PSA: HTC One M8 performs factory reset after 10 unsuccessful tries to unlock it [VIDEO]


There is nothing more frustrating than having to setup a phone after a fresh factory data reset. It usually involves countless hours of downloading and reinstalling apps, logging in, setting up your home-screen and getting your settings exactly the way you want them. It can be mundane, annoying, and a complete time suck.

That’s why we felt it necessary to warn you about a new feature on the all new HTC One M8 that might sneak up on you one day and make your life a living hell. If you input your lock-screen pattern or password incorrectly 10 consecutive times, the phone will proceed to automatically wipe all your data as if you’d done a factory reset from the settings menu.

Need proof? Resident masochist Rob Jackson did the deed on video, showing you the unfortunate result of being a forgetful person. The phone doesn’t give you any chance to reverse the action once you’ve reached that point, so if you’ve forgotten your pattern you’ll want to think long and hard each time you make an attempt, as there’ll be no turning back if you can’t successfully get in.

htc one m8 lock

There’s no setting to disable this behavior from what we can tell, which leaves it open to potential abuse. Perhaps a scorned loved one is upset with you and wants to do something to make you mad. Maybe your children want to play Angry Birds and they are repeatedly failing to input your password. These scenarios and many more could definitely spell trouble to even the most careful users.

Thankfully the HTC One M8 does give ample warning to the user before this process occurs. After the first 5 unsuccessful attempts, the phone will prevent the user from trying to unlock it for 30 seconds.

After that, an impossible-t0-miss message box will pop up for each unsuccessful attempt that you make. A genuine user will likely ask the owner of the device for help once they see all these ominous warning messages pop up, but some might just as easily dismiss the boxes without reading a thing.

Unfortunately, a factory reset on the HTC One M8 includes a complete wipe of personal media from the phone’s internal storage. This means you’ll lose your photos and videos if they weren’t stored on the microSD card the phone thankfully supports. There are a couple of different things you can do to make sure this isn’t a problem for you in the foreseeable future:

  • Set your default storage to microSD for your photos, videos and downloads if you have one.
  • Use Google Drive, DropBox, or another backup service to backup all your important files.

Beyond that, just be careful and make sure you choose passwords and patterns that you’ll be sure to remember for a long time coming, and think about temporarily disabling lock-screen security if you expect your children or loved ones to be using your phone for an extended period of time.

There’s sure to be a bit of resistance to a feature like this. While it might be noble in the name of security, it could produce some unwanted results. For some people, making sure a thief can’t factory reset the phone is key, as this could kill the use of “find my phone” apps. It also gives the thief the very access they were looking for without much help at all. We’d feel a lot better of HTC gave us an option to disable this, but those are the breaks. It’s there, and we have to deal with it in our own ways.

Be sure to watch the video above if you’re curious to see how it happens in motion. PS: don’t forget that tomorrow is April Fool’s day, so make sure to keep your phone away from your prankster friends and avoid having this happen to you!

[via AndroidForums.com, thanks Dwight!]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. HTC engineers = fail

  2. Which is what you want it to do if you lost your phone. But you know what this forces good security on people and should get people to back up their stuff.

    1. This is not what anyone needs or wants. It’s too easy to abuse, either purposely or by accident, by anyone who touches your phone.

      1. Yea maybe you’re right, they should at least have an option to turn it off. But my philosophy is better safe than sorry especially when it comes to personal data on my phone. I keep documents, pics, banking info etc on mine. Encrypted, pinned, app locked, and photo snap after 5 tries.

      2. Don’t secure my device, HTC…cuz I let a bunch of a-holes play with it and they’ll reset it when I’m not looking.


        First rule of security: Don’t let a-holes play with your device.

        1. Second Rule of Security:

          Dont let children play with 350-800 dollar devices in the first place whether they cry for it or not. Dont spoil them with devices like these in the first place….

          1. Meh. If you have the money to buy ’em their own, why the heck not.

            That doesn’t bug me. Some folks have money to spend. Good for ’em.

            The inability to take responsibility for their own devices is what bugs me.

          2. ur right in a way…in other more detailed ways as far as a childs development i cant agree. I agree with the responsibility part.

          3. I like that you assume kids only touch things you give them explicit permission to… You either don’t have kids your you’re really good at always putting your phone somewhere they can’t reach it. I think most people are not that careful, and put their phone down on a night stand, coffee table, or anywhere else around the house just naturally (or sometimes it can just slip out of your pocket on the couch or something)… Very easy for little hands to get to.

