In a conference call on Tuesday night, an Apple team leader informed attorneys for the families of Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen that they were unable to restore Stephanos’ badly-corroded iPhone 6 to working order.
Austin and his friend Perry Cohen, both 14, went missing in July 2015 during a fishing trip off the coast of Jupiter, Florida. The U.S. Coast Guard found their boat during a search and rescue operation last year, but the boat was set adrift before it could be towed ashore by salvage teams. A Norwegian supply ship in March 2015 happened upon the 19-foot vessel about 100 miles off the coast of Bermuda. Stephanos’ iPhone 6 was found in a storage compartment in which it had sat in salt water for eight months.
The iPhone was meticulously disassembled by an Apple forensics team, which cleaned its components and performed a chemical report as part of a thorough diagnostics process. The iPhone was sent to Apple having suffered a significant amount of salt corrosion. Despite their best efforts, the Apple team were unable to get the iPhone to power on. Apple has informed the families of the result and the families may decide to pursue other options to retrieve data from the device.
Pam Cohen, Perry’s mother, said in a statement: “We learned yesterday that Apple went as far as they could to try to get Austin’s iPhone working, which, as Apple advised, was the first step in the process of retrieving information that might help us understand what happened to the boys. Apple also made it clear that getting the iPhone to power up was its only commitment to Blu Stephanos, which differs from what we heard from his attorney in court. For the generous efforts by Apple’s engineers, who we understand worked tirelessly to try to help us, we are so very grateful. According to Apple, there are other experts in the field who may be able to pick up where Apple left off, to continue the work. Apple has offered to securely hand the iPhone off to an expert in this technology if the families can agree on such an expert. We look forward to working cooperatively with Austin’s family toward this transition. We are not giving up on the iPhone’s potential for evidence until all viable efforts have been exhausted.”
MacDailyNews Take: Kudos to Apple for trying to get Austin’s iPhone to power back up. Hopefully, even without being able to power up the device, the data inside can still be extracted by different means by other experts.