Quite often among questions about recovery of contacts on Android I receive emails asking how to recover contacts from a SIM card, how to get old phone number back, etc. Some of the questions are what to do if the SIM card is lost, blocked or damaged.
I’d like to put it like this: can we restore the content on a SIM card at all? I am not going to copy all those pseudo guides advertising useless contact recovery software (there are few exceptions though). Instead, I am going to share some lifehacks lying on the surface, which should help you retrieve contacts from a SIM card.
Will a new SIM card have your old contacts on it?
It’s not a problem to get a new SIM card if you lost your old one. Replacing your SIM card should be a free service provided at your mobile operator office; you can be asked to file an application on losing your SIM card using their template. Since your old phone number is assigned to your contract, you might need to visit their office anyway.
Yet on a new SIM card you won’t find your lost contacts because a SIM card is a physical device and if it’s lost, all the data on it is lost as would be the case with an SD card, for example.
Advice: do not be swayed by unreliable offers
On the Internet you can find “specialists” in SIM card recovery who offer recovering any data on your SIM card or who are ready to share with you how to get contacts from a SIM card for a fee. Be wary, it’s a fraud!
Old phone number recovery via Google Contacts
Contacts from Address Book are stored only on a SIM card. Data from Address Book, however, can be transferred to a VCF file, so try looking for it either on SD card or in your phone memory.
If your phone was synchronized with your Google Account, this service should have your contacts. To check for them go to Contacts in your Google Account.
Even if you had somehow deleted the information from Google Contacts, there is a chance to find your old phone numbers unless it hasn’t been over a month that you deleted them.
Request call log from your mobile operator
If you need a particular contact number (which isn’t in the Address Book or Call Log), don’t waste your time on SIM contacts recovery. Request your itemized outgoing/incoming call details for a certain time period.
Call log details can usually be given for the period from the last billing and till your request to the mobile operator. Except for the date and other information about your calls, you’ll restore call log - eg. numbers you’d called on.
This way has an inconvenience though: you don’t get the names of owners of those numbers and have to call them to find out. Yet, if you remember part of them and are good at memorizing figures, it won’t be that big a problem for you.
Lost your SIM card? Find it
The most optimistic solution to recover deleted contacts from a SIM card is to find the lost card! Take a guess and try to recall where you put or dropped it, say, when you removed off your phone rear case.
Think through what is easier and quicker: recover lost contacts turning to the mobile operator or look for a needle in a bundle of hay.