Long story short, idiot family member never backs up photos, phone got stuck in a boot loop somehow and I cannot reset the phone without wiping all of the data on the phone, for example all of his pictures and videos he took. Is there any way I can access the data on the phone? Any good recovery tools, ways to trick my PC into thinking it's a HDD, bypassing Android etc. It's a basic Samsung Galaxy S5 from T-Mobile with official Samsung bootloader. Can yah helpsss me! slides on knees Or is he SOL?
Depends on the phone manufacturer, if its one of the less popular models you're probably SOL.
In case the phone is encrypted, your SOL too^^
It is a samsung Galaxy s5
...Have you even tried entering the recovery mode???
He's pretty screwed. Maybe he can try to boot the S5 into an OS on an SD Card and read the data off the internal storage, if he's good enough to do that, and if it's even possible on the S5. If not, take it to an actual PROFESSIONAL (not some shit $70 computer store) data recovery specialist. They'll charge like $300-$400, but if the data is that valuable to you, do it. What they'll most likely do is remove the Flash IC from the phone, and extract the raw data off of it, something you most likely can't do.
I'll probably have to go that route then. I wish I had the tools to do it myself, because then I would. what does removing the flash IC involve?
A hot-air rework station, solder, a really small tipped soldering iron.
Usually when an SSD is corrupted, data recovery services will remove the flash IC from the PCB using a hot air rework station, then solder really small wires directly to the flash IC and connect those wires up to a device which can decrypt and read the raw flash data.
You most likely can't do it, unless you were an electrical engineer who has hundreds of dollars for the right equipment and could find the schematic for the flash IC, and know where to put the wires and hook it up to what.
No, I cannot do it, I just know the basics as to how it's done from researching the topic.
Depending on how badly corrupt the O.S, and depending on the circuit board, there may be other ways to still recover the data.
For instance, some circuit boards allow you to extract the raw data without removing the IC via round gold points on the PCB. However, because you mentioned that it is an S5, I highly doubt it will. Most cell phone components come pre-programmed before being laid on the PCB, so the manufacturer can save space and not include those gold points on the PCB, plus it saves in cost.
Another way which you may be able to do is dual boot the S5 via a microSD. You risk accidentally deleting all of the data on the internal flash, and it may not even work, depending on how corrupt the phone is, however, it's worth a shot. Look up whether you can do it on your S5, how to do it, and the risks. This would be basically one of the only ways for you to get your data back, however, I doubt it would work even if you somehow could get the dual boot working.
Your best bet is taking it to a data recovery service, if the data on the device is very important to the individual.
Edit: For the curious, here is a PDF document explaining how to extra the raw data off of a flash IC. It basically says everything that I wrote above, but it goes more into detail. The flash IC he used, however, is different from the ones used in cell phones. The ones used in cell phones will be BGA, while that is not BGA.
Edit 2: To read BGA data, normally really small wires are soldered on, however, a device like this can be used: http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/eMCP-socket-to-SD-for-BGA-221-testing-size-11-5x13mm-eMCP-programmer-Clamshell-structure/1795049_32339197835.html
However, not all flash IC's are the same, so that may not work on every single one. I wouldn't be surprised if each flash IC would have a different pin layout underneath (the same pins won't input/output the same data on every flash ic).
Root the phone with CF autoroot, install a custom recovery and dump your files with ADB.
first off, i like your use of profanity in the title.
second off, good luck.