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Data on your phone can be a fragile thing. One second you’re tapping through your family albums, the next second you’re uploading them to Facebook without realising, then POOF, before you know it, you’ve swiped them out of existence.
PhoneRescue claims to offer a solution to that, letting you recover not only photos, but also contacts, call logs, messages, videos, music and app documents. The mobile data recovery app has already earned itself a solid reputation for the iPhone, and now it’s arrived on Android. I got the chance to put it through its paces.
There are quite a few things you need to do before your phone is ready for the data recovery, but at least the app is honest about them by giving you a list of “Quick Tips” to consider before doing your data recovery. It doesn’t say any of them are mandatory, but seeing as it’s worded like a bunch of instructions rather than tips, it’s probably best you do what it says.
During setup the app tells you that you need to have a rooted device to access the “Deep Scan” functionality and even offers to do your rooting for you. While a nice idea in principle, this option sadly didn’t work for me. As there’s a separate Android app for each manufacturer (Samsung, HTC, Sony etc.), maybe it got confused because I have an unlocked HTC One M8 running LineageOS, rather than the default HTC UI.
My bootloader was already unlocked, and it was just a case of me flashing SuperSU to get root privileges, so getting root access wasn’t much of a problem for me. With that said, if you’re phone’s unrooted and you want a deep scan, be prepared to find your own rooting solutions if the built-in one here doesn’t work.
You’ll also need to enable USB debugging and grant root access to PhoneRescue, adding a couple more hoops to the process before you’re ready.
Thankfully, once you get through all that, things do get simpler. Plug your phone in via a USB cable to your PC, open the PC app, and it guides you through a step-by-step process on how to get your files back. The homescreen is very simple, with checkboxes letting you specify what kinds of files you want to recover. Once you make your selection, it’s just a case of clicking Next then waiting to see what it finds.
Once it’s made its findings, you can choose to recover files to your PC or directly to your phone, which is welcome. It does the job quickly, too, so you won’t be twiddling your thumbs for too long while waiting for it to complete its search.
Is PhoneRescue Reliable?
It’s the most crucial question. After all that rooting and effort to get it working, does PhoneRescue do the job? The answer is yes, to an extent. I’ve factory-reset my phone a couple of times in the past, and PhoneRescue didn’t manage to find anything from before those resets. (There’s a good chance they’ve been completely overwritten by now, so it may well have been an impossible task.)
PhoneRescue did, however, do a good job of finding files I’d deleted from my device since the reset – photos, messages, and a video, to be exact. It’s also very quick and easy on the eyes, making it less intimidating than certain other recovery software.
PhoneRescue (the HTC version, at least) is a very good tool but doesn’t yet match the deep-scanning feature set of the iPhone version which includes more tools and tweaks than this one. With time, however, it can catch up. Less experienced users or those just wanting a quick-and-easy tool for recovering their phone data will find everything they need here, and the fact that it does its job so quickly makes it a winner.