I am not an electrical engineer and I cannot take phones apart.

I had an iphone 6 that suffered no water damage, no smashed screens, no dust... but suddenly it got an NAND memory issue. The phone boot loops and I cannot get my data out. I am mostly concerned with the photos. I have already sent it to 2 repair places to see if they can get the phone to turn on (this was before we found out the problem), and 2 data retrieval places, of which the last said it was an NAND memory issue. (first one just said it was a memory chip issue).

I really need the photos back. I read about NAND chip readers - my question is, are they worth it, do they work, and how do I go about getting my data back with an NAND reader when I can't do it myself? (Found readers online but I can't open the case myself, nor are my soldering skills good).

Does anyone have any tips? (PS I live in Australia and yes I have been to Apple support. They were ironically the least helpful and least nice)


closed as off-topic by Chris Stratton, Finbarr, Dwayne Reid, Dmitry Grigoryev, RoyC Dec 4 '18 at 9:58

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions on the repair of consumer electronics, appliances, or other devices must involve specific troubleshooting steps and demonstrate a good understanding of the underlying design of the device being repaired. See also: Is asking on how to fix a faulty circuit on topic?" – Chris Stratton, Finbarr, Dwayne Reid, Dmitry Grigoryev, RoyC
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Say you can get a memory dump. How are you going to decrypt it? I suggest you find a donor phone and put the chip on there. perhaps this? \$\endgroup\$ – Jeroen3 Aug 17 '18 at 5:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ I really need the photos back. Then that raises the question, if that data was so important, why didn't you make a backup? Consider if your phone was stolen or crushed under the wheels of a truck. I also doubt that it will even be possible to recover the data even if you had access to someone with superb soldering skills. \$\endgroup\$ – Bimpelrekkie Aug 17 '18 at 6:37
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Bimpelrekkie If you aren't going to be helpful, refrain from judging. I always manually back up my photos but did not this one time due to reasons I do not have to explain to you. \$\endgroup\$ – Stephanie Chen-Xu Aug 18 '18 at 7:40

You can't. The data is encrypted with a key which is unique to the individual iPhone SoC on your phone (source). Removing the flash memory from the iPhone motherboard will only guarantee that its contents are unrecoverable.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Correct, also worth noting the removal process and high temperatures will most likely degrade the flash and cause further corruption. \$\endgroup\$ – MadHatter Dec 2 '18 at 16:30

As duskwuff says, you can't extract the data from the NAND on an iPhone because the data is encrypted. What's more, the NAND IC is code locked along with the SoC (CPU/GPU), Baseband CPU and the EEPROM so you can't easily transfer just the NAND to a working board, you have to transfer over all 4 IC's. The killer IC to transfer is the SoC which is a dual layer IC that has the CPU/GPU underneath and the SDRAM on top. Very few people can migrate these IC's over with a high reliability as it's pretty easy to damage the circuit board during removal.

If the SoC, Baseband CPU or EEPROM is damaged (i.e. internal short or other physical damage) and causing the issue, then there is no way to successfully transfer the IC's to a working board. If the NAND is corrupted it needs to be formatted and that means data loss. However the data is still in the memory cells. Some folks have been advancing the idea that a data dump of the NAND, reloading it on a new NAND IC and reprogramming the metadata (SN#, UDID etc) may work but as far as I know, no one has published anything about this beeing successful.

Unfortunately, there is no real or accessible way for you to recover your data. If the data is "that" important, you could hold onto the phone in case there is a major breakthrough in the future.


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