Leaving your phone at the service center, even one officially authorized by the manufacturer, has the potential to be a real nightmarish experience. Will the data on your phone be safe from prying eyes? Or can you even expect to get it back with all data intact? Companies like iFixit, Apple, and Google are all helping out with the option for you to repair your devices yourself, but Samsung seems to have a simpler solution in the form of its new Repair Mode feature.
It's almost surprising we had to wait so long before a major smartphone OEM both recognized and responded with a solution to our repair anxiety, but at least we have one now. Once activated, Samsung's Repair Mode would ensure technicians can only access basic apps required to perform the work your Galaxy smartphone needs while ensuring your personal files, user accounts, photos, videos, and other data remain off-limits.
You'll be able to activate Repair Mode under the Battery and Device Care menu in the Settings app (via SamMobile). Once enabled, the phone will reboot and the service technician's access will be limited to default apps. After the repair is complete, you can regain access to your data by rebooting the device and unlocking it. When you deactivate Repair Mode, all device settings will be returned to their pre-activation state, and any files needed during the repair process will be removed.
Samsung's initially making Repair Mode available on the Galaxy S21 series through a software update, with plans to bring it to other models in due course. We still have plenty of questions about how all this will work, including details on the release timeline and which devices will be supported. It also seems obvious that not all manner of repairs would support this mode — it's hard to see how this could possibly survive a full mainboard swap, and maybe even some firmware updates.
While it is great to see brands taking initiative to protect customer data, we strongly suggest you back up all your important files anyway before handing your phone over to the technicians — better safe than sorry!