How to Recover Data From a Broken Phone in 2021: Three Steps to Data Recovery

Anyone who’s broken a phone knows the pain of losing data that wasn’t backed up. Things like contacts, messages, call logs and media files can all disappear in an instant if your phone is unresponsive. If this has happened to you, read on and we’ll show you how to recover data from a broken phone.

Robin Barber
By Robin Barber (Writer)
— Last Updated: 2021-09-11T15:47:35+00:00

Whether you’ve got an iPhone with a damaged home button, an Android phone with a broken screen or your device is completely unresponsive, data recovery may still be possible. This is because you don’t need to do anything on the device itself to recover data from a broken phone. However, you will need the right data recovery tool, and the know-how to use it.

Key Takeaways: 

  • Backups are much more reliable than data recovery.
  • SD cards can often be recovered from a broken phone.
  • Third-party programs can let you control your device or download your data.
  • Settings like assistive touch can bypass issues with broken buttons.

Before you begin, it’s worth checking the iCloud or Google account attached to your phone. Backups are always better than data recovery, and most phones will automatically backup things like photos, videos and other personal files. Simply go to Google Drive or iCloud, sign in and look around for the data you want.

However, if the data you need isn’t included in the automatic backup, your best option is data recovery. This might not get everything you want to recover — depending on how damaged the device is — but if it is salvageable, you should be able to get it with one of these methods.

  • 09/08/2021

    Cloudwards.net updated this article to include a wider variety of methods and rearranged it to a step-by-step structure.

  • By using a program like Vysor, you can access and control any Android device without using the touch screen. You can also use data recovery tools to access the files directly.

  • Services like Dr.Fone let you grab all the data from a broken phone. This doesn’t require you to make changes to the phone directly, especially if it’s one of the supported models of Samsung phones.

  • Not all phone data can be recovered. If the drive has been damaged by water or physically broken, the data may not be accessible. However, with basic data recovery tools and techniques, you can get most of the data from most devices, especially if the storage is working fine.

How to Recover Data From a Broken Phone: Types of Damage

Although all broken phones present a problem, not all damage is equal. If you’re just having issues with a broken screen or home button, finding another way to control the device is often good enough. However, if your phone’s completely unresponsive, you’ll need to use a computer or second phone to remotely grab any surviving data. 

Recovering Data From a Dead or Broken Android Phone or iPhone

To recover data from a broken phone without a functioning display, you’ll need to use a second device. If you’re using an Android device, you might be able to save the data from your SD card by moving it to a new phone or computer. 

Android Phones: Check the SD Card 

The data stored on your SD card can vary. Most people have their music, videos and photos on their phone, but depending on your Android version and the settings you chose, you might even have apps and other data saved. This may not be everything you want, but it’s often a good start and it’ll only take four quick steps to get this data.

  1. Remove Your SD Card

    You can usually find your SD card with your SIM card, either in a tray on the side of your device or behind the battery.

    phone data recovery sd card remove the card
  2. Insert It in Another Device

    We’ll use a microSD adapter to put the SD card into a laptop, but you can also move it to a new Android device and connect it to the computer with a USB cable.

    phone data recovery sd card use an adapter
  3. Open the SD Card Drive

    Open Windows file explorer and find the new drive that contains your SD card’s data.

    phone data recovery sd card open file explorer
  4. Find Your Data

    Search for the folders you need, such as “pictures.” It’s worth copying all the data to your computer, so you can access it all at any time.

    phone data recovery sd card find your files

Third-Party Recovery Software 

If you don’t have an SD card or you really need something that wasn’t saved to it, you’re going to need some data recovery software that works without USB debugging. There are a few options here, so we’re going to use Dr.Fone, as it works well with both iPhones and some models of Android. 

However, before you begin, remember that there’s only so much these apps can do, and there is a chance you could brick your phone if you do it incorrectly. It’s particularly important that you choose the right model of phone if you’re asked for it, as safe data recovery is only available for certain phones.

  1. Download the Data Recovery App

    Go to the website of your chosen app and download it. When the installer has finished downloading, run it and follow the installation guide.

    phone data recovery dr fone download
  2. Go Into the Data Recovery Section

    Most data recovery software will have a range of modules you can use, but to get files from a dead device, you should use “data recovery.”

    phone data recovery dr fone data recovery module
  3. Connect Your Phone to the Computer

    Connect your Android phone or iPhone to the computer via a USB cable, then choose whether you want to recover iOS or Android data.

    phone data recovery dr fone connect your phone
  4. Choose What to Recover

    The software will select everything by default, but for a faster scan, you can deselect the things you don’t want. Once you’ve done this, click “start scan.”

    phone data recovery dr fone start the recovery
  5. Let the Scan Run

    This may take some time, depending on how much data is on the device. When it’s finished, you’ll be able to preview and recover any data it found. Note that while most data recovery programs let you scan and preview files for free, you will usually need to pay to recover them.

    phone data recovery dr fone recover the data

Recovering Data From a Phone With Broken Screen

Although a cracked screen is hardly enough to make a phone unusable, if it stops the touch controls from working, the device is basically useless. Because of this, there are apps that let you control your phone through a computer. We’ll be focusing on Android phones, but the recovery process is similar for Apple devices — you can even use Vysor for both.

Recover Data From Android Phone: USB Debugging With PC Mouse

As long as you have enough control to enable USB debugging, you can use programs like Vysor to use your Android phone through another device. This will require the system software on your phone to work and some touch screen functionality, but if you can do it, you’ll be able to recover most of your files with no problem.

  1. Download the Vysor App

    Go to vysor.io and download the app for your computer.

    phone data recovery vysor download
  2. Connect your Phone to the Computer

    You’ll need to connect your Android phone to your computer. If it isn’t recognized, make sure you download the ADB drivers and enable USB debugging on your phone — if you’re unsure about these, follow the steps in the links that Vysor gives you.

    phone data recovery vysor connect your phone
  3. Control Your Phone

    Once connected, Vysor will open a new window with your phone’s display, and you’ll be able to control it directly with your mouse and keyboard. You should now be able to do anything on your phone, even with a damaged screen.

    phone data recovery vysor use your phone

Recovering Data From an iPhone With a Broken Home Button

Given how important the home button was on iPhones before the iPhone X, it makes sense that Apple built in a way to use your phone if the button breaks. You can enable this with the “assistive touch” settings, which were originally made to help people use iPhones, even if they struggled with certain controls.

Enable Assistive Touch on iPhone

This “assistive touch” mode works by giving you a docked menu with various options. You can put all kinds of custom settings here, but a button that takes you to the home screen will be there by default. Just follow these steps, and that broken home button won’t hold you back anymore.

  1. Open Your “Settings” App

    Unlock your iPhone and open the “settings” app.

    phone data recovery assistive touch settings app
  2. Go Into the “Accessibility” Settings

    Scroll through your settings until you find “accessibility” and tap it.

    phone data recovery assistive touch accessibility settings
  3. Find the Touch Options

    In the accessibility settings, tap on the option labeled “touch.”

    phone data recovery assistive touch the touch options
  4. Turn Assistive Touch On

    Tap the button next to “assistive touch” to turn assistive touch on. This will create a small black button on your screen.

    phone data recovery assistive touch turn it on
  5. Go to Your Home Screen

    Tap the black button and select the “home” option. You can also open things like the notification center and Siri from this menu.

    phone data recovery assistive touch use the new menu

Final Thoughts: Recover Data From Android Phone or iPhone

Hopefully, you’ve now recovered all the data from your phone. Once it’s safely on your computer, you can simply plug in your new phone and transfer everything across. You can even choose to upload these files to your iCloud or Google account, then download them directly to your new phone and keep a spare copy online.

However, once you’ve recovered data this way, you should do everything you can to ensure you never have to do this again. This means making backups. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to make a good Android backup or an iPhone backup, with programs like IDrive that can do all the work for you — read our full IDrive review here.

Have you broken your smartphone? Did you need to recover your data from a broken Android phone or iPhone? Have you now made a backup of your replacement phone? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading.