Getting contacts off a stone-cold dead T-Mobile MDA?
June 27, 2012 8:07 PM   Subscribe

How can I get contacts off a stone-cold dead T-Mobile MDA?

I need desperately to get contacts data from the phone of a recently deceased relative. But it's dead. I've swapped in a fresh battery, but it will not start up.

I don't want to do a hard reset, because I'm afraid it would erase the contacts (is this correct?)

The phone has a memory card in it, containing several files and documents. But contacts do not seem to be stored on the card (or am I missing it?).

Any ideas or suggestions would be welcome!
posted by Quisp Lover to Technology (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A "hard reset" is not a "factory reset", which is the wipe-to-zero thing you fear.
posted by mhoye at 8:51 PM on June 27, 2012

Thanks. But to clarify: are you saying this with knowledge of this particular phone, or just as a general remark? Because the manual for the phone seems to indicate it wipes all user data.
posted by Quisp Lover at 9:14 PM on June 27, 2012

T-Mobile phones use SIM cards. I have never had a phone with a SIM card but it is my understanding that sometimes the contacts are stored on that, in which case I think you should be able to put the SIM card into another T-Mobile or AT&T phone (maybe not some iphones which have microSIMs) and access the contacts.
posted by needs more cowbell at 9:26 PM on June 27, 2012

Not sure how familiar you are with cell phone stuff, but a SIM card is likely different from the memory card you mentioned.
posted by needs more cowbell at 9:28 PM on June 27, 2012

Have you tried turning the phone on when plugged in?

Also, when batteries are completely discharged, you may need to leave the phone plugged in for a few hours before it will turn on (perhaps the fresh battery is also empty?).

I'm not familiar with that phone, but other phones allow you to access not just the memory card, but also the phone memory when tethered to a PC, have you tried this?
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 9:31 PM on June 27, 2012

The card is a Mini-SD memory card. Again, I've looked therein, and found stored documents (this was a smartphone), but nothing that looks like a contact list.

Yah, I did plug in the phone and left it to charge before declaring it un-bootable. I'm a mac user, but if tethering may be possible, I'll definitely seek out a PC to try it with.
posted by Quisp Lover at 9:38 PM on June 27, 2012

Relevant post from XDA developers.
posted by zippy at 9:54 PM on June 27, 2012

Can you check with T-Mobile? Some T-Mobile smartphones -- all? -- default to storing contacts so that they sync with My T-Mobile.
posted by Mo Nickels at 9:56 PM on June 27, 2012

Oh, my apologies for that link. Besides looking dubious on review, you have a fresh battery. Do you know if this battery is charged? Also, do you have the wall charger for this phone?
posted by zippy at 9:57 PM on June 27, 2012

Are you sure the charger is good? The phone should boot while plugged in (with the battery installed; some phones won't boot without a battery regardless of other power).
posted by chrisfromthelc at 10:12 PM on June 27, 2012

There should be another card in it. Not an SD or mini SD memory card but a SIM card, which is a small removable chip that identifies the phone to the phone company (and can also store a bit of data). Every T-Mobile phone would have to have one in addition to any other auxiliary memory cards it might have. It's not something you could take out and read on a computer or with a standard memory card reader--you'd need to put it in another phone. It won't be something you can get to *that* easily since it's not something people would be removing unless they're switching to a new phone--you may have to remove the battery or something before you can see it to pop it out.
posted by needs more cowbell at 12:05 AM on June 28, 2012

I don't think most smartphones (which, after all, have lots of storage space, plus the aforementioned SD) store numbers on the SIM, but it's certainly worth a try.

Wait, no. I just read the manual. The SIM DOES contain all this stuff. Woo! Now I need to figure out the most efficient way to export the contacts (presumably from some other phone in which I've inserted the SIM) to a text doc, as I'd rather not manually type out hundreds of numbers.
posted by Quisp Lover at 7:01 AM on June 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Go to Radio Shack (seriously). They have SIM card readers that will do the work of copying for you and maybe even get your phone up to access the memory (that is entirely dependent on the employee). If not Radio Shack, go to your cell provider store (not a kiosk).
posted by schnee at 4:35 AM on July 27, 2012

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