Can I transfer data if my iPhone is broken?

Having a broken iPhone can be extremely frustrating, especially if you have important data stored on the device that you need to access. When your iPhone is damaged or doesn’t turn on, getting the data off of it can seem daunting. However, there are several methods you can try to transfer data from a broken iPhone depending on the type of damage and whether or not you have a backup.

Quick Overview of Transferring Data from a Broken iPhone

Here is a quick overview of the main options for transferring data from a broken iPhone:

  • Restore from an iTunes or iCloud backup – If you have a recent backup, you can use it to transfer data to a new or repaired iPhone.
  • Extract data directly from the iPhone – Using data recovery software or hardware tools, you may be able to retrieve data directly from the iPhone’s storage if the phone turns on.
  • Repair the iPhone – For some types of damage like screen cracks or water damage, you may be able to repair the iPhone and directly access the data.
  • Send to a data recovery service – Professional data recovery services can sometimes extract data from an iPhone with major damage, but this can be expensive.

The best approach depends on the type and extent of damage to your iPhone. With the right tools and methods, it is often possible to recover data from even badly damaged devices.

Assessing the Damage and Determining the Best Data Transfer Approach

When dealing with a broken iPhone, the first step is to thoroughly assess the type and extent of damage:

  • What kind of physical damage is there – cracked screen, water damage, etc?
  • Does the iPhone turn on at all or show any signs of life?
  • If it turns on, can you navigate the iOS interface or is the touchscreen non-responsive?
  • Do you have a recent backup via iTunes or iCloud?

Once you’ve determined exactly what’s wrong with your iPhone, you can decide the best approach for getting your data off of it:

  • Intact data with non-functioning screen: If the iPhone turns on but the display is cracked or non-responsive, you may be able to recover data using cloud backups or by mirroring the display to a computer.
  • Extensive physical damage: If there is extreme water, fire or crush damage that prevents the iPhone from turning on at all, professional data recovery or special hardware tools will likely be required.
  • Other hardware issues: For problems like battery failure or storage errors that prevent the iPhone from booting up normally, repairs may enable data access or backups can be utilized if available.

Examining the iPhone and the nature of the damage thoroughly will give you the information needed to choose the optimal data recovery plan.

Using iTunes or iCloud Backups to Transfer Data

If you have a recent backup of your iPhone through iTunes or iCloud, this will likely be the quickest and easiest way to transfer your data to a new iPhone or a repaired version of your current device. Here are the steps for using backups to restore your data:

  1. First, repair or replace the damaged iPhone if possible so you have a functioning device to transfer the data to.
  2. If you have an iTunes backup on your computer, connect the new iPhone and select to restore from the backup within iTunes.
  3. For an iCloud backup, simply sign into iCloud with your Apple ID on the new device and choose to restore from your latest iCloud backup during setup.
  4. The backup data including contacts, photos, app data, device settings and more will all transfer to the new iPhone.
  5. If any data is missing, you can attempt to extract additional data directly from the damaged iPhone using the methods below.

Restoring from a backup is the simplest iPhone data transfer method, provided the backup is recent. Make sure you’ve backed up regularly before damage occurs.

Mirroring the iPhone’s Screen to a Computer

If your iPhone still turns on but the display is cracked or not working, you may be able to mirror the screen to a computer to view and transfer data:

  1. Connect the damaged iPhone to your computer using a Lightning cable.
  2. Install software like iExplorer or AnyTrans which can display a live view of the iPhone’s screen on your computer.
  3. You can then browse the iPhone’s apps and data from the mirrored screen and export contacts, photos and other files to your computer for backup.
  4. For best results, use a mouse or trackpad to control the iPhone since the touchscreen is damaged.

With the proper software, screen mirroring can be a handy workaround for recovering data when the display itself doesn’t function.

Using Data Recovery Software to Extract Data

If your iPhone is damaged but still turns on and allows data access, specialized iOS data recovery software may allow you to browse the phone’s contents and selectively recover specific files.

Options like EaseUS MobiSaver, Dr. Fone and PhoneRescue can create a connection between your iPhone and your computer to scan the phone’s storage and preview recoverable data. You can then choose which files to restore.

