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5 ways to retrieve data from a deceased person’s Android phone

It’s not a secret that…

Losing someone is never an easy thing to deal with. On top of coming to terms with the loss, you may need to deal with the seemingly endless amount of arrangements that need to be made.

For people who left us that used their smartphones for important purposes…

We put together the following guide to help you retrieve data such as emails, texts, pictures and videos from an Android phone. We have a few methods for how to do so depending on the device and the information you have on hand.

Now, here’s what you need to consider:

Taking the device in to be unlocked can often lead to data loss as it usually involves resetting the handset, so it’s worth checking to see if one of these methods can help before incurring any loss of data.

Luckily, if you don’t want to go through that, you can bypass the passcode or the pattern lock with the following methods.

If you have access to the owner’s Google account information it’s a simple process. If the phone asks for the Google account associated with the device and you know the details, move on to method 2.

Without further ado, here are the methods on how to bypass a phone lock.

Methods to retrieve data from a deceased person’s Android phone

You can retrieve data from a deceased person’s Android phone with these methods.

  1. SD card
  2. Bypassing the security/pattern lock
  3. Google Account
  4. Accessing a rooted handset
  5. Samsung devices

Method 1: The SD Card

If the phone has a removable memory card, there is a good chance that most of the photos and videos stored on the device will be found there. If you are unable to get past the lock screen with the other methods in this guide, this could prove useful if you want access to certain media files.

After removing the SD Card you have a couple of options. You can connect the SD to your computer with an SD card reader to retrieve the files, or you can connect the SD card to another handset and copy the files across if you prefer.

Some Micro SD cards are password protected, which can be problematic if you don’t know the passcode. However, if you manage to unlock the device then you should be able to access the files found on the card with no further issues.

Method 2: Bypassing the Security/Pattern Lock

Getting past the security lock should give you full access to the device, including text messages and images. You can have as many attempts as you want to guess the passcode, but most phones will have a 30-second delay after five attempts.

If the firmware is lower than 4.1, you can download an app like Clear Mobile Password PIN Help (paid) from the Play Store to your computer, and unlock the device using the instructions provided. Unfortunately, most devices are now higher than 4.1.

Android Pattern Lock

If the device isn’t rooted, it can be difficult to get around the security code, but an exploit has been uncovered by computer security expert John Gordon that allows you to bypass the lock screen on Lollipop.

Unfortunately, this exploit will only work on a handful of devices; specifically Stock Android Devices that use a password instead of a pin or pattern lock.

Step 1: Tap or open Emergency Call.

Step 2: Type out a line of characters.

Step 3: Copy and paste the text until you have completely filled the field. (This should take roughly 11 repetitions.)

Step 4: Once the field is full, go back to the lockscreen and swipe left to open the camera.

Step 5: Swipe down to reveal the Notification Bar, and tap Settings.

Step 6: A password field will appear. Long tap the text to copy and paste until the phone starts to crash. This can take five minutes to complete.

Step 7: When it crashes, it should boot up the home screen with no password protection.

Here is a video that takes you through the necessary steps.

Method 3: Google Accounts

A number of Android phones use Google Accounts to unlock phones if several incorrect security attempts occur.

If you enter the lock code incorrectly five times, it may ask if you want to reset the passcode for the phone by using the Google account password associated with the device. You will need to know both the account name and password for this method to work.

This method only applies for phones running Android 4.4 or below with a pattern passcode.

Step 1: Forgot Pattern should appear on your lock screen after entering the wrong code five times.

Android Forgot Pattern

Step 2: Tap it, and enter the Google Account username and password associated with the device.

Step 3: You should now be able to access the device without restriction.

Method 4: Accessing a Rooted Handset (Custom Recovery Method)

If the handset is rooted, it’s fairly easy to access the device if it has Custom Recovery installed. The phone will also need an SD slot.

Step 1: Download this Password Protect Disable ZIP file to your computer.

Step 2: Put it on an SD card using your computer.

Step 3: Insert the SD card into the Android device.

Step 4: Reboot the phone into Recovery Mode. This can usually be done by holding a combination of the buttons when the device is switched off. For example, Samsung Galaxy devices use the combination of the Power, Volume Up and Home Check to see how this is done on your specific device.

Step 5: Flash the ZIP file on the card. You can do this from the Recovery Mode Navigate to Install or Install ZIP from SD Card and select the Password Protect Disable file. This will flash the file onto the device.

CWM Deceased PersonGÇÖs Android

Step 6: Reboot the device.

Step 7: If there is still a lock screen after you reboot, any combination code should work and you should now be able to access the device.

Method 5: Samsung Devices

Samsung phones allow you to unlock the screen if the device has been registered with a Samsung account. (You will to know need the Samsung Account details for this to work).

Step 1: Login to Samsung’s Find My Mobile service.

Step 2: Navigate to Unlock my screen, found on the sidebar on the left.

Step 3: Select Unlock.

Step 4: The device should be unlocked in a few seconds, giving you full access.

Suggested reads:

How to Fix Call Failed Errors on Android

5 Must-Have Internet Phone Call Apps for Android

8 Best Android Call/Text Blockers

FAQ

Can I still retrieve files from a locked phone?

Yes, you can! But, it won’t be so easy. There are different methods that you can try. Some will ask you for information while some won’t. Check our list to try these methods out!

Will Apple unlock a dead person’s phone?

If an Apple phone is passcode protected, you cannot unlock it unless you have access to the passcode or lock.

Can you use Face ID while someone is asleep?

No, you cannot unlock an Android phone when the person is asleep.


Conclusion

It’s a tough subject. It is somewhat comforting to know at least there are a few options that might get you some of the information from a loved one’s phone. However, it’s still quite hard to bypass phone security without root access.

I hope that the guide helped you get into the device. If you’ve found a better or more recent method, please let us know in the comments below, or you can also send us a message, (or a follow) on both Facebook and Twitter.

If we managed to help out or you have any problems, let us know in the comments below.

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