How can I recover data from dead mobile?

Having a mobile device suddenly stop working can be extremely stressful, especially if you have important data stored on it that you need to access. When your phone won’t turn on or respond at all, it may seem like all hope is lost for recovering your files and information. However, with the right tools and techniques, you can often salvage data from dead phones and bring important photos, videos, contacts, and other files back to life.

What causes a mobile device to become unresponsive or “dead”?

There are several common culprits that can cause a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet to stop powering on or responding to button presses and screen touches:

  • Battery failure – If the battery is old and no longer holds a charge, the device won’t have power to turn on.
  • System crash – A serious software glitch or error can cause the operating system to freeze or crash.
  • Water damage – Liquid getting inside the device can short circuit components and prevent powering up.
  • Physical damage – Drops, impacts, or other trauma can break components needed for functionality.
  • Corrosion – Environmental factors like moisture or dust buildup inside the device over time can cause corrosion on circuity.

In many cases of a dead phone, the core data storage like the flash memory is still intact and recoverable, but accessing it requires some technical maneuvering since the device won’t power on normally.

Step 1: Prepare your recovery tools

Before attempting to recover data from a dead mobile device, make sure you have the proper equipment ready:

  • USB cable – You’ll need the appropriate USB cable for connecting your specific smartphone or tablet to a computer. Use the original manufacturer’s cable that came with the device if possible.
  • Computer – You’ll need a desktop or laptop computer with enough storage space available to hold the data you want to recover.
  • Recovery software – Specialized mobile data recovery programs are designed to interface with dead devices and pull data from their storage.
  • Tweezers – In some cases, you may need tweezers to handle and reconnect delicate ribbon cables inside the device.
  • Small screwdriver – A precision electronics screwdriver allows you to safely open up the device housing in order to access internal connections.

Some of the most popular data recovery software tools for mobile devices include:

  • Dr.Fone – PhoneRescue (iOS and Android)
  • EaseUS MobiSaver (iOS and Android)
  • iMyFone D-Back (iOS)
  • Disk Drill (Android)

Look for a program that works with your specific device type and has good reviews from independent sources.

Step 2: Disassemble the device

With the right small precision screwdriver, carefully disassemble the outer housing of your smartphone or tablet in order to expose the internal components and connections. This usually involves removing screws along the edges and then splitting the front and back casing apart. Refer to online visual teardown guides for your specific model to see exactly how to take it apart.

IMPORTANT: Be extremely careful when opening up your device – work slowly, avoid excessive force, and wear an antistatic wrist strap if possible to avoid electrical discharge damage. Damaging any internal components will make your data recovery job much harder.

Step 3: Identify connection points

Once inside your device, you’ll need to locate the connection points for the NAND flash storage chip and other critical components. In smartphones, this usually involves locating and disconnecting a thin ribbon cable or set of wires that links the mainboard to the flash memory module. You may need tweezers to grasp and detach fragile connectors.

Consult a teardown guide to see exactly what ribbons or connectors you need to find. Make notes on where every cable originally connected so you can reattach them properly later.

Step 4: Attach external connections

Mobile data recovery tools need a way to interface directly with the flash storage chip in order to read its contents separately from the main device board and operating system. This usually involves attaching a specialized USB adapter cable to the flash memory module’s pins or contacts once you detach its ribbon connector.

Carefully line up the pins on the flash chip with the contacts on the adapter cable designed for your device, and gently press them together. If alignment is off even slightly, you may not get a proper connection, so precision is key.

Step 5: Install data recovery software

With the flash memory chip now externally connected via a USB adapter cable, install and launch your chosen data recovery program on your Windows or Mac computer.

Follow the software prompts to initialize the data recovery process from the attached mobile storage. This will scan the flash memory, identify recoverable files, and allow you to copy them to your computer as a backup.

Depending on the state of your device and the amount of data, this process can take quite a while. Be patient and avoid interrupting the scan before it finishes.

Step 6: Reassemble device carefully

Once you have recovered the essential data you need from the attached mobile storage, you can reassemble your smartphone or tablet. Carefully unplug the USB adapter cable and reconnect the original ribbon connector to the flash memory chip.

Refer to your teardown guide notes and visuals to know how to properly realign any other detached connectors, cables, and components.

Finally, reattach the outer housing, rear case, and other external parts of the device and replace any screws you removed.

Tips for avoiding data loss on a mobile device

Recovering data from a dead phone is often slow, complicated, and risky. Here are some tips to avoid finding yourself in that situation in the first place:

  • Back up regularly – Configure your device to automatically back up to the cloud so your data is always saved externally.
  • Use a protective case – A sturdy case can prevent damage from drops and impacts that can brick a device.
  • Keep it dry – Never use a phone near water or with wet hands. Water damage is a leading killer of smartphones.
  • Avoid overcharging – Only use the OEM charger and don’t leave phones plugged in overnight after the battery is full.
  • Update software – Download current OS and security patches to prevent bugs and crashes.
  • Mind device health – Monitor your battery life and performance for signs of hardware problems.

