Samsung has announced the global rollout of “maintenance mode,” a new feature for select Galaxy devices that aims to prevent repairers from accessing customers’ private information when devices are handed in for repair.
Earlier this year, Samsung tested what it then called “Repair Mode” in Korea for select Galaxy phones. At the time, it was unclear whether this privacy feature would be rolled out elsewhere. Today, the company says it is rolling out globally after a successful pilot on the Galaxy S21 series in Korea in July. The feature was launched in China in September.
The global rollout begins with Galaxy S22 devices and will continue “over the next few months on select models running One UI 5”, Samsung’s user interface for Android.
Restricted access to personal data
Once Maintenance Mode arrives, Galaxy users can select it from the “Battery & Device Care” menu in Settings, then restart their smartphone before taking it to a repairer.
Once restarted, user’s personal information including photos, documents and messages will be restricted. Samsung recommends that users back up all personal data before enabling Maintenance Mode.
“Once maintenance mode is activated, the person entrusted with the device will also not be able to recover any applications installed by the user. Any data or accounts generated while using maintenance mode are automatically deleted as soon as owner exits maintenance mode. They will be able to download apps from the Galaxy Store, but these will be automatically deleted, along with any data or accounts created, as soon as the owner exits maintenance mode,” Samsung notes.
Data theft during repairs happens. Last year, Apple settled a lawsuit involving two technicians from an official Apple repair partner who allegedly leaked sensitive photos and videos obtained while repairing a customer’s iPhone.