How to factory reset Android smartphones


It is not uncommon for Android smartphones to slow down over time and become sluggish and laggy. While a simple restart could fix most issues, it is not a lasting solution. In more serious cases, you might have to resort to a factory reset. Another occasion where you would need to factory reset your phone is before selling your phone to a new owner. In this guide, we tell you how to safely reset your phone to factory settings. You will also learn some of the things you should take care of before going ahead with this step.

Before we start: The steps mentioned in this guide is a generic guide on how to reset Android smartphones. Depending on the smartphone model you own and the Android version you are on, the menu structure and button combinations could slightly vary.

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Sometimes, phones freeze up for no apparent reason. While it’s annoying, it can usually be fixed quickly and easily by restarting – also known as “rebooting” or doing a “soft reset” of your phone. This will not only give your phone a fresh start, all your photos, apps and settings will be left intact. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Hold down its power button for 30 seconds and it will restart itself.
  2. You can perform this step even when the screen is on but the phone has completely stopped responding to your inputs.

In case a soft reset doesn’t solve your issue, it’s time we take more drastic steps. Depending on the issue you face, there is an option to perform either a setting reset or a go for a full-fledged factory reset. Let’s learn the difference between the two first.

Factory resetting an Android smartphone is an extreme step and it will essentially take your phone back to how it was when it was brand new. If you are worried about the trouble of having to set everything up again, it is advisable to first try settings reset on your phone.

On the stock version of Android 11, Google gives you two options for a settings reset. Let’s check how to do this.

  1. Go to ‘Settings
  2. Scroll to ‘System
  3. Expand the ‘Advanced‘ option and select ‘Reset Options
  4. You will now see three options here ‘Reset WiFi, mobile & Bluetooth‘, ‘Reset app preferences‘, and ‘Erase all data.

Resetting the Wi-Fi, Mobile and Bluetooth settings might not be useful in all circumstances – but the second option ‘Reset app preferences’ could be helpful in some scenarios – especially if the problems on your phone is caused by an errant app. If this step also fails to resolve your issue, its time we take things to the next level.

Warning: Factory resetting an Android phone involves loss of all data stored on the phone. Make sure you back up everything before you proceed further.

AndroidPIT google play not working 7
Sometimes you just have to go for the last resort. / © NextPit

If restarting your device doesn’t help and your phone is still acting up, you might want to try a factory reset. This will restore your smartphone to its original manufacturer settings. This means that all apps will be erased, along with files, settings and manufacturer app updates. However, you don’t have to worry about your phone being rolled back to an earlier version of the Android OS. Your smartphone does not keep an original image of the operating system – once updated, you can’t revert to an older version.

The process is also sometimes referred to as formatting or doing a “hard reset”. However, hard resetting your Android smartphone isn’t actually that difficult. The quickest and most painless way to do a factory reset is through the Settings menu. If that isn’t possible, you can also reset in Recovery Mode. Here are the instructions for both.

Factory reset your Android phone from the Settings menu

The way to do this differs a bit from device to device. On devices running stock Android 11, the path is the same as before

  1. Go to ‘Settings‘ and scroll all the way down to find ‘System.’
  2. Tap on System and find the ‘Reset’ option.
  3. From the list, tap on ‘Erase all data‘ (factory reset).
  4. You will see a list of data that will be erased, along with signed-in accounts and the ‘Reset phone‘ option on the bottom.
  5. Tap it and select ‘Delete all data.
android 10 reset phone2
How to factory reset on most Pixel phones on Android 10. / © NextPit

On a Samsung phone, the menu path is slightly different.

How to factory reset a Samsung smartphone

  1. Go to Settings, then General Management.
  2. From there, tap on Reset, which you can find at the bottom.
  3. You will see three options – Reset settings, Reset network settings and Factory data reset.
  4. Tap Factory Reset. You should then see a long list of accounts, apps, etc. which will be erased from your phone.
  5. If you’ve made up your mind, scroll to the bottom, and tap Reset.
  6. You might be also asked to login to a Samsung Account in case you have one before resetting the phone. If yes, make sure you know your Samsung Account password before you proceed. In case you have forgotten the password, you can tap the ‘Forgot my password’ option and follow the on-screen steps.
reset phone samsung
Factory reset path on a Samsung S20 with Android 10 and Samsung One UI. / © NextPit

Finally, if you’re still having trouble finding the factory reset option on your phone, simply use the search tool and type in ‘factory reset’.

Factory reset Android in Recovery Mode

If your phone is so messed up that you can’t access your Settings menu, there’s still hope. You can reset in Recovery mode, using just the buttons of your phone.

If possible, back up your phone’s data first, as this process will remove all data from your phone’s internal storage.

  1. Turn your phone off.
  2. Hold the Volume down button, and while doing so, also hold the Power button until the phone turns on.
  3. You’ll see the word Start, then you should press Volume down until Recovery mode is highlighted.
  4. Now press the Power button to start recovery mode. You should see an Android robot now.
  5. Once you’re in Recovery mode, press and hold the Power button, and while doing so, press the Volume up button once, then let go of the Power button.
  6. Press Volume down until Wipe data/factory reset is highlighted, then press the Power button to select it. 
  7. Once that’s done, press the Power button to select Reboot system now.
  8. Then, you can restore your phone’s data.

Have you tried doing a soft or hard reset of your Android phone? How did it go? Let us know how it went in the comments.

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