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My girlfried recently suffered a broken/cracked screen on her HTC Wildfire S, rendering it inoperable. We managed to get her considerable backlog of photos saved simply by connected the phone via usb to my laptop.

However, her contacts list would only be accessible if the phone is rooted. Is this possible given that the screen is broken?

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    "My girlfried" --- my condolences with you Sir! – Firelord Oct 26 '15 at 1:30
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You can possibly use the htcdev utility to gain access but you need to read up on it as the root procedure I found requires using a new recovery utility which would require a working screen. See: http://forum.xda-developers.com/htc-wildfire-s/help/2015-root-flash-bootloader-unlocking-t3227482

And more generally:

http://forum.xda-developers.com/htc-wildfire-s

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