Google Contacts has always let users backup and sync contacts to their Google account across devices on Android. However, if you had contacts saved to the device’s storage locally, the app wouldn’t sync those contacts. This meant that in cases where users lose their phone’s data for some reason, they lose those local contacts as well. The ability to move contacts from the local memory to a Google account has always been cumbersome.
However, that might be changing, as reports suggest that the ability to backup and sync contacts stored on the phone’s memory is making it to the Contacts app. AndroidPolice reports that the app on their Galaxy S10+ served a prompt asking if the user wanted to backup and sync device contacts. We can confirm that the feature is indeed live for some devices since we too can see the setting on our Galaxy S9+.
While it is not known as to which devices are seeing this feature already, it is safe to assume that the functionality will eventually make it to all devices since it seems to be a server-side change. It is possible that the feature already was available to more devices, but the pop-up message might suggest that it is rolling out broadly. Though minor, the option for users to sync contacts that are stored locally is a nifty addition.
Often, saving contacts to a Google account is not the default option on devices sold by OEMs. Users that are less acquainted with the settings tend to store contacts to their phone storage, after which, backing them up or syncing them with a new device becomes difficult. A pop-up prompt might serve to be a useful reminder for those users to backup such contacts to avoid the risk of losing them in case the phone is rendered unusable.