How To: Here's Why It's Harder to Steal a Samsung Phone Than an iPhone or Another Android

Here's Why It's Harder to Steal a Samsung Phone Than an iPhone or Another Android

Pretend you're a phone thief for a moment. You might be a pickpocket or a stickup kid, but you're in possession of other people's phones on a regular basis. Now ask yourself this: what's the first thing you do after you steal a phone?

Any real phone thief with half a brain would simply turn the phone off. Not only would it circumvent Google's Find My Device for Android and Apple's Find My for iPhones, but it would also get around the new offline finding features that help locate stolen phones even in airplane mode. In short, if the thief turns your phone off and keeps it turned off, you're not gonna find it.

Why Turning Off a Stolen Phone Is So Effective

Now you might be thinking that if a thief ever wants to sell your stolen phone, they'll have to turn it back on at some point. This is true.

But if they turn it on in a remote location away from other in-network phones, and they promptly enable airplane mode, offline finding still won't work. They could also turn it on in a Faraday cage while they use other tools to wipe or unlock the device. Or they could simply boot it into recovery mode, DFU mode, or Fastboot to run wiping utilities before the phone's operating system even starts.

So turning off a stolen phone is still the best way to avoid getting caught. It's such a simple measure that any thief can take to make your phone disappear forever.

What Samsung Does Better

The thing that Samsung has that Apple and Google lack is a simple feature that prompts you to enter your lock screen passcode before you can turn off or reboot your phone. With batteries being sealed inside phones nowadays, this makes it all but impossible for a thief to just turn off a stolen Galaxy.

Samsung added this feature on top of Android's existing security measures, and it has been around for years. Considering how quickly phone manufacturers clone their competitors' newest features, it's amazing that this one still hasn't made its way to stock Android or iOS.

In the latest versions of Samsung's One UI, the feature is enabled by default, and care has been taken to ensure it doesn't negatively affect the user experience. For instance, you can use secure biometrics like your fingerprint to allow the phone to power off, and if it was already unlocked when you selected "Power Off" or "Restart," you won't be prompted to authenticate — only if the device is locked.

Samsung's power-off security system in action.

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Cover image and GIF by Dallas Thomas/Gadget Hacks

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