My address book has been an intense problem for me for a while (i.e. even pre-iPhone 4s/iCloud). Before I upgraded, my iPhone 4 had thousands of duplicate contacts. The address book was up to ~7,500 even though what was then Mobile Me had somewhere in the 1,000 to 1,500 range for contacts. So after I upgraded, I attempted to fix it by doing the following:
I connected my iPhone 4S to the iMac (after I set it up with the latest iPhone 4 backup), went to the iTunes info tab for my device and unchecked syncing for any address book contacts, calendars, email accounts. And then I synced it. This didn't work. I believe my contacts were still at ~7,500.
So next I tried checking just the Sync Address Book Contacts option on the info tab which then allowed me to check contacts under the Advanced/Replace Information on this iPhone section at the bottom of the info tab. This made my iPhone contact list further balloon up to 13,000 + contacts.
So the next thing I did (still in the info tab) was to select Selected Groups under the "Sync Address Book Contacts" section of the info tab. I believe I still had the option to replace the info on my iPhone selected. I then selected one of my contact groups that had no contacts in it. Why would I create a contact group with no contacts in it? I didn't. I created some smart groups and prior to my iPhone 4s upgrade I noticed the smart groups contact lists I spent some time setting up were not populated with anything. Same with some of the non-smart group contact lists I had created.
After telling it to only sync that empty group and to replace the contents on my iPhone I ended up with 1,508 contacts. Why I didn't end up with either zero or the same number as in iCloud is beyond me. This at least seems closer to my true number of contacts but as mentioned in my subject above the number of contacts differ between all three places (iPhone 4s, iCloud and iMac address book). I also noticed that my wife is no longer in my iPhone 4S or in iCloud as a contact but she is listed in the iMac contacts which has fewer contacts than the other two places.
So I believe that in all three locations, there are situations where the address book includes contacts not in the other two locations, and vice versa (excludes contacts that are in the other locations). Can somebody help me understand how I can truly sync my contacts so that they are identical in all locations? This has been a huge problem for me since the Mobile Me roll out and sadly continues to persist now that I've migrated to iCloud.
Blah, I am so fed up with this persistent issue.