I water-damaged my iPhone 4s.

Net result is that the phone powers up normally (mostly) when connected to a wall charger. I can see my old home screen, pictures, etc.

When connected to a computer for USB-charging, it shuts down soon after the Apple logo pops up.

So connecting to a computer does not work. Unless there is a way to wall-charge and USB-sync at the same time?

WiFi does not work. The WiFi settings slider is greyed out.

iCloud automatically backs up the most important data on your device running iOS 5 or later. It will run on a daily basis as long as your device:

  • is connected to Internet over Wi-Fi
  • is connected to a power source
  • has the screen locked

Apparently you cannot do an iCloud backup over mobile data, so that is out as well.

Just called Sprint... cannot activate the phone without either syncing or with WiFi. So out of luck for the cell connection too?

So, the question is, is there any way for me to do an iCloud backup of this iPhone?

Is there a way for me to manually back up things like pictures without WiFi or iTunes sync or the cellular connection?

4 Answers 4


So if I understand it correctly, it's not available in your LAN, cannot directly connect to a computer using USB, is unable to make a bluetooth connection and cannot connect via the cellular network either? Is there any interface that is working, other than the touchscreen?

Do you have any experience with opening up iPhones? It is not particularly difficult if you're careful and precise, and excellent guides can be found on ifixit.com. If you have another iPhone available (that is no longer under waranty, as opening it up voids that), you could consider 'borrowing' one of the interfaces from the other phone. If you have the parts available, I recommend attempting to replace the WiFi antenna.

Alternatively, you could attempt to insert another battery and hope it lives off the donor long enough to connect via usb without needing the wall charge.

Either way, as you say it's water damage, it could do wonders to open it up and let it dry or acitvely dry it yourself - bowls of rice have done miracles. This strongly depends on how long it's been since bathing time.

  • Yeah it's a pretty ridiculous situation, no transfer methods seem possible. The iPhone was professionally opened/cleaned by a local shop in the hours after the water damage so not much more I can do. I was under the impression that components like the wifi were soldered to the board though, impossible to replace? Replacement battery might work though.
    – ck_
    Oct 22, 2012 at 16:14
  • Ouch, that's a pretty rough situation. You might be right about the WiFi card - I remember a friend replacing the antenna, but from what you explained it seems that that might not be enough..
    – Joost
    Oct 22, 2012 at 20:44

In case you're mostly concerned about your pictures and videos, Dropbox's Camera Upload feature might be able to help, since you can upload on 3G too as far as I know.

In case you have other things you want to export it will be harder since most of the time 3rd party applications won't have access to them (e.g. settings, music, contacts - although contacts are iCloud synced on 3G too).

  • I activated a different cell phone while the iPhone was being repaired. I now cannot re-activate my iPhone without WiFi or synching it. Thus no cellular data, if the cellular data even still works.
    – ck_
    Oct 15, 2012 at 1:43
  • (No wifi or bluetooth either)
    – ck_
    Oct 17, 2012 at 23:32
  • If its turned on, when you connect via USB, does it shut down?
    – ICL1901
    Oct 18, 2012 at 4:57
  • @DavidDelMonte Unplugging from wall power immediately shuts down the iPhone. Bad battery or etc. obviously. Thus can't tell if a USB connection would short it out.
    – ck_
    Oct 22, 2012 at 16:12
  • So you cannot power it from a USB/computer connection?
    – ICL1901
    Oct 22, 2012 at 18:15

I just re-read your original question, so apologies for being redundant about the USB power.

However, your question does imply that you had it repaired somewhere. If so, could they not remove the storage and salvage it?

If you have not taken it anywhere, I really really suggest you contact someone like ubreakifix. There are other repair shops, but they have restored my phones and/or data on at least 4 times (twice for water). They also can help over the phone - a bit.

  • Just found this, might be worth a try too: 1- shutdown your iphone with the hard reset "home button and power" for 10 seconds 2- connect the usb cable to the computer but NOT to the iphone 3- open itunes 4- while the iphone is off, press the home button for 5-10 seconds then plus the other end of the white connection cable into the iphone 5- do not remove your finger from the home button 6- itunes may detect it ....
    – ICL1901
    Oct 22, 2012 at 21:18
  • 1
    Don't that, this sets the iPhone in DFU mode and will prompt iTunes to restore it (wiping the data you want to save in the process). This is helpful for trying to unbrick non-functioning phones, not for trying to restore data that is currently stored on the phone. Oct 23, 2012 at 11:37

Download iexplorer http://www.macroplant.com/iexplorer/


create a folder on your desktop for your photos Follow the file path on the above site. highlight all of the files in the path above. right click and export to the folder on your desktop.

  • I'll try this; however, I'm assuming it won't work due to USB not supplying the correct power to boot the phone. It's currently only booting when connected to wall power.
    – ck_
    Oct 24, 2012 at 17:54

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