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Two Older Android Phones I've been asked to recover


Dec 31, 2021
A friend of mine gave me her two (older) Android phones -- one is flaky, the other I don't know but they both boot. She is not tech savvy - and asked me to recover photos, contacts, texts, etc. I am not familiar with this platform, as I use another company's phone (grin), but I work in IT/tech, so I can figure it out with the right guidance.

The phones are an LG and a UMX. There are no model numbers on the device that I can see.

My assumption is that to access all this data without passwords/codes whatever she had, I would need to root it first. I am not clear whether there are other means.

In any case, I would appreciate some guidance so I can get the task done.
It has to be said that her remembering her PIN or password would be by far the simplest solution.

I do have a dilemma here, because as said above posting information about bypassing security features isn't something we do here. But for many years now devices have had features designed to stop someone doing this using root (or root-adjacent) methods(*), in addition to which whether it is possible to root or otherwise modify the device and how to do that if so both depend on what device and what software it is running. So really identifying the devices is the first step, there is no generic solution here.

(*) For example the most common and simplest root method involves unlocking the bootloader. So to protect data against bad actors the act of unlocking the bootloader will erase the storage of most phones - and as all but very old phones have encrypted storage that would be game over.
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She will surely know the Gmail email address she used, or be able to find it. After that Google will help her recover her password, though she may have changed it for the second phone. Logging in to the account on a full web browser, she will see what Devices are still associated with that account - hopefully both.
We can put links here to help.
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Hopefully. If the devices boot and connect to the net then they should show as associated - devices that don't connect to the account for some number of months disappear from the list, but they should reappear if they log in again.

But if the problem is lockscreen password/PIN then Google won't be able to help with that, as that is different from the account password. (Actually I suppose someone could use their account password as a lockscreen password as well, but that doesn't appeal to me, and is only workable if you have a weak account password, which is not recommended).
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If this is a situation where there are files residing only on these two phones that have to be recovered, I'd suggest you stop messing with them and take them to a trusted, local service shop. Experimenting with smartphones that hold vital data is a really, really risky practice. It's one thing if they're just old phones and if the data is lost it exists elsewhere. But if you make a 'mistake' trying one thing or another, that could just as easily wipe the storage media.
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The LG phone is "LG Stylo 4"

The other is Ultimate MobileX powered by Android Go; device unlocked, no secure boot.

Images attached.

Addressing other people's remarks here: My friend is a complete tech moron, she forgets passwords; I've had to create three Gmail accounts for her, etc. It's that kind of friend. What I'm doing here is completely with her request/permission and legitimate. She has tasked me with getting her content off these devices, then destroy them. If I can get into the devices, I can probably help her recover her Google stuff, I just don't know yet.

So if I can't get the help I need here, might someone please direct me to another resource?

Thank you.

A lot of it is going to be determined by what version of Android these phones were running. Maybe if you post pictures of the phones we can identify them.


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Okay. Thanks for the details ... it helps us, but not you. The LG Stylo is from 2018 and shipped with Android 8.1 so it's encrypted by default. I doubt your "tech moron" friend decrypted it since that's quite involved. Access from a file level perspective would be fruitless.

The other phone is actually a UNIMAX U683CL from either Sprint or Assurance. This Ships with Android 9, so same problem. Rooting isn't your answer, if it were possible.

Do you have any idea which gmail account she used to register each of these devices? It could also be that your friend was backing up to these accounts without knowing it. If you setup the gmail accounts, go to a PC and log into each one and see if there's any files saved there. If you're looking to retrieve texts or email, these are saved in system databases and are not accessible independently. They have to be recovered through the phone if they weren't backed up off the device.

Here's what I would try. Turn off the phones. Log into the gmail accounts on a PC. If you don't know the password, perform a password recovery. If there's no alternate recovery email, and only the mobile number, then you'll have to put her sim in a working phone to get the text from Google to verify the number. Once the account is logged into, put in a data enabled SIM card in the locked phones (WiFi won't be much help if you can't log in and connect) and boot the phone. Give it time to sync. It could be up to 24 hours. This is important ... DO NOT try to log in yet. After 24 hours, reboot the phone and try to login using whatever method she set ... pass/pin/pattern until it prompts you for the gmail account password.

That's the only practical way I can think of to retrieve the information from the phones.
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Thanks, I will ask her again. She has been through email accounts, passwords, etc. The unfortunate side is that she's a former addict and that factors in to her memory loss, etc. I'm just doing what I can to help her. The older phone number she had that may have been connected to Gmail (if she used it) may not be active any longer.

Thanks for the info. I didn't imagine these older phones would be encrypted.
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As I didn't purchase the phones, I have no idea. Since she's not technical, I'm guessing that she didn't navigate to that option (and probably wouldn't have known what it meant).

Encryption was an option but not default with Android 5.x, was on with Android 6.0 if you bought the phone with it, but didn't encrypt if you upgraded from 5. After 6.1 encryption was default.
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As I said, those two phones were sold with Android 8.1 and 9 respectively so it wouldn't have even presented itself as an option. I'm not even sure if it's possible to have an unencrypted phone anymore.

However, with those android versions, syncing to a Google account might have been on by default so at least pictures and contacts would be backed up. If the numbers associated with the accounts have changed since the phones were setup, then she might be SOL. :(
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Encryption of the storage media didn't become a default until Marshmallow (vers. 6) was released in 2015. Prior to that it was a matter where we would have to go into the Settings menu and intentionally enable it. But at that time, Android hardware specs were a lot more resource-starved so depending on the phone model there could be a significant performance hit involved if you did enable it (Android was late to the game and used a software-based encryption for the internal storage media. Apple has always used encrypted media in its phones, and having control over both hardware and software development has also used a more efficient hardware/firmware encryption.)
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