Dead iPhone Data Recovery - Can you recover data from a broken iPhone?
Updated: Feb 1, 2021
Recovering data from a broken iPhone requires a unique solution every time. You may have already tried to go to a general iPhone repair shop and have had them try the most basic troubleshooting steps, which is generally to try a new screen, battery, and charge port. When these options fail, you may find yourself at a loss for what do next.
Many will turn to google to try to find the best options available to them. However, many will often find an onslaught of information that can seem quite overwhelming. The first "solution" that people often find are a plethora of software that make some bold claims. Many of the software claim to be able to recover data from any iPhone in any condition. Unfortunately, this is almost never the case. If your phone does not turn on, the software will be of no use.
The best way to recover data from a dead iPhone
There is a solution to this problem. Data recovery has taken a new form for newer iPhones. The solution lies in advanced hardware repair down to a micro and motherboard level. No shortcuts and no simple tricks will work. What this means is that a deep understanding of what makes an iPhone tick is required. Every voltage line on the motherboard must be understood and every component on the motherboard must be working properly. If an iPhone does not turn on, we must find what voltage line is missing and what component has failed. This is no simple task as an iPhone motherboard has hundreds of voltage lines and thousands of micro components such as capacitors, filters, resistors, coils, and IC chips. Finding the needle in the haystack is what we do best here at iBoard Repair. To let us do the dirty work, fill out the intake form here.
A Dead iPhone Data Recovery Case Study
The process described above is best understood by looking at a direct example of a device that has come in for broken iPhone data recovery. We opened up this iPhone 8 Plus and begun our initial diagnosis. The first step is to examine the motherboard underneath a microscope.
Upon first glance, the motherboard appears to be undamaged. There are no signs of corrosion or physical damage to be found. We then connect the phone to our ammeter to see if any amperage is being drawn through the charging port. It is observed that about half an amp is being drawn through the charge port. 1.0 amp is a normal amp pull, but we can see that at least the port has the ability to pull some amperage. The next step is to connect the battery connector to our DC power supply and observe the current pull from there. When we prompt the iPhone to boot by pressing the power button, we see a steady .02a draw. This is extremely low as a normal boot sequence will gradually rise to about 1 amp. However, this number is quite a big clue.
An observed .02a - .06a generally means that the iPhone knows it is supposed to turn on but that it is not passing a necessary check point. In general, this usually means that a primary power rail or an i2c communication line is not making it to the cpu.
iPhone 8 Plus Schematics
We pull open our iPhone schematics to view the voltage lines that power the CPU. Here we can see which lines are needed and the voltages they are supposed to be at. After we prompt the phone to boot and see the amperage sitting at .02a, we start to measure the lines. Almost all lines are measuring exactly what the are supposed to, until we get to PP_CPU_SRAM. All the other lines are where they are supposed to be, but this line is hanging at .04v which is much lower then the 1.06v that it is indicated in the schematics. This is a great find as it indicates a direct problem that needs addressing and is likely the cause of the iPhone failure. If a power rail is measuring lower then it should, there are 3 main causes. It can be that the line is short, the circuit is disconnected, or the IC chip providing the power is bad. We take a look at the possibilities in order of easiest to hardest. The easiest thing to test first is whether or not the line is short to ground. We measure the resistance to ground and find that it is proper; the line is not short to ground.
Next, we take a look at the coil.
Upon first glance, the coil seems to be undamaged. However, after some gentle prodding it becomes clear the coil is loose. Eventually with some added pressure, we see that the coil pops completely off of the motherboard. This means the coil did not have a solid connection and is likely the cause of the problem. Next we clean up the pads by adding fresh solder and attach a new coil:
Data Recovery Success
After replacing the coil, we attempt to boot the phone. Viola! It appears that all voltage lines are back to normal which results in a phone that turns on and has data available to extract. If you read this whole article, you can see that there are no easy tricks to recovering data from a dead iPhone. There is no magic software that can pull data from an iPhone that does not turn on. There are no simple tricks like taking the memory chip and placing it onto another iPhone motherboard; iPhones are encrypted and must pass specific checkpoints to give up the user data. There is only advanced level diagnostic and motherboard repair. The voltages are invisible to the naked eye so we must use the tools at our disposal and our brains to figure out what is wrong with each individual case. No two cases are exactly the same. This is why the ONLY way to recover data from a dead iPhone is to get it into the hands of professional data recovery technician like those here at iBoard Repair.