It is becoming increasingly difficult for phone companies to provide trustworthy after-sales services in the modern world. While some have taken the matter into their own hands and are fighting big tech companies to let the users repair their smartphones in the comfort of their homes, many of us still visit a service center when a repair is needed. And even handing your smartphone for repair isn't safe anymore.
Samsung's new Repair Mode feature for Galaxy smartphones aims to solve at least one of the problems users face when giving away their smartphones for repair — protecting their data while their phone is in the hands of the technician. In the article below, we talk all about how Samsung Repair Mode works, how you can enable it on your Galaxy smartphone, and other precautions that you should take when you send in your smartphone for repair.
What is Samsung Repair Mode?
Samsung Repair Mode is for those who do not wish to wipe their device before sending it for repair or let the technicians access their personal information. The Repair Mode will give limited access to the technicians who fix your phone. Once you enable it on your Samsung Galaxy device, all of your personal data, including pictures, messages, files, apps, and accounts, will be hidden from the technicians.
It won't completely lock down the device. Instead, the technician will be able to use the device in the default state with blank data, so they can still poke around and test your device thoroughly. And once the phone is fully fixed, you will be able to disable the repair mode and get back all the data. This is especially useful for those who want their data to remain private when they send their smartphone for repairs.
How it works
Samsung doesn't (explicitly) explain how the repair mode works, but Android has a couple of built-in tools that make it easy to implement such a feature. Android supports multiple user profiles, so Samsung could just be generating a "guest" user with no personal data of the user. Alternatively, Samsung may be locking the entire user data partition. Nonetheless, the repair technicians only get access to a read-only system partition that houses all the files they might require for testing, and your personal data remains safe.
How to enable Repair Mode before sending in your phone for repair?
Once the Repair Mode is available on your Samsung smartphone (learn more about the feature's availability here), enabling the feature is fairly straightforward. On your Galaxy smartphone, head over to Settings → Battery and Device Care → Repair Mode → Enable. After you tap Enable, a pop-up will appear asking you to generate a log.
These logs contain essential information for repairs, such as recent app crashes, and help the technician better understand your smartphone's problem. Samsung notes that logs contain no personal information of the user.
Upon generating the log, your smartphone will restart in Repair Mode. As noted above, the technician will only be able to see your default apps and settings in Repair Mode, thereby protecting your privacy.
How to exit Repair Mode after receiving your phone back?
Once your smartphone's repair is complete, the technician will return the phone to you with Repair Mode enabled. To exit Repair Mode and get back access to your data, just restart your Samsung Galaxy smartphone as you normally would. After you authenticate it using a password or PIN, the phone will return back to its pre-activation state. It's also important to note that any file downloaded during the repair process will be permanently deleted from the device.
Samsung Repair Mode: Compatible devices and availability
For now, Samsung Repair Mode is available only on the Galaxy S21 series in Korea. The company is initially testing the feature exclusively on the Galaxy S21 series in Korea but says it will be expanded to other flagship smartphones and regions in the near future.
Other precautionary steps that you should take before sending in your device for repair
Here are some of the best practices you should always follow when you hand in your smartphone for repair:
Backup your phone: Even though Samsung is making it easier to hide personal data, it is strongly advised to take a backup of all your important files before sending in your smartphone for repair. In case things go south or the repair requires a hardware change, say a full mainboard swap, Repair Mode won't be able to help much.
Remove your SIM card and external storage card: If your SIM or external storage card falls into the wrong hands, then it may be misused. So it's important to remove the SIM card (and eSIM if your smartphone supports it) and microSD card from your smartphone before repairs.
Take note of your IMEI: International Mobile Equipment Identity or IMEI is a unique fifteen-digit number every phone has. The IMEI will allow you to determine if the phone you received after the repair is the same one you handed over instead of another unit of the same brand and model.