How to transfer data from an iPhone that has a broken screen?

Having an iPhone with a broken or damaged screen is an extremely common issue. According to recent statistics, there are over 55 million cracked iPhone screens per year in the United States alone. When your iPhone screen stops functioning properly, it can make the device difficult or even impossible to use. However, even if your iPhone’s screen is cracked or broken, the data on your iPhone may still be intact and accessible. This guide provides step-by-step instructions for how to transfer important data like contacts, photos, and app data from an iPhone with a broken screen to a computer or new device.

Being able to recover and transfer data from a damaged iPhone can save you time, money, and frustration. Rather than losing valuable data like photos and contacts, this guide enables you to successfully migrate that data to a new device. Following these steps allows you to salvage your iPhone’s data so you can have peace of mind knowing your information is secure.

Back Up iPhone Data

Before transferring any data from an iPhone with a broken screen, it is crucial to back up the iPhone data first. This ensures you have a copy of all your photos, messages, contacts, notes, and other important information stored safely in case anything goes wrong during the transfer process.

There are two main ways to back up an iPhone – using iCloud or connecting the iPhone to a computer and doing an iTunes backup. According to Apple’s support article, the recommended method is to connect the iPhone to a computer if possible and do an iTunes backup.

To do this, first connect the iPhone to a computer it syncs with using the charging cable. Open iTunes on the computer, select the iPhone, then go to Summary and click “Back Up Now.” This will save a full backup of the iPhone data to the computer. Allow time for the backup to fully complete before disconnecting the iPhone.

If the iPhone cannot connect to a computer, for example due to a broken charging port, the alternative is to use iCloud Backup. Enable iCloud Backup in the iPhone’s settings, connect to WiFi, and plug into a power source. Wait for the backup to complete to iCloud before proceeding with any data transfers.

Use iCloud Backup

The easiest way to transfer your iPhone data to a new phone is to use an iCloud backup. iCloud automatically backs up your iPhone daily when connected to Wi-Fi and power, as long as you have iCloud Backup turned on in Settings. iCloud backs up your device settings, app data, photos, videos, device settings and more (see iPhone iPad Backup and Restore Process (iCloud)).

If your most recent iCloud backup is fairly recent, you can restore your new iPhone from this backup to transfer all your data seamlessly. To do this:

  1. Make sure your new iPhone is set up.
  2. Connect it to Wi-Fi.
  3. Go to Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud > iCloud Backup and tap on your device backup.
  4. Tap Restore to initiate the process.

Your new iPhone will reboot and then restore all your data and settings from your last iCloud backup. Just make sure your iCloud backup is up to date before migrating data to your new iPhone.

Connect to iTunes

One way to transfer data from an iPhone with a broken screen is by connecting it to iTunes on a computer. Here are the steps:

First, connect your iPhone to your computer using the USB cable. Open iTunes on your computer. If your iPhone is still functional enough to turn on and be recognized by iTunes, it will show up in the iTunes sidebar under Devices.

In iTunes, you can choose to transfer purchases, like music, movies, TV shows, and books, by going to File > Devices > Transfer Purchases. This will copy any content you downloaded from the iTunes store onto your computer’s iTunes library.

You can also transfer backups. Go to the Summary tab for your iPhone in iTunes. Under Backups, you can choose to back up now or restore from an existing backup. This will save data like contacts, messages, notes, and some app data onto your computer. See this Apple discussion thread for more details.

Keep in mind that using iTunes will only retrieve limited data like iTunes purchases and backups. To fully recover data from an iPhone with a broken screen, you may need a third-party iOS data recovery tool like PhoneRescue as mentioned in this iMobie article.

Import Contacts

If your iPhone has a broken screen, you won’t be able to directly transfer your contacts to a new phone. However, you can export your iPhone contacts to your computer and then import them to the new phone.

To export your iPhone contacts, you’ll need to use iTunes on a computer your iPhone has synced with before. Connect your iPhone to the computer, open iTunes, and go to your iPhone summary page. Under Contacts, click the Sync Contacts button and then select “All contacts” to sync. You can also click “Select which groups/This computer” to choose specific groups to export.

Once synced, the iPhone contacts will save as a CSV file on your computer, usually under My Documents > My Contacts folder. You can then import this CSV file to the new phone.

If you used iCloud to back up your iPhone, you can also log into and export your contacts to your computer from there.

