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Samsung privacy-protecting Maintenance Mode is coming to Galaxy S22s worldwide

Samsung privacy-protecting Maintenance Mode is coming to Galaxy S22s worldwide


It’s designed to keep your data away from snooping repair people

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Illustration of Samsung’s logo on a black, blue, and aqua background.
It’ll be coming to more devices throughout 2022 and 2023.
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Samsung is starting to roll out a “Maintenance Mode” feature for its phones that’s designed to keep your messages, photos, info, and accounts safe when you’re getting your phone repaired. The company’s been testing the feature since July and launched it in China last month, but now it’s launching worldwide for the Galaxy S22, with more phones coming in the next few months.

According to Samsung’s press release, Maintenance Mode basically creates a separate user account that will let someone access “core functions” of the phone without being able to see any of your data. That means a repair tech will still be able to test your phone, but you won’t have to worry about them seeing anything they shouldn’t. Once you get your phone back, you can unlock it to turn off Maintenance Mode, which will also undo anything that was done while the phone was being repaired (e.g., test photos will be erased, new apps will be uninstalled, and settings changes will be reversed).

Screenshot showing the screen to turn on maintenance mode, reading: Maintenance mode protects your privacy while someone else is using your phone, such as when you’re sending it for repairs. In Maintenance mode, your personal data, including pictures, messages, and accounts, can’t be accessed, and only preinstalled apps can be used. You’ll need to unlock your phone to turn off Maintenance mode. When you do, everything will go back to the way it was when Maintenance mode was first turned on.
Samsung does recommend backing up your data before turning it on, just in case something goes wrong.
Image: Samsung

To turn on Maintenance Mode, go to Settings > Battery and Device Care > Maintenance Mode.

Samsung says the feature will be “gradually rolling out over the next few months” to select phones running the Android 13-based One UI 5 — if you want an idea of when your phone might be getting that update, check out this article. It’ll also roll out to “more Galaxy devices” throughout next year. The company does warn, however, that the “timing of availability may vary by market, model and network provider,” as updates can take a while to filter through carriers.

There have been some high-profile incidents where people sent phones in for repair and ended up having personal photos leaked, one of which resulted in Apple paying out millions to settle a case. While DIY repair options like the ones offered by Samsung, Apple, and Google are probably the best way to keep your data safe, it’s good to see that there’s work being done on the software side as well and that those features are starting to make it onto customers’ phones.