How many times have you dropped your phone, believing that the screen would be cracked when you picked it up? Luckily for us, most phone screens are relatively durable and don’t break easily. But when they do, you’re left scrambling, trying to figure out how to access your Android phone with a broken screen.
When your phone breaks and the screen is no longer working, not only can you not use your phone, but now all that information stored on your phone is inaccessible. The good news is it’s possible to recover all the information on your device with a little troubleshooting.
Use OTG to Gain Access
If you can see the screen but can’t touch it because you’ll cut your hand, or if the screen is not responsive, use an OTG adapter to control the phone with a mouse.
An OTG, or On-the-Go, adapter has two ends. One plugs into the USB port on your phone, and the other end is a standard USB-A adapter into which you can plug your mouse. Once you connect the two, you will be able to use your phone without touching the screen.
Not all Android phones have the capabilities to use OTG, so check with your manufacturer to find out if yours does. If it doesn’t, you may not be able to retrieve the information from your phone without using third-party software.
As a side note, if your phone isn’t compatible but the screen is still visible, install a thin tempered glass screen protector over the broken screen. This may allow you to still use the phone long enough to back up all your information.
To access your phone through your computer, you need to turn on the USB Debugging mode. USB Debugging allows your Android device to communicate with the Android SDK (Software Developer Kit) over a USB connection. When you use USB debugging, your Android device receives commands, files, and other data from your computer. It works the opposite way as well, letting your PC pull necessary information like log files from your phone.
Here’s how to turn on USB Debugging mode on an Android phone:
1. Use your OTG adapter to connect your phone to a USB mouse.
2. Click the mouse to unlock your phone.
3. Enter Settings by pulling down the top menu on your phone and clicking on the gear icon in the top-right corner.
4. In Settings, scroll all the way down to the About phone menu.
5. Click on Software information.
6. Locate the Build number and click the box seven times.
7. Go back to Settings and scroll back down to the bottom. Under the “About phone” menu, there is now an option to access the Developer options.
8. Under Developer options, press the switch to turn on USB Debugging.
Connect your phone to your computer using a USB connection. From your computer, you can access and open the folders from your phone and copy the data you want to your computer.
If Your Screen Won’t Turn On
If the screen is not working, it would be best for most users to use an Android data recovery tool. Most of these tools are paid versions, but there are some free ones you can try, such as MiniTool Mobile Recovery for Android, Undeleter Recover files & data, and DiskDigger for Android. The free versions will have minimal features, and you may need an upgrade to do what you need.
If none of this works to access your broken phone, you may need to take it to a professional. Make sure you go to a reputable shop because once they access your phone, they can access all your data.
Your mobile carrier may also be able to retrieve your data. However, this may cost you, or it may be included if you have insurance on the device.
How to Prevent These Issues
Accessing an Android phone with a broken screen isn’t always easy, so it’s a good idea to try to be prepared if the worst ever does happen. You can do this by keeping your phone backed up and installing programs like Pushbullet that will give you access to the data on your phone even if you can’t control it. You can also use Android backup tools to regularly back up your data so you don’t have to worry.
Ideally, back up your photos and important documents to the Google Drive or another cloud service automatically. Then, if you do drop your phone and the screen breaks, you haven’t lost the most important items on your device.
If you want to gain real granular control over your Android device, then check out how to install TWRP recovery on Android. If you’re looking to do some Android gaming, peruse our guide on the emulation front-end Retroarch for Android.
Image credit: Close-up USB cable connect phone and laptop computer