Samsung’s new privacy feature for Galaxy phones will protect your photos from prying eyes

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Image: Getty Images/Morsa Images

Samsung has announced the global rollout of “Maintenance Mode”, a new feature for some Galaxy devices that aims to prevent repairers from accessing customers’ private info when devices are handed over for fixing.

Samsung earlier this year trialled what it then called ‘Repair Mode’ for some Galaxy phones in Korea. At the stage it was unclear if the privacy-enhancing feature would be rolled out elsewhere. Now it says it is rolling out worldwide after a successful pilot on Galaxy S21 series in Korea in July. The feature launched in China in September.

The global roll out starts with Galaxy S22 devices and will continue “over the next few months on select models running One UI 5”, Samsung’s UI for Android.

Once Maintenance Mode arrives, Galaxy users can select Maintenance Mode in the “Battery and device care” menu within Settings and then reboot their smartphone before handing it over for repair.

Once rebooted, the user’s personal information including their photos, documents and messages will be restricted. Samsung recommends users back up any personal data before activating Maintenance Mode.

“Once Maintenance Mode is switched on, the person who was entrusted with the device won’t be able to retrieve user-installed apps either. Data or accounts generated when using Maintenance Mode are automatically deleted as soon as the owner exits Maintenance Mode. They will be able to download apps on Galaxy Store, but those 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 do happen. Apple last year settled a lawsuit over two technicians at an official Apple repair partner who allegedly leaked sensitive photos and videos they obtained while repairing a customer’s iPhone.

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