Can you recover Iphone data from SIM card?

A SIM card, which stands for Subscriber Identity Module, is a small removable chip that allows cell phones to connect to cellular networks. SIM cards are often used to store limited amounts of data from mobile devices including contacts, text messages, call logs and other service-related information. While SIM cards have very little built-in storage, they can serve as a backup for some of your important phone numbers and messages. This makes SIM card data recovery possible if you lose or switch phones.

The most common types of data that can potentially be recovered from a SIM card include contacts, text messages, call logs, and service-related data like your phone number or service plan details. However, SIM cards have very limited storage capacity so they won’t store other data like photos, videos, apps, or documents. The amount of recoverable data also depends on the phone model, storage capacity of the SIM card, and cell phone provider.

What Data is Stored on a SIM Card

A SIM card contains several types of data related to the user and their mobile phone usage. Some of the key data stored on a SIM card includes:


SIM cards can store a phone contact list containing names, phone numbers, and sometimes additional information like email addresses. The contacts stored on a SIM card allow them to be easily transferred from one phone to another. According to TechTarget, SIM cards can contain full contact lists for the user.1

Text Messages

In addition to contacts, SIM cards may also contain text messages that have been sent and received. This provides a way to back up SMS/MMS messages and restore them later if needed. The number of text messages that can be stored depends on the storage capacity of the SIM card.2

Call Logs

SIM cards can also store call logs, including dialed numbers, received calls, and call times/durations. This provides a record of recent calls made and received when the SIM card was being used. Call logs allow users to keep track of their calling history if they switch devices.2

Importance of SIM Card Backups

It’s important to regularly back up the data stored on your SIM card for a few key reasons:

SIM cards can fail or become damaged over time through normal wear and tear. As a small plastic chip, SIM cards are vulnerable to moisture, heat, scratches, and other damage that can cause data loss or connection issues. Backing up your SIM provides a safety net in case of card failure.1

Backups also protect your data in case your phone is lost, stolen, or damaged beyond repair. With a recent SIM backup, you can seamlessly transfer your contacts, messages, and other data to a replacement phone.2

When upgrading to a new phone, a SIM backup allows you to transfer your existing data like contacts and messages to the new device.

Overall, regular SIM card backups provide an essential safety net for your personal data and ensure continuity of service if your SIM or phone experiences issues.

Limitations of SIM Card Data

SIM cards have very limited storage capacity compared to modern smartphones. The latest SIM cards typically offer between 64KB to 256KB of storage space. This is just enough to store basic user data such as contacts, text messages, and call logs (Source 1). However, SIM cards cannot store media files like photos, videos, and music that take up significant storage on phones.

Additionally, SIM cards do not contain a phone’s apps, settings, documents, or any other application data. This is all stored internally on the phone’s memory. So while a SIM card can restore a user’s core contacts and messages when switching phones, it does not contain a full backup of the device (Source 2).

In summary, SIM cards provide basic backup for key user data, but have limited capacity compared to modern smartphones. They cannot store media files, apps, settings, or documents that users depend on phones for nowadays.

How to Recover Data from SIM Card

There are a few different methods you can use to recover data from a SIM card:

Using a SIM card reader

One way is to use a physical SIM card reader accessory. You can insert your SIM card into the reader and connect it to your computer. Some SIM card readers may come with data recovery software that can scan the card and retrieve contacts, messages, and other data. For example, this article explains how to use a SIM card reader to recover data from Android SIM cards.

SIM card recovery software

There are also software solutions like Coolmuster that can recover contacts, messages, call logs, and media files from SIM cards. These programs allow you to insert the SIM card into your phone, connect the phone to your computer, and then scan and extract data from the card.

Professional data recovery service

For more complex data recovery needs, you may need to use a professional SIM card data recovery service. They have specialized tools and clean room facilities to attempt extracting data from damaged or corrupted SIM cards. This option costs more but may be able to recover data when other DIY methods fail.

Recovering Contacts

Recovering your contacts from your SIM card is often possible, even if you no longer have the phone associated with the card. There are a couple main methods for retrieving contacts off a SIM card:

First, you can directly export the contacts from the SIM card if you still have access to a phone that is compatible with the card. On an iPhone, you can go to Settings > General > Transfer or Reset Phone > Transfer Contacts to import contacts stored on the SIM into the phone’s memory. On Android phones, go to Contacts > Settings > Import > SIM card to transfer contacts onto the device (source).

Second, if you no longer have the original phone, you may be able to use a SIM card contact backup app to view and extract contacts from the card. Apps like Backuptrans SIM recover contacts by reading data directly from the SIM. However, success depends on the app’s compatibility with your specific SIM card and phone model.

