Duplicate contacts are not that much of an issue if you own an iPhone for the first time and you enter your contacts one by one. However, if you are migrating from other smartphones (even from another iPhone) or just recently switched from syncing via iTunes to doing it via iCloud, then you might be experiencing this issue.
This is also a very known problem among those who store their contacts in online services such as Google, Exchange or such.
Let’s take a look at some of the possible reasons for duplicate contacts on your iPhone and how to solve it.
If You Have iCloud Enabled
If you started to see contacts duplicated on your iPhone right after enabling iCloud sync, first verify if the duplicate contacts on your iPhone are also duplicated on iCloud’s website. If they are, then the issue might be iCloud itself, and you should contact Apple for help directly.
Note: If you try to erase one of the duplicates in this scenario, you might end up losing both in some cases.
If iCloud is not the problem, then the reason for duplicate contacts on your iPhone could be either Exchange problems, iTunes problems or Gmail’s database issues.
Issues With Exchange
If you are syncing calendar and contact data with Exchange besides using iCloud, know that iCloud doesn’t sync or change your Exchange data. So for both to work together, the best thing you can do is to use iCloud only for certain contacts (like friends and family for example) and Exchange for the rest.
Duplicate contacts is a known issue for iPhone users who sync contact data using both iCloud and iTunes, so it is highly advisable to use only one of these.
There are also known issues when syncing contacts with iTunes via Wi-Fi. If you do so and you have duplicate contact data on your iPhone, try syncing with a USB cable once and then going back to syncing via Wi-Fi.
A few days ago, Ashish wrote a great post on merging duplicate contacts on Android where he covers duplicate contact issues in Gmail. If you are syncing your contacts with Gmail, take a look at that post, since its Gmail section applies here as well if your Google contacts are the problem.
The App Store is Your Friend
I definitely recommend you try out one of the fixes above to get a more natural and “cleaner” solution.
If however, you would prefer to avoid all the hassle and go the easy way, you can surf the App Store for “merge contacts” or “duplicate contacts” to find a wide array of apps that can solve this for you. If you do, I recommend using Contacts Duster, a free, ad-supported app that is quite effective and easy to use.
Once you download it, the app will scan all your contacts on your iPhone (hit the Refresh button at the bottom left if it doesn’t) and will show you how many duplicates you have.
Then you can choose to either merge them in batch or you can also go into each of them to find out more about the duplicate and then merge it or delete it.
Note: The app also offers some additional services (like the ability for you to choose which contacts to merge) as in-app purchases.
There you go. Hope you find these solutions helpful. If you had any duplicate contacts on your iPhone in the past, let us know what you did to get rid of them.