Samsung Galaxy phones just got a new feature to protect your privacy

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra S Pen drawing
(Image credit: Samsung)

We’ve been anticipating a repair mode from Samsung for a while, but it looks like we won’t be waiting much longer.

As of today (October 26), Samsung is rolling out Maintenance Mode, which looks to be the official name for the phone maker's previously rumored repair mode. This new feature is designed to protect the privacy of Galaxy phone users who are getting their phone repaired. When using Maintenance Mode, users can block access to important personal information such as photos, messages or contacts while still providing essential access to technicians.

The Maintenance Mode feature was tested on the Samsung Galaxy S21 series in Korea and China over the summer, and it's now rolling out globally. Samsung says it will gradually roll out over the next few months to select devices running its One UI 5 version of Android 13. This rollout will start with Samsung Galaxy S22 models and then presumably continue on to select Galaxy S21 models at some point given that the S21 models have already done some beta testing of the feature. 

Maintenance Mode: How it works 

Samsung Maintenance Mode on a One UI 5 Samsung Galaxy device

(Image credit: Samsung)

The way that Maintenance Mode works is by creating a separate user account for the technician to use while your phone is being repaired. This way, technicians still have access to the functions of the device but none of your sensitive personal information. Once Maintenance Mode is activated, any user-installed apps will be locked out as well. 

Furthermore, the feature will even delete any data or accounts generated during the duration of Maintenance Mode as soon as the user or technician exits the feature. Technicians will be able to download apps while in Maintenance Mode, but only through the Samsung Galaxy store. These apps will also be deleted once the user exits Maintenance Mode.

To activate Maintenance Mode, select Battery and Device Care within the Settings app. Then select Maintenance Mode and reboot your device. Upon restarting, Maintenance Mode will be activated and your sensitive personal information will be restricted.

Maintenance Mode versus the competition 

iPhone 14 Pro Max vs Galaxy S22 Ultra

(Image credit: Future)

There are not many devices out on the market with this Maintenance Mode feature — especially in the U.S. In fact, having your phone worked on has traditionally been a privacy nightmare. Last year, Apple reportedly paid millions to a woman who had her private photos posted online by iPhone repair technicians.

So this Maintenance Mode feature could be a major exclusive for the Samsung Galaxy lineup if it works well, at least until the competition catches up. Currently, the Samsung Galaxy S22 phones eligible for Maintenance Mode are the only U.S. smartphones to have a privacy feature of this nature. Huawei phones have a similar feature (also called Maintenance Mode), but they are currently banned from sale in the U.S. and some other countries. 

Malcolm McMillan
Senior Streaming Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a senior writer for Tom's Guide, covering all the latest in streaming TV shows and movies. That means news, analysis, recommendations, reviews and more for just about anything you can watch, including sports! If it can be seen on a screen, he can write about it. Previously, Malcolm had been a staff writer for Tom's Guide for over a year, with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), A/V tech and VR headsets.

Before writing for Tom's Guide, Malcolm worked as a fantasy football analyst writing for several sites and also had a brief stint working for Microsoft selling laptops, Xbox products and even the ill-fated Windows phone. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.