"It now appears as though the F.B.I. seized on the San Bernardino case as an opportunity to pursue a policy agenda that it has had for years, and that it oversold its case. The agency said that it was unable to unlock the iPhone 5C without Apple’s assistance. But as Daniel Kahn Gillmor, a technology fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union, pointed out in a blog post published on March 7th, this claim didn’t ring entirely true. In his piece, which included pictures of an iPhone 5C’s circuit board, Gillmor described how investigators could work around the auto-erase feature by removing the device’s NAND flash memory and backing it up, then trying every conceivable four-digit passcode combination. “If the FBI doesn’t have the equipment or expertise to do this, they can hire any one of dozens of data recovery firms that specialize in information extraction from digital devices,” he wrote. It’s not known for certain if the F.B.I. used the method that Gillmor recommended to get into Farook’s phone. But the post suggested that the Bureau hadn’t exhausted all of the technological possibilities for accessing the data. This may damage its credibility if it gets into a similar legal dispute in the future."
Lessons from Apple vs. the F.B.I. - The New Yorker