The data recovery process typically involves:

  1. Downloading, installing and opening the data recovery app on your computer.
  2. Connecting the damaged iPhone to the computer.
  3. Allowing the app to scan the phone. This may take some time.
  4. Browsing and selecting the data types and individual files you wish to recover.
  5. Saving the recovered data to your computer or an external hard drive.

Data recovery apps providegranular selection of data types and files. However, effectiveness depends on the iPhone model and extent of damage.

Pros and Cons of Data Recovery Software

Pros Cons
  • Extract specific file types and contents
  • Often cheaper than data recovery services
  • Allows data preview before recovery
  • Limited effectiveness for severely damaged devices
  • Requires iPhone to still turn on
  • Free versions have limited functionality

Using Professional Data Recovery Services

For iPhones with extreme damage that do not power on at all, professional data recovery services may be able to extract data using specialized hardware tools and methods unavailable to most consumers. Options include:

  • Directly reading NAND storage: The iPhone’s internal NAND flash storage chips can be physically removed and read using NAND reading hardware to recover data.
  • Microsoldering: Damaged storage chips can be repaired at a component level through microsoldering to allow data access.
  • Data carving: Raw recovery techniques can scan the iPhone’s entire storage for file signatures to reconstruct damaged files.

These professional data recovery techniques are time-consuming, technologically advanced, and therefore very expensive, often costing $1000 or much more. However, for severe damage they may be the only option.

Pros and Cons of Professional iPhone Data Recovery

Pros Cons
  • Highest chance of data recovery from badly damaged devices
  • Direct access to hardware components and storage
  • Experience recovering data from all iPhone models
  • Very expensive, often $1000+
  • You must mail the iPhone away
  • May take 1-2 weeks or longer

Repairing Physical iPhone Damage

For some types of iPhone damage like cracked screens or water exposure, you may be able to repair the device enough to access the data directly rather than needing data recovery:

  • Screen repair: If the display is cracked but the touchscreen still functions, a screen replacement may allow data access.
  • Battery replacement: A dead battery preventing power-on can be swapped to regain functionality.
  • Water damage cleaning: Thorough cleaning and drying of water damaged iPhones can sometimes allow them to work temporarily again.

Standard iPhone repairs only cost $100-200 in most cases, far less than data recovery. But if you intend to perform repairs yourself, only attempt them if you have appropriate experience, to avoid making damage worse.

When to Attempt Self Repair vs Data Recovery

As a rule of thumb:

  • Basic display or battery repairs can be worthwhile if needed for data access.
  • Leave advanced component-level repairs for data recovery pros.

Don’t risk possibly destructive tinkering unless absolutely needed. But easier fixes can enable direct data transfers.

Choosing the Best iPhone Data Recovery Method

When selecting how to get your data off a damaged iPhone, there are a few key factors to consider:

  • The availability of an iTunes or iCloud backup – This is always the first transfer option if a current backup exists.
  • Whether the iPhone powers on – This determines if you can directly access data vs needing data recovery.
  • The severity of damage – Minor issues may only require screen repair whereas catastrophic damage needs professional services.
  • Your technical skill level – Can you safely perform basic repairs yourself or do you need assistance?
  • Your budget – Data recovery services are very costly. Self-service options are cheaper.

With these considerations in mind, select the ideal approach based on your specific situation. Using backups, repairs, and/or data recovery software or services, recovering data from a broken iPhone is typically possible with the right technique.


While a broken iPhone can be a huge setback, there are effective methods of transferring your important data off the damaged device:

  • Restore from iTunes and iCloud backups if available
  • Use software to mirror and access the data if the phone still turns on
  • Try data recovery apps to extract retrievable files and content
  • Repair minor issues like screens and batteries yourself to access data
  • Use professional data recovery services for catastrophically damaged devices

With persistence and the proper approach for your particular iPhone’s damage, you have an excellent chance of recovering your precious data even from a broken phone. Don’t give up hope, utilize backups strategically, and employ data recovery solutions until you regain access to your contacts, photos, videos and anything else on your damaged device.