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I have a pixel 4a running android 11 with a broken screen. The full screen is black; the lower part of the touch screen seems to be responsive but I can’t really tell what’s going on so I don’t know if that is actually doing anything. The networking seems to be broken in some way, I can’t locate my phone with ‘find my phone’ and the nightly backup hasn’t run. (mMst stuff is backed up through the various cloud services, but I have a few things that I collect, encrypt and upload to a personal server once a day.) In this case, I was collecting GPS data while planting on my farm and I’d very much like to get that data back.
Things I can do:
- I still have the password for the encrypted data partition
- USB seems to work, as I can get the device on fastboot
- Bootloader is unlocked.
- I installed the lineage recovery and can start the ADB shell from fastboot using a physical keyboard.
- I can navigate the early file system but can’t see how to decrypt/mount the data partition.
- I can boot all the way to the lock screen, and I can feel the touch sensor engage when it gets there.
- I can hear the notification when I plug in the keyboard after boot
- I can type my password, but I don’t know if it is successful
Things I cannot do:
- I attempted to enable the screen reader by holding both vol buttons; I don’t believe I was able to trigger the ‘OK’ button in the confirmation
- I attempted to type my password with a keyboard, then connect to a computer, but best case I need a dual port usb dock so I can plug in the computer and keyboard to trigger the accept dialog. I am waiting to go home in a couple days so I can grab a usbc dock
- TWRP usually has some recovery features but is not available for Pixel 4a/Android 11
- I doubt I can install a new screen as the frame is quite bent, I might be able to run it without putting it back together but I worry about keeping the rest of the green board intact as there are already some functions (like networking) that have broken. I think pulling out the old screen is likely to be a task that leaves the phone in a worse state.
Things I have not tried:
- HDMI out to a monitor. From what I’ve read, it could be possible with a display link style adapter, which I have, but not with me today.
- Flashing or adding root to my base image. (usually that requires a data wipe.)
It seems the easiest thing to me would be decrypt and mount the data partition and then do a couple adb pulls from the recovery. I’m not quite sure how android 11 does the encryption but I have the password (though the key is probably in the TPM) Is that something that is doable? I didn’t see any of the usual suspects when I was looking through the tools in the bin so I’m not quite sure how they are mounting their encrypted partitions.