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How to clean your Android phone before selling or replacing it

Want to buy the latest Samsung phone or save some money on a Google Pixel 4A? Whether you’re planning to swap your old Android phone to get a discount on your new phone, sell it on eBay, give it away to a friend, or drop it off for recycling, you’ll want to wipe it off all your data first. to restore it to factory conditions. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to do.

Before you begin, be aware that these instructions were originally intended for a Pixel 3 XL running Android 9 and were recently checked on an original Pixel running Android 10. But the process for most current Android phones should be about the same. Of course, you must first make sure that all your data is transferred to your new phone, backed up or both. Once your old phone has been restored, there is no going back.

  • Go to Settings
  • Choose System> Advanced> Reset Options
  • You will be presented with three choices. “Reset Wi-Fi, mobile and Bluetooth” is sometimes useful if you have connection problems. “Reset app settings” resets all your app and notification settings, among other things. None of these will delete data on your phone. This is the third option, “Delete all data (factory reset)”, and this is the one to choose.
  • You will receive a warning screen reminding you that your data will be deleted, along with all the accounts you are currently logged in to. Select “Reset Phone.”
  • If you have a PIN or other security setting, you will be asked 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 “Delete all” button.

That’s all! The process usually takes only two or three minutes. Your phone restarts and starts with the usual opening questions, such as language, account, network, etc. When you see them, you know it has worked.

There are some things to be aware of. First, if you have a Samsung phone, you will be asked for your Samsung password before you can reset it (provided you have created one and added it to your phone).

If you have an Android phone that is using an earlier version of the operating system (say before version 8), the reset may, after restarting, ask for your login. This can be difficult if you have already sent the phone to someone else. As a result, if you have an older phone, it’s a good idea to turn off the screen lock (by going to Security> Screen Lock and selecting “None”) and deleting your Google Account (found in Settings> Account> Google) before starting the recovery.

There is evidence that some data may remain on a phone even after it has been restored. To be extra careful, you can encrypt the phone before resetting it:

  • Go to Settings> Security> Advanced> Encryption & credentials and select “Encrypt phone”
  • Return to Settings and start the recovery process

Of course, if you want to be really Sure, and you are not going to give the phone to anyone, you can always take a hammer.

Updated September 3, 2020, 10:50 AM ET: This article was originally published on May 22, 2019 and has been updated to mention newer phones and to update a menu selection.

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