Retrieve photos from broken Moto X Pure

What phone do you have? Moto X Pure

What plan are you on? Not relevant because phone doesn’t work now.

Does your plan include data, or just talk & text? Not relevant because phone doesn’t work now.

Issue Description

I have a moto x pure that was bought, used, about a year ago. Added a 128GB microSD data card.
Took many pictures. A few weeks ago, the phone suddenly died. Tried to get it to be repaired, at a local repair place. They couldn’t . I need to retrieve the photos on the main 64 gigabytes, and the 128 micro SD data card.
(I formatted the data card as portable storage.)
Problem: I removed the Micro SD card, and plugged it into a different Moto X Pure. Didn’t read, the system wanted to have it formatted. (I DIDN’T let the second phone format it!)

I need to know: How do I retrieve the data on the internal memory.
How do I know that the photos were (or weren’t) being backed up on, say, Google Drive.
How do I read the micro SD data card, or retrieve the data.

If the sd card was formated as external storage, then it should read in any computer.
If can not be read, then it was formated as internal storage, or, the card has become damaged or corrupted.

If the phone still powers on, you can connect it to a computer via usb cord and possibly access the data that way.

If it does not power on, your only option is Professional Data Recovery, which is often extremely expensive.

If you used Google Photos to backup your pics and videos, you can view them online via your Google account here:

The SD card cannot be read. It has no mechanical damage, but presumably the data has become corrupted.

The phone does not power up.
I want to know what I would have had to do to back up the data onto Google Drive; I THOUGHT that was happening, but I am unsure. I have replaced the phone, and I want to retrieve the data.

If you had set the Google Photos or Google Drive app on the phone to backup your photos to the cloud, then they would be on there already.

Unfortunately, with no way to power on the phone, or to read the sd card, there is no way to do that now. You will need to submit both the phone and sd card to a Professional Data Recovery Service. A cell phone repair place like CPR often contract with a recovery company.

The place I previously worked at, MicroCenter, could send out sd cards and phones to DataTech Labs for evaluation and recovery. If I recall, a flash chip or phone was a $150 eval fee, then they contact you directly to quote you for recovery. It can range from the $150 up to $5K.

That is why is always a good idea to have backups of your important data, either be sure to double check every so often that your stuff is actively backing up to the cloud. Or connecting the phone via usb to computer and copying off the data and storing it in a safe place.

At this point, I don’t know that I DIDN’T back the phone’s pictures to Google Photos or Google drive. I suppose I need to try to restore them. How?

To me, it is very angering that these companies put these devices into the hands of people, without explaining how to maintain them! I remember, about 5 years ago, when I got my first smartphone, a Moto X 1st Generation.
No manual. No instructions. How do I make the thing go? I figured I was safe plugging in the charger, to both the wall AC and the phone, but then I wanted to turn the thing on.
I’d never used a smartphone before, and didn’t know anybody with a smartphone.
So, I tried pushing buttons. with one, the screen lit up, but faded after awhile. So, I pressed the button again, and tried to push a “button” on the screen, figuring that this would work. Nothing happened.
Took about a day. What did I finally do? A friend’s 16-year-old son showed up, explained how to push the “on” button, and then to SLIDE A BUTTON OVER THE SCREEN.

I concluded that the IDIOTS who failed to include a manual merely ASSUMED that “everybody” knew how to turn on a smartphone. That explained the lack of a manual.

You said:
“If you had set the Google Photos or Google Drive app on the phone to backup your photos to the cloud, then they would be on there already.”

MAYBE I did. But how would I learn this? No manual. No instructions. No help.

Not entirely. The situation is that it is impossible to write such a manual due to the diversity of the software and each brand and flavor of android, especially considering that the software is always changing and the apps you can download are all made by many many others. Computers do not come with a manual on how to work the Windows Operating System. A smart-phone is a pocket sided computer. You can however, seek out 3rd party books like “Smart-phones for Beginners”…etc but they will not be exclusive to your exact phone. Or seek out clinics at an electronics store where they teach you how to use the phone.

I can certainly understand your frustration. My grandparents are very much the same way…“I need a manual!” They often have to go into their carriers store and ask for help.

Typically, depending on the brand phone, this is an automatic setting that is defaulted to enable unless you go in and disable it.

Please try to log into the Google photos website using the Google account you used on the phone. If you see your pictures, you’re good. If not, then, sadly, there is nothing more you can do yourself at this point to access or recover the data off the broken phone. You will need to take it to a Data Recovery company and they can help you.

I wish you luck.

If you had the Google Photos backup and sync option active, your photos are at Point a browser there and look at the dates on the photos to determine if they are current with the date your phone died. For more help on Google Photos, you can visit

Moto. has manuals for each phone available for download and are relatively easy to find.


1 Like

very easy to find with Google “moto x pure user manual”

the Issue is after the phone is release these are not maintain and how things get done or look does change with the OS updates

they used to come with very detail user manuals that one could learn from (how to program and how the computer was build with pin-outs and chip numbers) (not that I read them back in the day I learn from my father in the late 70’s early 80’s)

And one such manual would not be possible for the average technically challenged folks, even back then.

My point is that there are plenty of modern resources available to help users new to smartphones or computers. Simply “Google” it and you can find guides and YouTube Videos on how to do things. Many things have a digital manual built right into the device. (Moto phones have something like this) Printed manuals are not even remotely practical for devices that are always changing and it would be at an unsustainable cost to keep updating and re-printing, then re-distributing the updated manual.

Yes, it is very frustrating for folks who need specific written direction in order to learn new things that are very foreign to them, and are not ones to learn by just messing around with it until they figure it out. (I grew up doing both). Honestly, even in the days of printed instruction manuals, they often were of poor use to anyone other than the technical mind of the people(designers, engineers, etc) that wrote them. My folks find this even today on many things that you would think would be simple and straightforward.

Message an
Expert customer