How to retrieve photos from broken iPhone that won t turn on without iCloud?

Having photos trapped on a broken iPhone that won’t turn on can be incredibly frustrating. Many important memories and irreplaceable images may seem lost forever when your iPhone experiences a catastrophic failure. Fortunately, with the right tools and techniques, it is often possible to recover photos from a crashed iPhone, even without iCloud backups.

Why Photos Get Stuck on a Non-Functioning iPhone

There are a few main reasons why your photos could be inaccessible on an iPhone that won’t power on:

  • Hardware failure – If the iPhone’s logic board, battery, or other critical components have failed, the phone will not boot up properly. However, data like photos are usually still intact on the storage chips.
  • Software corruption – Bugs, crashes, or errors in the iPhone’s operating system files can prevent the boot process from completing. This is a software issue, not a hardware one.
  • Forgotten passcode – If you cannot recall the passcode, the iPhone will be stuck at the lock screen. You’ll need to bypass the passcode to gain access to the file system.
  • Missing or damaged display – An iPhone with a cracked or malfunctioning screen may appear to be “bricked” although the data is still there.

In all these cases, the photos themselves are generally unaffected and remain saved on the iPhone’s internal flash storage. The key is accessing them when the phone is stuck in a non-functional state.

Connecting the iPhone to a Computer

The first step is to connect the damaged iPhone to a computer so you can attempt data recovery. This requires getting the device into recovery mode or bypassing the lock screen.

Recovery Mode

Recovery mode is designed to allow iPhone issues to be diagnosed and software-related problems to be fixed. To enter recovery mode:

  1. Connect the iPhone to your computer using a USB cable.
  2. Quickly press and release the Volume Up button.
  3. Then quickly press and release the Volume Down button.
  4. Finally, press and hold the Side button until you see the recovery mode screen.

This should allow the computer to recognize the iPhone so you can access the file system, even if the phone cannot fully boot up.

Bypassing the Lock Screen

If you cannot recall your iPhone’s passcode to unlock it, you may need to bypass the lock screen entirely before hooking it up to your computer.

A few different options to bypass the lock include:

  • Use a lock screen bypass tool like Tenorshare 4uKey.
  • Take it to a phone repair shop and have them remove the passcode.
  • Reset the passcode using recovery mode and iTunes/Finder.

Once the passcode is no longer an issue, connect the iPhone to your computer normally via USB.

Using Data Recovery Software

With the iPhone now recognized by your computer in some fashion, specialized data recovery software provides the best chance of retrieving your photos and other files from the disabled device.

iOS Data Recovery Software

Apps designed specifically for iOS devices include:

Software Features
iMyFone D-Back Recovers up to 30 data types from iOS, Android, and iTunes.
FonePaw iOS Data Recovery Scans and extracts all lost data from iOS devices and iTunes backups.
EaseUS MobiSaver Free iOS data recovery with deep scanning options.

Look for software that can directly access data from an iPhone even if it won’t turn on fully. This data extraction approach is necessary for photos on a crashed iPhone.

General File Recovery Apps

Some more general purpose data recovery programs also work:

Software Features
Stellar Data Recovery Recovers lost or deleted files from hard drives, flash drives, and mobile devices.
Disk Drill Scans internal and external drives for recoverable data.
Recuva Deep scan tools for extracting files from damaged media.

If they support iOS file recovery, these could get photos off an iPhone in recovery mode. But apps designed for iOS are usually much more effective.

Using Recovery Software

Once you’ve selected an app to try, the general process is:

  1. Install and launch the software on your Windows PC or Mac.
  2. Connect the iPhone to the computer using a USB cable.
  3. The app should recognize the connected iPhone, even if it is stuck in recovery mode.
  4. Scan the iPhone for recoverable data and files.
  5. Preview found images and photos.
  6. Select the photos you want to retrieve.
  7. Choose a save location on your computer.
  8. Recover and restore the images.

With advanced apps for iOS data recovery, you can extract photos directly from the iPhone’s storage. So you can successfully recover them even without an iCloud backup.

Using iCloud Backup

If you do have iCloud Photos enabled on the iPhone, any photos synced to iCloud can also be downloaded to your computer or a new iPhone.

On a Mac, use the Photos app. On a Windows PC, install the iCloud Control Panel app. Then sign in with your Apple ID associated with the iPhone and select the option to download photos and videos.

This will only restore photos previously backed up to iCloud, but it’s a lot simpler than data recovery software if you used iCloud backup.

Repairing the iPhone (Optional)

With the photos recovered safely to your computer, you can then attempt any repairs needed to get the iPhone working properly again. Options include:

  • If hardware related, take it to an Apple store or phone repair shop.
  • For software issues, restore and update the iPhone firmware using iTunes or Finder.
  • Repair or replace damaged screens and other components.
  • Clear out any corrupted data and reinstall iOS.

Your photos should now be saved, but getting the iPhone itself back up and running again is an added plus.

Preventing Photo Loss

To avoid needing iPhone data recovery in the future, be sure to:

  • Enable iCloud Photos to sync all images.
  • Create regular iTunes or Finder backups to your computer.
  • Save important photos to cloud storage like Google Photos or Dropbox.
  • Use a protective case and avoid damaging your iPhone.
  • Maintain backups of your data, don’t rely solely on the iPhone.


While an iPhone that’s stuck in a startup loop or has a broken screen may seem unsalvageable, the photos and other data can usually still be recovered. Using professional iOS data recovery software, connecting the iPhone to a computer, and scanning the storage, you can typically extract the photos safely. Just be sure to start with sufficient backups in case your iPhone fails.

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