Samsung’s “repair mode” lets technicians look at your phone, not your data

Samsung’s “repair mode” lets technicians look at your phone, not your data

A smartphone gets repaired.
Enlarge / A smartphone will get repaired.

Getty Photographs / krisanapong detraphiphat

Samsung is introducing an attention-grabbing new function for folks sending of their Galaxy telephones for restore: “restore mode.” When transport off your telephone, you may need to do one thing to guard your data, and the brand new function seems like a fantastic resolution. It locks down your data, however not your telephone.

Dealing with data throughout a mail-in restore course of is hard. You possibly can wipe your telephone, however that is an enormous trouble. You do not need to simply ship in a very locked down gadget, as technicians cannot completely take a look at it in the event that they’re locked out of all the things. Whereas in restore mode, technicians can nonetheless poke round in your gadget and take a look at all the things, however they will solely see the default apps with clean data. Once you get your gadget again, you’ll be able to re-authenticate and disable restore mode and you will get all your data again.

The function was first noticed by SamMobile, and Samsung has thus far solely introduced the function in a Korean press launch; it’s first launching in Korea for the Galaxy S21 (the S22 is Samsung’s newest flagship telephone). Restore mode may be turned on from the settings menu, and Samsung says (by way of Google translate), “You will not be capable of entry your private data, reminiscent of photographs, messages, and accounts,” and anybody with the telephone will “solely use the default put in apps.”  Restore mode may be exited the identical approach, although you may must authenticate with a sample, pin, or fingerprint.

Samsung would not clarify how the function works, however Android has a variety of built-in capabilities that may make it comparatively easy to implement such a function. Android helps a number of consumer accounts, which permit for a number of separate units of apps and data. It would not take a lot to lock down the first consumer and spin up a “visitor” consumer with no data for the restore folks to work with. It is also potential that Samsung is locking down all the consumer data partition. Restore technicians may get a short lived data retailer and entry to the read-only system partition, which homes all of the OS recordsdata you would wish for testing.

Nonetheless the function works, it is a fantastic thought, and it is one thing we might wish to see different producers implement. For now, restore mode is simply accessible on one mannequin of gadget and solely in Korea, however Samsung says it would get a wider rollout sooner or later.

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