something, but I’m just a tinkerer, not a programmer, so that’s me out. Good luck and Godspeed….


Create a backup of your iPhone SMSes

  • Sync your iPhone

Download the necessary software

Find and extract your old SMSes

  • Go to the folder User>Library>Application Support>Mobile Sync>Backup>[Some ID] (there may be more than one folder in the Backup Folder, but probably just one with the following file in)
  • Find the file 3d0d7e5fb2ce288813306e4d4636395e047a3d28 with the extension .mdbackup or .mddata and copy it to the desktop
  • Load the file in the SQLite browser
  • Select File>Export>Table as CSV file and choose the “message” table

Amend the file into SMS Backup format

  • Load the file into Excel (I know Excel isn’t free, but seriously, if you’re doing all this and you don’t have a spreadsheet program, you should probably stop now)
  • You should have the following headings:
     ROWID; address; date; text; flags; replace; svc_center; group_id; association_id; height; UIFlags; version; subject; country; headers; recipients; read
  • Create an extra column to the right of “date”. Make sure the original date column is in “Text” format (not “number” format) by right clicking the column and choosing >Format cells>Number>Text. Now copy the formula =C2&”000″ in the column to the right. This changes the date to the correct format for android (Epoch including milliseconds).
  • Create six columns to the right of the “text” column. iPhone stores certain characters that confuse the XML parser (ampersands, quotes, apostrophes, greater than signs and line breaks etc). Make sure the format of the column with the body of the SMS in is “text” format (otherwise it misses characters and makes you unhappy). In each of the successive columns, use the formulae:
    • =SUBSTITUTE(E2,CHAR(38),CHAR(38)&"amp;")
    • =SUBSTITUTE(F2,CHAR(60),CHAR(38)&"lt;")
    • =SUBSTITUTE(G2,CHAR(62),CHAR(38)&"gt;")
    • =SUBSTITUTE(H2,CHAR(34),CHAR(38)&"quot;")
    • =SUBSTITUTE(I2,CHAR(39),CHAR(38)&"apos;")
    • =SUBSTITUTE(J2,CHAR(13),CHAR(38)&"#13;")
    • Create an extra column to the right of “flags”. This column will tell your device if the text is received or sent. The iPhone uses received as “2” and sent as “3”, but these need to be “1” and “2” respectively for Android. Use =L2-1 to change this down the column.
    • In a new column, use the following formula:
    • ="  <sms protocol="&CHAR(34)&”0”&CHAR(34)&" address="&CHAR(34)&B2&CHAR(34)&" date="&CHAR(34)&D2&CHAR(34)&" subject="&CHAR(34)&”null”&CHAR(34)&" body="&CHAR(34)&K2&CHAR(34)&" toa="&CHAR(34)&”null”&CHAR(34)&" sc_toa="&CHAR(34)&”null”&CHAR(34)&" service_center="&CHAR(34)&”null”&CHAR(34)&" read="&CHAR(34)&”1”&CHAR(34)&" status="&CHAR(34)&”-1”&CHAR(34)&" />"

Create the SMS Backup and Restore File

  • Ensure you have at least one text in your Android Phone (either sent or received)
  • Do a Backup
  • Connect your phone to the computer and download the file saved by SMS Backup
  • Using the XML editor, add the text created in the last column of your excel document to the XML file source. It should look something like:
<?xml version='1.0' encoding='UTF-8' standalone='yes' ?>
<sms protocol="0" address="NHS" date="1272018455000" subject="null" body="Medical Student Teaching Reminder" toa="208" sc_toa="0" service_center="+447782000800" read="1" status="-1" /><sms protocol=”…” etc />
  • Rename the file (just in case!) with an extra digit at the end and load this file back onto your SD card in the SMSBackupRestore Folder.
  • Do a restore.
  • Make donations to the makers of your free software and ensure that you’ve got SMS Backup and Restore to do regular backups. Also, consider downloading SMS Backup by Christoph Studer to convert all your SMSes to gmail messages.


Thanks to Bil for those instructions.