Your iPhone has been damaged to the point of no longer being usable? The screen is broken or does not even turn on? You can buy a new iPhone, but the data from your old device may be irreplaceable. Fortunately, you may be able to recover it.
Has your iPhone been backed up?
If you have a recent backup for your iPhone, you’re in luck. You can have two different types of backup: a live cloud backup to iCloud or a local backup to a Mac or PC.
iCloud backups are the easiest to use because they take care of themselves once they’ve been set up. You’ll need enough free iCloud storage for this to work, which for most people will mean paying for the 50GB ($0.99/month) option.
You can see if backups are enabled and when the last successful backup was made using other devices signed in to your Apple ID. These include other iPhones or iPads, a Mac or Windows PC running iCloud for Windows:
- On an iPhone or iPad: Launch the Settings app, tap your name, then go to > iCloud > Manage Storage > Backups.
- On Mac: Launch System Preferences, click Apple ID, then select the iCloud tab on the left. Click on Manage and then select “Backups” in the window that appears.
- On a Windows computer: Launch iCloud for Windows, click Storage, then select “Backups” on the left.
If you have a recent iCloud backup, your iPhone data is safe. You can restore your iPhone using the “Restore from iCloud Backup” option presented to you when you activate a new iPhone. Your device will be restored as you remember it, although the time it takes depends on the speed of your internet connection.
Note that if you’ve turned on iCloud Photo Library (and enough free space to copy everything to the cloud), your personal media will already be backed up. You can log in to iCloud.com to see the latest snapshots copied to the cloud.
If you backed up your device to a Mac, you can see your available offline backups using Finder. To do this, launch Finder and click Go > Go to Folder… at the top of the screen, then copy-paste this location followed by Enter:
In Windows, use the search bar to enter
%appdata% followed by the Enter key, then navigate to “Apple” or “Apple Computer” followed by MobileSync > Backup. On a Mac or Windows PC, these local backups can be restored by connecting a new device and selecting
To transfer a local backup to a new iPhone, first connect the replacement to a Mac or Windows with iTunes, choose “Restore from this backup” when prompted, then select the backup you want to restore.
Is your iPhone recognized by a Mac or a PC?
If your iPhone screen is broken or the device is unresponsive but still turns on, you may still be able to make a new backup that you can transfer to a new device. This will save everything on the iPhone to your Mac or Windows 10 or 11 drive in a format that can be restored using Finder or iTunes for Windows.
To do this, make sure your device is turned on and then connect it to your Mac or Windows PC. Launch Finder (on a Mac) or iTunes (on Windows) to see if the device is recognized. Be aware that you may need to “trust” a device by allowing access on your iPhone screen before it communicates with your computer, and this can be difficult if the device is not functioning normally.
You can create a new backup on a Mac by selecting the device in the Finder sidebar, then clicking “General” followed by “Back up all your iPhone data on this Mac” (you can also choose to encrypt the backup with a password if you wish). Click “Backup Now” to start the process.
In Windows, launch iTunes and click your iPhone in the upper left corner of the window, then click Summary > Back Up Now. You can restore these backups to a new (or new) iPhone using Finder or iTunes for Windows.
If you already have an iCloud backup and use other iCloud services like iCloud Photo Library, you don’t necessarily need to do this (but more backups can’t hurt).
Recover data by repairing the device to a bootable state
If the device does not boot or is not recognized by a Mac or PC, and you have not used iCloud backup or other iCloud services to save data, you may not have completely lucky. Repairing a damaged iPhone is often not worth it, as the cost of repairs is often comparable to the price of a new device.
But you may only need to repair your device to a bootable (not necessarily usable) state to save the data. If the speakers aren’t working or the screen is partially obscured by a crack, that’s not a problem provided you can communicate with a Mac or Windows PC running iTunes (as discussed in the previous section) .
What this entails depends entirely on the damage done to your device. For example, if the only thing preventing your iPhone from communicating is a damaged Lightning port, you may be able to disassemble the iPhone, replace the Lightning port, and then perform the backup.
Apple introduced a self-service repair program for iPhone owners in 2022, which allows “people with the knowledge and experience to repair electronic devices” to repair their iPhones. Apple provides repair manuals, tools, and spare parts (for a fee) to help you fix your device, but it’s not for everyone.
You can also use iFixit’s iPhone Repair Hub for instructions on how to tear down, diagnose, and repair your device. You will probably need a set of specialized tools to open the device and remove screws and ribbon cables. How far you will go with the repair depends on how much your blocked data is worth to you.
Third-party repair and recovery options
If you don’t feel particularly confident about a DIY repair, third-party data recovery services do exist. The problem is that they can cost as much as a new device, and there’s no guarantee that your data will be recovered.
Take a service like iPad Rehab which specializes in all kinds of iPhone and iPad repairs. The service promises to “perform open troubleshooting and micro-soldering to identify and fix faults on the motherboard to bring the dead phone back to life enough to provide a path to your data.”
The price listed for this method is $300 to $600, although they offer a “no data, no charge” promise and a wait time of around four weeks. You can add another $100 to skip the line if you’re desperate.
There are many other companies that offer data recovery services, and many will be local to you. These companies often don’t provide quotes until you request an appraisal, although payment plans often exist. Paying someone else to recover your data doesn’t require soldering skills or specialized equipment, but it will likely cost you more since you’re paying for expertise.
Set a backup and don’t let this happen again
By far the best thing you can do to protect your data is to use a backup solution. iCloud backup can cost you between 99 cents and a few dollars a month, but it’s much cheaper than paying for specialized data recovery services.
Set up an iCloud backup under Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud > iCloud Backup by enabling it. You might be asked to sign up for more iCloud space, so why not find out what else you can use your iCloud storage for?
If your iPhone is no longer usable and you need a replacement, check out our recommendations for the best iPhones available today.