Recover data from an Android device with a broken screen

How can you recover data from an Android device with a broken screen? This is the dilemma I faced recently when I had an Android phone with a cracked screen. Apart from a big crack across it the display was visible but the digitiser was not working so I couldn’t interact with the phone. It was so frustrating – I could see the news widget updating and the live background moving. I could also see the wifi notification icon changing as the phone was still accessing data for background services and apps. Everything was apparently working fine but I just couldn’t interact with it! I had a spare phone lying around but I needed to copy a few things from the broken phone (such as my tasker scripts, text messages and call logs etc.) and also, how could I turn the phone off if I couldn’t use the touch screen?  

Recover data from an Android device with a broken screen

Recover data from an Android device with a broken screenSo here’s what I did. In one of my earlier posts I talked about a very exciting piece of kit called a USB OTG cable (USB On The Go). You can get one for less than a pound off eBay. With one of these cables plugged into your charging port you can read memory sticks, use ethernet adaptors and access all sorts of USB devices. Not all phones and tablets will work with every USB devices and you may have to test your phone with the particular USB device you want to use. I have two USB to ethernet adaptors that I have tried with a USB OTG cable and one works and the other doesn’t – it more or less depends on the chipset in the USB device. There are no drivers needed as generic ones are built into the Android OS. You can Google for information about your particular phone or, for the sake of a pound, just get a cable and try it out. In combination with another miracle of USB technology, the USB hub, you can combine a number of USB devices and use them with your Android device all at the same time!   So, back to the current dilemma, how does this help me? The answer is simple – just plug in a mouse! Any old USB mouse will do and the second you plug it in a mouse-pointer will magically appear on the phone’s screen and works just as you expect a mouse to work, including the scroller wheel.     So, it was as simple as that. I could now interact with the phone and its apps just as I would if the display had been working. I used a file manager app and Google drive to copy files and folders onto the new phone and was then able to clear the phone of all my data ready for disposal or repair.   I’ve yet to decide how I’m going to get the phone repaired but it opens up an intriguing potential for a phone with a broken display that is otherwise working fine. It offers the ability to use it as a smart-TV adaptor. You can use the TV as the display by using an MHL cable and plug in a keyboard and mouse to watch everything on the big screen!   Please leave a comment if you have any questions.  


  • ole Reply

    Broke my screen, could not backup the phone because i couldn’t unlock it.
    This trick saved me big time!!!

  • george Reply

    congrats its tthe best solution iv ever seen and it works thanks alot !!!

  • Christian Reply

    Hey there,

    Nice article , i would like to know if it would work on a sony xperia P? No idea though which version of android does it run…


    • Garry Kelsall Reply

      As far as I know the Xperia P does support USB OTG so I would say this will work for that phone.

  • Danny Reply

    Hello I was wandering if this still worked if the phone screen is initially locked

    • Garry Kelsall Reply

      Yes, Danny, it will work. Just plug in the mouse via the OTG cable and you’ll see the mouse pointer. You can then unlock the screen with the mouse just as you would if you were swiping the screen with your finger.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *