You wondered if it was possible to do this on a smartphone, and more precisely, if it was possible to recover photos from your mobile phone's trash, since you accidentally deleted some photos from your mobile phone's Gallery and now you don't know how to restore them.
The answer to your question is... no. Let me explain better: Android and iOS, the two most popular operating systems for smartphones, do not have a Recycle Bin like computer operating systems, but this does not mean that it is impossible to recover photos deleted by mistake. The applications that Android smartphones and iPhones use by default to manage photos, in fact, have automatic backup functions that, just to avoid accidental deletion of important content, keep the photos deleted by users for a certain number of days before deleting them permanently.
Put simply, this means that if you've only deleted your photos a few days ago and are using the default Android and iOS photo management apps, you should be able to recover your shots quite easily. If, however, your photos have been deleted several days ago and/or you use alternative photo gallery management apps, with a bit of luck you might still be able to recover your photos using external solutions, such as data recovery apps. Find more information about this below - enjoy reading and good luck with everything!
Recover photos from an Android phone's trash can
Do you use an Android smartphone? Then know that you can recover photos from your mobile phone's trash using Google Photo, Google's photo and video management app, which, as you probably already know, makes an online backup of all Gallery content and allows you to recover deleted photos up to 60 days after the day of their deletion. The important thing is that the images you want to restore have been deleted from within the Google Photos app and not from other apps, such as the Android Gallery.
If you want to recover deleted photos from the Google Photo app, just start the Google Photo app, press on the burger icon at the top left and select the Trash item in the menu that appears on the side.
In the screenshot that opens (the menu with the pictures you deleted in the last 60 days from your device, or rather, from all devices on which you use Google Photo), tap on the thumbnail of the first photo to be recovered, then tick the thumbnail of the other pictures to be recovered and press the Restore button at the bottom right. The restored photos will return to the main Google Photo Gallery, occupying the position they occupied before being moved to the Recycle Bin.
Were the photos you're interested in recovering not from the Google Photo app, but from the Android Gallery? In this case, you can only recover them if they were saved online from your Google Photo backup before you deleted them.
To find out if the photos you are interested in have been saved to Google's cloud and are available in Google Photos, launch the Google Photos app and browse the list of images in it. If at first glance you can't find the photo you're looking for, press the search bar at the top and use one of the search tools provided by the service to try to find it.
For example, if the photo you want to track depicts a certain person and you have activated facial recognition in Google Photo, you can press on one of the faces below the search bar and view all the photos that depict that person. If the photo was taken in a particular location, you can select one of the suggested locations at the bottom of the screen. Or, if you remember the month/year when the photo was taken, you can type it into the Google Photo search bar (e.g. January 2017) and see all images from that period.
Did an app like WhatsApp or Messenger send you the photo you lost? If so, you might be able to retrieve it via Google Photo by tapping on the burger icon at the top left, selecting Device Folders from the menu on the side and browsing through the photos that are in the various folders on your smartphone but have not been uploaded to the Google cloud.
If none of these attempts have the desired effect, I'm sorry, but most likely the picture you're looking for is not in the Android Trash or in any folder on your phone. The only hope you have of seeing it again is that it hasn't been completely erased from the device's memory yet, so it's recoverable via data recovery apps (which I'm going to tell you about).
Are the photos you want to recover not available in Google Photos? I'm sorry, but in that case, as I mentioned earlier, your only hope is that the pictures have not yet been overwritten by other data on your phone's memory and are therefore recoverable via deleted data recovery app.
Among the best apps for recovering deleted photos on Android, I recommend DiskDigger Photo Recovery, which is completely free of charge (at least for recovering JPG and PNG photos and MP4 videos; a Pro version is available for recovering other files, which costs 3.37 Euros) and is very easy to use.
The only problem with DiskDigger Photo Recovery is that, like other data recovery apps, it needs root to work properly: a procedure that, if you don't know it, allows you to unlock Android and access areas of the system that normally would not be accessible. If you haven't rooted on Android yet, you can still try using the app, but most likely the results it will give you won't be satisfactory (as the app won't have the permissions to "dig" deep into the phone's memory).
That said, let's get down to the action: after installing DiskDigger Photo Recovery from the Play Store, start it, press the Grant button to grant it root permissions and refuse the purchase of the Pro version by tapping on the No, thanks button. Now, select the memory drive to be scanned (it should be the one marked in bold), choose the type of images to recover from JPG (photos taken with the camera) and/or PNG (screenshot) and tap first on the OK button and then on the Allow button to start searching for deleted photos. If you have not done the root, you can perform a superficial scan of your smartphone's memory by starting DiskDigger Photo Recovery and pressing the Start basic photo scan button.