When to seek professional data recovery help

For users without technical knowledge and experience, attempting to recover data from a dead phone yourself is risky. Even tiny mistakes can permanently destroy your chances of retrieving files from damaged devices.

In situations where the data is very valuable, it’s best to seek help from a professional mobile data recovery service. They have specialized tools and controlled cleanroom facilities designed to safely salvage data from even badly damaged devices.

Businesses rely on mobile data recovery pros like:

  • Drivesavers
  • Secure Data Recovery
  • iPad Rehab

These services can be expensive but are cost-effective for recovering vital business data and assets that would otherwise be lost forever.

Can you recover data from dead Android phone?

Yes, it is often possible to recover data from an Android phone that won’t boot or respond. Android devices store user data on eMMC or microSD flash storage chips that can be accessed even when the device is dead or damaged.

By disassembling the phone, attaching the storage chip to a USB adapter, and using data recovery software, you can scan and extract data from the flash memory separately from the Android operating system. This allows data recovery on Android phones with crashed OS, broken screens, water damage, or other failure modes.

Top Android data recovery software

Some leading Android data recovery solutions include:

  • DiskDigger
  • EaseUS MobiSaver for Android
  • Remo Recover for Android
  • Dr.Fone – Android Data Recovery

These tools can salvage contacts, messages, photos, app data, and documents from unresponsive Android devices. Just be careful when disassembling your phone and properly reconnect ribbons and connectors when done.

Can you recover data from dead iPhone?

Recovering data from non-working iPhones is also often possible if the flash memory remains intact. iPhones store data on soldered down NAND chips rather than removable cards, so you need to identify connection points for the storage chip inside the phone in order to attach a USB data recovery adapter.

With the iPhone storage externally connected to your computer, iOS data recovery software can scan and extract recoverable user files and data from the raw NAND chip – even with the iPhone motherboard totally dead.

Top iPhone data recovery software

Some top data recovery solutions for salvaging data from unresponsive iPhones include:

  • Tenorshare UltData
  • iMyFone D-Back
  • EaseUS MobiSaver for iOS
  • Disk Drill

Handle disassembly carefully to avoid damaging delicate connections and components inside an iPhone. Focus on detaching the flash storage ribbon cable to access the raw user data left on the device.

Can you recover data from water damaged phone?

Water damage is one of the most common ways phones can break and stop working while still retaining user data on internal storage chips. If a phone is exposed to moisture, liquid can short circuit electronic components and make the device unusable.

However, the raw flash storage containing your photos, video, and other files may remain intact. By disassembling the phone to access the memory chip and using data recovery software, you can often successfully retrieve data from water-damaged devices. Just be sure to fully dry and clean all components before reassembling.

Tips for recovering data from water damaged phones

  • Dry the phone thoroughly before attempting data recovery.
  • Never power on water damaged devices until they are dry.
  • Use high-% isopropyl alcohol to displace water and fully dry interior.
  • Attach USB adapter cable to flash chip and recover data externally.
  • Replace any corroded electronic components after data recovery.

With care and patience, there’s a good chance of salvaging important data off a waterlogged phone. But time is limited once corrosion begins, so move quickly.

How much does data recovery cost for phones?

If you attempt DIY mobile data recovery using your own tools and software licenses, costs are relatively low – usually well under $100. All you need is the phone disassembly kit, USB adapter cables, and data recovery software.

Professional mobile phone data recovery through a service can cost between $400 on the low end for a basic recovery up to as much as $1500 or more for difficult, high-priority cases. However, they have access to more advanced tools that improve chances of success.

Exact pricing varies between providers based on:

  • Urgency and priority of recovery
  • Amount of data to retrieve
  • Complexity if phone damage is severe
  • Cleanroom usage for highly damaged devices

Weigh the value of your data against the cost to choose the best option for your needs and budget.


While a dead smartphone that won’t turn on or respond can seem like a catastrophic data loss, in many cases it is possible to successfully recover critical user files and information. By utilizing data recovery software coupled with direct access to internal storage through disassembly and cables, you can often regain access to photos, video, contacts, messages and other key user data – even from badly damaged or waterlogged devices.

Just be sure to work carefully when physically handling devices to avoid causing further damage. And research the best recovery software and tools for your specific smartphone model if attempting on your own. Data recovery services remain the safest option to maximize chances of success when device damage is severe or data is very valuable.