            Sure I could try to be constantly making sure I didn’t put my phone down anywhere in the house that my kids could get to it…but I think instead I’d rather just have a phone with a design that fits my life rather than try to change my life to suit a phone. Simply having an option to enable/disable doesn’t seem that unreasonable to me.

          4. I have kids.

            They don’t touch my phone. It’s not a difficult concept.

            By the time they can reach where you would comfortably be putting your device (unless you have zero concept of baby/toddler-proofing) they should have learned to respect the personal belongings of others.

          5. From this and your other responses, sounds to me like luxferro has it nailed. Pretty much just acting like people should adjust their lives to fit the phone rather than wanting a phone that fits your life.

            I have plenty of places around the house that are not dangerous for a child, nor are unreasonable places to put your phone down. It’s not a difficult concept.

            What works for you, works for you- that’s great. But to borrow your own words “Aw, lookit that. You think you know something about me. (You don’t.)”

          6. “Pretty much just acting like people should adjust their lives to fit the phone rather than wanting a phone that fits your life.”

            Try again. Here’s what I am saying:

            Get a phone you like – just don’t blame HTC because you don’t think you could handle the responsibility of owning theirs.

            Saying HTC “fails” because you can’t hack the responsibility of keeping the device out of the hands of others is failure on your part – not theirs.

            “But to borrow your own words…”

            I never claimed to know a thing about you. Please show me where you think I did.

          7. mm- I won’t try again, I’ll stick to the original attempt.

            For example, comments like “Don’t use a PIN or pattern.” as a response to how to get around this.

            Great idea. You should have to forgo security altogether just to not have to deal with this feature. That’s called adjusting to fit the phone rather than the phone being able to adapt to your usage.

            I never said “HTC Fails”… But at the same time I don’t think keeping the phone out of the hands of my kids is a failure either. It happens, and the only time it would be a big deal to me if it were possible for them to wipe all my data- so I’ll stick with a phone that either doesn’t do that or lets me disable the feature. I’ve never said the phone sucks or anything because of that- all I’m really saying is- while maybe it’s not true for you, I don’t think it’s that uncommon for perfectly responsible parents to have a situation where the kid gets a hold of the phone. And I don’t think you have to be a software developer to know that including something as an option rather than hard-coding it on is not that difficult. So I happen to think it wasn’t the best decision to not make this something configurable. That’s it.

            As to the last part- that was just a comment on how you seem to take the position that anyone who can get into a position where the kid gets a hold of the phone is just an irresponsible parent, knows nothing about baby-proofing, or whatever. I think that’s making assumptions about people that you don’t know, but whatever.

          8. “Great idea. You should have to forgo security altogether just to not have to deal with this feature. ”

            Forgoing security is the exact thing one should do if being secure is too inconvenient for their lifestyle. If you cannot stop random people from accessing your device – no form of security is going to be both “convenient” enough *and* effective. Your own suggestion of buying a different device supports this. If it’s too inconvenient – get something else.

            “I never said “HTC Fails””

            …you just argued my responses to those who did. No big. I never claimed *you* said it. I know better than to think the entire world (or anyone, even) will agree with me.

            “I’ll stick with a phone that either doesn’t do that or lets me disable the feature.”

            Perfectly acceptable solution.

            “So I happen to think it wasn’t the best decision to not make this something configurable.”

            Near as I can tell, they don’t know for sure if it can/cannot be disabled yet.

            “you seem to take the position that anyone who can get into a position where the kid gets a hold of the phone is just an irresponsible parent”

            Nope. Just blaming them for claiming to have no control over it. Look; believe me or not – whatever, but I have 3 kids. They’ve not once abused my electronic devices because before they were old enough to know better and the devices were in reach, I either kept a very watchful eye or moved them. I know I’m not “the parent of the year,” so I really have a hard time understanding why the concept is so difficult for others to grasp.

          9. I’ll just reply here to both of your comments. I think for the most part we agree then. I’m not in the habit of blaming companies for things that are within my control (either don’t by the phone, or buy it and deal with it). It sounded to me though like they are more saying that the lack of configurability was a misstep on htc’s part, not that it would be their fault if something happened.

            And, yes I was joking around in an exaggerated way because to me your comments came off as if it’s just really unreasonable or irresponsible to handle your phone in such a way that your kids might end up getting a hold of it sometimes. For me My son is at an age you’re talkign about (he can get a hold of it, but he knows how to respect people’s property)- my daughter is just getting to that age. But earlier than that I think its’ easy for them to get a hold of and just mess with it without knowing any better. If I had a phone like this it would be my responsibility to make sure that didn’t happen- I just feel like I’d rather have the option configure that myself and not have to think about it.

