This question is so borderline, I hesitate to ask it but will anyways. I recently received a new phone from a reputable online retailer, but when I opened the box there appeared to be a fingerprint and another smudge already on the device (before I touched it). I called the retailer and the customer service rep suggested that unlocked phones may be re-opened at the factory to be unlocked... which seems strange, because I would have through they are already unlocked and would only need additional work on them to load carrier skins.

I know I'm unlikely to get a completely satisfactory answer, but was hoping to tell if it's normal to see smudges on a supposedly new phone from the factory - maybe someone has worked in one before. While I think it's unlikely they need to re-open and seal the box, I would have thought they would use gloves (now and before to prevent any fingerprints). My main concern is someone loading malicious software/firmware on the device although I could factory reset it again (setup was not complete when I started the phone).

  • I left the retailer and phone manufacturer anonymous here to start, but can add it later if appropriate.
  • Most phone manufacturer place a seal on the phone package that gets broken when you open it the first time. Was there a seal on the package and was it broken? – Robert Aug 8 '20 at 7:26
  • If you have reason to believe that firmware could have been modified/compromised, than factory reset wouldn't fix anything. You must flash the original firmware from your OEM for peace of mind or flash a custom ROM (but even custom ROM makers don't have good solutions for malicious low level firmware modifications which they have to take for granted unfortunately). – Firelord Aug 8 '20 at 12:10
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    guess it's returned one just selled again without proper cleaning but it most likely was anything beyond brand new. regarding modifications: check bootloader is locked from download/fastboot mode. if it is not ancient device it is safe with factory reset, because on locked bootloader no modifications allowed – alecxs Aug 8 '20 at 14:46
  • @Robert Yes, I should have mentioned this. The seal did not appear broken, but the seal wasn't the most secure. I was able to peal off the remaining portion of the seal without much damage. – user58446 Aug 8 '20 at 17:52
  • @alecxs Would the phone likely have been repackaged by the retailer or the manufacturer? Also, after following the steps here I can be assured that there's no malicious firmware after a factory reset? (i.e. there is no way to change the bootloader back to locked after unlocking or otherwise modify the tamper status after it has been changed). – user58446 Aug 8 '20 at 17:56

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