How to factory reset a smartphone (Android, iPhone and Windows Phone tutorial)

How to factory reset a smartphone (Android, iPhone and Windows Phone tutorial)
Sometimes you just need to get rid of all your personal data before you sell a device.

The easiest way to do this is something called factory reset - an option that allows you to bring your smartphone to the state it was in right out of the factory floor. No personal photos, no sensitive documents, nothing that you may otherwise forget to delete will get in the hands of other people.

So how do you do it?

Disclaimer: Once you do a factory reset, ALL of your personal data - including photos and all other documents - will be deleted off your phone and there will be no way to get it back. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE BACKED UP ALL YOUR IMPORTANT DATA FIRST.

On Android


If your phone is fully functional (you haven’t messed up something while playing with custom ROMs, for instance), all it takes is:

1. Go into Settings -> ‘Backup & Reset’
2. Select ‘Factory data reset’
3. Then tap on ‘Reset phone’
4. Finally, touch ‘Erase everything’ and wait a few minutes until it’s all done. That’s it!

This is the exact steps you should follow on just about any Android smartphone or tablet - you can factory reset the Samsung Galaxy S5 this way, Note 3, the HTC One (M8), the LG G3, Sony Xperia Z2, Moto X, Moto G, and many others.

In case your smartphone is not starting up properly, you’d need some other tactics. Do the following:

1. Power your gadget off.
2. Hold down the Volume Down key and the Power/Lock key simultaneously for a few seconds. (This way you ‘fastboot’ your Android device)
3. After letting go, you’d see a menu with several options. Navigate using ONLY the volume down key. Go to ‘Factory’ and select it by pressing the volume up key. Your phone will do the rest of the magic, and will restore itself to factory settings in just a few minutes.

On iPhone


1. Go into ‘Settings’ and select the ‘General’ tab
2. Next, you’ll see many options, but what we’re looking for here is to ‘Erase All Content and Settings’
3. Tap on it and confirm your intentions to wipe all iPhone data clean.
4. Your iPhone will start doing its magic and in a few minutes it will reboot completely clean and fresh, as if it was just out of the factory floor.

Note that this tutorial will work with the latest versions of iOS with phones like the iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5, iPhone 4s, etc.


On Windows Phone


1. Go into ‘Settings’ and scroll down to the ‘About’ tab. Select it.
2. There, you’d see a ‘reset your phone’ button.
3. Just tap on it, and confirm that you indeed want to delete all of your data.
4. A short wait of just a few minutes, and you’d have a factory reset phone. That’s it!

Note that this tutorial will work with the latest versions of Windows Phone with phones like the Nokia Lumia 1020, Lumia 520, etc.

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10 Comments

1. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

As was covered on PA recently, on most if not all Android devices, a factory reset doesn't clear your data. So before you perform any sort of factory reset, download two or three well regarded wipe apps and run them on the phone. Then do the factory reset.

2. Scott93274

Posts: 6031; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

You talk a lot of crap... but you are correct here, at least for people running Android before jellybean.

8. vincelongman

Posts: 5677; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Easy way is to do an encrypted factory reset All your data is still technically on the memory, but its encrypted so no one will know what the data is

9. sprockkets

Posts: 1612; Member since: Jan 16, 2012

And unless you obtain root, you won't have any access to any method to even read the memory at a low level. And flash memory isn't going to yield anything worthwhile on how it stores it.

3. javy108

Posts: 1004; Member since: Jul 27, 2014

On WP there is a way to perfom a Master Reset with hard keys hehe. But this is a nice article.

4. sip1995

Posts: 1771; Member since: Feb 07, 2014

I learned that from Windows phone support...

5. fzacek

Posts: 2486; Member since: Jan 26, 2014

Seriously PA, another snail news article?...

6. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

Yea, it is called sunday, the weekends is when all their editors (who are mainly copying and pasting from other sites and therefore, all their source editors) have time off.

7. Planterz

Posts: 2120; Member since: Apr 30, 2012

Firstly, it's good information. Some of their articles like this aren't all that good, or state the well known or extremely obvious, but this one has good info. Yes, you can simply google it and find the info, but that's also the point. PA is a high-traffic site. Now, with this article, if someone googles "how to factory reset Android/windows/iphone smartphone", PA will be one of the top hits, which gives them more hits (advertising), and might bring more frequent viewers. It's not just a "we have nothing better to do and it's a slow news day" article.

10. sprockkets

Posts: 1612; Member since: Jan 16, 2012

"Go to ‘Factory’ and select it by pressing the volume up key. Your phone will do the rest of the magic, and will restore itself to factory settings in just a few minutes." This is not what you think it is - on Moto phones for example, like the one in the picture, it actually activates factory level tools - it does not reset the phone. IF you are on that screen, you have to use fastboot commands to do it.

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