          10. This is the best. This is why I love the internet. We can disagree, and even after taking shots at each other, end up being amicable and civil.

            Even when we don’t completely agree.

            I never meant to say anyone was a bad parent, just that the blame for “accidental resets” was being misplaced. Sorry if that came across badly. It’s not that I am saying anyone is irresponsible in their actions, but rather in their placing of the blame for the resulting consequences. Maybe too subtle a distinction, perhaps.

          11. Agreed.

            And yeah, that was really the only point of contention for me- thinking someone is irresponsible if their kid can get to the phone vs. understanding that if you have/want the phone then the responsibility to make sure you don’t have problems is yours, and I totally agree.

            If one of my kids had ever done something bad with my phone when they got a hold of it- like thrown it in the toilet or something, I’d probably take a lot more precaution with that. And maybe I still should have, but since it’s never been a problem I’m not super careful about where I put it down in the house.

          12. You already want to forgo security. With an unlimited amount of attempts a lock screen is totally worthless.

          13. how? You’re going to stand around for the rest of your life trying to guess the password?

          14. He’s just a black and white dude. What works for him should work for everyone else, if not, they need to change. Me personally, I’d rather leave the option of remotely wiping my devices to myself.

          15. You can do that. Buy a different phone. Who cares?

            But just like it’s not HTC’s fault you don’t want that feature, it’s also not their fault if some irresponsible jackass gets their device reset because they weren’t paying attention/left it laying around. People need to stop blaming everyone else when things go wrong.

  3. Whoa, that seems a bit excessive.. Is there any way to disable this?

    1. Don’t use a PIN or pattern.

  4. That’s good. It actually copies a feature Blackberry’s have used for years. Enter a BlackBerry password incorrectly 10 times and it wipes the handheld to protect the data on it.

  5. Feature? or a glitch called a feature so that they don’t have to fix the problem?

    1. It is clearly a features. It was put in place intentionally.
      What would you lose anyway? All my documents are in drive, my music streaming and my images are in google photos. The contacts are either from work or gmail, just like the calendar.

      1. Works for you but not everyone uploads data to the cloud. Majority of people would lose everything including text and possibly numbers not saved in the phones Sim card as well as what you said wouldn’t be a problem

        1. I disagree. The majority of folks are syncing their contacts and data.
          Go check it out, ever since google made that the default people are using it.

    2. This is an amazing security feature that prevents your local data and cloud data from being compromised. If I ever have my phone stolen or lost, I’ll be very happy to see it automatically wiped. Why? I’d wipe it with ADM anyways.

  6. This will make for a fun prank.

    1. Fun prank? This wipes personal data as well. So your sense of humor is formatting the hard drive on my laptop?

      Oh that’s really funny. I’d unfriend you if you did that. All my school work. =.[

      1. You don’t have backups?
        Are you insane? What would happen if your phone or laptop was completely destroyed?

        1. I have back-ups, but I don’t want to re-install over 10GB of programs. LoL!!

          1. LoL? This isn’t League of Legends.

          2. I was tying like that way before I knew about the game. Then I once “Laughed out loud” in the game. I confused everyone. =.P

        2. a lot of people don’t have backups… probably because they don’t have anything THAT important on their phone, but it would be annoying to just reinstall everything, and to lose a couple of pics of your friend passed out at the bar.

        3. Most people don’t backup their data every night. At the very least the person you were “pranking” would lose a few days worth of data.

          1. Backups should be continuous, not once upon a time.
            This is how people lose data.

        4. Unfriend the internet by canceling the his ISP.

    2. So is kicking you in the nuts. Oh, you don’t find that funny? There must be something wrong with you. Let me try again.

      1. Look everybody, it’s an Internet tough guy singing his song. Beautiful plumage on this one. They actually sing this song to cover up for some problem in their own lives, is it a small wiener, a bad job, or a low income, is his wife running around on him? No one knows for sure, but we can be sure it is something along those lines.

        You will never encounter one in real life as they are a passive aggressive and cowardly sort.

        1. Don’t be that guy.

        2. Ooh, the burn!

          Shame about the irony of your post.

  7. terrible feature. My 3 year old would constantly be wiping my phone. and what’s to stop some jerkoff at work, school from purposely doing this? people who already bought this phone should definitely root and flash a rom not containing this feature or at least one that disables it.

    1. Is it really that hard to keep your device out of the hands of idiots and children?

      1. Exactly, I never let anyone touch my phone, let alone some jerkoff at work or at school. Who gives their phone to a jerkoff anyways?

      2. spoken as someone who clearly doesn’t have kids, lol.

