Take Control of your Contacts

Or: Easily Transfer Contacts from an iPhone to Another and Never Lose them again.

Most of the time your contacts outlast your phone so you will always need to transfer them.

The best way to ensure you never lose your contacts is to use a free on-line mail service like gmail (or any of the major providers yahoo, hotmail etc) to keep all your contacts safe.

Simply add the account with all your contacts to your phone, most providers allow for seamless 2-way-sync, i.e. you add a contact on your phone, its saved in the cloud also and vice versa from cloud to your phone.

So now your phone just becomes a device that's looking to the cloud for all the contacts, and you never really store any contacts on the phone itself. When you get a new phone just add the account again and you will have all your contacts.

Great. But what if you didn't do this before you lost your phone. Here is how to recover contacts from an iPhone to any other phone. 

I use iExplorer by Macroplant ; they offer a free version or paid version for $40. There are probably other free apps available too. 

Using iExplorer the contacts download as a series of .vcf files. To easily upload these into gmail contacts, just combine into a single file using a cmd prompt

In gmail contacts click "More > Import" and choose the file you created.

Thanks to TTUK for the tip about concatenating vcf files.