Recovering Text Messages

Text messages (SMS) are a type of data commonly stored on SIM cards. You may be able to recover deleted text messages off your SIM card using a few different methods:

SIM card readers – By inserting your SIM card into a specialized SIM card reader device, you can view and recover all SMS messages stored on the card. The reader allows you to easily transfer the SMS data back to your phone or export it to your computer. Most SIM card readers only work for full-size SIM cards and may not be compatible with micro or nano SIMs used in newer phones.[1]

SMS backup apps – Many Android phones come with built-in SMS backup features or apps like SMS Backup & Restore. Using these apps, you can back up your text messages to the SIM card. If you ever lose messages on your phone, you can then restore them using the backup on the SIM. This does require proactively setting up a backup before losing messages.

Specialized data recovery software – Software like Tenorshare UltData, iMyFone D-Back, or Dr.Fone can scan your SIM card and recover deleted text messages. These tools can extract SMS data even from damaged or corrupted SIM cards. However, they typically cannot recover extremely old or long deleted messages.[2]

Online SIM data recovery services – Some companies offer online SIM card data recovery services. You would mail them your SIM and their engineers attempt to recover lost data from it. This can be expensive but may recover hard-to-retrieve messages.

While the SIM card can store deleted text messages for a period of time, its storage capacity is limited. The longer ago a text was deleted, the less likely it can be recovered from a SIM card. For best results recovering lost SMS messages, use data recovery software or a SIM backup app as soon as you realize messages are missing.

Recovering Call Logs

Call logs contain details about incoming, outgoing, and missed calls. When you make or receive calls on your phone, call log entries are stored in the device’s internal memory. However, many SIM cards also save call logs to the SIM card itself.

Because SIM cards have limited storage capacity, they can only store a small number of call log entries, usually 20-50 records. The exact number depends on the SIM card memory size. Older call logs get overwritten when the storage is full. But recovering even a portion of the call log from the SIM can be useful.

To extract call logs stored on a SIM card, you need a SIM card reader device or an adapter that allows connecting the SIM to a computer. Once connected, specialized software tools can scan the data on the SIM and recover call log entries.

Some things to keep in mind when recovering call logs from SIM card:

– Only limited recent call log entries may be present, as old logs get overwritten.[1]

– The extracted logs may not contain full details like call duration, only basic info like phone numbers and timestamps.

– Success depends on the phone model, SIM card type, and recovery software used.

Overall, while recovering deleted call logs from a SIM card has limitations, it can still be a useful data recovery technique in some situations.


Tips for Successful SIM Card Data Recovery

When trying to recover data from a SIM card, it’s important to handle the card carefully and try multiple methods to improve your chances of success. Here are some tips:

Handle SIM card carefully – SIM cards are small, delicate devices. Be sure to avoid dropping, bending, scratching, or exposing the card to moisture or extreme temperatures. Careful handling reduces the risk of damaging the card and losing data.

Use multiple methods for best results – No single data recovery method works in every situation. Try different approaches like using SIM card readers, mobile apps, and data recovery software. Using several techniques improves your odds of retrieving contacts, messages, and other information stored on the card.

Check connections – Remove and reinsert the SIM card to ensure it makes a solid connection with the card reader or phone. A faulty connection can prevent accessing data on the card.

Act quickly after data loss – The sooner you attempt to recover SIM card data, the greater your chances of success. New data written to the card may overwrite deleted information.

Scan the card before recovery – First scan the SIM card with data recovery software to preview its contents. This helps identify what data may be retrievable before attempting actual recovery.

Back up recovered data – Be sure to transfer any recovered contacts, messages, or other SIM card data to a safe storage location. This avoids potential re-loss of retrieved information.


In summary, a surprising amount of data can be recovered from a SIM card, including contacts, text messages, call logs, and in some cases even photos, videos, and other media. The key types of data stored on the SIM card are contacts, text messages, and call logs. With the right SIM card data recovery software, it is often possible to retrieve deleted or lost data from your SIM card.

However, SIM cards have limited storage capacity, so they will not contain your full phone backup. Therefore, it remains incredibly important to regularly back up your cell phone and SIM card to avoid permanently losing data. Ideally, you should use multiple backup methods, such as backing up to the cloud, computer, and external storage.

Following best practices for backing up your devices can save you from needing to attempt SIM card data recovery in the future. But if you do lose access to data on your SIM, specialized software provides an option for getting back lost contacts, messages, and call logs.