How to unlock a PIN or pattern-protected Android smartphone

How to unlock a PIN or pattern-protected Android smartphone
If, for whatever reason, you have managed to get yourself locked out of your smartphone — because you forgot your PIN or pattern, say — you have a pretty hard-to-swallow choices in front of you. One, just ditch the device, and two, reset it and lose your data, but gain access to it once again.

How do you do that, though? After all, you can't access the Settings menu to do it, and there's nothing else you can do whilst confined to the lock screen. Thankfully, there's a way through this, though it includes having to go through your phone's recovery — a limited boot mode that is independent of your Android OS (for most intents and purposes). Typically, it's used to flash (or install) system updates and wipe data when talking the built-in version available with your device out of the box, though you can actually install a third-party, custom recovery with more features and better functionality.

Since installing a custom recovery isn't exactly like downloading an app from the Play Store, it should come as good news that you don't actually need one to reclaim ownership of your device, and you can just use the recovery already available with your phone. Here's how to do it:

* NOTE: Some smartphones -may- have protection built into their recovery, making this method invalid.

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38 Comments

1. arch_angel

Posts: 1651; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

To Late I've Already Used It For Evil MWAHAHAHA.

12. PhenomFaz

Posts: 1236; Member since: Sep 26, 2012

Isn't it like MUAH HA HA HA HA HA! But seriously now every half-wit knows how to crack someone's stolen Android device. Good Going PA

22. arch_angel

Posts: 1651; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

Yeah That's The Laugh I Was Looking For LOL. And IKR But I Already Knew How And I Only Used It To Erase My Friend's Locked Devices As A Prank.

30. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Well yes an no. All the Samsung devices I buy are activation locked to my Samsung account. So yes you can wipe them, but you wont be able to activate them without knowing my Samsung account password.

24. j2001m

Posts: 3061; Member since: Apr 28, 2014

This does not work on Samsung phone with a lock on them and is linked to your Samsung account, you need to use your password to get in

28. arch_angel

Posts: 1651; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

I Know I Have A GS6 M8.

32. tuminatr

Posts: 1106; Member since: Feb 23, 2009

it also would not work on a LG G4 or Nexus 6

33. sukampret

Posts: 36; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

reflash, reflash, reflash. I don't need the data, i just need the device.

2. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

Android is too easy to gain access to by thieves. Maybe KNOX makes it harder, I honestly don't have a clue how it works, but iOS's iCloud protection since iOS7 has not been broken yet and basically makes every stolen iPhone a expensive brick.

5. RoboticEngi

Posts: 1251; Member since: Dec 03, 2014

Lol icloud lock has been hacked several times.....

7. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

Oh yeah? Give me link, but not to all those scam YT movies and sites. You know that 9.1 jailbreak also has been hacked several times? Oh, I found many crap sites made by 6th grades saying so but unlike you I can easily tell if information is crap. Seems like you believe in everything you see on web

18. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

It's just a google away (bit.ly/1OpA5N3) and it has made dozens of headlines... Regardless, at least Android officially gives you better control of finding your device, unlike find-my-iPhone that's dead useless unless your device is lost in your couch. Apps like GotYa, Lockwatch, etc, are readily available on the Play Store and actually make smart use of the device's features: - Camera for taking pictures in case of wrong passcode entry and/or attempt to power-off the device - SMS for receiving commands from a smart or dumb phone, even when cellular date is turned off. - Screen flash when in lowlight conditions to get better image of the theif's face for the police - SIM-card detection for automatically sending text in case SIM card is changed - Internet for e-mailing picture of the thief and their location to your email

19. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

Apple won't dare to provide such as that'll stop you from coughing up more cash for anither overpriced iDevice...

23. RoboticEngi

Posts: 1251; Member since: Dec 03, 2014

20. boosook

Posts: 1442; Member since: Nov 19, 2012

when you unlock the bootloader, your data is deleted, so thieves won't access anything. Unless, of course, you unlocked your bootloader yourself, that's why Google suggests to relock the bootloader after you're finished doing your maintenance, anyway we're talking about developers who know what they're doing here. The average user will never unlock the bootloader and his data will be deleted if someone tries to unlock.

3. vincelongman

Posts: 5628; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

This was finally fixed in 5.1 (called Device Protection) But its unclear which actually support it At launch only the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 supported it But they said they would be bringing it to older devices as well

4. Scott93274

Posts: 6025; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Well, this doesn't help me crack my pattern for my Galaxy Nexus, and I don't want to wipe it as I don't recall if I have photos saved to the device and I had the device long before I started backing up everything to the cloud. Sigh, so frustrating. Oh well, life goes on.

6. Chris.P

Posts: 567; Member since: Jun 27, 2013

Get a custom recovery and sideload to your computer. :)

13. Scott93274

Posts: 6025; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Hmm... I know not what you speak of, I will refer to my friend Google. Thanks good sir.

15. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

When You have CWM or TWRP recovery You can mount your device through USB in storage mode so You will be able to import every photo from your phone. On Nexus it is even easier than on other devices, just see XDA forums, there are always very clear instructions how to flash anything. Good luck

11. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

Type it wrong 10 times and you'll be asked for gmail password ;)

14. Scott93274

Posts: 6025; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

lol, which would be great if I still had the network running that I had when I was using the phone.... maybe I can switch out the SIM card for a short period and get network access that way... Damn! That's a good idea! Thanks protozeloz! And you too Chris P.!

17. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

No wifi nearby? :P

21. Scott93274

Posts: 6025; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

I wouldn't be able to connect it to a wifi unless I were logged into it right? Or am I missing something here?

29. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

I think it worlds regardless... Not sure

34. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

it happened to me, but with some twist, its on airplane mode.. luckily i've install CWM on it and I have backup ROM from 3 month before that

8. Zack_2014

Posts: 677; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

Knox protected then? Don't think it's possible crack open KNOX just like Apple's iCloud Protection.

9. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

This doesn't work on devices with 5.1 if the device protection is turned on. Also if you fail your password several time on Android you can recover it by typing your gmail password after a few attempts.

10. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

Also last picture its the same picture

25. j2001m

Posts: 3061; Member since: Apr 28, 2014

Better typed than what I said above, new Samsung phones are secure from this hack, if you turn it on, but this is auto done when you setup your phone with a Samsung account on the new note 5 and plus, not 100% on phones before this

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