Are you about to buy the latest Samsung phone or are you more Pixel? Whether you’re planning to trade in your old Android phone for a discount on your new phone, sell it on eBay, give it to a friend, or drop it off for recycling, you’ll want to erase all of your data. first by resetting it to factory conditions. Luckily, it’s fairly easy to do.
Before you begin, be aware that these instructions were tested on a Pixel 3 running Android 12, but the process for most current Android phones should be roughly the same. Needless to say, you first need to make sure that all your data is transferred to your new phone, backed up, or both. Once your old phone is reset, there is no going back.
Reset options give you four choices.
You will be reminded that you are erasing all your data and deleting your accounts from the phone.
- Go to Settings
- To select System > Reset options
- You will be presented with four choices. Reset Wi-Fi, mobile and Bluetooth is sometimes useful if you are having connectivity issues. Reset app preferences will restore all your default app and notification settings, among others. Delete downloaded SIMs will help you remove all the digital SIM cards you no longer need. However, none of these will delete your phone data. It’s the job of the last choice, Erase all data (factory reset)and that’s the one you’re going to select.
- The next screen will tell you what is going to be erased and the accounts you are logged in to. To select Erase all data.
- If you have a PIN or other security configuration, you will be prompted to enter it
- You will get another screen asking if you are sure this is what you want to do. Are you sure? Then press the Erase all data button.
That’s it! The process usually only takes two or three minutes. Your phone will restart and start with the usual opening questions, such as language, account, network, etc. Once you see them, you’ll know it worked.
There are a few things to know. First, if you have a Samsung phone, you may be asked for your Samsung account password before you can reset it (provided you created one and added it on the phone).
If you have an Android phone that uses an older version of the operating system (for example, before version 8), the reset may, after the restart, ask you for your login. This could be awkward if you have already sent the phone to someone else. Therefore, if you have an older phone, it is advisable to disable the screen lock (by going to Security > Screen lock and selecting Any) and the deletion of your Google account (which you will find on Settings > Account > google) before starting the reset. (Actually, it might be a good idea either way.)
It is proven that some data may remain on a phone even after it is reset. To be even more careful, you can encrypt the phone before resetting it:
- Go to Settings > Security > Encryption and identifiers and select encrypt phone
- Go back to your settings and start the reset process
Of course, if you want to be really of course, and you don’t intend to give the phone to anyone, you can always grab a hammer.
Updated September 3, 2020, 10:50 a.m. ET: This article was originally published on May 22, 2019 and has been updated to mention newer phones and to update a menu selection.
Updated March 24, 2022, 11:40 a.m. ET: Updated to mention newer phones and update instructions for Android 12.