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I got a new Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and I proceeded to do some configurations and download some apps on the device before putting in my SIM card. Part of the install was setting up my company's Exchange account through ActiveSync - for which I agreed to all the security policies like allowing my company/ActiveSync to wipe the phone remotely and set security restrictions.

Then, I put in my SIM card for the first time. The phone immediately rebooted and started to erase itself. Why would this happen? In what situations does this happen?

What I've done to investigate...

I thought that maybe the this was due to my company's Exchange ActiveSync policies thinking that my phone had been stolen because a new SIM was inserted. So, I tested by

  1. Performing some configuration and customization
  2. NOT configuring Exchange ActiveSync
  3. Swapping out the SIM card with that of a coworker's
  4. Result: no reboot and no phone wipe
  5. Configuring Exchance ActiveSync again
  6. Swapping out the SIM card
  7. Result: no reboot and no phone wipe

So I haven't been able to replicate the problem. My coworker's SIM card is on the same carrier and my coworker's phone has definitely already authenticated to my company's Exchange ActiveSync server. So perhaps not an adequate test but I don't have another SIM to test with at the moment.

  • Ask your company's IT what device manager rules they've defined. SIM change might have been interpreted as device theft, and thus the phone being factory-reset to protect company data (Exchange/ActiveSync). – Izzy Aug 30 '16 at 16:59
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This appears to be an undocumented feature of Note 7 as per this XDA thread Samsung factory restore after inserting SIM for the first time on GN7 by ninja0n3

OP here faced the same problem and reproduced the chat transcript with Samsung help . Extracts:

Veronica (Samsung): I would like to inform you that, It will be reset to Factory settings, when you insert sim on the phone.

J.B.(OP): every time?

J.B.: so I go to another country, and change the sim card so I can get cell and it will delete all my data?

Veronica: No, it will delete the data when the sim is inserted for the first time and when you change the carrier on the phone.

J.B.: So if I put a sim card from a different carrier on the phone while I am abroad, will this reset the phone?

Veronica: Yes, you need to backup the phone before using another sim on the phone.

Veronica: I am sorry for that. As you insert the sim on the phone it will be restored to factory defaults to get the phone locked to that carrier.

J.B.: Is the carrier informed of this process?

Veronica: No, this has been started with the Note 7 phone. As it comes with Marsh Mallow OS in it.

(Emphasis supplied )

This does not fully explain OP's experience, for instance, reset didn't happen when co- worker's SIM was inserted ( unless first time refers to the phone ), so gaps would need to be filled by Samsung / Carrier

All Hail Samsung (sorry, couldn't resist that)

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I had this same experience just yesterday with my wife's Note 7, but without anything to do with Exchange or ActiveSync. It's some security policy on the Note 7 itself, I think. I am online to investigate why this happened also. I had powered-off the Note 7 before inserting the SIM card. After power-up, as I watched to see if it connected to the Mobile Network as expected, it suddenly rebooted and insta-wiped the whole phone.

The message after rebooting and deleting everything was that an unauthorized attempt had been made to wipe the phone, and that I needed to login via Wi-Fi and identify myself online. There was absolutely no warning and I had just finished waiting for almost 2 hours while all of my wife's photos were transferred from the old phone to her new one before moving the SIM card to the new phone. The wipe (during the unexpected, forced reboot) took not much more than 5 or 10 seconds. Luckily I had not wiped the old phone yet, but I still have all of that data to transfer again. The phone is now stuck with a message that it has many Apps yet to install (yet there are none missing) after using the Samsung Smart Switch App for the second time.

Because I was setting the Note 7 up for my wife, I had not yet used any login security, such as fingerprint, iris scanning nor PIN. Perhaps Samsung sees the potential theft of personal info (if an unsecured phone has been stolen) as more critical than the lost time or data from wiping the phone without warning? I am struggling to understand the logic of this security policy.

  • This was a brand-new, unlocked phone from Samsung. Putting in the SIM card would lock it to my carrier, but there was no warning that inserting a SIM card would wipe the phone. I have unlocked my old Samsung S3 so I could use other SIMS while traveling in Australia and had no problems like this. – Don Cuthbert Aug 31 '16 at 0:20
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I had the same issue- I thought I would first fully load my Samsung Note 7 with all my info but when I inserted the SIM card- everything got deleted. I agree, it's about the time and effort it took to load the phone with my info and redoing the same process could have been avoidable if Samsung had warned us maybe?

I would like to warn others- when you get your Samsung Note 7, please insert the SIM card first and then load your info from Smart Switch. Please backup your information at all times on Smart Switch or Samsung Cloud to avoid such mishaps to occur.

Also, if you are going over seas and will be using another SIM card, then back up your information on Samsung Cloud and Smart Switch because your information maybe deleted.

Hope this Helps!!

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I'm confirming that the same thing happens on the Galaxy S7. Seems like it must be a feature of all new Samsung phones. It would be nice if they at least put a warning somewhere..

EDIT: From Googling around it seems that this 'feature' was either introduced with the S7 or the Note 7 and is present on all Samsung phones introduced after the either the S7 or Note 7. They really should document this, if it is now a standard 'security feature'. Someone seems to have found a way to insert new SIM cards without erasing the phone here though.

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