Cell Phone Forensics Tools: An Overview and Analysis

Published: October 19, 2005


Richard P. Ayers, Wayne Jansen, Nicolas Cilleros, Ronan Daniellou


Cell phones and other handheld devices incorporating cell phone capabilities (e.g., Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) phones) are ubiquitous. Rather than just placing calls, certain phones allow users to perform additional tasks such as SMS (Short Message Service) messaging, Multi-Media Messaging Service (MMS) messaging, IM (Instant Messaging), electronic mail, Web browsing, and basic PIM (Personal Information Management) applications (e.g., phone and date book). PDA phones, often referred to as smart phones, provide users with the combined capabilities of both a cell phone and a PDA. In addition to network services and basic PIM applications, one can manage more extensive appointment and contact information, review electronic documents, give a presentation, and perform other tasks. All but the most basic phones provide individuals with some ability to load additional applications, store and process personal and sensitive information independently of a desktop or notebook computer, and optionally synchronize the results at some later time. As digital technology evolves, the capabilities of these devices continue to improve rapidly. When cell phones or other cellular devices are involved in a crime or other incident, forensic examiners require tools that allow the proper retrieval and speedy examination of information present on the device. This report gives an overview of current forensic software, designed for acquisition, examination, and reporting of data discovered on cellular handheld devices, and an understanding of their capabilities and limitations.
Citation: NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 7250
Report Number:
Pub Type: NIST Pubs


cell phone forensics, computer forensics, cell phones, mobile devices
Created October 19, 2005, Updated November 10, 2018