Is there ANY way possible (NO MATTER WHAT THE EXTREMES), to retrieve my photos off of my husband's iPhone 3G/3GS? My husband of 13 yrs. was diagnosed with bone cancer and passed away 21 hours later. Every memory of the prior 4 months the kids and I had with him, the hospital 'til the devastating end is on that iPhone & it was dropped in the drive and run over, but still intact, just broken screen is only visible damage. Please help...!!!!

  • 3
    Some more info may be helpful, if you know or can find out, such as: If/how it was set to backup? What version of iOS was it running? Is it recognised by the computer if plugged in via USB? Is it the 3G or 3Gs? Jan 24, 2014 at 3:09
  • I agree with both answers here, as soon as more information is given. We will be able to determine what the possible solutions are. You said about "extremes" just letting you know if it comes to it. You could switch out the internals of the iphone to another iphone, bit his is advanced work, and maybe think about taking it to a repair store/shop.
    – Ferguson87
    Jan 26, 2014 at 17:45

2 Answers 2


We may need a bit more information, but some suggestions...

First, I assume you've checked that the photos were never imported onto a computer in any way? Obviously this would make retrieval unnecessary if they have been copied to a computer/hard drive, imported into iPhoto/Picasa/etc... but I guess that hasn't happened in the last 4 months...?

Was iCloud Photostream turned on? You may be able to directly access the last 30 days worth of photos already, via iCloud or software that supports Photostream.

Was DropBox installed on the phone? DropBox has a Camera Import feature, which, if turned on, backs up your camera roll photos to your dropbox account.

Was the phone setup to backup to iCloud? You may simply be able to restore another iPhone from the backup, getting all photos from the camera roll back (assuming a complete backup; though if there's a lot of photos it may have gone over the free 5GB limit).

Was it set to backup to iTunes? If it's recently been backed up, you can also restore another iPhone from the backup.

Does the phone still power up? This is hard to tell if the screen is broken, but if it shows up on a computer when plugged in via USB then you may be able to recover information over USB. In that case you could use iExplore to access the contents of the phone. I believe iExplore can also browse an iTunes backup. And if it does work, this would be a good time to ensure you take a backup.

If all answers are no, then you would want to find an iPhone repair shop. Apple themselves may be able to do this. There are limits, however. If the memory chip itself is damaged, the data will be lost. The iPhone data is also encrypted using an encryption key, and I'm not sure whether this relies on any hardware components or if it's purely in software—if the key is derived from the main board or some other chip on in the phone (not just a software key) then you would need all relevant parts to be still functional to retrieve the data. This is something Apple or a repairer will be able to tell you.

  • +1 for a good thorough answer despite the lack of detail from the OP.
    – daviesgeek
    Jan 24, 2014 at 3:32

Don't mean to be the barer of bad news, but its unlikely Apple will help you with any sort of data recovery, unless its an extreme circumstance like you have a warrant, a court order, or maybe just power of attorney, and are dealing directly with their legal department. They should be able to replace his screen, if thats the phone's only problem. Is the phone locked with a passcode? Do you know the passcode?

Assuming its more than just a broken screen, the above answer does contain a lot of good ideas. If the device is functional (it turns on and recognized by a computer) but is passcode locked, you could still sync it with the computer your husband was syncing with previously (assuming he has ever synced it). If its not passcode locked you should be able to download the pictures onto any computer(since it won't need to know the passcode). Lastly, if it is passcode locked and your husband did not sync it with any computer previously (your computer does not know his passcode), your best bet is to talk to professional data recovery companies, like Drive Savers etc. This is your worst case scenario, seek professional data recovery.

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