Can you transfer data from a dead iPhone to a new iPhone?

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Quick Answer

It is possible to transfer data from a dead iPhone to a new iPhone, but the process can be challenging. The easiest method is to use a cloud backup like iCloud or iTunes to restore data to the new phone. If no backup exists, third party data recovery software or professional data recovery services may be able to retrieve data directly from the dead iPhone.

Can You Recover Data from a Dead iPhone?

If your iPhone is dead and won’t turn on, you have a few different options for trying to recover the data:

Use a Backup

The easiest way to transfer data from a dead iPhone to a new one is to use a backup. iCloud and iTunes both allow you to back up an iPhone and then restore that backup to a new device. As long as you have an iCloud or iTunes backup that is relatively recent, you should be able to get most if not all of your data onto the new phone.

To restore from iCloud, simply login to your iCloud account on the new device and choose to restore from your most recent backup during setup. For iTunes, connect the new iPhone to your computer, open iTunes, select the device, and choose to restore from backup.

Professional Data Recovery Service

If you don’t have a backup, your only option may be to send the iPhone to a professional data recovery service. They have specialized tools and clean rooms that allow them to open up the iPhone and access the flash memory directly to retrieve data. This can be an expensive option, but may be your only choice if the data is very important.

DIY Data Recovery Software

There are some DIY data recovery programs designed to retrieve data directly from an iPhone. This works by connecting the dead iPhone to your computer and having the software essentially bypass the iPhone operating system to read the raw data. Success rates vary significantly.

Factors That Affect iPhone Data Recovery

Whether you can successfully recover data from a dead iPhone depends on several factors:

Cause of Death

Why your iPhone died will impact the chances of data recovery. For example, if it was water damaged, there may be corrosion that prevents accessing the storage. A cracked screen won’t cause data loss. Determine the root cause if possible.

iPhone Model

Newer iPhones like the iPhone 12 or iPhone 13 use stronger encryption than older models. This encryption can prevent data recovery if the device is dead. Older models may have better success rates.

Repairs or Modifications

Any repairs or modifications to the iPhone, even by authorized techs, can potentially complicate data recovery. There is always a risk of data loss anytime the internal storage is accessed outside of normal means.

Time Since Death

Shortly after an iPhone stops working, the data should still be retrievable. But over time, especially if stored in hot or humid environments, degradation can occur and make recovery less likely. Move quickly for best results.

Transferring Recovered iPhone Data to a New iPhone

If you manage to use data recovery software or a service to retrieve data from the dead iPhone, you now need to get it onto your new device:

iCloud or iTunes Restore

If the data was recovered to your computer, you can use iTunes to sync the data to the new iPhone. Or, upload it to iCloud and restore from iCloud. This is the easiest method.

Direct Transfer

Some data recovery apps allow you to connect both iPhones simultaneously and directly transfer data from one to the other. This avoids having to save the recovered data to an intermediate computer.

Manually Transfer Files

For multimedia like photos, videos, and music, you can manually transfer files by connecting both devices to a computer if needed. This is time consuming but does work. App data and settings cannot be transferred this way.

Tips to Avoid Data Loss on an iPhone

To avoid finding yourself trying to recover data from a dead iPhone in the future, here are some tips:

Regularly Backup Your iPhone

Backup your device to iCloud or iTunes as often as possible, at least weekly if not daily. Then you’ll always have a recent backup if needed.

Avoid Physical Damage

Use a protective case and screen protector. Be careful not to drop your iPhone or get it wet. Physical damage can prevent data recovery and ruin the phone.

Update Software

Always update to the latest iOS version to get bug fixes, security patches, and proper performance. Old iOS versions are more prone to issues.

Monitor Battery Health

Don’t let your battery life degrade too far, as this can lead to unexpected device failures or shutdowns leading to data loss or corruption. Replace battery if needed.

