Called “Repair mode”, the function introduced by Samsung offers to hide personal information from prying eyes. This mode can be activated at any time, especially during a device repair, in order to protect its data.
Entrusting your phone to a repairman is often a source of fear, and rightly so. Samsung understands this and this week kicked off the rollout of maintenance mode, a privacy protection feature for some of its Galaxy devices, after a successful pilot program in South Korea and a launch in China. This mode “can ease the anxiety of the user giving their personal device to someone for repair, by allowing users to block access to their personal information, such as their photos, messages or contacts” Samsung said in a statement. “Our whole life is on our phones, from our credit card information to family photos. With maintenance mode,
In detail, this maintenance mode is a way to create a separate user account called “guest” when the user hands over his device to be repaired. The repairer can then operate the basic functions without being able to access private information. To do this, simply select Settings > Battery and device maintenance > Maintenance mode > Turn on, then restart your smartphone. As soon as it restarts, all of his personal information, including photos, documents, and messages, will be restricted.
Korean provides an extra layer of protection
Once the maintenance mode is activated, the person to whom the device was entrusted will also not be able to recover the applications installed before. Data or accounts generated while using maintenance mode are automatically deleted as soon as the owner exits this mode. As a direct consequence, the repairer can download applications from the Galaxy Store, but these will be automatically deleted along with the data or accounts created as soon as the owner exits maintenance mode. To activate or exit it, the user can use a password or a fingerprint.
To date, Galaxy devices are protected by Knox, the firm’s defense-grade security platform, which claims that any potential threat can be discovered and neutralized more quickly. “Built-in hardware and software security protects everything on the device, from chips to user-downloaded apps,” she says. Users also have access to features such as the Security & Privacy Dashboard and Permissions Manager, so users can easily determine what happens to their data.
General availability spread over 2023
The Korean-launched privacy protection feature was first tested on the Galaxy S21 series in Korea in July and then launched in China last September. It is to be rolled out gradually worldwide to models running Android 13 and One UI 5 – the stable version of its Android 13-based OS. 5 or later, including Galaxy S21 (released late January 2021) and S22 (released early February 2022) series. Timing of availability may vary by market, model and network provider.” The Korean plans to extend its maintenance mode to other models soon, however without giving a precise date.