Few of us will retain a mobile phone until its screen lights up for the very last time.
Given our reliance on these miniature computers, many people start researching new handsets as soon as their existing unit becomes glitchy or stops holding its charge effectively.
Smartphones are more than just telephones now – they’re social media hubs, gaming platforms, communication tools and streaming media centres.
As a result, we can’t afford to be without them. Yet we’re also storing unprecedented amounts of confidential personal information on smartphones.
Consider how many account passwords and automatic logins are saved onto your phone, and think about what would happen if a criminal got access to this treasure trove of data.
That doesn’t just happen through loss or theft – it might also stem from disposing of an existing device without taking adequate precautions.
Clearing your smartphone history represents a crucial step before popping it in a freepost envelope to a reseller, or exchanging it for a shiny new model on the high street…
Getting your house in order
As is often the way with smartphones, there are two main ways to ensure subsequent owners can’t access sensitive information or impersonate you.
However, there are a few steps to tackle before clearing your smartphone history:
- Transfer media files onto a computer, or upload them into the cloud. Back up sentimental or irreplaceable files in photo albums, music folders, video clips and document wallets.
- Save contacts onto the device’s SIM card. Nano-SIM cards retain invaluable contact information – few of us bother to learn each other’s mobile numbers anymore.
- Save settings. Android and iOS enable customers to transfer browser cookies and bookmarks, installed apps and calendar entries onto a replacement device wirelessly.
- Take a note of passwords. Accounts accessed on your phone may be inaccessible on a replacement device. Change passwords to something memorable, or write them down.
Methods of clearing your smartphone history
Perform a full factory reset. The nuclear option when clearing your smartphone history, and only suitable after the above steps have been successfully navigated.
Every setting, saved file and cookie will be erased, returning the phone to showroom condition (and potentially improving its performance quite markedly).
It might be necessary to enable a factory reset through the device’s settings, since this is often blocked by default as a protection against criminals stealing and then wiping phones.
Delete apps and browsing history. This might be useful when passing a phone on to someone you know, as it retains core information like contacts and media files.
Aside from manufacturer bloatware (which can only be hidden rather than deleted), it may be advisable to erase any programs or web browser history before handing it over.
Erasing biometric data will prevent certain apps and functions associated with you being accessed by anyone else.