Possibility of recovering data from Android phone that fell into sea water?

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A person I know, dropped his phone (Android Oreo or above) into the water while at a beach. He tried keeping the phone in a bag of rice etc., but he can't get it to work. Samsung support said he'd need to replace the motherboard. He does not want the phone working again, but he wants the vacation photos from the phone. In Bangalore, there are some data recovery services that say they can recover the data for him (one of them mentioned some Spider technology).

Primary question:
Is the data recovery team's claim that they can recover the photos, actually legitimate? Can the photos be recovered from the phone in such a situation? How would they do it? Since the data on the phone would be encrypted (a password was needed to unlock the phone), would the data recovery team use a motherboard from a similar phone, connect it to the data storage and ask the person to type his password to be able to access the data?

  • They might be bluffing, and this could just be a way to get paid for the "effort" that they put in to try recovering the data even if they can't eventually do it.
  • The data recovery team could clone the data and use brute-force techniques to gain access to any other data.
  • They could misuse any payment information stored on the phone.
  • They may view WhatsApp chats or other WhatsApp data stored (he says his WhatsApp is protected by fingerprint recognition).


If the android version is above 7, the data will be encripted.
Since the board is dead, the solution is to swap CPU and NAND to a working PCB and after that the phone will be working again, and data can be recovered.
About your concerns:
1º Don't know the company capabilities
2º Most probably that's not the way
3º and 4º: If you don't trust them, don't send the phone. But be aware, after data is recovered, there is always that possibility. Since that they can access and use the data, it's you that must decide if it worth the risk or not.