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The screen on my Samsung Galaxy Ace 4 broke (running Android 4.4) and I really, really wish to get all my photos and other data off it. The phone has a pattern lock screen as well as an additional PIN if the pattern is entered wrong. I've tried numerous methods:

  • I can turn my phone on, hear the startup sound, all the buttons work (even the two touch buttons for back and menu)
  • when I plug in my phone onto my PC, the device shows up but is empty - need to unlock the phone first.
  • Touch doesn't respond, so no vision and no touch => no way to normally unlock phone.
  • Galaxy Ace 4 does NOT support USB OTG, so plugging in a mouse to TRY to do something is out of the question as well.
  • I don't have USB debugging enabled
  • The device was never rooted
  • Maybe that is why I cannot get ADB to work either...
  • There are a few software solutions available that claim to be capable of unlocking your phone's screen through USB, or being able to get your data off your phone, but NONE of them support Galaxy Ace 4 explicitly.
  • I DO have Airdroid installed on the phone, but WiFi and other means of connectivity are turned off on the device and I know of no way to re-enable them with a broken screen
  • therefore Google's Android Device Manager was of no help

At this point I feel I have tried everything. Is there anything else I can do? Screen replacement is roughly $100, and I don't care about this phone anymore as a device, I just want the data. Maybe it's possible to somehow connect a different screen (from a cheaper/older phone? Not just this exact model), it doesn't have to fit perfectly, it can even hang loose on a thread, I just need to unlock the device.

Recently we can often hear in the news how governments hacked someone's phone (a captured terrorist or such), so is there literally any other way I could get into mine? I do know both the PIN and the pattern, and of course credentials to my Google account.

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    There are tools that can dump data from the eMMC directly through JTAG. (paid tools though)
    – esQmo_
    Dec 24 '16 at 20:42
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AFAIK Samsung phones have WiFi option in their power menu so if that is true in your case and also if you have Airdroid configured to connect on having proper connection to a server i.e., PC than you may have a chance of communicating with the device.
Do try and report back

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    Sadly, this is not the case for such an old model. There are only three options in the power menu (power off, reboot, airplane mode). Nevertheless, I've had the screen replaced a few months ago, so I'm able to use the phone now. I've had tried many things, but in the end wasn't able to recover anything from that phone without having to pay for a screen replacement.
    – pKami
    Apr 16 '18 at 21:28
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What I would try to recover at least some of the data, if all the things you already mentioned did not work:


Disclaimer: I did not perform this exact same steps on the Ace 4, but only on a much older Samsung Device. So I can't guarantee that this works, and I'm not responsible for data loss, so do this at your own risk. This is a hop or drop approach.


Part of the process is shown in a video here. I'll put a textual description and some sidenotes below:

  1. On a Windows PC, install Odin3. It can be downloaded here. Odin is a flashing tool for Samsung devices, allowing to flash alternative ROMs or a custom recovery. A recovery is sort of a mini-operating system in your phone, allowing to access some deep-level options and modifications. The recovery that is installed by default has a highly limited functionality, so we will install another recovery in the next steps. This other recovery could be able to let you access files stored on your phone.
  2. Power off your phone.
  3. Put your Ace 4 into download mode by pressing the combination Power Button + Home Button + Volume down key for several seconds. The process can be seen in the linked video. As shown in the video, press Volume Up to confirm going into download mode. Download mode basically means that your device is in a state now where system files (including the recovery) can be modified.
  4. Start Odin on your PC, connect your phone to the PC and wait for Odin recognizing the device.
  5. Download the CWM recovery that is linked below the video. Download the "CWM Recovery", not "Philz Recovery".
  6. Select the AP field in Odin and select the tar.md5 file you just downloaded.
  7. Leave all other Odin options as they are, and hit start.
  8. Wait until Odin is finished.
  9. As soon as Odin is finished, turn off the phone and reboot your phone into recovery mode by pressing and holding Power Button + Home Button + Volume Up button for a few seconds. IMPORTANT: At this point, with a new recovery flashed, I'm not sure if you will still be able to boot into normal Android OS. Most recoveries are not compatible with the default Android OS.
  10. Now, you should have a new recovery on your phone, as seen on the video. This recovery provides some useful functions. Now try to connect your phone to PC and see if it appears in Windows Explorer as a device with all the subfolders in your phones internal storage.
  11. If nothing appears, now comes the challenging part: We need to navigate to the option "mount and storage" that is shortly seen in the video. This can be done using the volume up / down keys and the power key to confirm.
  12. Once you (probably) are in that section, it should look like seen in this picture. Now we want to mount partitions named "ext_sd" or "sdcard" or similar. At this point with a broken screen its gonna be trial and error. I think usually the 4th entry is /sdcard, so after entering the screen, you should press volume down three times and confirm hitting the power button. As far as I remember, this will toggle the state from unmounted to mounted. If you're lucky, you device will show up in Windows Explorer then. If not, hit the power button again to revert the change you just made and make another try by hitting volume down once again to select the next entry.

I think now how you see what I meant with hop or drop approach, especially with a broken screen - this is probably the last chance to get the data, but also could mess up your device. As I said, try it at own risk. If you try it, though, I will be curious to hear whether this worked out. If you have any other questions, let us know.

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