Encrypt iPhone Data

Enable encryption on your iPhone for increased data protection. The encryption keys help prevent unauthorized access to your data.

Recovering Data from a Dead iPhone Without Backup – Is it Possible?

It is possible in some cases to recover data from an iPhone that won’t turn on even if you have no backup available. Here are the main options for data recovery from a dead iPhone without a backup:

Professional Data Recovery Service

As mentioned previously, specialist data recovery firms have sophisticated tools and clean room facilities that allow them to dismantle an iPhone and attempt to read data directly from the flash storage chips. This bypasses any encryption or operating system locks and can retrieve lost data. Success rates vary widely.

DIY Data Recovery Software

There are a few do-it-yourself iPhone data recovery programs like Dr.Fone, EaseUS MobiSaver, or Tenorshare UltData that claim the ability to read raw data directly off an iPhone with a damaged operating system. They connect the iPhone to your computer and scan the storage. Many users report mixed results.

iCloud Previous Synced Data

If you had iCloud backups enabled in the past for the iPhone, you may be able to recover some previous synced data like contacts, calendars, notes, etc. by logging into iCloud on a new device. Any content added since the last sync will be lost.

iTunes Sync History

Similarly, check your iTunes sync history on your computer. Any data previously synced to iTunes may be able to be restored to the new iPhone, depending on how recent the backups are. Non-synced data cannot be recovered.

Apple Support

In some cases, Apple tech support can suggest additional solutions like attempting to recover data using recovery mode. However, without a backup, your chances of significant data recovery are low. A backup is always the best option.

Can You Recover Data if Motherboard is Damaged?

If the iPhone motherboard is damaged, it makes data recovery extremely challenging:

Limited Options

Motherboard damage limits your options significantly. You can’t simply connect the iPhone to a computer or power it on to access software tools. Professional data recovery becomes the only choice.

Higher Cost

With motherboard damage, costs for professional iPhone data recovery rise considerably given the extent of work and lower success rates. Be prepared to pay several hundred dollars or more.

Decreased Success Rates

Since the motherboard controls functioning of all components, a damaged motherboard often leads to cascading failures that can corrupt data. The chances of retrieving all data are low compared to other iPhone failures.

May Need to Replace Parts

The data recovery firm will likely need to replace damaged components on the motherboard in order to gain access to storage chips and extract data. This adds to costs.

Full Device Data Unlikely

Expect only partial data recovery in most cases. Critical data like contacts and photos may be retrieved, but app data and settings are often unrecoverable if the motherboard is damaged.

Transferring Data from Old iPhone to New iPhone

When moving your data from an old iPhone to a new iPhone, there are a few different transfer options:

Use iCloud Backup

If you have an iCloud backup on your old iPhone, you can use it to transfer your data including settings, photos, videos, messages, contacts, and more to your new iPhone during initial setup. Just choose to restore from iCloud backup.

Use iTunes to Transfer

Connect your new iPhone and old iPhone to your computer. Open iTunes. Select your new phone and choose to restore from your latest iTunes backup which will transfer data.

Transfer Directly from iPhone to iPhone

Use the Apple Move to iOS app on your old Android device, or the Smart Switch app on a Samsung, to transfer data directly from your old phone to your new iPhone wirelessly.

Use Apple Trade In to Transfer Data

If trading in your old iPhone at Apple, you can have an Apple store employee transfer your data to the new phone using a direct device-to-device transfer tool at setup.

Manually Transfer Data

You can manually move data like contacts, photos, videos, calendars, notes, voice memos etc. from your old iPhone to your new iPhone using AirDrop, emailing files, syncing to iCloud, iTunes sync, or uploading to cloud storage.

What Data Can You Recover from a Dead iPhone?

If successful, here are some of the main types of data that may be recoverable from a dead, damaged, or waterlogged iPhone:

Photos and Videos

Personal photos and videos stored on the device can often be recovered using data recovery tools, even from damaged phones. Large media files have the best chance of retrieval.

