Samsung develops Repair Mode – understand what it is

Deepak Gupta July 30, 2022
Updated 2022/07/30 at 2:07 PM

Samsung is introducing an exciting new feature for people who send their Galaxy smartphones in for repair: the “repair mode”. When shipping your smartphone, you might want to do something to protect your data, and the new feature sounds like a great solution.

Find out what it is and how this mode helps protect your privacy.

Mode locks your data but not your Samsung

Handling data during a repair process is difficult. You can clean your smartphone, but that's a big hassle, but you also don't want to simply ship a device that's completely blocked, as technicians can't test it if all accesses are blocked.

While in "repair mode", technicians can still tinker with your device and test everything, but they will only see the pre-installed applications and without any data. When you recover your device, you can re-authenticate and disable repair mode and you will get all your data back.

The functionality was first discovered by SamMobile, and so far Samsung has only announced the feature in a Korean press release; is the first Korean release for the Galaxy S21 (the S22 is Samsung's latest smartphone).

Repair mode can be turned on from the Settings menu, and Samsung says, "You won't be able to access your personal data, such as photos, messages, and accounts", and anyone with the smartphone "will only use apps installed by default". Repair mode can be turned off in the same way, although it is necessary to authenticate with a pattern, a pin, or a fingerprint.

Samsung doesn't explain how this mode works, but Android has a number of built-in capabilities that would make it relatively simple to implement the same. Android supports multiple user accounts, which allows for multiple separate sets of apps and data. It wouldn't take much to lock down the main user and spin a "guest" user with no data for the repair people to work on.

It is also possible that Samsung is blocking the entire user data partition. Repair technicians could gain temporary data storage and access to the read-only system partition, which houses all the operating system files that would be needed for testing.

A feature with a future

This feature is a great idea, and it's something we'd like to see other vendors implement. For now, the repair mode is only available on one device model and only in Korea, but Samsung says it will have a wider implementation in the future.

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