Samsung New Feature: Hide Photos during a Phone Repair

Samsung’s Korean press site stated that the company hopes to end that with a new privacy feature called Repair Mode. It’ll give technicians limited access to your phone’s innards.

From the sound of it, they’ll be able to access enough to make the fix but not so much to leak your pics.

Handing your phone — full of photos, texts, and other personal private info — to a repair person can feel dicey. After all, the horrifying reality of having your data leaked during the repair process has happened to some people.

This feature is coming first to Galaxy S21 phones in South Korea. The company plans to expand support to other models in the future. It’s coming to the Galaxy S21 series in South Korea, but there’s no US confirmation yet.

As noted in the translated press release, you’ll eventually be able to switch on the feature through the “Battery and Device Care” section within the built-in Settings app. After that, the phone will reboot into Repair Mode, and your accounts, photos, and messages will be hidden.

Only the default installed apps will be accessible by the repair person or anyone else who touches your phone during the process. And only you will get to decide when to turn off Repair Mode.

So far, Samsung hasn’t confirmed whether Repair Mode will arrive in other regions or exactly which phones will support the feature. The Verge has reached out to Samsung for comment. Of course, depending on what needs fixing, you may be able to repair yourself when iFixit starts stocking official Samsung components later this summer.

iFixit is an American e-commerce and how-to website that sells repair parts and publishes free wiki-like online repair guides for consumer electronics and gadgets. The company also performs product tear-downs of consumer devices. It is a private company in San Luis Obispo, California, founded in 2003. It was spurred by Kyle Wiens’s inability to locate an Apple iBook G3 repair manual while the company’s founders were attending Cal Poly.

iFixit has released product tear-downs of new mobile and laptop devices that advertise the company’s parts and equipment sales. These tear-downs have been reviewed by PC World, The Mac Observer, NetworkWorld, and other publications.

Co-founder Kyle Wiens has said that he aims to reduce electronic waste by teaching people to repair their gear and offering tools, parts, and a forum to discuss repairs. In 2011, he traveled through Africa with a documentary team to meet a community of electronics technicians who repair and rebuild the world’s discarded electronics.

iFixit provides a software as a service platform is known as Dozuki to allow others to use iFixit’s documentation framework to produce their documentation. (O’Reilly Media’s Make and Craft magazines use Dozuki to feature community guides alongside instructions initially written by the staff for the print magazine.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, iFixit and CALPIRG, the California arm of the Public Interest Research Group, worked with hospitals and medical research facilities to gather the most significant database of medical equipment manuals and repair guides to support the healthcare industry during the pandemic.

In September 2015, Apple removed the iFixit app from the App Store in reaction to the company’s publication of a tear-down of a developer pre-release version of the Apple TV (4th generation) obtained under Apple’s Developer Program violating a signed Non-Disclosure Agreement and accordingly, their developer account was suspended. In response, iFixit says it has worked on improving its mobile site for users to access its services through a mobile browser.

In April 2019, it was revealed that some Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift S devices contain a physical Easter egg reading “Hi iFixit! We See You!” demonstrating that device manufacturers are aware of iFixit.

Samsung is a South Korean global manufacturing conglomerate headquartered in Samsung Town, Seoul, South Korea. It comprises numerous affiliated businesses, most united under the Samsung brand, and is the largest South Korean chaebol. As of 2020, Samsung holds the 8th highest global brand value.

Lee Byung-Chul founded Samsung in 1938 as a trading company. Over the next three decades, the business diversified into food processing, textiles, insurance, securities, and retail. Samsung merged the electronics industry in the late 1960s and the construction and shipbuilding industries in the mid-1970s; these areas would force its subsequent growth. Following Lee’s death in 1987, Samsung was separated into five business groups – Samsung Group, CJ Group, Hansol Group, Shinsegae Group, and Joongang Group.

Notable Samsung industrial affiliates include Samsung Electronics, Samsung Heavy Industries, Samsung Engineering, and Samsung C&T Corporation. Other significant subsidiaries include Samsung Life Insurance, Samsung Everland, and Cheil Worldwide.

The lineup includes four devices, with the Galaxy S21 initially being the least costly with a smaller screen size and polycarbonate back, which the Galaxy S21 FE then undercuts with the same material minus the camera bump polycarbonate than metal. In distinction to the Galaxy S20+, the Galaxy S21+ is very similar to the S21 spec-wise, except with a larger display, higher battery capacity, and back glass rather than plastic.

The Galaxy S21 Ultra has an even bigger screen size, battery, and a host of other advances over the other models, including a more advanced camera setup highlighted by its 108 MP primary sensor with laser auto-focus and a more high resolution 1440p display. In addition, the S21 Ultra is the initial phone in the Galaxy S series to keep the S Pen, albeit sold individually and with limited functionality.

The Galaxy S21 series has a design comparable to its predecessor, with an Infinity-O display including a circular cutout in the top middle for the front selfie camera. The S21 and S21 FE’s back panel is reinforced polycarbonate, equivalent to the S20 FE and Note 20, while the S21 Ultra and S21+ employ Gorilla Glass Victus. The rear camera array holds been integrated into the phone body except for the S21 FE, made out of reinforced polycarbonate combined on the back cover and has a metallic surround; the S21 Ultra has a carbon fiber camera surround for exclusive colors.