        1. Aw, lookit that. You think you know something about me. (You don’t.)

          Kids are no excuse for you to be as irresponsible as they are.

          1. yeah dude, it’s super irresponsible to leave your phone on a nightstand where a kid might get to it. I don’t know how I managed to survive owning multiple cell phones that they sometimes got their hands on without losing all of my data (let alone the question of how CPS hasn’t taken my kids away yet- cuz DAMN, SO IRRESPONSIBLE!

            lol…seriously dude. All people are saying is- having the option to enable/disable would be good. Then people can take advantage of the feature however they want.

            Some perspective may help…

          2. “All people are saying is- having the option to enable/disable would be good.”

            Huh. Looks to me like they are claiming that if they got their phones reset it’d be HTC’s fault and not their own.

            That’s my perspective.

            (I ignored the first bit of your post where you seem to be trying to compare resetting a device to something inherently dangerous to life and limb…absurdity is your argument there? Good luck with that.)

          3. So what your saying is that your so responsible with your phone and preventing it from getting in the wrong hands that you don’t need this feature. Ok cool. Then turn it off. Oh wait, you cant.

          4. …or buy something else if the security measures are too inconvenient for you. Oh wait…you can.

          5. You think it’s irresponsible to allow a kid to play Temple Run 2 on phone??

      3. Yes. No one is perfect. All it takes is one time.

        1. “One time” is by no means a valid argument. Virtually anything can happen “one time”, in any discussion of any topic of any concept that involves anything. Do you drive? Have you been outside in a storm? Used stairs? Electricity?

          All of these things can do much worse than wipe your phone. Some perspective may help…

        2. You mean 10 times. Like the story says.
          Make backups, what if the kid dropped it in the toilet?

          1. I meant all it takes is one time for a kid to get it into their hands. Without root everything cant be backed up.

      4. Yes, it is. I have a job that requires me to leave my phone in a drop box whenever I have to enter a room with highly classified materials, anyone could come along and mess with the phone if they wanted to. And sometimes phones are the only thing that keeps kids from making a scene at the store. I can see from your other comments, that you are either an idiot or are trolling hard here.

        1. I hate to say it, but if someone can’t be trusted with your phone in a drop box, what are they doing in a facility with classified materials?

          The kids I get… What would be nice there is multi-user support like the Nexus 7.

          1. It’s just coworks pranking each other. No one tries to steal information from another’s phone. I’ve been known to change the language on a buddy’s phone or an embarrassing background time to time.

          2. “It’s just coworks pranking each other. No one tries to steal information from another’s phone.”

            I’m more worried that if they ignore the data wipe warning, they’re probably not savvy enough to be working with the stuff. :P

        2. “And sometimes phones are the only thing that keeps kids from making a scene at the store.”

          Whatever did parents do before phones, I wonder.

          I can’t imagine how the human race survived…

          So; you’re telling me, that in a facility where highly classified materials are being carefully monitored, the place is crawling with random idiots who will pull out your device and start resetting it? You actually expect us to believe that?

          “you are either an idiot or are trolling hard here.”

          Right back at ya, bud.

      5. You don’t know what it’s like to be around kids. Their addicted to games and will ask to play games on your phone.

        1. Say no.

          It’s called being a parent.

  8. The feature itself isn’t FAIL, but having no way to disable it is definitely major FAIL. Toddlers and trolls will have fun with this one.

    1. You can disable this feature on the Moto X, I would assume you could here. I haven’t played with an M8 yet though. The option is under Device Administrators.

      1. I can see an option that prevents device admin from deleting data, but when I disable it, I still see the 10 strike limit and it counts down when you get it wrong. Not sure what’s up with that…

    2. Another benefit of rooting your device: Titanium Backup.

  9. There are apps that I use that can lock specific apps. That’s my alternative to this. Just lock apps you don’t want people to have access to.

    That allows me to get into my phone without security and when I’m out and about, I just touch the notification to instantly lock it.

  10. Wow sometimes when im really bored I get the lock screen wrong on purpose multiple times

    1. same here, and those warning messages would just make it more appealing, personally…

  11. My work already makes me do this, so this is no big deal.

  12. Interesting. To be fair, it does at least warn you on the lock screen of how many attempts you have left (as shown in the picture).

    I actually think this is a pretty cool feature as long as you aren’t the forgetful type. That said, it probably should be something that could be disabled.

  13. Nice feature if someone stole your phone. There needs to be a way to enable and disable it tho.

    I dont use any lockscreen security tho

  14. I like that feature, if you enter your own password wrongly TEN times you deserve to have your phone wiped. With a memory that functions like that you probably just should not be using lock screens.

