Here's how to avoid deleting iPhone contacts via iCloud.
- Go into Settings.
- Go into iCloud.
- Look but do NOT touch the "Contacts" setting for iCloud.
- If iCloud is "off" for contacts — i.e. the slider is white — and your contacts are all still on your phone, then this means your contacts are stored only on your phone. This is great — unless you break your phone. Then your contacts are gone forever. You have no backup.
- If iCloud is "on" for contacts — i.e. the slider is green — then your contacts are actually living in iCloud. If you switch iCloud off they will disappear from your phone. This means your contacts are trapped inside iCloud. This is great if you want to get a new Apple device — those contacts will magically transfer when you sign in.
- If you do move the slider from on to off (green to white) then you'll be asked whether you want your contacts deleted or stored locally on your phone. Obviously do NOT delete your contacts. If you want them unhooked from iCloud, store them locally on the phone.