Overall, exporting your iPhone contacts and saving them on your computer allows you to later import them to a new device even if your old iPhone screen is broken.

Transfer Photos

One of the easiest ways to transfer photos from an iPhone with a broken screen is to remove the SIM card and use a SIM card reader. Here are the steps:

  1. Locate the SIM card slot on your iPhone. It is on the right side of the device below the power button (on older models) or on the left side below the volume buttons (on newer models like iPhone 12).
  2. Insert a SIM eject tool into the tiny hole next to the SIM card slot to pop out the tray.
  3. Carefully remove the SIM card from the tray.
  4. Insert the SIM card into a SIM card reader and plug it into your computer.
  5. The SIM card will show up as a connected drive on your computer. Open it to view folders containing your photos and videos.
  6. Copy the photo folders to your computer to transfer them.

The SIM card contains a storage partition that can hold photos, so removing it provides access even if the iPhone screen is damaged. Just be sure not to damage the SIM card itself when removing it. This method provides an easy way to recover and transfer your photos off an iPhone with a broken screen.

Retrieve Voicemails

If you have important voicemail messages on your broken iPhone that you need to retrieve, there are a couple options. The easiest way is to use another iPhone to forward the voicemails via visual voicemail.

To do this, insert your broken iPhone’s SIM card into another iPhone. Open the Phone app and tap Voicemail. You should see a list of voicemails stored on your provider’s voicemail system. From here you can play back each voicemail or forward it to yourself or someone else as an audio file via iMessage or email (source).

This takes advantage of the iPhone’s visual voicemail feature to access and export voicemails without having to call in and navigate clunky voicemail menus. Just insert the SIM, connect to WiFi or cellular data, and all voicemails will be retrieved and playable right in the Phone app.

Alternatively, you can call your voicemail as you normally would and rely on the audio prompts to forward messages one by one. But the visual voicemail method is generally much faster and easier.

Transfer Apps

When getting a new iPhone to replace one with a broken screen, you’ll want to reinstall the apps from your old phone. To do this:

  1. Make a list of all the apps installed on your broken iPhone. You can view your purchased apps by going to the App Store > tap your profile icon > Purchased > My Purchases.
  2. Once you’ve restored your new iPhone from an iCloud or iTunes backup, go to the App Store and download the apps on your list. Your previous purchases should be available for download without having to pay again.
  3. Log in using the same Apple ID used on your broken iPhone to re-download purchased apps and restore any app data saved via iCloud.
  4. For apps that don’t support iCloud syncing, you may need to start fresh and reconfigure their settings manually after reinstalling them.
  5. Check the App Store Updates tab to see if any of your previously installed apps have available updates. Install updates before using the apps to ensure you have the latest versions.

Following these steps will allow you to quickly get all your apps set up on your new iPhone after replacing one with a broken screen. Just be sure to have your Apple ID and a list of installed apps ready to make the process seamless.

Transfer Notes

If you have important notes stored on your iPhone that you need to access, you can transfer them to another device or computer even with a broken screen.

One way is to use iCloud syncing. If you had iCloud sync turned on for your notes, they should already be backing up to iCloud. You can then access those notes by signing into your iCloud account on another device like an iPad or Mac computer. The notes will sync and appear in the Notes app so you can view and edit them.

Another method is to use the desktop app Dr.Fone. You can connect your iPhone to a computer, launch Dr.Fone, and select the “Recover from iOS Device” option. It will scan your iPhone and allow you to export the notes to your computer as HTML or PDF files. This provides a complete archive of the notes that you can open on any device.

Finally, you may be able to access notes stored on your broken iPhone by using iTunes backups. Connect your iPhone to a computer, open iTunes, and see if your phone appears. If so, you can restore from a previous iTunes backup which should transfer the notes back to your computer.


In summary, the main methods to transfer data from an iPhone with a broken screen are to use iCloud backup, connect to iTunes on a computer, or selectively transfer contacts, photos, voicemails, apps, and notes.

The most comprehensive solution is to back up the entire iPhone to iCloud or iTunes, which saves almost all data including messages, settings, documents, etc. For selective transfers, you can import contacts to another device, retrieve photos through iCloud photos, use visual voicemail to save voicemails, re-download apps from the app store, and sync notes through iCloud.

No matter which method you choose, the most important thing is to back up your iPhone data regularly before its screen breaks. This prevents data loss and makes it much easier to recover your information on a new device.