Access samsung phone with hardware issues

So recently i fiddled with a broken partition table in a somewhat working Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini phone.

Now imagine the phones looks like this:

broken_mini

Dropped like it’s hot, landed flat on the screen. But of course contains very important pictures without backup somewhere else. For the fun of it, lets assume the power button is broken as well.

Software configuration: stock rom, stock bootloader, stock recovery. ADB disabled.

With a combination of the following steps, it should be possible to get access to the internal memory and backup important data via ADB.

USB Jig
A custom recovery image like TWRP enables ADB access, so by flashing TWRP, we get root access to the phone and can backup the data. For flashing the recovery, you need either heimdall or odin and the images, all are linked in my previous post.

Normally you can get any turned off samsung phone into download (also called odin) mode by pressing VOLUME DOWN + HOME + POWER.

Now if some button is not working, this is a little trickier. The trick is a tool called samsung 300k or a little piece of hardware. Since the tool is windows only and didnt work for me, i had to go the hardware way.

There are multiple videos on youtube that describe how to modify an usb connector.

If you have a “power only” micro-USB cable that you can spare, things are a bit easier. These feature most likely already a resistor of around 200kOhm, so when you connect the cable only to your phone (USB end is loose) the phone will boot up. Unfortunately, with the resistor at 200kOhm, it will perform a normal boot.

So cut off the wire near the connector and carefully pry the connector open on its side with a sharp knife.

connector_01

The rubber sides now should be removable, careful not to rip any of the small cables or connectors inside.

connector_02

connector_03

Now depending if your connector already features a resistor you need to add a resistor in series (one after the other) or you need to add a new resistor so that the summed up value equals 300kOhm. Since my connector came equipped with 200kOhm, i just added another 100kOhm and soldered it in between.

connector_04

Of the micro-USB B connector, pin 4 and 5 should be connected via 300kOhm.

When inserting the connector into the phone, it should vibrate (if the vibrator still works) and boot into download mode. Now connect a working data cable and use heimdall or odin to flash TWRP with ADB enabled.

Look Ma, no power button!
But with the powerbutton not working, how can one boot the phone (hopefully into recovery)?

You could try to clean or fix the button.

If that doesnt work, there are multiple different approaches and while the ones from the videos did not work, the one in the comments worked for me:

  1. remove battery and power cable
  2. insert battery – insert power cable
  3. wait until you see the first battery logo, and the second battery logo with animation
  4. wait again, until it goes completely black. (power saving)
  5. remove your battery, reinsert your battery, take off usb cable (quickly!)

Unfortunately, there seem to be some phones which can not be boot into recovery by holding the buttons and plugging the cable in or which dont boot into recovery after flashing from download mode. In this case, you can rename the recovery.img to boot.img and flash it via heimdall/odin into the bootloader partition. This way, the system wont boot android anymore, but straight to the recovery with ADB enabled.

Once all data is retrieved, one has to replace the recovery in the bootloader partition again with a real bootloader. This must fit to the android system, so might as well wipe everything and start from scratch.

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