If and when, on the scan screen, you see thumbnails of the photos you are interested in appear, press the Pause button, put a check mark on the pictures to be recovered and press the Recover button (top right corner). Finally, choose whether to save the files to a cloud storage service or send them to you via email (selecting the cloud icon), whether to save them locally (selecting the folder icon) or upload them to an FTP server (selecting the arrow icon).
If you are not fully satisfied with the app, you can try alternative solutions by referring to my tutorials on apps to recover deleted photos and the best solutions to recover photos from Android.
Note: If you want to avoid situations like the one you just experienced in the future, be sure to use Google Photo to manage your photo gallery and back up your photos and videos to the cloud. To do this, launch the Google Photo app, press the burger icon at the top left and select Settings from the menu on the side. On the next screen, go to Backup and Sync, make sure the Backup and Sync toggle is enabled and the Upload Size option is set to High Quality (so you can take advantage of the free backup feature). If you want to learn more, see my guide to how Google Photo works.
Recover photos from an iPhone Trashcan
If you've accidentally deleted photos from your iPhone, you should be able to recover them using the Recently Deleted album in the Photos app - a kind of Recycle Bin, where photos deleted from the device remain for 40 days before they are completely deleted.
To access the "Trashcan" on your iPhone, open the Photo app, select the Album tab at the bottom right and tap on the Recently Deleted album (which has a trashcan icon on a grey background). On the screen that opens, tap on the Select item at the top right, select the thumbnails of the images you want to recover and tap the Recover option at the bottom right and then tap the Recover Photos button at the bottom right. The selected photos will return to their place in the iOS Roller. Are you happy?
If you haven't found the images you're interested in in the Recently Deleted album of the Photo app, I'm sorry, but things are getting harder. It's not the last word, however: if you go to some third-party solutions, you might still be able to achieve your goal!
If you have the Google Photo app installed on your iPhone and, above all, if it has online photo backup enabled, you may be able to recover the photos you deleted from the iOS Roll thanks to the "big G" cloud platform.
To find out if the Google Photo app was able to make a backup of the images you are interested in before they were erased from your iPhone memory, launch the application in question and browse the list of images available in its library.
If at first glance you can't find the photos you're interested in, try searching for faces, places or types of photos (e.g. selfie, landscape, etc.) using the search bar at the top, as I explained earlier in the Android tutorial chapter (the app works the same) and as you can see in my tutorial on how Google Photo works.
If you can recover photos you've deleted from your iPhone's Camera Roll, to return them to the iOS Photo app, select their thumbnails (tap on the first thumbnail and then tick the others), tap on the sharing icon in the top right corner (the square with the arrow inside) and tap first on the Open in... item at the end of the second line of icons, in the menu that appears on the screen, and then on the Save xx images icon, always present in the second line of icons that appears on the display of your iPhone.
If you backed up your iPhone with iTunes while the photos of your interest were still on the device's memory, you should be able to recover them by restoring the backup of your "melafonino" (as I explained in my tutorial on how to restore iPhone backups) but this operation, of course, will restore the iPhone to the state it was at the time the backup was made.
If you want to prevent this from happening, you can use third-party software and extract photos from your iTunes backup without actually using it on your "melaphone". There are lots of software to browse iTunes backups, but I personally recommend iExplorer, which is compatible with both Windows and MacOS and works very well. Unfortunately it's not free, it costs 39.99 euros, but it's available in a demo version that allows you to view all the data in iTunes backups without being able to extract them.
To download the demo version of iExplorer, linked to the official iExplorer website, click on the arrow next to the Download iExplorer button and select either for Windows or for Mac from the menu that opens, depending on whether you are using a Windows PC or Mac.
When the download is complete, if you are using a Windows PC, launch the iExplorerSetup.exe executable and, in the window that opens, click on the Yes button first and then on Install. If you are using a Mac, open the dmg package containing iExplorer and drag its icon into the Applications folder of macOS.
At this point, start iExplorer, click on the Continue with demo/Continue button in demo mode, then Browse iTunes Backup, select the iTunes backup from which you want to extract the photos from the menu, press the Photos & Videos button and browse through the various folders containing the photos in the backup to find the ones you are interested in.
Data Recovery Software
If iExplorer can't find the photos you're looking for (if you have the iCloud Photo Library enabled on your iPhone, some of the pictures in the iTunes backup may not be available because they were only saved on iCloud at the time), you can try running a direct scan of the iPhone's memory using one of the data recovery programs I reported in my tutorial on how to recover deleted iPhone photos. I warn you though: the success rates in these cases are extremely low.