My sister dropped her iPhone into water and made the fatal mistake of turning it on just a few hours later, thinking it was already dry. I put it into a bag with rice for days. She had taken a lot pictures within the last few weeks but neither connected it to her PC nor is she using iCloud/Photostream, so we wanted to save the pictures somehow.

The problem is, the phone only turned on when connected to a power socket - and only in the inital setup mode ("connect to itunes"). And even then it would restart after about half a minute.

Assuming the battery got fried, I ordered a new one from iFixit (the phone's out of warranty since a long time) and replaced it; of course I also cleaned the logic board in the process. Though I couldn't see any corrosion despite the water indicators being pink. The only difference now is that when connected to a PC, the Apple logo appears, but the phone reboots infinitely after several seconds.

iTunes recognized it when entering DFU mode, but shows no additional data besides "iPhone" (capacity, iOS version, serial number).

Getting the phone to work again is secondary, we just want to save the pictures. Is there any way to get my data including all the pictures from iPhone?


Yes - programs like PhoneView can often read files from a device that iTunes insists must be restored. The iTunes function is to sync and clearly the OS is now in a state where it can't run itself or be updated, so the "correct" thing for iTunes is to ask for a restore.

I wouldn't say that you are guaranteed to get the photos back, but it's good you have the computer where the device normally syncs as that will have the encryption keys to unlock the storage if the device has data protection enabled.

You could also seek a quote from the usual data recovery services like: - http://www.drivesaversdatarecovery.com - http://www.krollontrack.com

You should expect to spend hundreds of dollars if you send the device in for recovery and you may have to pay if they recover anything - even one partial file - so be sure you understand what is being quoted before agreeing to a recovery attempt.

  • I've now tried several of those apps, and none of them recognizes the phone, neither in recovery nor DFU mode. But many forum posts I found recommend jailbreaking to be able to use SSH. but wouldn't jailbreaking require the restore it and therefore delete the pictures?
    – Daniel
    Sep 7 '12 at 17:10
  • I tried the "Just boot tethered" option of Redsn0w, but I get the same problem: When Redsn0w reboots the phone, it keeps rebooting forever.
    – Daniel
    Sep 7 '12 at 17:27
  • Even if you could jailbreak it in the state where it's running, I wouldn't change anything except trying to read the files you can get now. The PhoneView program is free to try (i believe you only see 10 files to save until you have to pay). The FAQ for that software mentions a windows alternative if you are not in possession of a Mac to attempt data recovery.
    – bmike
    Sep 7 '12 at 17:33
  • 2
    I've tried both PhoneView and TouchCopy, none of them recognizes the phone. What a shame, seems I'm running out of possibilities. Isn't there anything else I could do, apart from consulting an expensive forensics expert?
    – Daniel
    Sep 7 '12 at 18:13

Do you have a backup of the phone on your computer? If there's no backup, the photos are not in iCloud nor synced with another device/computer, & the photos have been deleted from your phone, you would appear to be out of options.


If you are a windows 8 user and you have already authorised your computer, then definitely you can see the images on phone by Photos app in windows 8.

  • It syncs all the images
  • You can also try logging to iCloud.com and try your luck there.
  • You can try making a new backup via iTunes to your phone and check whether you got your photos or not.

I can't be sure if this will be any better than the methods you've tried, but you could see if something like 'Phone Disk' (see https://www.macroplant.com/phonedisk/) would work for you. Unfortunately this one seems to have been discontinued now, but the company has a more recent product that apparently does the same thing. Basically it mounts your iPhone as a disk, so you can see what's on it.


Theoretically, it is possible. You would probably have to reach out to a professional recovery company to see if recovery is even achievable at this point. There are a few companies you could try reaching out to which offer such services for further information. Note that such services, if able to recover the data, can cost hundreds of dollars so it will be up to you to determine whether the data warrants an attempt.

http://www.drivesaversdatarecovery.com/devices-supported/apple-iphone-data-recovery/ http://flashfixers.com/iphone-data-recovery/

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