While a growing number of smartphone makers are offering spare parts, tools, and guides that let you repair a broken device at home, it’s probably easier for most people to take their phone to a repair shop.

Now Samsung is rolling out a software update that may allow you to do that without worrying that the repair tech will be able to se your photos, contacts, or other sensitive information.

The new Maintenance Mode feature basically lets you quickly create a second user account on your device before handing over your phone. All you have to do is:

  • Open the Settings app
  • Navigate to Battery and device care
  • Enable Maintenance Mode
  • Reboot your device

Once that’s done, a repair tech will be able to use your phone for diagnostic and testing purposes, but will not be able to access photos, documents, messages, contacts, or user-installed apps from your personal account.

And when the repair person returns your phone, any data or accounts they created will be deleted as soon as you exit Maintenance Mode and login with your own account, and any apps they installed will be removed.

Of course, this is all contingent on your device working well enough to be able to enable Maintenance Mode in the first place. If your phone doesn’t turn on or your display doesn’t work at all, you may be out of luck.

Samsung says it ran a trial of Maintenance Mode in South Korea this summer and then launched the feature in China in September. It begins rolling out globally today, starting with Samsung Galaxy S22 phones running One UI 5, but Samsung plans to expand support for Maintenance Mode to additional devices over the next year.

press release

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  1. Of course Android has had multiple user accounts for many years, which I have always used for this purpose.
    If Samsung had just not removed that in the first place, they wouldn’t need to add a Maintenance Mode – and you could still have access to multiple persistent accounts.

    1. Did they really remove the “Guest Account” feature? I figured it’s not very useful for most people, and probably only used on devices likely to be shared like; Android TV or Desk Box or maybe an indoors “large tablet” that’s shared in the family.

      I reckon a better way of solving this issue is to have, two physically separate storage chips. One encrypted secondary fast and large one that holds all your data. And a primary unencrypted unit that’s slow and small which holds your A and B partitions for the Operating System. That way the device can boot into the Base OS (into RAM) without having access to the secondary storage unit, and all the testing can be done there. From the user’s perspective there’s no differences in the overall experience.

      In certain industries, that’s the sort of thing they do. And it’s really a cheap, simple, and effective way of solving this security issue.