Samsung’s ‘Repair Mode’ Will Hide Your Data From Sketchy Repair Techs

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No one likes to deal with a busted phone, but deleting all your personal data before you have it patched up makes matters even worse. Samsung has added a new feature to some of its phones that could alleviate this headache. The new Repair Mode will keep your private data private, no matter who’s going to be tinkering with your phone in the repair shop. 

If you’ve ever needed to have your phone repaired, you might have been advised to reset it or remove your secure lock. Technicians often need access to the phone’s software to complete or test a fix, and you don’t want to leave your data accessible if you can avoid it. Some people will take any opportunity to snoop in search of racy pics and valuable personal data. Personally, I always remove all my personal data before I leave a phone with someone else, but Repair Mode could make things easier. 

So far, this feature is only available on the Galaxy S21 family in South Korea. The feature lives in the Battery and Device Care menu of the settings, says Samsung (Korean). After enabling Repair Mode, your phone will reboot with all of your personal data locked down. Repair Mode gives techs access to the base Android OS along with the pre-installed apps. However, none of your apps, messages, or photos will be visible. That should provide everything they need to complete a repair, like swapping a display or battery. 

Your data will remain intact on the phone. So, once you get it back, you can enter your password or PIN in settings to boot the phone into standard mode with all your stuff visible again. That’s bound to be much faster and less annoying than rebuilding from a factory reset. Samsung hasn’t offered many details on how Repair Mode works, but it’s probably tied into the company’s Knox security platform that controls data security and boot validation. 

Samsung plans to expand Repair Mode to more phones in the future, according to Ars Technica. It’s telling the company started with last year’s flagship phones in just one market, so it might be a while. We are expecting a new version of Samsung’s One UI to arrive later this year based on Android 13. Perhaps Repair Mode will be bundled in that for more phones, but most devices won’t see that software until 2023. Or, you could just do repairs yourself with replacement parts made available through iFixit. 

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