    1. Yep.

    2. I guess you’re not a heavy drinker

  15. won’t this feature be perfect for the thief? so he/she can start using it or sell it as brand new?

    1. I guess, but they can’t get your data or access to your account which is more important to many people.

    2. You can do the same thing with any phone. You can do a hard reset and starting using the phone.

      1. For iPhones there’s activation lock. I think Samsung implemented something similar as well?

  16. I have a feeling you can call HTC and get help, at least I hope lol

    1. Get help with what?

      1. UM have a tech unlock your phone for you, or use some time of software over the computer that can take care of that, but HTC has to make that available

  17. Friends love to mess with lockscreens. I see much data being deleted in the future.

  18. My wife has had her phone factory reset thanks to our daughter trying to break into her Moto X, haha. I assume this can be disabled if you want to disable it, similarly to the Moto X right? Under Device Administrators?

  19. Some of these complaints are just ridiculous. If you are the type of person who let other people handle your phone on a regular then whats the point of having security set up in the first place? And if you are someone who actually cares about security, you won’t let other people handle your phone on a regular including your kids. I think this is a wonderful security measure.

    1. How can anyone call it a security measure??? It’s the equivalent of a smartphone suicide vest, come on, you can basically “hack” someone’s phone by wiping your ass with it…

      1. You can do that with any Android phone. Boot up in boot loader or a hard reset.

        1. Wiping your ass with a smartphone does require considerably less mental effort, somehow…

  20. I had a friend suggest this as desired behavior years ago. I told him it would be a stupid use model that would lead to all sorts of undesirable side-effects.

    Here we are today.

    Guess HTC listened — to him.

  21. If you back up your phone on a regular basis, you should be able to restore most if not all of the info you had on your phone.

  22. Many companies have policies that if you use your personal device for work email you might only have 3 attempts to login or it will wipe all data. How is this any different?

  23. at least this woulda wiped the nudies from my phone that someone in miami prob ejoyed a year ago when they took my phone from the cab i left it in…or the one from vegas the year before that…or the one from the city before that…smh poor girls…some im close friends with still that will never know…


      1. Lame reply

        1. The up-vote differential on our respective comments indicates otherwise

  24. I would like to see a feature that imposes an ever increasing wait time in between unsuccessful code attempts. After getting it wrong once, you must wait three seconds for example. Then that doubles every time. After ten attempts, you’ve got a 25 minute wait before you can try again. After 20 attemtps, two and a half weeks, after which time the person will have been at it for over a month.

    1. I’m not sure what the concrete implementation is (like the actual wait increase), but I’m pretty sure some phones do have this.

  25. This sucks if a kid accidentally gets your phone. Also sucks for those of us that want to use Cerberus to find the phone. If everything gets deleted you can say bye bye.
    I use Cerberus to track the phone but I use smart app lock to secretly protect the private stuff. This way no one would immediately think to do a factory reset. Which I also have that setting protected.

  26. Great for thiefs that don’t know how to boot to recovery to reset!!! Umm…. So someone could steal your phone, reset it in 3 minutes and have no passwords or patterns to get through and sell it within moments, before something can be done. This is absurd!!! Or is it just me…

    1. I was thinking exactly this. I mean on one hand it’s great they can’t get at your data, but this makes it really easy to flip the phone. Forget about remotely locating your stolen phone!

    2. It`s not just you….had the same thought.
      I do wonder…….why………why ten times……..why factory reset?

  27. I just voluntarily did a hard reset on my HTC One. It was painless and I was surprised at how well HTC backed everything up. Took about 20min and was like nothing happened.
    I then had to do it again without the restore.
    This is the opposite of a problem for me.

  28. I definitely don’t trust my drunk self with this ‘feature’. I already have a few unsuccessful unlock pics of myself in my email to prove it.

  29. based on a true story..

    once upon a time a child asked his dad if he could play with his smartphone. the dad responded, “no”.

    1. based on a true story. 500 other times the child didn’t ask first.

  30. is this apr fools???

  31. Great phone ! Hope to buy it asap! http://www.nexus6price.com

  32. This is not a new feature the HTC One from last year has the same thing. Best I can tell you can’t switch it off either.

    1. My HTC One don’t have this.
      Only phone that login with exchange and accept device administrator access from domain.

  33. This article is not correct. I just tested this on a HTC One (M8).

    After every 5 attempts you will get a warning on your screen. I have
    tried this up to 40 times, same warning every 5 times. No data will be
    deleted what so ever.

    It could be that this security item is added by a provider if you have a branded handset.

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