Symbian – Update Google contacts without SyncML

I’ve been a hardcore fan of Nokia for long time(not any more). For many years, the only mobile phones I’ve used were Nokia. Even today, my primary phone is a Nokia PureView 808 and I have enough symbian phones to serve me for atleast a decade more(provided I’m able to source batteries). I just can not think of replacing my primary phone with a Non-Symbian.

One of the most important feature for me is the back up of contacts. I backup /sync my contacts to google contacts using syncml on all my symbian phones. Each of my phones are scheduled for an automatic sync with google everyday. But since April 2014, SyncML doesn’t seem to be working. No matter what I do and how I try, it always fails with “invalid host address” on all the phones. Google has announced retiring SyncML for all new free users long back, but it said the existing SyncML users can continue to use. Seems like now even the existing users can not use SyncML.

I can neither give up symbian, nor having a backup of my contact information on Google. So the following is what I’m currently doing. Since it is a manual process, I do this every week or a fortnight unlike the previous everyday auto sync. It is tedious, but haven’t come across a better way, do let me know if there is an easier way.


To keep all my Nokia phones in sync

Until now, I all phones were on auto sync everyday to google servers, so they were all in sync. But now, this is what I do as Google SyncML  no longer works.

I use “Phone Switch” feature of symbian. When we start Phone Switch, we get three options.

1. Start Sync – When this is done, both phones will be synced. Updates/Deletions/Additions on either of the phones will be synced to each other. Two of my phones are synced this way.

2. Start Sending – When this is done, the phone sends all Updates/Deletions/Additions to the other phone. It will ignore(does not receive) any updates on the other phone. I use this for phones which I do not use. These phones are rarely used but have all my contacts available on them just in case I ever use them.

3. Start Retrieving – Exactly opposite the last one, here the phone receives Updates/Deletions/Additions on the other phone but it does not send the same information to the other phone.


If you plan to use the above method, note the following. Lets say you have 5 phones, 1,2,3,4,5.

1. Always keep the phones in offline mode while doing this. The transfer/sync process gets interrupted if you get a call etc. When the sync is interrupted, all future syncs may also fail. I have faced this multiple times in the past. I had to reset one of the phones or delete all contacts on it to sync again. So I now make sure that I’m in offline mode.

2. Do not use ‘cancel’ even though the option is there. The same thing as mentioned above happens.

3. Always start the prociessfrom the same phone. That is, If you want to sync 1 and 2 and you started “Start Sync” from phone 1 the first time, use the same phone to “Start Sync” for all future sync’s. Same  thing applies to “Start Sending” and “Start Retrieving”.


To Backup contacts to Google

Again, since SyncML is no longer available, we have to upload contacts manually. For this,

1. Open contacts and mark all.

2. From options, select “Copy contact card” and then “To other memory”

3. Select a memory(I use the micro sd card)

4. You will be prompted “Remove existing contacts from selected memory?”, select “Yes”, otherwise the contacts will be added to the contacts that exist from previous attempts. Now the phone will all the contacts to the selected memory as a vCard file(.vcf) which is a universal standard. A separate file will be created for each of the contacts. The created vCard files will be placed in <selected memory>\other\contacts.

5. The above files need to be imported to google contacts. For this, you will have to transfer all the files to your pc. You have several ways to do this. I just connect the phone to pc using usb cable. When I do this no copying is required as the phone appears as mass storage in pc. In my case it appears as “K” drive.

6. Google allows importing one file every time, so its not practical to import hundreds of files. So, next step is to combine all the individual vcf files into a single vcf file containing all the contacts. To do this,

  • Open command prompt(“window button +R”, type “cmd” and hit “enter”).
  • Move to the directory where the vcf files are located. (in my case k:\others\contacts)
  • type the command “copy /b *.vcf combined.vcf” (this will create combined.vcf in the same folder.)

7. Now, goto google contacts, click on “More” button and select “Import”. It displays “Please select a CSV or vCard file to upload”. Browse to the folder where the combined.vcf file is located, select combined.vcf and click on “Import”. All your contacts will be imported to google contacts. Once the import is complete, you can delete all the vcf files/disconnect your phone.

8. The import process will add to the contacts that are already existing creating multiple entries if the same contacts were already there. Now click on “More” and then “Find & merge duplicates” and follow the on screen instructions to merge all duplicates.


Google ads “Imported on…” group/tag to all the contacts that were imported. If you want to remove this, click on the “Imported on…” group name on the left and then click on “More” button followed by “Delete group”. It will delete the group/tag, but the contacts in it will not be deleted. They will continue to be in “My contacts”.

All the duplicates will be merged and you will have clean and freshly updated contacts in your google. If you know of an easier way to update symbian contacts to google, do let me know.

Thanks You.

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