Contacts and Call History

Contacts and call logs are small database files that can sometimes be salvaged from a dead iPhone using advanced recovery techniques if storage chips are still intact.

Text Messages

Messages can be difficult to recover from non-functional iPhones, but short SMS and iMessage data may be extractable using professional tools if phone is undamaged.


Notes and memos are small files that may be recoverable if the iPhone flash storage is undamaged. The chance of recovery depends on the iPhone model and methods used.

App Data

Application data recovery has very low success rates overall. Most app data is lost unless you have a recent backup.


iPhone settings and configuration details are stored in small system files that are not easily recovered without a backup.

Can You Recover Data from Water Damaged iPhone?

Water damage presents unique challenges for iPhone data recovery:

Immediately Power Off and Dry Out

If your iPhone gets wet, immediately power it completely down, dry it thoroughly for at least 24-48 hours, and do not attempt to turn it back on. Water can short circuit components and damage data.

Avoid Rice or Heat

Do not attempt to dry out your wet iPhone using rice, a hairdryer, or any other heat source. This can do further damage and make data recovery less likely.

Disassemble and Clean Carefully

Professional data recovery will involve carefully taking apart the iPhone and cleaning corrosion from storage chips where data resides using anti-corrosion agents. Any mistakes can ruin recovery chances.

Higher Costs

Expect to pay more for professional iPhone water damage data recovery due to the increased time and difficulty involved compared to retrieving data from other non-functional iPhones.

May Be Unsuccessful

Water-induced corrosion to storage components means data recovery attempts often fail completely. There is no guarantee of success. Have reasonable expectations.

Mistakes to Avoid When Trying to Recover iPhone Data

Avoid these common mistakes to maximize chances of successfully recovering lost iPhone data:

Not Backing Up Regularly

Not maintaining consistent iPhone backups is the biggest mistake you can make. Back up to iCloud or iTunes as often as possible.

Not Acting Quickly After Failure

Don’t wait weeks or months to attempt data recovery after a failure. Corruption can occur over time making data unrecoverable.

Trying to Boot a Damaged iPhone

Repeatedly trying to power on a damaged, waterlogged, or otherwise dead iPhone can corrupt data and decrease chances of recovery.

Using Risky DIY Methods

Avoid unproven DIY iPhone data recovery attempts. You could damage delicate components and lose data permanently.

Opening iPhone Outside Cleanroom

Never open up an iPhone except in a certified cleanroom to prevent static discharge and dust from destroying circuits and storage chips.

Not Seeking Professional Help

In most cases of significant iPhone failure, DIY attempts are risky and professional data recovery is recommended to maximize success rates.

Questions to Ask iPhone Data Recovery Companies

When choosing a data recovery company, ask these key questions:

What is your success rate for this iPhone model?

They should be transparent about past recovery rates for your specific iPhone version, damage type, and needed data types.

Do you have a certified cleanroom?

A proper ISO Class 5 cleanroom is required to safely open an iPhone without static damage.

How quickly can you recover the data?

Timeframes can range from days to weeks depending on the situation.

What data are you likely to recover?

Ask specifically which data types (photos, messages, etc.) are likely to be retrieved based on the damage.

Do you charge if data is unrecoverable?

Most firms only charge if data recovery is successful, but policies vary.

Will I get back a functioning iPhone?

Data recovery does not repair physical damage. You get your data, but not a working iPhone.


While the potential to recover data from a dead, damaged, or waterlogged iPhone does exist in some circumstances, it is never guaranteed. The best approach is to consistently maintain recent backups of your iPhone via iCloud and iTunes to remove any reliance on trying to extract data from a dead device. Handle your iPhone with care, keep it updated, and avoid unauthorized repairs. If disaster does strike, quickly seek an experienced professional iPhone data recovery specialist for the best chance at salvaging your lost photos, messages, and other important data.