People forget things. It happens. Maybe you set the phone up and placed it down to process any and all updates it has to go through, or charge up to full capacity, and came back to a locked screen and a vague memory of the super-secure PIN you used to protect it.
Hoping you have a Samsung
One of the best thing about most modern smartphones is that they’re fairly difficult to break into—if you’ve taken the time to really lock them down. In fact, if someone attempts to guess their way past your password or PIN code, they’re usually stymied with a forced delay after a number of failed attempts. And once they hit a magical number of incorrect guesses, usually 10, a number of phones can automatically nuke themselves. In other words, the phone will wipe-and-reset itself under the assumption that you, the owner, couldn’t have forgotten your password that hard.
In this case, your phone is safely in your control; you just can’t get into it. You can’t enter supplemental information about yourself to authenticate as you. In fact, the best you get in these situations is a prompt for your secondary authentication method (a PIN or password) if, for example, your device’s biometrics fail to recognize that you’re you.
Again, this is a good thing, because if someone was able to get their hands on your device, all they might need is a little information about you—for example, your birthday and your primary email address—to slip past your lock screen.
However: If you have a Samsung that you already associated with a Samsung ID, you can use the company’s “Find My Mobile” feature to unlock your phone via the web.
How to factory reset your Android
Generally speaking, you’ll want to boot into your phone’s Recovery menu, which will require you to hold some combination of the volume and power buttons. I can’t tell you what these are, exactly, as the can vary by device and manufacturer. Do a quick web search for your phone’s model and “recovery mode,” and you’ll find the answers. Eventually, you’ll reset your phone and make it to a scary-looking screen—something that looks very, very different than the Android operating system you’re used to.
What if you’re a forgetful Apple fan?
For those of you with an iPhone, the process is generally the same: You’ll have to reset your iPhone and start anew or restore it from a backup if you forget your PIN. Apple doesn’t provide a way to unlock your iPhone remotely via Find My.
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